Enterprise 2.0 and Social Networking’s Influences on Human Resources [#e2conf]

Oliver Marks moderated this session involving representatives from Newsgator, Neudesic, Yammer and Ultimate Software.

[These are my notes from the Enterprise 2.0 Conference 2012 in Boston. Since I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]


  • Using Social Tools to Augment HR Data.Lisa Sterling, Head of People Engagement at Ultimate Software, reports that her HR group gathers HR-related information from their Yammer implementation to provide timely performance data. For example, rather than treating performance reviews as an annual event, they find status updates in Yammer in which colleagues praise the work of other colleagues and use that current information on individual performance.
  • The Alternative to the Document-Centric Approach of HR. Newsgator uses a social layer to surface HR-related information in the place where people are working — not in a separate HR system of record. A Neudesic customer is using an auto-follow function in Neudesic Pulse during the onboarding process to provide new employees with a group of early connections to help their integration into the organization.
  • What’s the Impact of Individual Social Activities on Our Work Life? When Ultimate rolled out Yammer, they didn’t provide warnings about forbidden activities. Rather, they helped employees understand the benefits of microblogging. They haven’t had an issue with self-promotion or improper reciprocity (e.g., if you praise me, I’ll praise you). Ann Lee reiterates that before you implement a social tool, be sure you’re clear about the business benefits. Don’t focus merely on the “coolness” of the tools (or the dangers of the tools).
  • What’s the Value of Adding Social? Neudesic estimates that organizations will save initially $1500 per employee from implementing their product. However, if a social tool fosters a connection that leads to a business process improvement or a product innovation, then you’re looking at a much bigger return on your social investment.
  • How to Filter Information in these Systems? Information overload can be a major problem with social platforms. Yammer enables you to structure the data dynamically to help surface relevant information, aggregated by topics that are pushed to users.
  • Should HR be Involved in Social Media Implementation? HR needs to be sure that the social platforms are supported by appropriate staffing outside IT (eg., from knowledge management, etc.). These new tools will surface new roles such as content curation and community management. HR is a key stakeholder that is commonly overlooked in these projects that typically are viewed as primarily technology projects. HR’s role shouldn’t be limited to sanctioning employees for using Facebook at work. HR should be involved in deployments to leverage its extensive knowledge of the organization’s culture and work force.
  • Success Stories Newsgator reports that Deloitte views their social tools as a key part of their overall talent management effort. They look at “the whole arc” of the relationship between an individual and their organization and see how social tools foster that relationship. Ultimate Software realized that with the influx of millennials, Facebook (and similar sites) had rich collections of data on Ultimate because their millennials were posting there. Ultimate wanted to give those millennials an internal place to post that valuable information. When Neudesic integrated their own product (Neudesic Pulse) with their HR system, they found that by strategic use by HR, they were able to make the onboarding process quicker and more effective. One of Yammer’s retail clients uses Yammer to share best practices and market information in real time across the organization.
  • Collaboration is a People Problem, Not Just a Technology Problem. If a company views HR solely as a cost center, that organization is unlikely to give HR a seat at the table. If a company views collaboration as a performance challenge, then you have to involve the talent management team.
  • The Consumarization of HR Just like we’ve experienced the consumarization of IT, employees are asserting more individual approaches to their training and career development. They want to learn in a manner that suits their personal style and they want to take that learning with them. Social technology can help tailor HR offerings to the need of the individual.
  • Social Flattens the Organization By its very nature, social technology tends to sidestep hierarchy, thereby flattening the organization. It also surfaces talent. HR needs to be aware of this and needs to be able to shape this and deal with the consequences. HR could also exploit this for leadership development and successsion planning purposes.

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