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It is better
to not be on
the web than
to be on and
not know why

John Sumser

is more
it seems.
John Gall


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Is Software Enough?

(April 07, 2004) - We've been on the receiving end of some very smart correspondence. The prevailing view seems to be that the market will, fairly quickly, rearrange itself to become allied camps of technology providers and consulting shops that integrate those offerings. It's the XML/dot net dream scenario.

We know so many people who are technical problem solvers that it's hard to imagine where the hybrid consultants (who do the market translation job) will come from. Were not really sure that technology is the issue. Over the years, we've noticed that, in lieu of marketing, software companies seem to add features without regard to whether or not they are needed. It is very rare to see a shop that simply delivers value to its customers.

When you think about the coming trends in business software, a very difficult question begins to emerge. We're certain that the future of recruiting technology is pretty clear:

  • Dot net/web services modules will quickly replace cumbersome one size fits all platform solutions;
  • XML (not HR-XML, mind you) will enable radical customization of workspaces;
  • Web data that describes visitor behavior will be integrated into the employment process;
  • More complex internet interactions (video, VOIP, SMS, IM, online interviewing, video resumes) will become standards in the recruiting arsenal;
  • Licensing of software and tools will happen at a component level;
  • IT will become a collaborative partner with the Recruiting Subject Mattter Experts (SMEs);
  • Clearer distinctions between job board services and pure traffic acquisition will emerge as priced services;
  • Rich interactions with lively candidate communities will become the norm;
  • Companies will begin to "subscribe" to the Resumes of interested and qualified candidates (RSS)

It's a three to seven year horizon line, to be sure. But, the environment we've just described requires at least a couple of new Human functions within the Recruiting Department and in the vendors who serve it.

  • Someone will have to be responsible for the overall configuration of the individual installation. This will be performed by the Recruiting Department in firms that are early adopters and by vendors as the role gets clearer. Included in the tasks are maintenance of the evolution of requirements (internal and website), licensing agreements and, most likely, training and documentation.;
  • Data Analysts who digest the meaning of various trends and episodes will become a working part of the Recruiting team. Initially, they will look like the current crop of sourcers (see the Microsoft Recruiting Blog). The will answer questions like: How do we get 15 more customer service engineers for Fargo, ND. Over a longer period, they will become the experts in the evolution of the website, making certain that it reaches the right traffic with the right message. Sourcers will become powerful players in the hierarchy because they can shape the message from the Hiring Manager to the audience.
  • Experts in the compatibility and complementarities of various modules will begin to emerge as the vendors themselves shy away from integration and single thread solutions.
  • Third party clearinghouses who simply track the data definitions carried by modules with input and output requirements for each vendor will emerge to keep the systems operational.
  • There will be a number of forms of third party consultant who assess and optimize the operational environment, its improvement possibilities, recommend a tailored solution and mange the implementation.

Surprisingly, the driver behind all of this is the current failure of vendors to provide the market with adequate marketing. The emerging technical world presents the Recruiting department with a box of Lego, so to speak. Rather than this generation's "Lego Kit", the next round will absolutely require that customers become very good at clearly defining their requirements.

(Parents in the audience will understand the distinction. A box of Lego is a great big pile of parts that may be assembled into whatever the user wants. A "Lego Kit" is a box of parts designed to be used for a single purpose - a castle, ship, airplane or some other assemblage. With a Kit, following the instructions results in a finished product. With a box of parts, you have to design the final product yourself.)

Although the technology is evolving rapidly to the point that we've described (there are already several low cost vendors who leave installation and its risks entirely in the customer's hands), the biggest driver is the failure of current vendors to describe their offerings in a way that makes profitable pricing make sense to the customer. This is a marketing failure that, because so many of the companies are fundamentally technical in nature, makes the management decision to abandon detailed support a "falling off a log" decision.

In a market like ours is currently, customers demand and get away with demanding service levels far beyond the prices they pay. The constant entry of low cost suppliers keeps a lid on market evolution and satisfactory service levels. The real winners in the next phase will be market integrators who take responsibility for the results in their customers organizations.

John Sumser

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Materials written by John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
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