HCM Technology vendors should begin to consider how they can help customers expand their HR activities in ways that go beyond the traditional.
Over the last few years, we’ve seen more companies get serious about solving problems that either the market or government have failed to deliver on. It leads us to believe that we’re approaching an era of organization-driven solutions, a time when businesses, either alone or in teams, orchestrate the response to challenges that have been neglected or remain unsolved.
- Berkshire-Hathaway, Amazon and JP Morgan recently announced plans to form their own healthcare company.
- Despite local resistance, Apple and Google continue to provide transportation for their employees to and from work.
- Learning platform Pathgather CEO Eric Duffy sees organizations as being “universities of the 21st century.”
To us, these were just three separate developments until last week, when we came across a 2016 article by Joel Cheesman on RecruitingTools. In it, Cheesman describes how since 2015 Amazon has been schooling students, tech professionals and others on the intricacies of building and maintaining cloud-learning infrastructures. “AWS Educate is Amazon’s global initiative to provide students and educators with the resources needed to accelerate cloud-related learning endeavors,” Cheesman wrote. “Since launching, some 500 institutions have signed on to use it.”
The following year, Amazon added the The AWS Educate Job Board to its cloud-services mix. The site offers entry-level cloud jobs from global employers and allows students to search for roles that match their preferred “job family and skill set,” then apply for them directly. Currently, the Job Board includes roles in 47 countries, with more coming.
“We’ve designed Cloud Career Pathways that will help students get targeted experience and skills, and placed those side-by-side with relevant jobs from some of the most in-demand technology employers today,” said Teresa Carlson, vice president of AWS’s Worldwide Public Sector.
Cheesman called the move “a brilliant strategy to support current users and cultivate future users, which translates into a healthy bottom line” for AWS. Because AWS serves so many customers, “more cloud professionals filling the needs of companies using and building cloud services means more money in Amazon’s pot,” he observed. Bear in mind that AWS generates a sizable chunk of Amazon’s business: $5.1 billion in 2017’s fourth quarter, out of consolidated sales of $60 billion, and operating income of $1.4 billion, compared to a corporate-wide figure of $2.1 billion.
Amazon’s strategy seems especially prescient today, when job boards are well out to sea, looking for a viable business model. Fewer candidates and recruiters turn to them, and if the exodus of job seekers from traditional career sites isn’t news, Cheesman said, the idea of corporate sites offering listings from a variety of employers is.
“Imagine paint professionals going to Sherwin Williams for painting jobs. Imagine film students going to Netflix to learn movie-making skills. Imagine landing a job in self-driving cars at jobs.tesla.com,” he wrote.
However, Cheesman also saw the idea as a long shot: “Dealing with spam, usability and site issues, compliance, marketing and customer service are just a few headaches job sites deal with and have learned to handle over the years that a corporate job board will now have to tackle.”
While that’s true, it’s worth considering that HR departments and HCM technologists have been facing similar challenges for some time. HR is no stranger to compliance, and today’s hiring process often looks a lot like a marketing campaign supported by customer service. In addition, the spread of apps that facilitate everything from performance reviews to benefits access is forcing practitioners to take on more of a customer service mindset.
Opportunities in the Strangest Placces
This all leads us to believe that HCM technologists should be on the lookout for opportunities in areas they’ve never before thought their clients might be interested in, especially when engagement and retention continue to be watchwords–that is, until the labor market begins its inevitable slide.
For years, we’ve heard businesses complain about about how universities turn out computer science graduates who know a lot about theory but too little about applications. Amazon seems to have given up on that battle: It’s put together its own educational programs to develop a pipeline of technology talent, and made the whole thing more attractive to candidates by giving them exposure to the wider market. In the same vein, the troika of Amazon, Berkshire-Hathaway and JP Morgan have determined that since a viable healthcare alternative isn’t in place, it will seek to create its own.
The systems that meld HR needs with financial requirements have an advantage here. The more easily HR, Finance and IT can examine issues from a combined point of view, the more readily they can uncover new possibilities to solve long-term issues that have previously seemed intractable. This will pressure HR to develop metrics drawn from across the organization, since many CFOs remain skeptical of numbers drawn from HR data only.
It also provides an opportunity for vendors and HR app developers to help drive employers toward their ultimate solutions. Integration will be a part of the equation, but so will wider knowledge of how the organization works and the dynamics involved in a range of areas that have never before appeared on HCM technology’s radar.
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