Monday, October 31, 2011

Managing Your Reputation Online Will Help You Succeed

Since we use our real names in most consumer and business applications today, it is possible for others to form an opinion about us based on what we say, what we do, and what we share. There are frameworks emerging to track this reputation based on observable and verifiable evidence. Whether you like it or not, people who work with you, who buy from you or hire you have access to this information. So it is important that you create and maintain a reputation.

Think of it as your credit score. Your banks know it and can determine your credit worthiness based on the score. So, you need to know what your score is, how to build it and how to improve it.  Similarly your employers and peers are verifying your information from multiple sources. You have a choice. You can actively create it, manage it and take advantage of it or leave it to chance. Saying that you are too busy for social media is naive and will hurt your success in the long run.

The History And Possible Future Of Performance Management

This info graphic from Mashable is so well done, I could not resist posting it here.

I would like to highlight the term reputation, mentioned in the last section of this info graphic. I suspect reputation building frameworks will become as important as formal credentialing frameworks. In other words, employers will care as much about what your reputation among peers is as the degree you have. This is happening today. But the frameworks for employees to build  a professional reputation within the walls of a company and for employers to verify that professional reputation is not robust yet.
 My colleagues who follow my blog and follow me on twitter know more about what I do at work and what I am capable of than my own team members. This is sad. 
We are trying to address this in SAP Career OnDemand. Career OnDemand is designed with the hypothesis that employees will take charge of their performance, their reputation and their career. We also believe that reputation built using verifiable contribution matters as much, if not more, as formal credentials. The next few years are going to be interesting.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Simulating Page Loading In An iPad Prototype Makes It Feel Like A Real App

While building iPad prototypes using @AxureRp I use a simple technique to make users feel like they are seeing a real iPad app. I deliberately display a page loading animation for a second just to give them the illusion that they are seeing a real app, even though they know very well that it is only a prototype. It helps the audience visualize the final design of the app, and helps me convey the possibilities.

Here is a video of how I do it.

Here is a sample gif file in case you want to use it. You should be able to right click and save this file, if you want to use it in your prototypes.

Half The Participants Downloaded The Conference App At LinkedIn Talent Connect

The LinkedIn Talent Connect 2011 conference had a conference mobile app. To the best of my knowledge, audience could give their feedback to sessions only via the app. The audience was recruiters and i noticed almost all of them had a smart phone. Even then, on day 2 only 50% of the audience had downloaded the app. I thought that was an interesting statistic.

Even though I was carrying a smart phone, I did not miss the app much. I did not care about giving feedback to the sessions. Conference apps need to provide something more than just replicate information already available on paper or automate processes previously done using paper. Conference app designers need to think about taking advantage of capabilities only the mobile phone could provide.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Social Media Help To Decide On An Apple Tree

My wife and I wanted to plant an apple tree in our backyard and decided to do some research on it. After the regular search and the taste tests, we decided that we wanted a Cameo apple tree. However, we were not satisfied with the decision and wanted to hear from some one who actually grows the Cameo apple tree. That is when we stumbled upon a set of videos from Cameo Apple growers in Washington state. After listening to farmers talk passionately about the apple they grow, we were convinced that we wanted the Cameo.

In a year or so, I'll let you know how apple farming at home worked out for me.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Innovators need to think of the United States as a developing country

Yesterday, I attended a discussion with Peter Thiel, organized by Stanford University students. Peter said that to maintain economic growth in the long-run,  it is good for an economy to grow intensively,  by improvements in technology. He also said that we need to think of the United States as a developing country rather than as a developed country when it comes to innovation. The level of technological innovation is actually less today compared to the 1930s when bulk of innovation started happening. I thought that was an interesting way to think about the US. For example, when it comes it clean energy and sustainable development we are a developing country and need to start from scratch.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Facebook and Twitter Are Very Important For Hiring Hourly Workers

UPS uses facebook and twitter for hiring hourly workers and LinkedIn to hire professionals. Last year 2000-3000 hires out of the more than 50,000 people they hired cane from social media channels including Facebook and Twitter. The head of recruiting explained that these hourly workers tend to be young students who are working part time. Such students have a Facebook profile but not a LinkedIn Profile.  I came away wondering what happens when these students graduate and look for permanent jobs. They might still use Facebook to look for jobs.

Numbers Driven Recruitment Marketing Is Where We Are Heading Says Doug Berg

At the recruitment innovation summit today, Doug Berg of Jobs2Web said that companies have an opportunity to make small investments in recruitment marketing and track the results within hours and alter their marketing spending decisions. UPS, one of the customers of Jobs2Web agreed and told the audience that this approach worked well for them.

If employers target their candidates better, based on the knowledge about what is working, it not only reduces their cost of hiring but also improves the candidate experience. I think that makes a lot of sense.

More importantly, the Jobs2Web engine co-exists with a company's current applicant tracking system and a candidate relationship management system.

Here is Doug Berg talking about his product.

Here are his presentations on the concept.


Text Messaging Candidates Is More Effective Than QR Codes

The UPS talent acquisition team, based on the experience of hiring ten of thousands of hourly workers every year, said that text messaging candidates produces more results than investing in QR Codes.

UPS Uses Facebook And Twitter For Hiring Hourly Workers And LinkedIn For Porfessionals

The talent acquisitions team from UPS hire more than 50,000 hourly workers  and about 1000 professionals every year. They said that Facebook and Twitter are a great source for hiring hourly and part-time workers. They invested as little as $7500 each on creating a presence on Facebook and Twitter with great payback.

Making Your Career Website Mobile Friendly Is A Better Investment Than Creating a Mobile Career App

At the recruitment innovation summit at the Facebook offices today, I got to listen to the UPS talent acquisition team. They shared some incredible numbers about their recruiting success hiring tens of thousands of hourly workers. They said that they decided to invest in mobile enabling their career web site rather than creating a mobile app. More than 600 hires came via their mobile site.

The experience was shared by Matthew Lavery, the managing director of talent acquisition and corporate workforce planning. Michael L. Vangel from tmp.worldwide was the partner who helped UPS with their social media and mobile strategy and execution. They claimed that the investment in mobile enabling a career website paid them back in four months.

They polled the 200 people in the audience and only three said that they have mobile friendly career websites.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Video Job Descriptions Are Very Effective Says VMware Expert

Instead of just creating stale job descriptions @WillStaney of VMware asks hiring managers to create simple videos explaining what they do and posts those videos along with the traditional job description. He is leading the way with video. Every talent acquisition expert should follow what he is doing and learn from him. He is doing some very innovative things at VMWare.

Simulating iPad Panel Movement in an @AxureRP Prototype

There is a simple way to simulate a panel movement in an iPad prototype built using Axure. Here is a video explaining how to do it. If you are interested in learning more about this, email me and I'll be glad to talk more about it.

There are some basic Axure features you need to know to be able to build the iPad prototype I explained on the top. These are the videos explaining those basic features you need to know.

How to add conditional logic to an Axure interaction

Product Management and Product Design Are Converging

In the recent years product design and product management are converging into a single role. By product design I am mean how a product works, not just how it looks and feels. Gone are the days where a product manager's job was only to be the voice of the market. Voice of the market still matters a lot. But producing and presenting a design that is validated by users and the market should be the goal of product managers who want to be successful today and in the future.

The Price Of Civilization By Jeffrey Sachs

I listened to a talk by Prof Jeffrey Sachs and heard his argument about the need for higher taxes. He says taxes is the price we pay to buy civilization. I plan to read his book named "The Price Of Civilization".

Here is Jeffrey Sachs on Charlie Rose

Here is a video where he talks about the current state of affairs.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Rapid Prototyping Works For The Landscaping Business As Well

My wife and I are getting some landscaping done in our backyard. We got the design done and got some quotes from a few landscapers. Many of them came and looked at the design, discussed the design, went away and send us the quotes.

One of them however, listened to us carefully and identified that we were not clear about what to do about some existing trees. We were wondering if we should prune the leaves and keep them or remove them completely. He said, "Why don't I just prune one tree and show you how it might look so that you can make up your mind." Within minutes, he got his tools out, pruned two out of the 8 trees and showed us how the garden might look.

Things became clear and we took the decisions. Guess who got our landscaping business? The guys who stood around and talked or the guy who quickly showed us how things might look. That was a trick question. Of course the guys who rolled up his sleeves and showed us a glimpse of how things might look got our business.

It struck me that this is how our customers might feel when we show the prototypes of future products. Now I have a better understanding of how they feel when they see a prototype rather than a bunch of slides. I now understand why we have huge participation in our co-innovation program when we show a prototype rather than a bunch of slides. Are you still showing 25 slides in an hour and boring your customers to death. Is that getting you anywhere?

Mobility And Talent Acquisition

At the LinkedIn Talent Connect conference, Talent Acquisition Directors from Microsoft and BP said that it is time to "Go Mobile" for your talent acquisition efforts. But neither of the speakers said what  their strategy is to "Go Mobile" for talent acquisition. The speaker from Pfizer said that they have built a app for candidates to search for jobs. I wondered why a candidate will go to the trouble of downloading an app that only enables them to search for jobs in one company. I asked this question to several experts and practitioners and I did not get a satisfactory answer. I guess some one asked them to just "Go Mobile".

Several Companies Are Eager To Use LinkedIn Talent Pipeline

LinkedIn Talent Pipeline enables recruiters to maintain their private pool of candidates in LinkedIn, even if those candidates do not have a LinkedIn profile. For example, the recruiter can upload the resume of a candidate who does not have a LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn's value proposition is that they will help keep the list fresh, assuming that most candidate in the talent pool will have a LinkedIn profile and will keep that profile up to date.

At the LinkedIn Talent Connect conference, I informally asked many talent acquisition folks what they think about LinkedIn Talent Pipeline tool and they said that they are all eager to start using it. It is seen as a great value add to the current systems they use. One thing though. No one talked about replacing their Applicant Tracking Systems. My guess is that applicant tracking systems won't die. They will fade away slowly.

Automate Social Media Engagement As Less As Possible

I recently listened to Will Staney, the Talent Acquisition Web Stategy Manager at VMware talk about effective user of social media for talent acquisition. He bought up a key point that many other talent acquisition folks in the audience agreed with. Will said that automating social media is not going to help. He said that people can recognize a person from an automated message very easily. 

He also brought up an important point about posting jobs of Twitter. He does not post all VMware jobs on twitter. He posts selectively. His ratio for automated tweets : human tweets is 1:7.

Companies Recognize That Career Paths Are Not Confined To The Company Anymore

At the LinkedIn Talent Connect conference I listened to the talk by a Sr. Manager of Talent Acquisition from Pfizer. She spoke about career paths and I asked her about Pfizer's definition of career path. She confirmed that when Pfizer suggests a career path for an employee, it recognizes that the employee may not always work for Pfizer. I believe it is smart to recognize that and be honest about it with employees.

Technology Enabled Referral Programs Increase Referral Based Hires Significantly

At the LinkedIn Talent Connect conference I listened to the Chief People Officer and the Director of Talent Acquisition from Redhat talk about their referral program. The Director of talent Acquisition told me that the percentage of referrals went from 25% to 45% after they designed a referral program and implemented a referral management system. Industry average for referral based hires is 17-20%.

I also polled a few other Talent Directors at the conference to verify if using a referral management system, along with a good referral process, significantly improves referral based hires. They confirmed that the use of a referral process along with a referral management system increases their referral based hires significantly.

MGM Thinks Mobile To Speed Up The Check Out Process

I stayed at the MGM Grand for the Talent Connect Conference and noticed that MGM uses an iPad for speeding up guest checkout. The receipt was mailed to my email address and I confirmed that I received the receipt before leaving the checkout area using my mobile phone. Great experience.

I also learned from a Nordstrom shopper that they use the iPhone and iPad to speed up the checkout process.The iPad is becoming quite a versatile device.

I took this picture with the permission of the MGM employee

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Building iPad Effects In A Prototype Using @AxureRP

I am increasingly thinking tablet-first while designing and prototyping enterprise applications. When I show my prototypes to customers, partners and colleagues, I want them to see the effects provided by the unique and interesting effects that a touch interface provides. 

I did not find too many prototyping tools that have built in support for the touch interface. So I decided to try building some patterns on my own using existing tools. Since the results are useful for me, I decided to share the wealth. Hope you like it. Let me know what you think. If more people find it useful, I will share more.

The video below shows how to build a swing effect in your prototype using the tool @AxureRP.

Click here to buy the AxureRP project file.
Buy the AxureRP 6.5 Project File Simulating iPad Panel Movements

The screen shots of the prototype I used to explain the iPad animation effect 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Case To Spend More Time Playing Games

After being disillusioned for a while with mindless arguments about gamifying enterprise software by people, who have little idea about what they were talking about, I started to run into some very valuable insight into the area of using gaming in the real world.  Jane McGonigal's talk is one such gem. It is not about enterprise software. It is about how gaming can help solve problems in the real world.

Learning Management Systems Are Not Good At Enabling Learning

I was talking about the informal and peer to peer learning features in Career OnDemand with several SAP HCM consultants yesterday and they asked me how we are planning to integrate Career OnDemand with SAP Enterprise Learning, which is SAP's OnPremise learning management system. After thinking about that for a while, I came to the conclusion that such integration for the sake of reporting and tracking is not the top priority, in my opinion. I'll explain why.

Learning management systems don't enable learning. They enable credentialing. They enable organizations(administrators, hr-managers, risk management folks, lawyers) who want to ensure that someone went through the motion, so that they can show compliance when someone sues them for an error committed by an employee. In short, most learning management system buyers only care about compliance. They may tell you and even believe otherwise. This is a fundamental problem in organizational learning, which many people are trying to solve. In my opinion, enterprise software has done very little to enable actual learning in organizations.

I believe that conversation between two people is the best learning technology on earth. In Career OnDemand, we want to enable people to connect with each other and have a conversation so that they can learn from each other, exchange  notes on their real-world experiences, borrow ideas and resources from each other and build a trusting learning and mentoring relationship. We want to focus on people and their needs. Credentialing is necessary. But it is not the top problem facing organizations today.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

There is not going to be one super employee profile

Today, my colleague Dave Brockington and I were discussing the topic of profile within organizations and swapping war stories about customer conversations. Dave is responsible for product management and strategy for SAP Streamwork. He asked me if  I believe that there will be one single super profile of an employee in an organization. I told him "No".

I believe that there will be multiple places in an organization where a person's profile information is stored. In the future, systems will talk to each other to exchange data about a person when required, sometimes even in real time.

The concept of what is a profile is changing drastically. In Career OnDemand, for example, a person's profile will include his or her performance and development goals, her activities, the feedback she has received, her formal and informal network in the context of her work and so on. The idea of what a profile means in the consumer world is evolving drastically as well. For example, most people will have profiles in LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Quora, Amazon, Blogger, Wordpress and Google+ among other places. No one single place can be considered the super profile of a person. Every profile will contain different pieces of information that is relevant in different contexts.

So my advice to customers is to give up the futile attempt to build a super employee profile within the company and focus on exchanging data between appropriate systems that store employee related information. One more thing. Let the person who owns the profile, maintain the profile information. Do not try to maintain the profile information using an administrator. You will find it hard to make that work.

@SameerPatel responded to this post with his thoughts here. I am revisiting the topic of employee profile and decided to capture and highlight his views. I highlighted some of his thoughts below.

Prashanth Padmanabhan has a thought proviking post up on why there will never be one super [employee] profile in the enterprise. I understand his issues with this but I think it is important to decouple sources of employee intelligence and the profile itself.  
I fully agree that we have to have systems engage and share data but still, as we start to understand the implicit and explicit elements of what makes a complete profile, we need to start to bring the right information together in one place.
I agree with Prashanth that we need to let employees maintain their profile but I think thats a rat hole for the most part. When is the last time you updated MyYahoo or Google profiles? As bad as HR might be at some orgs when it comes to updating employee data, employees might be no better at updating their profile.
We need implicit data to feed a profile to truly get a sense of what each employee brings to the table – based on not just what she thinks she knows, but her work and how the community feels about it.

iPad apps may be a way to preserve the sanity of people managers

My colleagues and I have been studying a peculiar species in the corporate world, called people managers, for several months now. They seem to be the most stressed out bunch of people with little time to do their work. They are the ones bombarded with every corporate message, every new tool, every new strategy, every violation of spending policy, violation of time entry and so on. It is not a surprise that people managers are not fans of enterprise software. They also seem to be the most mobile people in the office. They are going from meeting room to meeting room, building to building, office to office and cubicle to cubicle. They attend many urgent but unimportant meetings to please their boss, be a good corporate citizen, return a favor to a colleague so that he or she will come to the boring and unimportant meetings that they arrange etc. I sat and watched many managers in meetings. Most of the time, they check their mobile devices under the table, paying little attention to the subject matter being discussed. I completely understand why they are bored. Most of those meetings had a series of slides with the self absorbed presenter going on and on with no intention to connect with his or her audience.

I also read reports by Nielson and others that the iPad increases consumption of content because of its form factor. It can be carried around like a notebook, and has a large screen that can be used to do a lot of content consumption and analysis. It can be hidden under the table in a meeting room and peered into. People managers can pretend that they are taking notes in the meeting while tapping away on their iPad. Tapping on the iPad won't make that annoying keyboard noise that invites hostile stares from others in the meeting room.

So I am wondering if more manager apps should be built for the iPad first. Forget the web version. Most managers don't go to their enterprise software portal, unless they are forced to, any way. It goes without saying that the apps have to be relevant for the managers and should be designed well.

The good news is that I get to try out these things.  My colleagues and I may test this approach in the coming months to see how it works. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Prototyping For The iPad. Axure Works Well.

I started prototyping for the iPad recently. I normally use @AxureRP for prototyping. I explored several tools and resources that claimed to be built from the ground-up for mobile application prototyping. I realized that most tools ask you to create a series of screens and then hyperlink them. That works ok. But I wanted a more realistic feel for my iPad prototypes. I wanted screen elements to glide across the screen like in a real iPad. After some trail and error, I used Axure and the associated screen templates to create my prototype.  The results are really cool. I was very impressed with what we can do with Axure. For example, you can make screens move across the screen like the Twitter app for iPad. I am confident that the prototype is realistic enought to be shown to users for their feedback on functionality and usability. I'll keep you posted. I might create a video some time in the future on the things I did to get the glide functionality. If you have questions, let me know. I'll be glad to chat.

Image from

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Boomerang By Michael Lewis

I just read the book Boomerang by Michael Lewis. It is an easy read which throws light on the mis-management of countries by their leaders encouraged by their people. It started off with how the people of Iceland bankrupted their country, goes on to talk about the bust in Ireland and Greece.

Interestingly, almost every bankrupt country in the world was led there by an American, more precisely a Wall Street bank, advisor.

It then suddenly hit closer to home and covered California and then the city of San Jose, where I live. A sobering book about the sorry state of affairs around the world. I came away thinking that the world is less affluent and less intelligent that we think it is.

Here is Michael Lewis talking about the moral breakdown in our society brought about by affluence. He also talks a bit about what might happen to Europe and the US in the near future.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Applying Lean Methods to Fat Companies

@enricgili and I @sprabu from the Career OnDemand team attended the lean startup conference, learned the lean startup techniques evangelized by @ericries and tried to apply them to projects within a large company such as SAP. We were not in a position to code everyday and take the final code to customers. Our current development process is too rigid to change that fast. We use an agile development process. But are still required to meet the requirements of governments and regulated corporations. We also work from three different countries. So, instead we did the next best thing. We built prototypes everyday and took them to customers every week. Instead of "code" in the lean startup methodology diagram below, we said "prototype".

We did not test usability. Instead we tested if customers found what we built useful and if their purchase will help our long term product strategy. We built more than 60 prototypes and took them through multiple iterations. We slowly and steadily built tens of co-innovation customers with the help of @esdediego and designed a product that tens of customers are ready to pay for and use. Tens of enterprise customers mean millions of dollars in revenue for us. A handful of large customers ( from the 12,000 who already use our other people management products) can bring several million dollars a year in revenue.

After a while we started incorporating the final UI framework in the prototype. It made the prototype look and feel almost like the final product. We got very good clear feedback from customers and incorporated their feedback into the prototype almost everyday. @enricgili and I built the prototypes ourselves without having to rely on another dedicated prototyping person.

The prototype is the specification. We did not write very elaborate requirements documents or use cases.

We are still developing the product. So we may still run into usability related issues and minor feature issues. But we are pretty clear about what customers are willing to buy and use to make them better companies. The process is not perfect. I am not sure if it is scalable or even repeatable. But it works very well for us even in a large company such as SAP.

@MChewD and his team are trying to take this one step ahead and write code that customers can try. It is not easy to do this within SAP. But they are doing some innovative things. 

A Branding Lesson From Richie Bobcat

I had to get some concrete removed from the backyard and hired a demolition company owned by a gentleman called Richie Bobcat.  Product marketing teams and brand management teams can learn a lesson or two from this gentleman.

Image is from Richie's web site
His name is Richie Bobcat. His main tool is a Bobcat. He is a two man business and operates the Bobcat himself.

He has a website with the address  His name and his website are well advertised on his bobcat, his truck and his shirt. He manages his business so well and does such a clean job that I had to write a post about him. If you have demolition work in the Southbay area, give him a call.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Advice from Don Norman The Author of The "Design Of Everyday Things"

Today I gate crashed an Illinois Institute Of Technology alumni event at the IDEO offices in Palo Alto at the invitation of @enricgili. When I walked in, there was a gentleman with the name tag "Don Norman". I shook hands with him and he asked me what I do for a living. I told him that I am a product manager at SAP and I am designing this cool new thing called Career OnDemand. He said "Good that you are with the product team because corporate design teams don't work.". The dean of the design school talked to the group after a while and he said "Many of you (the design school alumni) do not have the term design in your title....and that is a good thing"...implying that designers need to move away from dedicated teams and embed themselves into product teams where people who build the products are.

After meeting a few more cool people, I said to Enric, "The name Don Norman sounds very familiar. Who is he?". He said "He is THE Don Norman, the author of the book "The Design Of Everyday Things". I then realized that the Professor just taught me a very important lesson in under 30 seconds with simple worlds. Did i tell you that conversation is the best learning technology on earth. You just have to make sure you are at the right place at the right time with the right people.

Here is a video of Don Norman delivering a TED talk.

The Success Of Your Product Depends On The Feedback You Get And The Number Of Iterations You Make

The success of your software product does not depend on the duration of design or the number of people you assign to it. The success mostly depends on the number of times you have iterated the product based on feedback from potential users. As simple as it may sound, this is the secret of successful software product design.

We make what customer want to buy

The co-innovation process we follow for the design and development of Career OnDemand enables us to make what customers want to buy. We create elaborate prototypes that reflect our hypothesis and show it to customers. If no customer shows interest, we just do not make it. We are working with tens of customers who already love what we have designed for them. We don't plan to sell. We plan to make things so incredibly useful, that customers will want to have it. We may not get everything right. But we are pretty sure our approach is right on. It is working very well so far.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

SAP Career OnDemand at HR Technology Conference

Many of my colleagues will be at HR Technology Conference this week.

1. The most important session will be David Ludlow's first public preview of SAP Career OnDemand. Heike Kolar, @hkolar the Solution Manager for Career OnDemand will demo the product. This is the demo you do not want to miss. You will see a demonstration of the live product.

2. Eduardo Salamanca de Diego @esdediego and Sven Denecken @sdenecken from  Career OnDemand co-innovation will be there. They are the best people to talk about how SAP Career OnDemand team co-innovates with customers and partners. If you would like to co-innovate with SAP, please talk to Eduardo. You can reach both of them via twitter.

3. Chief Product Owners Joachim Foerderer and Bertram Wiest will be there as well. They are the best people to answer execution and release date related questions. Tobias Dosch, the Senior Vice President responsible for the development of Career OnDemand will be there. This is a great opportunity for you to talk to senior executives who manage people with their fingers on the compile button.

4. You can interact with the product in the demo machines at the SAP booth. Go ahead and take a sneak peek at Career OnDemand.

Thank you. Please let me know what you liked and what you did not. I will appreciate your feedback.

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