Competitive Partnerships Powering the Future of Business

Competitive Partnerships

I was at IBM Insight last week and as per usual it was an awarding experience. There is a shift going on in business and technology that I find both interesting and exciting. It is a shift that is about partnership over competition. Big name technology companies are partnering with new school app developers and tech startups to provide consumers with better products, experiences and customer service.

Courtesy of IBM.

Image courtesy of IBM.

 

You may be thinking: “How will this all be done?” The surge of cognitive technology is leading the way in allowing for better insights that allow for a better understanding of people. Cognitive technology allows us to get to the root of people’s behaviors, motivations, needs, and wants. The compilation of this information around these things allows companies to provide a personalized experience and resolution to some of the most pressing human issues.

For instance, we all know the dreaded unexpected breakdown of appliances. They are costly and unwelcomed. Whirlpool is focused on the connecting everything that is important to us through mobile-optimized appliances. This means that you could receive notification telling us that a part in our machines is going and have that information sent back to Whirlpool for troubleshooting.

Image courtesy of IBM.

Image courtesy of IBM.

Box is working with IBM’s Watson Analytics to synthesize the information you house in Box to provide real-time analytics for end users. I know it frustrates me to have unstructured information and data that is either hidden or lost in the systems I use. To be able, to have insights derived from the files you save with Box is a tremendous capability for individuals and business owners.

Courtesy of IBM.

Courtesy of IBM.

The Internet of Weather

How about all of these catastrophic weather events we’re experiencing? The Weather Company is  on the heels of being acquired by IBM for their Internet of Things division.  At the conference, they described an app that could be used during hurricanes not only for timely push notifications based on minute-to-minute news surrounding a weather event; but also the app has the ability to function as a flashlight and alarm to alert authorities to people who may be stranded during a catastrophic weather event.

Partnership > Competition

It is interesting to see the market moving in a direction where being competitive means partnering with a competitor to disrupt the market and provide a better product overall. Companies that you wouldn’t dream of seeing on the same billboard let alone working together realize that innovation in a vacuum is no innovation at all. The reality is: Customers want more. Whether it is quality of customer experience or a better product- very few companies are able to upkeep the supply of new, exciting and efficient products. In return, they are collaborating with other businesses or competitors to leverage their respective market strengths and technology to create new or increased value.

Why Should HR Practitioners Care?

With all these new ways of collaborating and doing business, HR needs to be looking at new and creative ways to deploy individuals and teams to get the work done. Additionally, it is a wake up call to all of us to remain aware of the changing business climate. We need to be aware of shifts in business and be prepared to pivot how we serve in our organizations. You can’t be a part of the conversation, if you don’t know what’s going on. It is equivalent to the moments in which a person comes in on the tail end of a conversation and arrives at an incorrect conclusion because they were otherwise occupied or absent from the majority of the conversation. We have a duty to become knowledgeable not only in the practice of Human Resources, but in business, market shifts, changes in customer behaviors and sentiments. It is near impossible to be a true partner to the C-Suite when you don’t know enough to craft a solution.

How do you see these competitive partnerships impacting what we do in HR?

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Will HR Transform or Be Transformed?

 

Transform HR

Image courtesy of IBM Smarter Workforce

 

I love Human Resources.The idea that we are charged with an organizations most prized possession- its people- is no easy task. Everybody has their niche in HR. My role in the organizations I worked for were focused on process improvement and facilitating strategic transformation. In essence, I was often brought in as the person that would see the state of the companies processes and strategies and develop a plan for moving it forward. It is a skill and niche I continue to enjoy as I serve customers through my business.

As HR practitioners, we have enjoyed the luxury of working within siloed niches with very little gumption or energy to look up from our mounting work to see how much the workforce has changed. There are certainly progressive HR departments trying to increase their value and move in unison with the businesses they support. The problem is as a discipline we aren’t moving forward together in a way that will support our survival in the future. You have people on the left hating HR and counting the days to its demise. The ones on the right-who are happy living in Personnel World circa 1980; and then the ones in the middle that are following whatever the latest trend in HR is despite any applicability of the trend to their particular business.

There is so much potential collectively and separately for HR to transform the organizations they serve. It requires us to take a step back from what we think we know and examine the economic, societal and business-specific realities of the overall workforce. To continue down this road of doing HR for the sake of keeping the discipline alive is really to be an accessory to the inevitable death of HR. Business and technology are evolving quicker than we are as a discipline. This realization is not a reason to be defensive, but a memo to all of us that we need to either transform or be transformed.

Last week, IBM announced a partnership with SAP (yes, you read that right) that will allow them to deliver a consistent and streamlined customer experience via an offering of an integration between SAP’s SuccessFactors® Employee Central and IBM Kenexa’s cloud-based HR software Talent Acquisition Suite. This alliance is an effort that will allow IBM customers to move to the cloud; while also reaping the benefits of ongoing support and services from these two tech giants. IBM and SAP are competitors. Each of these companies could have continued in privacy creating and deploying products independent of one another. What I get from this partnership is: they have realized that offering a better product to consumers is far more important than anything they could do separately. Will it be lucrative? Only time, will tell. The point is they looked at the market and they are transforming rather than being transformed.

Everything in life and business travels in cycles. There are times for rebuilding,  stagnation, and transformation. We are in an age of evolution and transformation and it is exciting. What can you be doing as an HR practitioner to raise the bar in your own organization?

Stop. Don’t answer that question now, but please accept my invite to IBM Smarter Workforce’s #SWFChat where I will have the pleasure of co-hosting a chat with Denise Holt of Grateez, Inc. about the Transforming HR and the evolution of Talent Management.

You can join us on Crowdchat by following this link: https://www.crowdchat.net/swfchat. I hope to see you there.

For the complete press release on the IBM SAP alliance, please click here. Also, follow the hashtag #IBMSAP on Twitter for more insights from the New Way To Work and IBM communities.

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