Tomorrow: Join Me for Bill Kutik’s Radio Show

Please join me for my appearance tomorrow on Bill Kutik’s radio show.  I’ll chatter on about a range of subjects, but here’s a sampling:

  • Insights on the continuing challenges around adoption of competencies
  • Benefits driving mobile applications for smart devices
  • The role HR needs to take if social media activities are going to take off in the enterprise
  • Predictions for HR technology in 2011

If you’d like to listen to the show, click here.


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The First Word on Lawson’s Acquisition of Enwisen

As I was mulling over the sequence of events leading up  to today’s announcement, I realized that this was the first acquisition Lawson has done since the broad adoption of social networking and thought that various analysts and pundits would be having their say about our decision to acquire Enwisen.  Then I realized that I could put the first commentary out there and see what the blogsphere thinks about our decision – so here it goes.

I am enthusiastic about what this deal means for Lawson HCM.  Not only does it add a suite of high growth products to our portfolio, but it also brings some superior talent into the company to help us drive forward our overall strategy, and that’s always a good thing.  This deal will allow us to add new products to our core offerings in the areas of Onboarding and Total Rewards, and customers will be able to leverage these solutions on top of whatever other Lawson products they might be using from us.

But more importantly, the acquisition opens up an entirely new segment of the market to Lawson HCM:  HR Service Delivery.  The functionality will give organizations the ability to transform the way they deliver HR services and in combination with our Workforce Management, Human Resource and Talent Management systems allow us to deliver a market-leading product footprint to our customers.  The Portal and Knowledge Base products that Enwisen has built are second-to-none, and they really deliver on the promise that stakeholders (employees, managers, HR generalists) can find information they need in two clicks or less.   And the call center applications make it possible for HR departments to drive significant cost out of the service delivery model while materially improving delivery quality to everyone involved.

Something that made this deal unique was the fact that we have been a reseller of Enwisen’s products for about 3 years.  So we have firsthand experience with their products, have already built the necessary technology so that they work together with ours and know that our customers love their stuff.   In fact, I had gotten a bit tired of employees and customers suggestion that we buy the company!

We are pleased to welcome Enwisen’s 250+ customers to the Lawson community and will continue to serve the markets Enwisen has supported for many years.  We hope to significantly accelerate the growth of the customer base by even more attention to our existing markets – particularly our strong verticals in public sector and healthcare.

Last, and definitely not least – a thank you to the people of Enwisen.  It’s always exciting and challenging to sell your company, and I know that the people selling it matter.  So I am always humbled when folks that have worked as hard as these individuals have look you in the eye and say, ‘yes, we want to sell you our company.’  Congratulations and thanks to all of the employees at Enwisen and particularly CEO Wally Smith, President DJ Chhabra, Marketing Chief Barbara Levin, and CFO John McLaughlin.  We thank you for your trust and confidence, and look forward to Enwisen’s bright future as a Lawson company.

Watch my LWSN-TV interview.

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How many data points indicates a trend?

I am in New York City for an event with a group of Wall Street analysts, and I was walking to the meeting from my hotel.  I love New York City (still dream of living here someday) and was enjoying the bustle of everyone headed to work on a Monday morning.  As I was walking along, though, I noticed not one, but two men headed to the office carrying absolutely nothing but their iPad!

I have been one of these people on occasion, although I haven’t completely given up a few vices (like my notebook and an overpriced briefcase).  But upon reflection on my own experience combined with the notion that two people in six blocks makes a trend, it makes me wonder if we’ll all be runnning around with nothing but that super slim device in our hands before long.

This is all anecdotal trivia for a Monday morning, but I know something for sure – these folks are the knowledge workers of our time, and if we expect them to use our HR self-service applications effectively, we’d better make sure they’re optimized for devices like this one.

We’ll have lots more to say on that subject soon…….

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HR Technology Conference 2010

Two people at the conference this week asked me why it had been months since I posted to my blog.  For those of you that know me well, I spent much of the summer with my twin daughters who left for college on August 30 (one at the University of Michigan and the other at Tufts University).  And between three really fantastic trips with the girls, 6 crazy weeks of college preparation activities around the house and one (bittersweet) trip to Boston (believe it or not they had to be at school the same day so divide and conquer was the order of the day), my blogging took a back seat.

But guess what?   I’m an empty nester and free to go back to my workaholic ways, which will include some more active social networking.  So watch out.

There’s no better time to get started than with a recap of the HR Technology Conference.  I have been to about 10 of these, and it was definitely the best ever.  And even from my relatively biased viewpoint, it was clear that the attendees were getting a great experience for their money.  Here are the highlights from my perspective:

  • The trend towards a unified view of talent management has gathered real steam.  One of the customer sessions highlighted talent management projects that failed (none, mercifully with Lawson software!), and one of the customers specifically mentioned how difficult it is to reconcile silos of data from multiple talent management databases as the reason for the failure.
  • The journey towards collecting actionable, insightful data is a challenging one.  It was a pleasure to introduce the work of the School District of Hillsborough County to the conference — their efforts towards improving teacher performance give our (marginally meaningful) work real significance!  Information Week offered a nice summary of the story in an article published last week.  Take a look at it here.
  • I can’t talk about the conference and not brag about our fantatic booth presentations by Michael Israel.  A blogger in our space talked about it far better than I could.  Read about it here.
  • We need to continue to push the envelope and inspire people to think.  Our constituents have long since figured out that HR needs to think strategically and that technology isn’t  a panacea to business problems — stop telling them.  As our work continues to mature in every discipline (but especially talent management), we need to show our customers HOW to make these things happen.  And that includes speaking the hard truths about what it takes to be successful.  My commitment this year is to get serious about how and be real about what it takes.
  • The classic ‘big bang’ software implementation is not dead.  I’m very encouraged by the interest in looking at the HRMS and Talent Management solutions in a more wholistic way.  I’m biased here — this is central to our strategy.  But listening to our friends at the JR Simplot Company talk about their success suggests that the  ‘big bang’ implementation is alive and if managed well, can deliver real value.  Take a look at our press release on their project here.

A lot has changed in our industry in the past year.  The economy seems to be coming back to life, the vendor landscape in our space is changing quickly, but most importantly our customers (prospective and current) are inspired to keep pushing the envelope to new and better ways to drive their businesses to the next level.

Kudos to the team at LRP, HR Executive Magazine and Bill Kutik for a great experience for everyone.  And for those of you that hate McCormick Place as much as I do — here’s to Las Vegas next year!

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Does Technology Really Matter to End-Users?

Today I am pleased to introduce you to my guest blogger, Cecile Alper-Leroux (

This is a question I often ask myself and am asked in my role of Director of HCM Product Strategy at Lawson. As luck would have it, I recently spent three days at Lawson’s Conference and User Exchange meeting with many of the 2000 customer and prospect attendees – the perfect time and place to ask a number of end users of technogy what they thought about the topic.

So before I tell you what I found out, I’ll tell you what I expected to hear on the subject.   I believed that technology only matters in so much as it directly affects the end user’s experience. In other words, that a user can find the information they are looking for easily, that the user experience is intuitive and pleasant, even natural.  Basically, that it is all about the look and feel for an end user of technology.  Seems basic enough, nothing earth-shattering about that assertion until we look under the covers of what might impact the end user experience. It turns out that technology has everything to do with a user’s experience because of one thing-choice. If a user wants a new idea to be quickly implemented and pervasively available in their user experience, the technology has to suppprt a rapid agile development methodology for the new feature the user chooses to implement. If a user wants to choose to work in a technology environment or Space that is completely intuitive and as ordinary as checking email, the technology has to be extensively embedded in the end user’s email, as well as deployable in other ways. That kind of speed of development and interface deployment choice can truly only come with a model-driven development methodology such as the one Lawson uses today to rapidly develop and deploy its HCM applications written using Landmark.

So what did end users tell me mattered about technology? That end-users wanted to be able to participate in the design and development process and see the fruits of their innovative ideas in the next release (flexible, rapid development), they wanted everyone in their organization to readily adopt and use the technology (make the technology available where and how users work- in Outlook or other delivered Spaces), and finally, that the technology matters in so much as it should never get in the way of completing work (stable technology and consistent processes, hallmarks of a model-driven development platform).

What have you heard and why does technology matter to you?

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Musings about ROI for Talent Management Technology Investments

First of all, this is my first attempt at writing an entire blog post from my new iPad, which I love with intensity! Whether that will be true after a few hundred words, remains to be seen. I will let you know at the end of the post.

This was a great week for customer meetings, especially consulting with folks trying to build justification for talent management technology investments. A few observations:

1. Hard and soft benefits are still relevant, but why would you expect that to work if it never has in the past?
2. It takes a very passionate HR leader to get these projects over the finish line. And my experience suggests that the secret sauce is a great relationship between the HR leader and business line execs. Show how better data about people will correlate to business outcomes that will matter to them and you will get it done.
3. I continue to be surprised by organizations that say they want true insight into the workforce, but their language is all centered around automating the transaction processes. I will be the last person to suggest that we shouldn’t be trying to lower the cost of service delivery, but if your primary focus is only that, you are almost certain to end up with silos of HR data that won’t deliver on the strategic vision. And when the crisis for richer data comes (and it will), getting insight will be expensive (if not impossible). Perhaps similar to the results you got when you turned those paper appraisal forms into a word doc or a spreadsheet?

Integrated talent management initiatives that drive breakthrough business outcomes are long-term investments that are based on a shared, passionate vision between HR execs and operations leadership.

And the iPad? Once again, it exceeds my expectations. One other comment: if I do one more spontaneous demo of this thing, I will ask for a commission. More importantly, I need to figure out how to get my customers this passionate about our products. Hats off to the folks at Apple…well done. I really should go buy that stock now…

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Amazon Announcement and Lawson HCM

It’s always interesting to be an HR guy inside of an ERP company – and that is especially true when we make major announcements about our product or technology direction. Last week was no exception when we announced our plans to offer our products on the Amazon Web Services Infrastructure. There is a fair amount of interesting news here, but none of it dramatically different from the approach that we HCM-specialists (inside of Lawson) have been following for the better part of a year.

The bottom line is this: give customers a Choice. Choice in how they license our software, how it’s deployed and who maintains it. And our announcement with Amazon changes the game for us with respect to deployment. What’s powerful about the model with Amazon (we haven’t told the full story about this yet, but will) is that it opens up opportunities for deployment efficiency that will ultimately rival that which is derived from a multi-tenant SaaS infrastructure.

Now I have made it a habit to never jump off the cliff to discuss publicly why we do (or don’t) offer a multi-tenant SaaS solution – there are plenty of others out there ready and eager to debate the issue on our behalf. But the reality is this – if a software vendor in the HCM space can deliver great functionality, with a service level that satisfies its customers, at a fair price while still meeting obligations to its stockholders to earn a profit, that’s what matters. And we will always take our direction on technology strategy in that context – regardless of the tenancy model (s) we ultimately decide to support.

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