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Enterprise hits and misses - HR tech hype peaks while cybersecurity fails

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed October 24, 2016
In this edition: HR tech hype hits the fever pitch, time to deconstruct. Plus: cybersecurity hits the headlines - time for the ten immutable laws of security. Plus: data science in HCM, and diversity at Dreamforce. Your whiffs include chatbot hyperbole, and some not-so-usual suspects.

Cheerful Chubby Man

diginomica hit: The year of peak HR hype and employee disengagement - by Brian Sommer

quotage: "Software vendors worry about engagement as poorly engaged workers tend to be less productive and prone to high attrition. That fact has been shown to be highly correlated. However, when companies don’t know WHY someone is disengaged, how can they or the HR technology solution they deploy, then know HOW can they can solve it?" - Brian, Employee disengagement is not a single cause issue – deal with it

myPOV: HR tech season is in full swing. That means happy camper cuddly misanthrope seasoned analyst Brian Sommer is in rare form. Brian went to these HR tech shows eager for innovation, and came back with hype sandwiches on Melba toast - slim pickins'. Brian lays out the carnage in HR Tech 2016, the year of peak HR hype – PT Barnum would have been so proud. Evidently people were dropping the "AI" phrase with abandon. Brian drips with disdain for the vendor that described their mobile app as a "suite."

But it's in the employee disengagement post above that Brian gets to the heart of it: enterprises thinking that treadmills and fitbits can make up for sedentary work amidsts KPI-wielding taskmasters. Or as Brian puts it: "the moment a person goes back to working with a bad boss all of that stress and disengagement can return."

Which leads us to a serious analytics and correlation problem: "While software vendors can show how one activity can potentially create a positive attribute for a person, they cannot show that the attribute is sustainable or will cause another engagement issue to occur." Brian challenges firms to change course on this now, or slide into workplace mediocrity. Sidenote: HR Tech vendors must have loved the sight of Sommer and Frank Scavo walking towards them for a tag team BBQ weenie roast briefing.

Happy children eating apple
diginomica four - my top four stories on diginomica this week

Vendor analysis, diginomica style. Here's my three top choices from our vendor coverage:

A few more vendor picks, without the pull quotes:

Salesforce’s ‘browsing, not buying’ shopping list has some interesting names on it (Stuart)
Microsoft’s Q1 FY2017 – steady as she goes but work to be done (Den)
digibyte – NetSuite reduces loss, but revenue outlook withdrawn (Stuart)

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer
Ten Immutable Laws of Security in the era of cyber attacks by Microsoft and several others

quotage: "But even if software could be made perfect, it wouldn't solve the problem entirely. Most attacks involve, to one degree or another, some manipulation of human nature, a process usually referred to as social engineering. Raise the cost and difficulty of attacking security technology, and bad guys respond by shifting their focus away from the technology and toward the human being at the console." - The Ten Immutable Laws of Security, Microsoft

myPOV: Last week the U.S. east coast was knocked off (most of)t the Internet due to a massive distributed denial of service attack. That prompted the requisite navel gazing, including a mildly alarmist post, Cyber warfare: The new international warfront, which updates on how the U.S. government is combating ISIS and Islamic militant accounts with their own bots.

The hypothesis contemplated in the cyber warfare article, that World World Three will take place on the Internet, is a tad extreme. Still, these recent attacks, including the Yahoo email attack revelations that have threatened its purchase by Verizon, does illustrate the degree to which all of us are vulnerable, and probably ill-equipped to deal with personal data breaches of that magnitude.

Enter Microsoft's (updated) piece, The Ten Immutable Laws of Security, which is a terrific example of how helpful content from vendors can contribute. Filled with explanatory detail, Microsoft's laws hit on a number of factors individuals and companies should consider. Some of the laws are simple to the point of obviousness, but then again, "Weak passwords trump strong security" is one many of us struggle with.

My only quibble on the ten immutable laws - a bit too much focus on "bad guys." If only it were that simple. How good people can be exploited and "turned bad" is a big part of the security mix - not just someone hacking into your system with ill intent.

Other standouts:

  • HCM Fertile Ground for Data Science - Strativa's Frank Scavo with an informative review of the data science potentials in HR, including a vendor-by-vendor rundown. Scavo pushes beyond the attrition/retention problems Brian Sommer has focused on, raising new HCM questions data science can address. Example: "In a retail organization, minimizing inventory shrinkage (i.e. theft) is a major driver of profitability. Which job candidates are most likely to act on the job in a trustworthy manner?"
  • The Alt-Job economy is doing great - no, it sucks - I'm not sure if I've ever seen a stronger juxtaposition of takes on jobs in the era of automation than Vinnie Mirchandani's The Alt-Job Economy and MarketWatch's unflinchingly grim Workers will simply try to survive, rather than prosper, as tech takes over the economy. Neither piece hits all the nuances but I give this round to Vinnie, due to a more focused argument. Both pieces offer a needed corrective to the other.

Honorable mention

Every day matters with driverless cars - Have mixed feelings about "put your trust in Google to make our streets safe from texting-and-driving humans," but I get the point.
Can AI really be ethical and unbiased? - No.
A scary future for Twitter users - About how a new buyer could ruin twitter, though there's already plenty of turds in this social punch bowl if you ask me.
The IT Era and the Internet Revolution - This post is really about old media, new media and where we go from here, with a few superfluous back-pats from the author to himself.
AT&T Agrees to Buy Time Warner for $85.4 Billion - Speaking of turds, what a bloated empire of mediocrity this would be.


Overworked businessman
So we learned one thing this week - no matter how ticked off you are about your car being towed, once it's actually on the tow truck, it's wayyy too late to drive it back off again. Oh and you think Samsung has it bad? How about the revelation that St. Jude Medical's heart implant devices can be hacked? Silver lining: a hacker would need to be within 100 feet of the implantee to kill them. Hmm I guess that's not much of a silver lining...

I feature New Stack content frequently in this column. Truth: this article isn't bad, but the headline is godawful: Why Chatbots Will Soon Kill the App Store. The evidence cited? We all have "app fatigue." OK - you know what kind of fatigue I have? Freaking chatbot fatigue. And how, pray tell, will we be using all these chatbots? From within Facebook Messenger? That's now the home base for ALL our app activity? Forget about "soon" - I will NEVER manage my entire existence within Facebook. I can't be alone in that conviction.

I'm also a Tom Foremski fan. He's written more astute blogs about media than I've written blogs period. But he was either smokin the good stuff, dancing to Xanadu, or old schoolin' it with Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy when he wrote that a GE startup will test ideas that could lead to a radical restructuring of its manufacturing business.

Look, I'm all for multi-national conglomerates growing a conscience, reducing externalities and reconfiguring business for the public good. And GE is surely one of the most interesting re-inventions of our time. But Foremski lost me when he wrote, "GE wants nothing less than to harness the human potential of the entire planet, into collaborative organizations that will completely remake our notion of a commercial enterprise." The entire planet? Seems like GE has its hands full just with wind turbines and (unsubstantiated) bribery allegations in Brazil, no? And then there's this awkward 3D printing purchase attempt on the ropes.

Anyhow, I look forward to my invitation from GE to collaborate. Any day now... Over to you, Clive.

Which #ensw pieces of merit did I miss? Let us know in the comments.

Most Enterprise hits and misses articles are selected from my curated @jonerpnewsfeed. 'myPOV' is borrowed with reluctant permission from the ubiquitous Ray Wang.

Image credit - Cheerful Chubby Man © RA Studio, Happy Children © Anna Omelchenko, Waiter Suggesting Bottle © Minerva Studiom, Overworked Businessman © Bloomua, Loser and winner - Loser and Winner © ispstock - Fotolia - all from

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