This has been a bit of a mad week. I’ve been on the road at 3 great events. First was #TruLondon, second was the excellent Talent Sourcing Summit hosted by KellyOCG in Dublin, and then #HRTechEurope in Amsterdam, where I got to speak on implementing social recruiting and co-hosted the Kenexa #IceParty. I’m going to write more on each of these events over the coming weeks, but there was a few trends that featured strongly at each of the events. Its something I have been talking about for the last 18 months, and it seems to be becoming a reality.

If we were able to put all of the speakers, exhibitors and attendees conversations during all of these events through some kind of fancy word cloud generator, the words “BIG DATA” would dwarf everything else. For some it was just the latest in a long list of buzz words to include, but there some of the tech suppliers (I don’t like the term vendors),who are building products that solve the real challenge of harnessing the vast amount of data living in multiple on-line places, and in disparate tools, systems and applications. What users in HR and Recruiting really want is what I’m calling “little data” and “data on demand.”

What I mean by this is that what we really want is real-time interpretation of the story behind the data. The real value is in very simple applications that do all the web crawling, data finding and data collection under the hood, interrogating and interpreting what all this information in bite sized chunks. What people want is “little data” to help make the right decisions based on the available real-time information. They want it now, without the need to wait, from up to date sources, on the device that they choose to access it with (which often means mobile), and in a visual format that makes interpretation simple. Little data on demand.

In the IHR competition run as part of #HRTechEurope, I was really impressed by Dutch company Hunite. The Hunite solution aggregates the various HR systems that a company operates to make day-to-day functions like expense claims or authorising simple, with push actions delivered to mobile. I described them in my review of the competition as information middleware for mobile.

The deserved winner of the competition have a great extension to their main product called look up. TalentBin builds profiles by spidering the web from twitter to github to aggregate what they describe as implicit professional activity on the web. This is about finding all the activity and filtering what is important from all the noise. The mobile application is called LookUp (for iPhone) enables instant access to profiles via a mobile device. built for networking events and chance meetings, I think it is quite brilliant, and another example of “little data on demand.” There are plenty of other examples I could talk about, and will do over the coming weeks, What is interesting to note is which of the suppliers have taken steps to ensure that all of their functions work on a mobile platform even when the data feed is less than mobile friendly, and which have simply created aggregated feeds that lead to features and destinations that are not mobile friendly, usually built-in flash as opposed to HTML5. A half mobile experience that promises more and fails to deliver is worse than offering no mobile experience at all.
The 3 trends that really stood out for me were:

>Data aggregation to a single source

HR and recruiting are using a whole plethora of systems. The need to prove ROI and figure out what is working and more importantly, what isn’t. Theres also a need for tracking, and for figuring out the best way to interpret the story the data is telling. This means the data delivered and pre-interpreted through a simple UI. TalentBin describe themselves as Google for people, and that is a good aspiration to have.What users are looking for is a Google type experience on demand on any device, with the belief that what is going on under the hood will deliver results they can have confidence in.
>Simple User Interface

The message is beginning to get through that products must put users at the heart of design and build. This means simple navigation and intuitive functions. The interface of many of the new release look social with obvious buttons and engagement features.In recruiting terms the important users are the recruiters, applicants and candidates.
>Mobilisation of data

It is interesting to note which of the new releases and products are optimised for mobile, and which aren’t. The big trend is for delivering the mobile experience via applications. The start-up businesses and less established companies build for mobile naturally, where as some of the more established companies have tried to tag on mobile features, or have not moved down the mobile route. The message from users is quite clear, build for mobile or don’t build at all. The most impressive mobile app on show was from HireVue and what is the first video selection (interviewing) tool. Kudos to them for this development which is the first of its kind. In terms of “little data on demand”, the effort is to deliver information as it is needed, whenever it is needed, and responds to the shift towards remote working.

A last thought around social is that it is noticeable in product which of the suppliers are social by nature, and who is trying to plug-in social features to products not built for a social world. Social comes from the inside out, and the suppliers need to be social before they build social. When looking for new suppliers who build products with social features it is worth poking around their social accounts to see how they run their own social accounts. If you find limited activity.that should be a real warning sign.No one company can provide everything you need for HR and Recruiting, whatever they may claim. Suppliers need to offer an open API and a collaborative attitude to other suppliers. You want one data flow and access from a single point. Not surprisingly, it tends to be the social companies who are collaborative, and you want all of your suppliers to play nicely.

Hats off to the organisers HRNEurope who put on a great show. I know they have some more events planned for 2013 which I will be glad to attend.