What Larry Ellison Thinks About HCM—and Why I Think He’s Spot On

By Bertrand Dussert

On January 29 at Oracle CloudWorld in San Francisco, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison devoted a majority of his time to discussing the tools executives need to manage talent effectively, and how these needs shaped Oracle’s Human Capital Management solutions, such as Oracle HCM Cloud. 

Indeed, smart HCM solutions must help executives engage with talent – even before candidates become employees. These solutions need to be easy-to-use, and allow for seamless collaboration among team members anywhere on the globe. And they need to provide executives and managers with new insights into how they can best use their talent to drive value in the company. 

As we gear up for HCM World this week in Las Vegas, I want to highlight (and elaborate on) some powerful quotes from Ellison’s Oracle CloudWorld keynote. Hopefully, this will help readers better understand the impact modern talent management strategies can have on an organization, and how to evaluate technology to effectively manage the workforce. To hear Larry’s thoughts live, check out Oracle HCM World, which kicks off on Tuesday, February 4.

Here are Larry’s thoughts on HCM:

"The two most important applications inside of a modern enterprise are HCM and customer service because it's all about taking care of people, taking care of your employees who in turn take care of your customers."

CEOs looking to drive their businesses forward in 2014 are looking for opportunities to improve talent management and to promote a culture that values quality customer experiences. As Larry points out in his quote above, there is a strong connection between these two efforts. 

To have world-class HCM—to recruit effectively and develop talent communities —executives need to employ the same practices they would use to create a great CX environment. The same strategies they use to understand, measure, segment, and listen to their customers are being used to better understand and manage talent. You can learn more about my thoughts on this matter by reading another of my recent blog posts

Today’s candidates already know how to apply for a job. What they really want is for employers to know who they are and how to best communicate with them. They don’t want to be blasted with job openings that don’t match their skills or career plans. They want a good match between their preferences and the current inventory of open positions. 

This is very aligned with what customers say they want from the companies they do business with. Part of the reason that Oracle does so well in offering solutions in both HCM and CX areas, is that our management and developers understand that connection – we are in the “experience” headspace. And we can use our acquisitions and leverage some of the same technology and approaches to impact both our HCM and CX offerings.

"The real differentiator...between one HCM system and another is the ability to identify the best talent around, recruit them into your organization, convince them to join your company and then train them so they're able to do their job."

When we talk about talent, we are not just talking about your employees. We’re talking about contractors, partners, previous employees, candidates, and prospects you may want to engage with but aren’t quite ready to recruit (such as college students about to graduate). 

To be able to cherry pick the best talent, and get the most value out of your top performers, you need to provide tools that allow you to treat each of these talent audiences in a way that’s appropriate for the relationship. As I mentioned above, a great CX solution segments your customer base, then delivers the right information and actions to each audience. 

The beauty of Oracle’s solutions is you can use this segmentation to create highly effective engagement. For example, you can turn an ineffective mass marketing program -- like an employee referral program – into a targeted social sourcing capability. That way, employees get alerts only when the job openings are relevant to their own interests or to the people in their networks.  

"If you look at the kind of interfaces we used to build a long time ago, you know, 10 years ago, 20 years ago...they're just not appropriate in the 21st century. They're not appropriate in the age of Facebook and Twitter and shopping at Amazon."

It's so refreshing to hear the CEO of a $37 billion a year revenue company that's the market leader in enterprise apps come out and say something like this. It acknowledges that we’re in a different environment than we were back then—and that stuff we’ve built in the past is not necessarily right for the future. Today, enterprise software needs to take the best ideas from scrappy high-growth companies like Twitter and Facebook and apply them to large global organizations. That’s what people want and that's what we have to deliver.

These days, new talent doesn’t want to take training courses to understand how to operate your internal systems. As soon as they get access, they want to start using it. They want to avoid adoption pain. They want the interaction, the ease of use, and the delivery to the mobile devices to be streamlined. We must be able to deliver intuitive, easy-to-use consumer ready interfaces that are just like Twitter and Facebook.

We’re already offering a simpler user interface, especially with Oracle HCM Cloud. The specialists who work in HR don’t need elaborate training for their interfaces, because they are are becoming more intuitive. And for employees and managers who are self-reliant, they have access to one interface. If they go to their desk, if they use their phone, if they go to their tablet--it works everywhere and it works consistently with zero training required.

"The social network is the paradigm of a modern service application...It enables teamwork. And that's absolutely critical, a critical aspect of what your modern HCM system should do."

The nature of work is changing. More and more work is dependent on collaboration and social is critical to getting work done. That’s why it’s baked into everything we do at Oracle. We make sure you don’t have to leave the application you are working in to collaborate with your project team, whether that’s CX, HCM, or another solution we provide. 

But user adoption is key, when IT leaders choose to bolt social capabilities onto an existing system, employees have to change interfaces for social access to their peers. That adds a barrier to entry that may drive down user adoption. 

I think one of the overlooked HR benefits of social is that it helps employees develop loyalty and affinity for the other people they work with. This has a positive impact on two key metrics HR execs monitor: retention/attrition rates and employee engagement. When employees like and respect the people they work with, and build relationships within the organization, they are less likely to walk away from the company to go somewhere else. Social helps people connect with one another and reinforces the culture of the company. 

"A modern, 21st-century HCM system should...help you identify people that you're at risk of losing and set up a program to incent them to stay."

It’s critical that your HCM solution helps you focus your attention where it is most needed by predicting where your company is going to have issues with your workforce, whether that’s turnover or another issue, such as performance. 

Smart HCM solutions don’t take the thinking out of talent management, but can identify hot spots. This way you focus your attention where it should be, based on some sort of business insight. Then, you can start asking the right questions and figure out where you need to invest to make the biggest impact.  

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Bertrand Dussert serves as HR transformation and technology advisor to Oracle's executive clients, primarly at large global companies with complex HR service delivery needs.  When not working directly with clients, Bertrand serves as HR thought leadership speaker and Oracle representative for targeted events, and partners with product strategy to help inform product design.

In his most recent role prior to joining Oracle, Bertrand served in a dual capacity as the global leader for both HR Shared Services and Recruitment Operations at American Express.  Bertrand was responsible for a number of key work streams in the American Express Global Recruitment Transformation, and most recently served as a full member of the Transform HR Project Executive Council.

Prior to American Express, Bertrand was Executive Director in UBS Investment Bank’s HR function, led a 125 person strong Global Field Operations team in the HR software industry, and served as a partner in an HR consulting firm that is now part of Korn/Ferry International.

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