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cloudbeat-akken-saasIt’s no secret that here at Akken, we love the cloud, which is why we also love the idea of a conference solely focused on discussing and celebrating the cloud. VentureBeat’s third annual CloudBeat conference kicked off on September 9th at the Grand Hyatt San Francisco. The conference applauded the great advances that cloud technology has seen in recent years and featured an Innovation Showdown during which SaaS companies were judged on the novelty of their businesses. Totango took home the prize for innovation—their unique service consumes data from external services and receives user behavior signals to help businesses know which customers need help, renewal, upsell, et cetera.

CloudBeat Conference discusses benefits of cloud recruitingThrough a series of breakout sessions, discussions, and case studies, the conference addressed the ways in which cloud computing has made a difference for businesses ranging from startup to enterprise. Because of affordable cloud solutions, hundreds of small businesses have been able to launch and grow with better-managed data and a superior level of service. But small businesses aren’t the only businesses benefiting from the cloud. Recently, large enterprises have also been investing in cloud computing, noting that it has added significant efficiency and flexibility to their companies.

CloudBeat 2013 featured case studies presented by executives from Google, NASA, Disney, General Electric, IBM, Paypal, and many more.  Each discussed the benefits of cloud computing, from seamless accessibility of data to automatically updated changes to every device to integration of multiple programs and services. BeatCloud also tackled some of the bigger questions, such as whether the “cloud vendors to beat” would remain central to the industry or whether newer, more exciting vendors will soon cause heavy competition for these big names. All in all, it seems like CloudBeat 2013 was a tremendous hit for cloud enthusiasts and the cloud-curious alike.

SmartRecruiters new“The ATS has to die,” says the man who built a business and made a name on that earliest technological breakthrough for recruiters, the applicant tracking system.

What’s especially ironic is that it’s on the strength of the market’s acceptance of SmartRecruiters, his free ATS, and his vision for how to evolve it, that Rembrandt Venture Partners and others are giving Jerome Ternynck $10 million.

The B series funding was announced today and follows a $5.5 million A round just a bit more than 18 months earlier. (more…)

About the author: John has been writing about recruiting and employment for nearly a decade,and has worked in the field for almost twice as long. He traces his connection to the employment industry back to the beginning of the commercial Internet when he managed some of the earliest news oriented websites. These offered job boards, which became highly popular with users. John worked with agencies and large employers on job postings, resume search, and campaigns, before consulting with media companies on audience development and online advertising sales.

The city councils of two Central Illinois towns have approved a measure that would create a private nonprofit to oversee a large broadband network running through both locations.

The Urbana-Champaign Big Broadband network (UC2B) was created by the towns of Urbana and Champaign to boost Internet access in low-income areas, but there were concerns over government control of the network. That’s why, according to a report in The News Gazette, both city councils passed the bill to have it run by a nonprofit.

Before it could pass, however, several key changes had to be made to the bill. This includes a requirement that the nonprofit submit an annual report to the cities and that the network’s high, self-imposed standards for procuring minority contractors be maintained. Another key provision, which was critical to gain the support of Urbana Alderman Charlie Smyth, was to allow attendees of the organization’s board meeting to provide their input.

The board will not have to follow Illinois’ Open Meetings Act, which has strict requirements for advance public notification of meetings and the accessibility of meetings. Council members in Urbana and Champaign believed those requirements would hurt the board’s efficiency.

The UC2B network, which cost $30 million to create, is currently being funded by a federal grant created in 2010. That grant expires on Sept. 30 and at that time, much of the expenses will fall on the shoulders of local governments. City officials are confident that it will only need support from the cities for the first six months, just to get it off the ground.

The nonprofit overseeing UC2B, which has not yet been given a name, will be governed by a nine-member board, and the cities of Champaign and Urbana and the University of Illinois will each appoint three members to that board.

You can read the full story in The News Gazette.

Bullhorn logoUntil now, Bullhorn’s staffing firm customers who wanted a complete front and back office solution had to work with a third party to get those all-important time and billing services.

Bullhorn eased the pain by partnering with other vendors for back office services, as well as other add-ons to provide other functions such as reporting and analytics, automated telephony, and payroll.

Now, Bullhorn has acquired Easy Software Solutions, maker of timeshEASY, its time and billing partner. The sales price was not disclosed.

Announcing the acquisition today, Bullhorn CEO Art Papas called the deal a “game changer.” “Staffing firms have always wanted both front and back office solutions from a single, trusted provider. Now, Bullhorn can offer a fully integrated, end-to-end solution.” (more…)

eNewsletters are an easier and cheaper alternative to print for keeping people in the loop about the latest happenings at the organization. Just because this technology is convenient, however, doesn’t mean it’s free of potential pitfalls.

People hate unwanted online communications just as much as telemarketers, and anti-SPAM rules have made sending eNewsletters to your supporters into an art form. If you don’t do it correctly you could find yourself in trouble and blocked.

Kivi Leroux Miller, president of NonprofitMarketingGuide.com, wrote in the book “Nonprofit Management 101″ that there are a multitude of ways to ensure your organization gets its message across through eNewsletters while also remaining in compliance. She wrote that you should begin by following these six dos and don’ts:

  • DO use an email service provider. You can’t do bulk email from your
    desktop for a variety of reasons, including the potential you’ll be
    labeled as a spammer.
  • DO let your readers talk back. If someone replies to your
    eNewsletter, make sure it goes to an email box that someone is
    monitoring.
  • DO master the art of subject line writing. The “From” field and the
    “Subject” line determine whether your email gets opened or deleted.
    Ensure what’s in the “from” field is recognizable to the reader and
    what’s in the subject line is interesting, intriguing, or otherwise
    compelling to your readers.
  • DO master the art of headline writing. People naturally skim email,
    starting with headlines and subheads, so you want to grab their
    attention.
  • DON’T send attachments, including PDFs of your print newsletter.
  • DON’T rent or sell your e-mail list, and let your subscribers know that’s the case.

Nonprofits have embraced technology, but that doesn’t mean they have all done so with open arms. It’s this factor that will determine whether or not your organization will have success with the various new devices and software available.

Holly Ross, former executive director of the Nonprofit Technology
Network (NTEN) in Portland, Ore., and now head of the Drupal
Association, set out a list of Dos and Don’ts to make dealing with
technology much easier:

Do:

  • Let mission and strategy be the guides when making technology decisions.
  • Establish strong systems. Staff can’t get mission-critical work done if they have to reboot the system every half-hour.
  • Plan. A crystal ball isn’t necessary to plan for technology needs.
  • Evaluate continuously. Learning from experience isn’t possible without stopping to reflect from time to time.
Don’t:
  • Make technology decisions based solely on cost. It is only one factor in determining the value and expense of technology.
  • Forget to include staff in technology decisions. Allies will be needed while new systems are being implemented.
  • Select mission-critical software such as a donor database without first documenting key business processes.

Last year, Google rolled out its “Knowledge Bar,” a section on the right-hand side of your search results that contains information about the person, place, or company for which you searched. Nonprofits were not included in the Knowledge Bar at the time, but that all changed this week.

The search engine giant announced Tuesday that nonprofits would begin to be included in the Knowledge Bar. While the feature is still in its roll-out phase, many of the larger organizations already have their information online. For example, a search for the Livestrong Foundation will provide the following information:

  • A short blurb of the nonprofit’s history via Wikipedia.
  • The founder of the organization.
  • The founding date.
  • Tax deductibility code.
  • The latest post from their Google+ page (if applicable).
  • Similar organizations.
The most significant thing about the Knowledge Bar is that it has the potential to increase the number of followers for a nonprofit’s Google+ page. Facebook remains a giant in the social networking field, but this change could bring more nonprofits to Google+ since they will know that people searching for them will see their posts.
What do you think about this announcement? Do you think it will make a difference for organizations in the long haul, or will it just be a cosmetic change?

HR technology is evolving rapidly, with huge advancements in social, cloud, and mobile solutions this year. We’re excited for what 2013 will bring and how the latest technology will transform the way hiring managers, recruiters, and candidates engage with each other in the hiring process. (more…)

The trends are always changing in the world of technology. Who would have thought just a few years ago that tablets would become more desirable than laptops? Yet that’s exactly what has happened, with major developers like Microsoft developing innovations meant for that device.

Most nonprofit managers would love to bring the latest “must-have” software to their organizations, but that’s simply an unrealistic proposition. To be successful in today’s rapidly changing world, it is imperative to decide which technologies best fit your organization.

In “Nonprofit Management 101,” Holly Ross, executive director of Portland, Ore.-based Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN), wrote that the key to selecting new software is understanding and documenting your needs. This would seem to indicate a length process, but it can actually be done by following five best practices:

  • Identify your top needs. If you are looking for graphics software, for
    example, will you be making graphics primarily for the Web or for print?
  • Can your existing software already do it? Before you head out into the
    software selection process, be sure to evaluate existing software to see
    if it can get the job done.
  • Find out what your peers are using. Referrals can be the best way to find the right piece of software for your organization.
  • Identify some scenarios and test. Most software packages and vendors allow you access to a demo or trial version.
  • Decide whether this software will meet your needs. You should look for software that will best meet your critical needs.

Of all the developments and trends in human resources, what would be at the top of your list?

Would strategic HR be there? How about outsourcing; or, should that be in-sourcing? Does employer branding and the “war for talent” belong there? And where would technology fit in, especially the trend away from so-called best-in-class components and toward integrated systems?

Not an easy call is it? Just since the start of the recession in late 2007 human resource departments, and the profession itself, has seen a remarkable shift in both function and practice. Strategic HR, a concept that began to percolate about the same time companies changed the personnel division to the HR department, got jumped into the C-suite consciousness shortly after the layoffs began. It was helped along by the angst created earlier by Keith Hammond’s wake-up call to the profession, “Why  We Hate HR.”

Call it a trend, call it a coincidence, but today, on LinkedIn, there are 4,000 HR vice presidents with MBAs. Coming up in the ranks are twice that many MBA-holding HR directors. This is telling, suggesting Hammond’s observation that, “Most human-resources managers aren’t particularly interested in, or equipped for, doing business” had an effect.

Merely having a business degree doesn’t necessarily make the holder a candidate for CEO, but it does prepare him or her to take a seat at the grown-ups table. And the evidence is there to officially say HR is getting that seat; LinkedIn lists 761 MBA-holding HR vice presidents at the Fortune 1000.

Other trends? Certainly the growth of contract labor has to be on the list. Today, contingent labor comprises, on average, 16% of the workforce of companies with 1,000 or more workers. Seven years ago, it was 11%. That percentage is only going to continue to grow, with Fortune 100 companies leading the way.

More significantly, we’re not talking here about companies simply bringing in more seasonal help, the way retailers do at holiday time. This is a shift in the strategic mix of the corporate workforce, much as tech companies have done for years. Enabled by the availability through layoff or buyout or forced retirement of skilled professionals, companies have discovered they can tap this pool for specific projects without adding to corporate headcount.

Harvard Business Review called this growing corps of professionals “supertemps.” Many of them, having discovered the freedom of moving from challenge to challenge, have little interest in becoming permanent staff. Write the authors: “as growing numbers of professionals decide that they prefer to work on a temporary basis, organizations are finding ways to work with them.”

Besides these, readers of the Human Resources IQ blog weighed in on other developments that figure as trends: metrics and analytics; technology; outsourcing; comp and benefits; compliance; training, and; the mobile workforce. Several of these, and specifically the welcome focus on analytics, are part of HR’s growing strategic emphasis. As every MBA knows, “if it’s not measured, it isn’t managed,” and you don’t know if it’s effective or not.

So, with the help of technology, today’s HR MBAs are linking performance to the bottom line, and back to talent acquisition and the management of the entire workforce. The HRIQ audience talks about the technology trend as automating HR’s rote processes. That’s certainly important, but it’s evolutionary, not revolutionary. What puts technology on the list is the integration of discrete HR systems — the ATS, payroll, time management, performance, and the like — into a single system that offers a “big picture” view.

It’s not yet a complete integration; ERP software steps toward it, but few of those implementations were designed with HR as partner. HR systems got coupled on. As the C-suite grows in its appreciation of the economic value of its talent, ever more of these holistic integrations will occur, making the impact of the workforce on the bottom line clearer and more measurable.

The Society for Human Resource Management is working on an industry standard to provide companies a uniform, internationally accepted method of valuing a company’s human capital. The work of a group of dozens of professionals from academia, finance, HR and elsewhere, the standard will eventually be presented to the Amercian National Standards Institute.

Among the elements to be valued, according to the proposed standard, are: human capital spending; retention; engagement; and something the standard calls “Human capital discussion & analysis.”

The objective of this latter element is “to provide management with an opportunity to connect the dots and to provide investors with an enterprise-wide perspective of the meaning and importance of the various human capital metrics.” Connecting those dots will demand a sharper focus on the economic contribution — and not just the cost — of the workforce. Inevitably, that will mean more emphasis on enterprise-wide linkage of HR’s information, with the rest of the operation.

In other words, as Haig R. Nalbantian, senior partner at Mercer, told the HRIQ audience, “developing one’s own data to ascertain the impact of policies and practices is becoming more the norm. This is a major change and is aligned with developments in other fields like Finance, Marketing, Logistics, etc. that are pushing the boundaries and tapping the benefits of what the Economist has called the ‘Era of Big Data.’”

Where HRIQ identified eight HR trends — and there are at least that many — on a macro scale, technology and structural changes in the American labor force are the trends propelling human resources from a tactical, functionary part of an organization, into a strategic partner on an equal footing with every other division represented at the big table.

Image courtesy of sixninepixels /FreeDigitalPhotos.net