Thomas Smouse, VP of Administration and HR at Newfield Exploration, an attendee at Oracle’s HCM event this week in Washington, DC, appropriately framed for me the rapidly changing talent market. The oil and gas industry has been transformed with innovations in “horizontal drilling” technologies and “unconventional” hydrocarbon sources. That has dramatically reshaped the US energy position in the last few years. While Newfield continues to rely on talent networks in the traditional oil patch – cities like Houston, Tulsa and Denver – Smouse said it is starting to mine talent which has been working in newer shale fields in Pennsylvania and elsewhere = “unconventional” places.
Fredrik Rexhammar of Swedbank presented another perspective as he described how their digital needs (mobile, online banking) demand very different skills while they continue to nurture talent needed to support their traditional, personal touch, large network of branch banking across the wide country.
Keynotes and breakout sessions during the event provided glimpses of this “we are not in Kansas anymore” talent landscape. Mark Hurd, CEO of Oracle, discussed how Oracle has taken the risk of accelerated college recruiting for its sales force and the joys and challenges of dealing with Millennials in the workforce.
It’s way more than Millennials, of course, it is about multi-generational talent management as this Oracle slide showed
Then there is the global angle. Condi Rice, former US Secretary of State, peppered her talk about geopolitics with other Millennial and other young talent perspectives. “Immigration keeps the US young” ,“Our 12-K crisis is our biggest national security risk” and “China will get old before it gets rich”.
Kraig Eaton of Accenture discussed a variety of organizational models he sees clients experimenting with including one the HCM audience cringed about – “Abolish HR” .
In a breakout with analysts, Bertrand Dussert, VP HCM Transformation and Thought Leadership at Oracle who spends most of his time with HR executives in the Fortune 500 mentioned the most common discussion theme is how to build a small, solid core of top 200 “athletes”. Chris Leone, SVP of HCM Development at Oracle spent the first 15 minutes of his keynote discussing “digital transformation” and how players like Lyft, Airbnb and Amazon have transformed their industries.
Notice a pattern here? Many of the sessions were about strategy and policy. What’s striking is this was not at a McKinsey or BCG gathering. This was hosted by a technology vendor.
In some ways, as Microsoft did at Convergence couple of weeks ago, HCM World was less about feature/function. While Microsoft made it a showcase of its wide portfolio of technology offerings. Oracle turned this into more of a showcase of consumer and social technologies it is leveraging in its HCM offerings – see my note here about Oracle’s Consumer Grade HCM.
And in a breakout with analysts, Hurd turned the conversation to his technology and highlighted Oracle’s momentum in the cloud applications market. 800 new SaaS customers, including 220 in HCM signed up in its third quarter ending February 28. Hurd pointed out Q2 was similarly strong and the momentum should continue in Q4.
There was animated discussion among the analysts whether this was an indication Oracle is moving down market with its offerings. More likely, given a wide portfolio of organic and acquired HR offerings, customers who adopt even a tiny sliver of the offerings get included in that “HCM” count.
Vendors and analysts get excited about such market shares. Customers, in turn, appreciate hearing from peers about common challenges and solutions, and HCM World provided plenty of opportunities to do so. They learned about innovations of “horizontal drilling” and the possibility of “unconventional places” in their quest for talent.