Friday, January 20, 2012

It is time to simplify people management software

At work today, I wanted to look up information about a colleague. I wanted to find out where he worked, who he worked for and so on. Normally I look up such information in Microsoft Outlook or in the corporate portal where the organizational information is displayed as a chart powered by Nakisa.

Today I went to the portal and, as usual, could not find a link for what I was looking for. So I went to Streamwork and searched for this person by name. I found his information, information about his network, what he is working on and what his recent activities were.

This is an interesting turning point. Instead of going to an org charting tool such as Nakisa I went to a collaboration tool to look up information about a person and his team. Looking up a person in a place where people got together and got work done felt very natural.

I think that this is the beginning of a profound change in the way people management software is going to be designed in the near future. Every people management software application is going to center around a person's profile. The profile will be a living, breathing place which is populated by the person directly, by the actions of the person indirectly, and by the actions of the person's network. The profile will get enriched even if the person never ever actually visits the profile or edits it consciously. And by the way, majority of people will access this profile and act on it via a mobile device that they carry with them.

This is not an entirely new idea. Any one who has a Facebook, LinkedIn or Xing account knows how this works in the consumer space.

In my opinion, the user experience of any people management software should start with a person's photograph, his contact information, empirical information about his work, information about his career, information about the people he interacts with, information about the skills and services he offers and information about his recent activity. The viewer will then be able to act on that information depending upon her role in the company and relationship to that person. Almost every people management process and work management process can  fit into this framework.

I see it as a simple framework. There are people in a company. There are professional and personal goals that they need to accomplish. There are activities they need to do to accomplish the goals. There are appropriate resources and people who are able and willing to help them accomplish the goals. As part of this process, every person creates value that is sent back to the commons. The individual benefits and the company benefits.

We tested this concept in Career OnDemand with tens of customers and they all loved the approach. So I am very confident that this approach will work for all people management apps. 2012 is going to be an interesting year. Stay tuned. We can't predict the future. But we can sure try to invent it.

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