How enterprise software is changing the way we work

As you’ll know if you’ve been reading this blog recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the latest tech trends courtesy of the Mary Meeker Internet Trends report.

By far the largest section in the report (some 30 pages) is focused on how technology is changing the way we work. I’ve embedded the report below – if you’re interested to explore the data.

How enterprise software is shaping the way we work

I think the most interesting commentary covers the changing nature of the enterprise software market. It’s summed up well with a tweet from Aaron Levie, the founder of Box:

Enterprise software

To put this into my own words, I think we’re moving from:

Work, facilitated by software,
Work, shaped by software.

Enterprise software used to be about automation of pieces of the workflow. But it’s moved beyond this – enterprise software is no longer just supporting the work itself. The software is reshaping what it means to work (in some cases from the ground up).

This shift has big implications for both developers and buyers of software. As a buyer you’re no longer purchasing something that just makes you more productive – you’re shaping the future of your organisation.

At Cognology, how do we see the role of software shaping the future of work?

Over 250 Australian businesses use Cognology’s performance management system to manage talent. It gives us a big opportunity (and responsibility) to think about how our software helps to shape the future of the Australian workforce.

We want to give our users the flexibility to choose the best way to configure their performance management system. In fact, it’s our most significant design principle. So our approach is built heavily on delivering a system that has significant flexibility and configurability.

But we also know that the defaults that we build into the system will have powerful long-term effects in our clients’ workplaces. We think carefully about these effects and try to make sure that they reflect the way we believe work is evolving.

One clear example here is the role of in-application discussion and collaboration. I’ve got a strong view that organisations are healthier, happier and more successful when they promote open discussion and collaboration.

Ultimately, everyone benefits when performance management is a discussion, rather than a decision per se. Our software reflects this, and wherever we have the choice, we’ll try to design to facilitate a discussion, rather than one of those one-way decisions.

To give you an example of how this works in practice, employees using Cognology’s performance management system have the ability to crowdsource their own feedback before they enter the formal performance review process.

This is similar to the way you might have seen a 360-review work – but instead of being pushed by the organization, the process is coordinated by the individual who is seeking additional feedback. We’ve seen this work very effectively in some of our large professional services clients.

I know that our preference for collaboration doesn’t work for everyone (and users always have a choice to use or ignore our suggestions). However, it’s always powerful when we see these design choices start to nudge organisations towards a more collaborative approach to performance management.

Choose software intentionally: The starting point has to be “What kind of organisation do I want to create?”

All vendors have a responsibility to create software that promotes healthy, happy workplaces. But it’s not just a vendor responsibility. Buyers also need to be asking how a product will shape their organisation – whether they’re doing so consciously or not.

There is no one feature-set that will create ‘the perfect organisation’. Just like there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ organisational culture, there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ model for enterprise software.

For buyers, the key to be intentional when thinking about enterprise software. The starting point must be “what kind of organisation do we want to be?”

Here are some simple examples:

  • Do we want a collaborative workforce? … Does this set of product features make that more or less likely?
  • Do we want a highly flexible workforce? … Does this set of product features make that more or less likely?
  • Do we want your workforce to be able to work from home (or wherever else they are)? … Does this set of product features make that more or less likely?
  • Do we want consensus driven decision-making? … Does this set of product features make that more or less likely?
  • Do we want staff to move fast? To ask for forgiveness instead of permission? … Does this set of product features make that more or less likely?
  • Do we want employees to work with each other? Or against each other? … Does this set of product features make that more or less likely?

If the set of product features (and overall experience) doesn’t deliver the kind of workplace you want, then it’s probably time to look at new enterprise software.

Enterprise software is a powerful tool for driving behavioural change

No business can escape the fact that software is changing the way we work. Because we all spend so much time with our enterprise software, it’s one of the most powerful change management tools available in shaping the future of the organisation.

This means that as a buyer, you must be intentional in thinking about they way you want software to shape your workplace. The enterprise software that you choose now will shape the way your employees work and behave for the next 5-10 years.  We think it’s worth pausing before you write the script (or the specifications) to really ask yourself those questions above, to make sure that your software takes your organisation to a place you want to go.

Achieving your organisation’s goals and aspirations? Who doesn’t want the credit for that.


Jon Windust

Jon Windust is the CEO at Cognology – Talent management software for the future of work. Over 250 Australian businesses use Cognology to power cutting-edge talent strategy. You can follow Jon on Twitter or LinkedIn.

The Top 11 Tweeps in Australian #HRTech: Guest post from Sarah Moore

Top 11 HR Tech tweeps in Australia

In recent times, there have been a number of Who’s Who in HR/Technology lists that have been written. We see them retweeted, linked to and published both in mainstream media and online sources – one thing they all have in common is that they are all US or UK based.  Where is the Australian list of Top Contributors to HR Technology via Twitter? Well, I am glad you asked.

Of course, any list can always be added to, and I couldn’t possibly cover every nook and cranny of Twitter, but I have given it a red hot crack. Very careful consideration has been given to the criteria for inclusion on my list, and in case you are interested, here it is: In my area of expertise, I looked for those who are leaders in the field of HR Technology (specifically), and who are also sharing that information with the wider HR Tech community through Twitter – many also have blogs and are on LinkedIn. I have also included those that I have learnt from – either from a technical perspective, strategic or just about how the HR Technology industry is growing and progressing. Being social has dramatically changed how we access and find information, connect with people and even virtually attend industry conferences.

After attending a very successful inaugural HR Tech Fest 2014 @HRTechFest this week, the Twitter sharing amongst the Australian and New Zealand HR Tech community was informative, at times provocative but also fun and inclusive. There was Twitter banter between participants as well as the speakers in their down time. Many of the international speakers are much more accessible because they are on Twitter.

I have to explain that I have made a call to differentiate between those that use Twitter to connect and share in general about all things HR, and those that are tweeting specifically about HR Technology. The US list of the Top 100 Most Social HR Practitioners here is definitely worth a look, as it covers HR, Recruiting, L & D as well as HR Technology.

So, here is my list of Australian HR Tech Tweeps that you should follow (in no particular order!).

Who: Michael Specht

Handle: @MSpecht
Why: I would argue he is Australia’s top HR Tech expert. Currently working for Navigo Research and has a wealth of knowledge about the industry including the vendors. Michael has been tweeting since 2006 and blogging forever!

Who: Juhi King

Handle: @HRtechgirl
Why: Juhi is active on Twitter and has her own blog about HR Tech musings here.

Who: Michael Sleap

Handle: @michaelsleap
Why: Particularly at events, Michael is quite active on twitter. His tweets are insightful, informative and he takes into account an overall organisational perspective, not just a HR Tech view.

Who: Rob Scott

Handle: @robscottinsyd
Why: Rob is very active on Twitter and regularly shares his insights as well as great articles and links about HR Tech in Australia. He also has a blog here here.

Who: Damon Klotz

Handle: @DamonKlotz
Why: Tweets a lot! Is brutally honest and gives a different perspective to all things HR and technology and a bit about the digital landscape. Has his own blog

Who: Con Sotidis

Handle: @LearnKotch
Why: Tweets about Learning and Development and his passion for the subject is palpable.  He has interesting views on Learning and Development and how using technology advances everyone on their learning journey. Con is active and interesting on Twitter. He also blogs here. I have learnt a lot about MOOCs.

Who: Linda Jonas

Handle: @LinJonas
Why: Linda is great at sharing HR Tech tweets from her international network of HR Tech professionals (she told me she has met most of them on Twitter). She has broad experience in areas other than HR Technology and this shows through in her interactions. Linda writes posts for her company’s blog here.

Tweeps who touch on HR Tech within their area within their area of expertise. They use Twitter to build momentum and community, and retweet lots.

Who: Greg Savage

Handle: @greg_savage
Why: Greg has a recruitment focus, but shares content on recruitment technology and the intersection of recruitment, branding and HR – always interesting and insightful. Is also highly regarded globally as an influencer. His blog is here.

Who: Jon Windust

Handle: @Cognology
Why: Jon tweets a lot! His retweets are informative and always have a comment to make you think about what you are going to read.

Tweeps involved in a specific technology and their tweets are quite technical at times! Not for the faint hearted.

Who: Chris Paine

Handle: @Wombling
Why: SAP Mentor and expert. Tweets are often technical, so follow if you are a developer or want to find out generally about SAP/SuccessFactors. Chris live tweets from all kinds of SAP events. He links out to the SAP online resources, has his own blog. I often find out new things about SAP from Chris.

Who: Mark Souter

Handle: @MarkSouter
Why: Tweets often about what is happening with SuccessFactors and retweets lots of the regular international Twitterati.

About me

An HR professional by trade, in HR technology for most of my career, implementing my first system in the year 2000.  I am passionate about technology and how it shapes our World of Work. I am on twitter @sarahjanechilds and LinkedIn

Is HR resisting social technology?

I believe social and HR technology is helping to bring about a new world of work.  But is HR itself getting in the way of this happening?

Sometimes it doesn’t take that long for big change to occur.  When personal computers started to arrive in corporate life during the late 80s and early 90s secretaries and typists were commonplace.  It wasn’t uncommon for a manager to draft a communication, send it to a secretary, who would then type it up and send it back for review before sending.  Amongst other benefits, inexpensive and usable personal computers provided a great opportunity for organisations to save time and money by getting managers to type their own communications.  PCs were implemented at a rapid pace along with organisational edicts for managers to do their own typing.

Vintage typist

Despite the obvious advantage of using computers to draft, edit and produce communications, many managers were highly resistant to the change.  Computers were things they didn’t understand.  What you don’t understand, you fear.  But by the end of the 90s you would be hard pressed to find secretaries typing communications anywhere.  Today it only survives in limited areas like law firms who seem to love dictation as a form of creating a communication.

I believe the vast majority of managers who were resistant to the change that occurred in the late 80s and early 90s would not want to go back to the way things were.  They wouldn’t want to wait for a secretary to type something.  Nor would they want to be without the easy way to get their ideas into a document, then edit and perfect them before communicating.

Social technology is changing the world today.  And talent management technology is becoming increasingly more important in organisations.  Now we are starting to see the two combined.  It makes great sense, we are social beings.  We operate in a social way, even at work.  We aren’t automatons.

So is HR resistant to social technology in the workplace?  Undoubtedly many are.  This is understandable though.  Social technology is relatively young.  Many people still believe that Twitter is used by people who want to tell everyone inane things about their cat and what it does all day.  Add to that the potential legal issues of using social technology.  For example, bullying via social technology.  It’s understandable that HR would be resistant.

The change is happening though and won’t be stopped.  Not for any other reason that the new world of work is just too compelling.

Combining social and talent management technology makes a lot of sense.  HR can elevate its importance in the organisation by embracing it and driving its adoption in the workplace. If HR doesn’t do this, someone else in the organisation will.

Just like the managers of the late 80s and early 90s, I don’t believe HR will want to go back to the old world in ten years time.  People talk about removing organisational silos meaning departments and teams that don’t communicate.  I think we have something more problematic.  We have individual personal silos.  The new world doesn’t have those silos.  People, their work, needs and achievements are more visible to others.  Once you’ve reached this new world, would you want to go back?  I don’t think HR will want to go back.

To be human is to be social.