Feb 18 2019
“Of course, if we look at HR technology engagement, one could
argue that every time a ‘user’ (diner) consumes a piece of your HR Technology
(tasty dish) it should be treated as a special occasion. Configurations may
appear to be more manageable, but by their very nature they are restrictive and
simply can’t cater for the user experience that today’s users would expect when
Have you ever been in the position of organising a group dinner?
I’ve found that group dinners are often in honour of a special occasion like a
birthday or a festive holiday, but sometimes, the special occasion is simply
friends or family getting together for what is hopefully a memorable event.
If I compare the organisation of a group dinner, to when I arrange dinner with my
wife, one thing stands out: Set menus!
Yes, the set menu. Saviour of the group dinner. No need to worry about all those
a la carte meal options. Splitting the cheque? We won’t need a spreadsheet this
evening. Everyone’s paying the same set menu charge.
I find this dining dilemma useful when thinking about some of the challenges
facing HR Technology buyers today. In the à la carte phase of HR technology
buying, companies felt able to select the best software options for each segment
of HR, be that talent acquisition, learning and development, performance
management or otherwise. Like a hungry diner perusing an exquisite menu, the
freedom to choose your own gastronomic journey was delighted in.
At some point in time, there came a tipping point, where buyers seemingly
overwhelmed by the number of products and services, began to vote with their
feet. Whether it be due to data handling, stakeholder management or juggling
customisations, buyers headed straight for vendors serving the trusty set menu,
better known in HR technology speak as ‘the configuration’.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve enjoyed many a good set menu. There is a time, a place
and most certainly a use case. The fact that entire restaurant chains have been
built on steak and fries proves the point! It’s just that for a special
occasion, in an ideal word, a set menu just doesn’t make the grade.
Of course, if we look at HR technology engagement, one could argue that every
time a ‘user’ (diner) consumes a piece of your HR Technology (tasty dish) it
should be treated as a special occasion. Configurations may appear to be more
manageable, but by their very nature they are restrictive and simply can’t cater
for the user experience that today’s users would expect when using technology.
Just a few user experience statistics gathered by Google and
Glassdoor reinforces the point;
The problem here, is that unlike those 79% who can move on to a different
experience, your current and future talent cannot escape if your HR technology
offering doesn’t provide them with a good experience.
Software to help onboard new talent should feel personal. It should help create a
memorable learning journey for the individual. Performance evaluations,
hopefully, should become a celebration.
Doesn’t being so special, cost the earth?
When it comes to reviewing the bill, the temptation is to believe your
‘set-lunch’ is going to provide you extra value for money. It should, shouldn’t
it? You’re accepting less choice, and the economies of scale in serving the same
to all customers means that the discount trickles down to the customer. In
reality, maybe not. Since everyone has gone wild on set lunches, the master
chefs cooking up the most delightful and memorable à la carte dishes have
struggled to compete. When the ‘set-lunch’ becomes the only menu in town, we
shouldn’t be shocked when we get the cheque.
The way in which many organisations seem to be turning away from best in class HR
technologies in favour of vendors which offer set configurations, may be
absolutely right in the most practical sense. However, we should not settle in
to believing that this is an ideal scenario.
This is where technology really does need to step up and translate the ideal
scenarios into reality. Help buyers feel comfortable that they can select best
in class technologies whilst providing a holistic user experience, at a price
point where it makes sense to offer that special experience which all our talent
When I took my wife for Valentine’s Day dinner last week, the service, the
ambience and of course the company was first class. However, when I picked up
the Valentine’s set-menu and saw my dessert choices were apple tart or
cheesecake, I couldn’t help but crave the chocolate brownie from the à la carte!
Richard is the CEO of Jobable. Asiamoney Magazine has recognised him as one of the top headhunters in the Asia-ex Japan region, having acted as a trusted advisor to global investment banks and asset managers for the past 15 years. He is a known figure within the HR technology space, making regular appearances at industry round tables and entrepreneurship events. His blogs and whitepapers have been featured in global HR publications. He holds a Master’s Degree in Law from the University of Cambridge.
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