The Soft, Sloppy State of HR Technology

Laurie Ruettimann Bad HR, Don't Feed the Vendors, HR, HR Tech, HR Technology, Laurie Ruettimann, Learning, Web/Tech

My good friend William Tincup recently asked if I was excited about any HR software on the market.

Yeah, uh, not so much. I’m on record saying that company culture is a myth, which means it’s tough to be excited about statistically invalid survey models and sketchy employer branding software. But one of my goals for 2015 is to be less negative, so I told him that I liked Grammarly.

Yeah. A word processing app. Pfffft.

Although I do like Grammarly, my answer was awful. I shirked the question because I sat through a dozen software demos in December and left those conversations feeling blue. I dunno, man. It feels like founders, investors, and entrepreneurs just discovered that people work for a living. I guess someone at TechCrunch finally said it’s okay to create products and services for HR.

I also feel like much of what’s being sold to HR is built on the underlying assumption that users are soft, sloppy and need the lowest common denominator of technology.

“Swipe right. Swipe left. Get a banana as a reward. Any monkey can do it!”

On a bigger philosophical note, I’m tremendously uncomfortable with the current trend to hate on companies like IBM, Oracle, and SAP while genuflecting at the altar of Workday, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor. It’s like telling me that norovirus is different than rotavirus.

Both give you diarrhea. That’s all that matters.

Of course IBM, Oracle, SAP, Workday, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor are very different companies with very different products and services. They all have different strengths and weaknesses. But I refuse to believe that innovation isn’t happening within the enterprise stalwarts. Innovation happens at old and new companies alike.

So what do I like in the HR tech space? What do I find interesting?

That’s tough. I am paid to consult with HR technology companies on marketing and sales strategies. I sit on two advisory boards and have been appointed to a board of directors. I don’t feel it’s my place to offer a public opinion on what I like, but I will say that HR tech companies could do worse than to follow the Grammarly model.

  • Give us useful software with a simple user interface
  • Offer two plans: free and premium
  • Build a Chrome extension to make the experience seamless
  • Deliver good customer support

Hey, I’m not new at this.

When I tell HR professionals to try Grammarly, I’m teaching them how to use a cloud-based business application that makes communicating with their peers a little easier. And when I tell HR technology vendors that I like Grammarly, they should pay attention.