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IHRIM Conference Highlights the Influence of Social Networking and Talent Management Technology on HR

June 2, 2008

Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, instant messaging, RSS and wikis are among the terms and acronyms that are fast becoming permanent parts of HR information technology professionals’ vocabularies, say experts at a major HR tech industry gathering this week.

At the International Association for Human Resources Information Management Conference and Technology Exposition, being held at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, participants discussed the way today’s “Web 2.0” tools promise a great deal but may imperil organizations. While they can enhance employee productivity and accommodate younger employees who grew up on MySpace, social networking technologies can potentially leak sensitive information or infect corporate networks with viruses.

John Greer, senior VP human resources and development at Smart Financial Credit Union in Houston, says the corporate aversion to social networking tools is a replay of the way firms were wary of letting employees access the Internet some years ago. But smart companies will find ways to balance security concerns in order to tap the new technologies, says Greer, who also is IHRIM’s vice chairman.

“It’s a challenge for every company to make social networking work,” Greer says.

Companies are increasingly viewing workforce management in terms of “as global as possible, as local as necessary” rather than “thinking globally and acting locally,” says Karen Beaman, chief executive and founder of Jeitosa Group International, a San Francisco-based consulting firm.

Jacqueline Kuhn, IHRIM board chair and president of Kuhn Consulting Group, says she notices a new wave of talent management in which companies are more focused on “managing the right talent, not all talent.” Vendors that are looking to be part of this approach include Vemo, SyncSource and Aquire, Kuhn said.

Talent management systems are applications for key HR tasks, including employee performance management, compensation management and recruiting. They are among the fastest-growing products in HR software, which is itself the fastest-growing category of business software.

Thanks to factors including fear of talent shortages, revenue from human capital management applications is slated to rise from $6.3 billion in 2006 to $10.6 billion in 2011, according to AMR Research.

Despite a down economy and a spring and early summer season crowded with other HR-related conferences, attendance at IHRIM is up about 5 percent this year, with 705 paid attendees as of the beginning of the conference on Monday, June 2, IHRIM president and CEO Lynne Mealy says. This year’s conference also drew a higher number of first-time attendees as well as more attendees from overseas, she reports.

“The HR systems market is still hot,” Mealy says.

—Ed Frauenheim and Robert Scally