Cool New HR Tech…that you might even be able to afford

(I just returned from the 2013 HR Technology Conference where I got to see all the latest and greatest HR technology, and speak to some wickedly smart people.  So, for the next week or so, my plan is to share some of the products and insights I gained from this experience. So we are clear, no companies I write about have paid me to write about them. Enjoy…)

Here’s a run down from the HR Tech Conference Expo:

BambooHR: Tagged as your “1st HR system” or “we love you, if you use spreadsheets as your HR system” – Ben Peterson, the CEO, was by far the coolest and nicest and real CEO (and maybe person) I met all week at HR Tech.  They don’t like to use ‘HRIS’ because small and medium sized businesses and HR shops don’t even really know what that means.  BambooHR is an easy to use HR system and nicely designed, for a very, very cheap price.  Don’t let the price scare you off — cheap, in this case, doesn’t mean they try and a one-size and process fits all perspective down your throat – they’ll customize for you – and still be cheap!  If you are looking for your first HR system, or to up grade your old system, and you don’t look at these guys, you should be fired as an HR professional.

Blissbook: “Employee Handbooks to Smile About”.  I know, I know — Tim, you’re talking handbooks!?  Here’s the deal.  They have a super cheap, super cool UI (user interface — BTW, no one at HR Tech talks English, they only talk tech).  So, you can put your handbook online and add video, and hyperlinks and all kinds of stuff, and they make it really easy.  Don’t think PDF of your handbook on your careers site, it’s more than that.  Think of it as a cultural narrative of your organization having it’s own website.  One issue I see them having, the examples they show are really cool and hip.  So you think you can do the same thing, the problem is content isn’t easy to write to be cool and hip.  If you aren’t creative, neither will your Blissbook.

SumTotal: SumTotal is like BambooHR, if BambooHR was a gigantic enterprise total HR solution for your business.  Let’s be clear, SumTotal is a big company, like Oracle, ADP, SuccessFactors, etc. Big companies have the resources to do some really cool things, and Sum Total did that this year.  They added the industry’s first Context-Aware user experience. What’s Context-Aware?  You know when you go online to a store and look at a really nice pair of shoes you want, you put it in the cart, but last second you decide, I just can’t get these today.  We all do it.  Context-Aware marketing is the Ad a few days later on the side of another site you’re reading where those exact same shoes you were looking at pops up and now are 10% off!  How does this work in an HR system? Let’s say you have an employee who is not reaching their sales goal.  SumTotal’s new addition will recognize the employee is missing their goal, and without prompting or any HR or manager interaction at all recommend a training course for this person to take to better help them make their goals and maybe even a mentor in the company they should speak with who could help them become better at their job.  I don’t do this justice — trust me, it was super cool!

Work4Labs:  Work4 does Facebook recruiting, in an industry where no one has really figured it out yet (do you hear that Facebook?).  Work4 makes an solution that makes it really easy for companies to get their jobs posted on their company Facebook page and help them navigate, very easily, how to search for talent on Facebook’s Graph Search.  Also, they do this for a rather cheap price!  (Cheap meaning the cost of one or two headhunting fees, so you can see a very quick ROI)  Matthew Brown, Head of Product and co-Founder, might be 24 years old, which also helps let you know these guys get Facebook!

WePow: Formerly known as Wowser.  WePow is a video interviewing platform.  They’re really good at branding.  They gave out royal blue Converse Chuck Taylors at their booth and had pairs for all the big name pundits in our industry: Kris Dunn, Steve Boese, Gerry Chrispin, John Sumser, William Tincup, Laurie Ruettimann, etc.  Those kinds of things make a splash and get a good buzz going about their product.  Apparently, I’m not a big name in the industry, I didn’t get a pair of shoes (which is really the only reason they get mentioned here!).  Also, apparently, they are “like HireVue” when I asked their booth crew what they did.  Thanks HireVue for being so good at marketing you now have become the Kleenex of video interviewing.

YouEarnedIt:  New up and coming awards and recognition firm, designed around delivering a product that small and medium sized businesses can use.  Think Achievers, for smaller companies, and a lot less money.  Much more accessible for smaller companies because you aren’t forced to purchase their catalog of merchandise/awards which usually carry an industry standard 20% markup.  They do have that as well, but much more cost effective than the giants in the industry.

More next week – I’ve got two companies – one really well known and one hardly anyone knows doing some really cool things!

4 thoughts on “Cool New HR Tech…that you might even be able to afford

  1. Hi Tim! Great piece…really appreciate the shout out. Achievers, Kudos, and many others have great options for varying business sizes. Although we work across the enterprise level as well, we do like to structure our relationships in a way that is possible for small, medium, or large customers to have a good solution in place for recognizing and rewarding the team.

    Many platforms out there do things similarly, but have features that are unique and different from each other. Unfortunately, and perhaps this is what Paul is referring to, many of these “differentiators” don’t matter to the end user or the buyer enough to make a difference. One of the most important distinctions that does matter is the ability to bring in a system that end users enjoy and engage with, that is easy to implement, and is cost effective (AFFORDABLE) for small, medium, OR large customers. That’s where we are really strong. Paul, I’m happy to show you the platform if you ever want to see if. Would love your feedback. P.S. we mark down the cost of our rewards vs. industry average of marking them up.

    Great discussion guys. Appreciate your perspectives.

  2. Paul,

    Great comments and knowledge – you’re the King in this field. Let me give you some more perspective – as a buyer of HR Tech – you’re correct, many of these companies can do basically the same thing for basically the same money, if the buyer is savvy enough to know how to get to that point. Most don’t. That’s why many rely on relationship and trust of that relationship, not to get taken advantage of. I’m a fan of Achievers, but both Kudosnow and YouEarnedIt are lower cost providers for similar services, for smaller companies. Achievers is designed to be enterprise and they are market leading. I’m just telling folks about a newer company to the market, check them out or don’t check them out. To me they felt like an Achievers option, for those who couldn’t afford the big box.


  3. Having done rewards and recognition for a few years here’s the truth – industry average markup is in the 30-40% range so you’re a bit low. But many do a pretty good job of getting it down to the 20% you highlight – yet make it in-line with retail pricing so the awards can be seen as comparable to buying at retail. Some will be more greedy than others. Also, gift cards are a huge part of the redemption mix and have far less premium pricing – almost dollar for dollar.

    Also, there is nothing, repeat nothing in the youearnedit platform that isn’t available in 90% of all the other company’s solution set. I always find it interesting that someone comes out every year with a new platform that says it is for the small biz buyer – every.year. And every year is is a knock off and offers nothing different. Believe me – I’ve consulted with companies that think “there is nothing like this in the market” – except there are many, many like it.

    Check and to name two that came out a few years back. Not to mention most of the larger providers have a “product” that does the same thing as these solutions.

    Heck, even Achievers is designed to work with smaller companies.

    Again, nothing really new.

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