16.02.2012

Forbes on the Empowered Employee

John Hagel, Suketu Gandhi & Giovanni Rodriguez of Deloitte have posted a terrific Forbes article, The Empowered Employee is Coming; Is The World Ready? It's a great read. In particular, I latched on to a statement on Page 2:

In the end, the great invasion is not just about the tools that originate in the consumer world, but the metrics and leading practices of consumer engagement. In other words, business people hoping to engage the empowered employee need to think like consumer marketers.

This really resonated with what we're doing with Murmur. Part of our philosophy was that there is a lot of innovation in the Consumer Engagement domain that can be bought to Employee Engagement.

A core example is that we're moving to real-time - not many companies serious about consumer marketing would assess their consumers every 1-2 years. However, this is exactly what happens with traditional engagement surveys. We've already got customers that have enacted actions from a Murmur survey. Critically, they have also been able to assess these actions within weeks and retune their approach.

It's no longer an annual one-off. It's a powerful tool that is commonplace in the consumer market, but for employee engagement it really is extraordinary. Another more subtle example is the use of Net Promoter concepts in our charting.

There are a few systemic reasons why the employee space has lagged. The funding model for Human Resources is one. Often HR is competing for funding with other departments - departments that have a more tangible link between investment and revenue. For organisations that are single-minded about ROI and the bottom-line, HR easily loses out to the internal competition.

Compounding this is the fact that IT projects have historically been a significant Capital Expense (CAPEX). You need to buy the software, get it installed, maintain it, update it and depreciate it. This has the unfortunate consequence that HR becomes the poorest cousin in terms of IT systems. What HR does get is a payroll system (you have to have it). Since that's all you've got, everything else gets shoe-horned onto that platform. It's a substandard result.

As much as it's shrouded in buzz, the rise of SaaS and "The Cloud" really does make a difference here. It turns that heavy CAPEX project into Operational Expenditure OPEX. No upfront costs, no project lead time. This is true for all domains, but the difference in the HR space is profound. This means HR can now buy capabilities that were previously out of reach. You can already see this occurring, and it's likely to accelerate over the next 12-24 months.

It's an exciting time. We're looking for companies to come along on the ride - if that's you, drop us a line.

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