Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Social networking tools (like Twitter) returns the advocate to customer service

When I was 16 too long ago, having just started driving in my bullet nose 1947 Studebaker, I got pulled over for slightly speeding late one night. When the policeman asked for drivers license and flashed his light first on it and then on my face, he then flashed the light on his face and laughingly said: “Lexy, you were about five miles over the speed limit. I’m not writing you a ticket. Go home.” It was Bobby Rollins, the older brother of my girlfriend who lived across the street. He knew I was really a good kid, and let me off with just a warning.

When I bought my first house and went to my bank for a loan, where I’d been banking for MANY years, despite not really having the right credit history, the manager approved my loan. He knew I would be good for the loan. Today that seldom happens as you can’t get past the system-based rules to a person who will take the time to review your history and the situation.

But wait….perhaps social networking aids….true collaborative aids may be playing a role today and bringing back a person who will be your advocate.

Two days ago, I got a letter from American Express telling me that I’ve been put in the penalty box for missing a payment (heavy duty charges, a year's worth of onerous interest), a situation that immediate raised my ire and made me want to cancel my Amex card. Now, since I pay my bills in full, the onerous penalty wouldn’t apply, but there was a principle here for me. As a member in good standing since 1973, I was hurt. Particularly since I never got a bill!

I blasted my ire on Twitter and copied @AmericanExpress.

I received two kinds of responses: 1) lots of people saying similar things had happened to them and how they had handled it. 2) #AmericanExpress on Twitter encouraged me to #AskAmex. I did, and through the afternoon worked with one of their Social Media Inquiry people. (Yes, PEOPLE. American Express has a team on Twitter assigned to address issues for its customers.) If you look at #AskAmex, you will see the bio of the team: Now tweeting, Beth (B), Nadir (N) and Rachel (R) from 9AM-5:30PM ET M-F. When we’re not tweeting we enjoy cooking, football and spending time with family. Through DM, I was guided by them to go to my online account and send an inquiry with “my facts.” I did, and within a short time, I received the kind of letter that someone with a 35+ year good history with American Express feels she deserves. It started with: Thanks for taking the time to contact me via email. I can definitely understand how frustrated you would be with this situation. I have reviewed your account and have taken care of everything. It ended with: It was my pleasure to assist you. Have a happy and a healthy new year!

A real person handled this situation in a compassionate and expeditious manner! Wow….that sure doesn’t happen when one tries to get through phone menu hell. Not that I’ve had to contact American Express…perhaps its phone services are equally good, but I’ve had the occasional mishap with mobile services and have lost a credit card or two over the past 40 years, to be totally frustrated by the process of remedying the issues with the respective providers.

So, thank you American Express. And, especially thank you to the Social Media Inquiry group at AskAmex. And, I’m totally stoked on the power of social media! For me, it has returned me to the good old days of PEOPLE who support you when stuff happens. I feel like the group is my friend!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A look back enables a prediction for the future of HCM technologies

I was reading Jim Holincheck's 20 and 10 year look back, plus his predictions for today and 10 years from now. It got me thinking about my past as a futurist, working at the Institute for the Future and my time working with Patty Seybold.. OK...briefly, I've been working over 40 years, started as a programmer at Bank of America, then a couple of mutual fund companies, worked internationally at Dupont in Switzerland, then Stanford University Hospital and started my consulting work in 1980 at SRI International, followed by IFTF, then Patty, some time on my own and then The Hunter Group which has morphed into Cedar and now CedarCrestone. Up until Hunter, I used to change jobs every four years, but this has been a place where instead of leaving, I can evolve my work. But whew....that's a lot of work!

Anyway...when I started consulting work, it was as an adviser about office automation. IBM, Digital Equipment, Wang, Hewlett-Packard, Xerox and others all had these word processors or computers that evolved into integrated systems by adding data processing, email, decision support. To make a long story short about what happened....eventually, the functionality of all these vendors' office automation offerings looked alike, and here's the important part: the ONLY differentiation was the service and support the vendor or consultants provided!

Thinking about what Jim says...that MISO (Microsoft, IBM, SAP, and Oracle) will lose one over the next 10 years but gain one from today's ranks of business application vendors...maybe SalesForce, Workday, or Google? (MIGO?? maybe? or GISO??) Based on my old experience, I think the ones that survive and thrive in the business applications arena, including HCM, will do so because they get the IMPORTANCE OF SERVICE AND SUPPORT and all that is conveyed within. IBM already gets this. Oracle and SAP may start to bundle maintenance (just one part of service and support)into annual subscription packets and at least one will do fine. Microsoft if it is to evolve as an application provider must understand the importance of service and support to really play bigger time in the enterprise realms. And, Google, absolutely must get this. I watch all these companies that have great technical people developing custom solutions based on Google Apps or Sharepoint and watch the fact that these developers really don't get great leverage within their organizations because they don't understand that there is also change management needed to institutionalize solutions. And change management, consisting of all those things like project management, training, communications, building stakeholder commitment, etc. etc. is one of the most important parts of service and support. Hmmm, now that I think about it, even Oracle and SAP don't really get the importance of change management with their own service and support offerings, unless one pays arms and legs. Fortunately, they have great ranks of implementation/consulting companies like ours.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Giving yourself permission not to finish frees up energy - another quilting/work intersection

Last year I took a class from a world renowned quilter for a week. It's my gift to myself each year to spend a week learning something new at the Empty Spool seminars. By the way, if you've never gone, it's a wonderful way for quilters to learn! This year though, the teacher, wasn't my kind of teacher. For me, not very affirming. I digress here a bit, but I've noticed that sometimes great artists are really not great teachers -- some are great at promoting themselves and their work rather than encouraging and teaching students. I think I've had a few bosses like that as well. I digress.

During the holidays, is my time to renew myself with family, friends, and quilting. I've noticed, however, that in my studio I have a few UFOs -- a quilter's term for "unfinished objects." I like to think of myself as not a quitter -- as someone who finishes what I start. The UFO from that class, I've decided will never be finished as originally planned at that class. And, oh feels good to recognize that. I declare it totally unfinishable! Of course, I will go through some doubts: 1. Is it unfinishable because my techniques are not up to it? 2. Is it unfinishable because I didn't like the teacher and she did not help me to excel? 3. Is it unfinishable because.... You know what, I don't need to know the reason. What I do know is that by declaring that one effort unfinishable,I feel ever so much more creative! Plus, it frees up one of my favorite fabrics that I want to use in another quilt project that is to be a gift for dear friends.

So, how does this intersect with my work life? Well...getting closer to retiring, I could declare my work career at an end, but I'm not ready for that, although the lesson I will take here is that when I do it will because declaring an end to work will free up energy for other loved activities and efforts. I think the better intersection is that sometimes we are asked to do things that should not be asked. For those, we have to stand up for our beliefs and redirect our efforts. What do you think?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

My predictions for 2010 (Global, Business Intelligence, and SOA)

William Tincup asked a bunch of people in our HR technology arena to make predictions for 2010 and I rose to the challenge. All the big HR technology analysts from IDC, Gartner, Forester, etc. have made predictions about the steep projected increase of adoption of cloud computing/SaaS, social networking, mobile devices being bigger than PCs, etc. etc. So, I thought I'd get a big more granular and talk about three trends I see from reviewing our CedarCrestone HR Systems Survey data -- my little corner of the world (or at least my world):

1. The trend towards “going global” with a single instance of a core HRMS and common processes will escalate rapidly. I think the past year of economic downturn has focused large global organizations on cutting costs, more than ever, by moving to a single workforce system of record and rationalizing processes. I do see that they are being much wiser in the process rationalization and realizing that some processes really do need variations by country or business unit. Processes like workforce administration, compensation and performance management which have been handled first will be followed by recruiting and learning management.

2. The trend towards adopting business intelligence and managing with metrics will take two forks as the market moves towards higher levels of adoption. One fork will be a continued adoption of BI middleware technologies such as Oracle’s OBIEE, along with packaged analytics solutions such as OBIA/HR Analytics. The other fork is one taken somewhat out of frustration in that the first fork is expensive and takes total organization commitment. This second fork is towards adopting a SaaS solution. This one leads organizations again towards packaged analytics solutions and I personally think is a temporary blip (until organizations get that they really need to institutionalize the delivery of metrics and need some heavy lifting technologies), but it will make many of the SaaS analytics providers look very good for the coming year.

3. SOA suites will take off. Given that so many large organizations have an HRMS from Oracle or SAP, these organizations have already started adopting SOA middleware. They have gotten how valuable it is to address certain processes with automated support. Pulling from the CedarCrestone HR Systems Survey for 2009: Early adopter industries such as financial services are already using SOA technologies for core banking and to integrate disparate information sources to provide business intelligence. Higher education institutions, typically a laggard industry, are using SOA to integrate students with funding sources and to hook them up with back office services. SOA, most typically used for onboarding activities, will take off with other processes such as seniority handling, terminations (if these continue), and other work-life processes not already automated with the actual packaged applications.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Giving feedback - what I've learned from quilting

I took a quilt class spread over two Sunday mornings. The first Sunday, we learned the technique, and then went home and worked on developing the pieces of the quilt. The second Sunday, we came back with our ideas for our quilts and presented our quilts to the class. For the feedback process, the instructor suggested that instead of us criticizing what WASN'T working, we should talk about what WAS working. It was interesting for me, who is a person that finds lots of faults with my own quilts to instead hear what was working. I realize if I'm critical of my own work, I'm surely critical of others. I found myself being very thoughtful in providing feedback -- perhaps more so than when my feedback is critical. Thinking more about this feedback session, I realize that, of course, sometimes we need to hear what isn't working. But it seems to me that when our work is a "work in progress" hearing about what IS working encourages us to do even better. And, it was a really nice change to not hear from my left shoulder critic and instead to hear from my right shoulder supporter. Thoughts?

Oh...and here's the quilt in progress...obviously not finished. I'll post it again when finished.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Data analysis does not breed good writing!

My husband is really brilliant and a really good guy. He has a PhD in cognitive psychology, develops human cognitive measurement software, loves computer games, and is a really nice guy too. One of the things I've noticed over the years of being married to him is that I can't talk very coherently to him after spending a day doing deep data analysis which I need to do with our CedarCrestone HR Systems Survey . It's like my brain just can't go from number crunching to being verbal. But, after a day of data crunching if I play Bejeweled. I'm really good. I've gotten my best scores (over 500,000) on those days. Anyway...back to my really nice guy husband, in a roundabout way. Today, I actually got two comments about my blog and posts....both more! Thank you.... I mentioned this to my sweetheart of a husband, and he is so brilliant....he said. "Blog when you wake up before you do the data crunching." Duh..... So, maybe that's what I'll do. Blog first thing. What do you think?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Value of Pre-built HR Analytics

It's a beautiful fall day in the Sierra foothills. We spent yesterday picking a neighbor's grapes and while I was tired and achy yesterday, I feel great today. Maybe it's because it's our anniversary and I'm looking forward to a wonderful day with my husband of many amazing years. I started the day in my studio, working on some little Japanese panels. But in the back of my mind was a work issue. I'm writing a white paper on HCM Analytics and one piece of the white paper is on the value of HCM Analytics. Personally, I think that organizations can not long survive and thrive without managing their business, and workforce, with metrics, but I am always challenged by readers and clients to "prove it." Fortunately, the CedarCrestone HR Systems Survey can show some strong and continued links to improved financial performance. And, we're certainly starting to see lots and lots of organizations report on the value they've achieved. Wait and see the white paper for some of those stories. But what I was thinking about this morning is "why pre-built." And what better place to think about this than in my studio where I build quilts.

When I first started making quilts, like most novices, I used patterns. Irish chain was my first, followed by Log Cabin, and some Amish patterns. It's only been as I've matured as a quilter and even had some coaching from incredible art quilt teachers that I've designed my own quilts. Even now, I return to patterns, but put my own creative color choices, or even break the pattern and just use pieces of a pattern, along with my own creative design. I value pattern makers for figuring out how to integrate a particular design piece (like a diamond, star, or other geometric design) into another piece. That integration is critical for merging pieces with the exact measures...and I don't like to take the time to do that engineering calculation all the time.

I think the value of pre-built analytics, such as those from Oracle's business analytics and specifically, the HR Analytics product, is similar. Oracle has done all the integration from a recruiting dashboard into the talent management applications, into financials, and into the system of record. In the learning arena, it has integrated from learning management, to financials, etc. as well as to display a learning dashboard with metrics valuable to the training department. It is not to say that technical resources couldn't do all these integrations themselves, but why take their time? All of those integrations come ready made.

There is another subtle value of pre-built. Here I have to diverge a moment to comment on how many analysts and pundits just love to criticize HR for not being good with numbers. So what? Are these pundits good with numbers? I don't think so! So, how does HR get started? Let them use ideas from others. I say, help HR out with some pre-built functionality and from these examples they can start to branch out to identify the metrics that will matter for their own companies. But starting with pre-built KPIs, metrics, reports, and dashboards gives them a big boost to get started.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Blogging every day??

I recently heard a motivational speaker who suggested that one should blog every day! I put it on my list of "to dos" about three weeks ago and you can see that I don't keep my commitments. So, I'm going to publicly renege on that one and promise to do a blog at least ONCE A WEEK on the survey, on HCM in general, perhaps something on BI (business intelligence and analytics), and, of course, quilting. I just don't know about these daily bloggers. What kind of life do they have? For me, I find that I just can't move from data analysis (my primary job) to writing. I think my brain just isn't wired for those cross modal activities. And, I also don't seem to balance my life interests very well. My quilting has gone down the drain the past month or so as I've worked to get the annual CedarCrestone HR Survey out the door, presented at several conferences, and set up for ongoing benchmarking.

But, at long last, I got back to my quilt room this weekend and am working to complete my UFOs. I did finish a baby quilt for a baby born a bit ago. And, on my list of to be finished: a Japanese kimono triptych -- just need to bind, last year's Christmas quilt, the hers to the his and hers comforters, and then on to the new one using the Kingyo, Red Rooster fabrics. I'm going to adapt that pattern, using the panel in the middle but my own blend of fabrics from my stash. Stay tuned on that one.

And, I'll post the triptych by this weekend -- my goal for finishing it! Let's see if I can start keeping my commitments to me again!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My first quilt show

It's been way too long since I thought about blogging and I'm not sure I really will get back into it now, but here goes. After what seems like months, I've finished the 12th annual HR Systems Survey white paper and presentations that I'll be giving over the next month or so at HR Technology, some private shows, IHRIM, and OpenWorld. Anyone reading these that's interested knows more about these shows than I. Got some good material for this year: my recommended technologies: HR help desk, absence management, compensation management, and a BI tool set, and, of course, anything to do with social networking and SOA. The formal survey goes out two weeks from today.
In the background of this work, I've been gardening and quilting for sanity. Our garden has produced a ton of food...feels like literally. I've canned tomotoes, made Barefoot Contessa's tomato soup...yummy, made our pasta puttenesca sauce. I feel like quite the country lady! of all, I'm having my first quilt show with six of my quilts at Cafe Vista, here in Meadow Vista. And, on day one, sold my first quilt! I guess that makes me a professional now. Here's one of them...yours for just $350.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Quilting and HCM

It's been way too long since I've written. I've been busy and distracted, but with good stuff. I've actually been quilting up a storm...made a quilt for our bed, redid one I made 20 years ago for Jess, made a baby quilt, and have started a triptych of wall hangings. But this morning, I need to work and given that I'd rather be in the garden or quilting, it got me thinking about my work and quilting and I've decided to explore the intersection of the two. Do you know if you google HCM and quilting that the link you get is to the Horry County Museum:) Those two phrases don't go together. If you google human capital management and quilting, it gets slightly more interesting. There's a link to a Business Week article on the "crazy quilt of rules" and another with similar title on Workforce Management referring to an SAP site that has an article on the "crazy quilt of wage laws"... HCM and crazy quilt...hmmm This could be on the right track. For some reason, Wikipedia is not available this morning, but on the Free Dictionary, the definition of a crazy quilt is: 1. A patchwork quilt of pieces of cloth of various shapes, colors, and sizes, sewn together in an irregular pattern. Seems appropriate for HCM as does the next definition: 2. A disorderly mixture; a hodgepodge: But, both our strategy work with HCM and our quilting turns both the concept and the art form into a thing of beauty, eh? Ah...finally, wikipedia is "up" Look at that amazing old crazy quilt. These are not my cup of tea, but many value these wonderful quilts. I can see some similarities between quilting and pulling talent together in an HCM talent management strategy, stitching it together with processes and technology, but most importantly, the seams of change management, create both a thing of symetry and of beauty.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Competencies -- I must be missing something

For several years, the one talent management application most frequently correlated with the best financial performance, has been competency management. It has always made a lot of sense to me: if an organization knows the competencies it needs for the future, it can assess what it currently has and if deficient can either train or hire. And, I'll make the assumption that if they know the competencies it has, then it knows which ones deliver the best performance. See: for the latest research reports.

Today, I came across this competency list from Harvard University. It sure seems to me that these are awfully generic. Doesn't every organization have people with these competencies? Don't organizations really need to have information on the competencies that make them unique?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Quilt in progress from Asilomar 2009

Just back from Asilomar where I took a class with Carol Taylor. Here's the "work in progress."

Now I must move from quilting back to dealing with TOO many emails and too much analysis.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Benchmarking from the survey data

My life is about to be balanced with a one week visit to quilt camp! Yeah..... quilting with girlfriends and learning from some great teachers: I'm taking a class from Carol Taylor:

What that is balancing is weeks and weeks of deep benchmarking analysis for some really large companies that are looking to change their HR systems and implement more talent management applications. But, it has been interesting. We've discovered that the "top performers" adopt a lot more technology. they have the money for it. BUT....this is such a consistent finding. Year and year, those with MORE technologies that help manage people do better. And statistical geeks that we are, the directional causality is: have technology>>do better, rather than doing better>>buy technology.

Quilt....survey. I'm going quilting.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

HR survey data released this week

Two reports:
Our first CedarCrestone HR Survey "Pulse" report that collected data in December about expected changes in HR technology expenditures. Not as bad as expected: 70% of respondents said "no change." Of the remainder, 11% indicated expected increases; 19% expected decreases. The net change was -6% although it varies by type of technology and by industry. See The category of Strategic HCM applications (talent management focus) was the least impacted.

We also published our first CedarCrestone HR Survey focused on Asia and Australia. This effort was sponsored by Oracle, BUT responses came from organizations with varying solutions. This first CedarCrestone Asia Pacific HR Systems Survey of 277 organizations representing over 2 million employees discovered:
• The number one business initiative for APAC survey respondents is a focus on metrics and analytics whether in the form of developing a metrics strategy, integrating data sources, or implementing business intelligence applications to enable metrics-based management. Aligning employee performance with organizational goals (including implementing a performance management application) and business process improvements are also top initiatives.
• Self service and moving to an HR service center approach enables organizations to serve more employees with their HR staff.
• Talent management and business intelligence applications matter—those organizations that have these applications report higher financial performance than those without these applications.
• An integrated talent management approach enables organizations to achieve a lower total cost of ownership. Organizations with such an approach also reported higher sales and more than double the operating income growth than those with alternative approaches (44% vs. 17%). In this economic environment, an integrated talent management portfolio is a best practice.
• Web 2.0 is at the innovator stage among APAC respondents, but early adopters worldwide are achieving early positive advantage of double the sales growth of those without these technologies.
• Oracle’s Human Capital Management (HCM) software suites (PeopleSoft Enterprise and Oracle E-Business Suite) are the top choices of APAC organizations for administrative, service delivery, talent management, and business intelligence applications. These software solutions enable organizations to successfully automate their HR processes, provide employee and manager self service, manage and retain talent, and gather HR-related business intelligence in support of metrics-based management.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Sacred Places

It's been too long since I've written here but I want to share some thoughts with a dear friend and this is a good place to do it. I've been wanting to post some pictures and talk about my "spiritual journey" in China this past November.
I am a practicing Buddhist who belongs to a local sangha in Auburn. I am also a lapsed Methodist. I get more sustenance from meditation and weekly discussions at the sangha.
My trip to China was mostly for work, but my husband and I had 8 days to "see" China. Whenever we could, we visited Buddhist sites and other sacred places. Remind me to share those pictures, but here are a few that were special.

The Laughing Buddha is a delightful carving near the entrance of the Lingyin park and temple in Hangzhou. There are hundreds of carved buddhas....this is my favorite.

It is said about this buddha:
"His belly is big enough to contain all intolerable things in the world;
His mouth is ever ready to laugh at all snobbish persons under heaven."
May his belly hold any pain that dear friend Bonnie has today.

But the destination here is the Lingyin Temple where you see a 55 foot Buddha statue made out of camphor wood.

This is the Sakyamuni Buddha statue. My heart was so filled with peace and love and true joy seeing this statue. I know it is just an icon, but I think the day, the journey, the fact that I'd been on a 7 day vacation with my husband and had trekked in the cold cold with thousands of people to get to this place, at that time led me to this sense of peace and joy more profound than I've felt anywhere other than in simple meditation.