HR Tech Weekly: Episode #289: Stacey Harris and John Sumser

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Hosts Stacey Harris and John Sumser discuss important news and topics in recruiting and HR technology. Listen live every Thursday or catch up on full episodes with transcriptions here.

HR Tech Weekly
Episode: 289
Air Date: October 22, 2020


This Week

Topics: Stacey and John discuss the upcoming Virtual HR Tech event and Prezi introduces dynamic video teaching tools as education moves online.

HRTEchConf Industry Innovations spotlight list Link »
Prezi introduces dynamic video teaching tools as education moves online Link »
Topics: The upcoming Virtual HR Tech Event and Prezi.


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C-Suite leaders find social distancing, remote work a hindrance Link »
Could AI improve mental health? Link »
Gartner Identifies Three Dimensions That Define The New Employer-Employee Relationship Link »
The Post-Pandemic Rules of Talent Management Link »

About HR Tech Weekly

Hosts Stacey Harris and John Sumser discuss important news and topics in recruiting and HR technology. Listen live every Thursday at 7AM Pacific – 10AM Eastern, or catch up on full episodes with transcriptions here.

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Important: Our transcripts at HRExaminer are AI-powered (and fairly accurate) but there are still instances where the robots get confused (or extremely confused) and make errors. Please expect some inaccuracies as you read through the text of this conversation and let us know if you find something wrong and we’ll get it fixed right away. Thank you for your understanding.

SPEAKERS: Stacey Harris and John Sumser


John Sumser 0:14
Good morning and welcome to HR Tech Weekly One Step Closer with Stacey Harris and John Sumser. This is our 289th show, Stacey. How are you?


Stacey Harris 0:25
Wow! Oh, I am doing well that I don’t know if that should make me feel old or if that should just make me feel like we really know what we’re talking about John. That what that says? I don’t know, 289 sounds like a big number for me.


John Sumser 0:37
That’s pretty amazing. I don’t think we quite hit 52 shows a year, we probably get 50 shows a year. So that puts us at five and a half years of doing this.


Stacey Harris 0:47
Yeah, exactly. It’s been a long time. And this is the fall season when doing this and connecting with everyone is usually at the same time when we’re traveling. And so this is sort of the first year where we’re continuing to do the radio shows in between all the virtual events. So it’s been a kind of crazy couple of weeks for all of us who have been preparing for the events, doing a lot of recordings, you’ll see us at different things, I think throughout the next couple of weeks from the events that we’ve canned. But yeah, it’s been such a, there’s so many weird things about 2020. I mean, you can’t even begin to put them all into a box. But it’s been a particularly weird couple of weeks,
because we’ve sort of balanced what normally would happen at this time of year with where we’re at today. I don’t know about for you. But it’s been surreal almost for me. So…


John Sumser 1:31
Yeah, I can’t figure it out. It’s really interesting to be in the middle of the heavy season without having flown anywhere and the work is still as intense as if it were the heavy seats. It’s like nothing changed. And everything changed all at once. And…


Stacey Harris 1:48


John Sumser 1:49
That’s the weird part of it. I am looking forward to next week is the big HR Technology Conference. You don’t have to go anywhere to attend it this year. And both you and I are doing keynotes. And you know, it’s been forever I have spent the week of HR tech locked in the analyst room. And the analyst room is where vendors come to brief a cadre of analysts on their latest stories. And there’s a virtual panel this room, and I’d encourage anybody who is listening who works for a company that is exhibiting at HR tech to book some time with me, I’d love to hear what you’re up to.


Stacey Harris 2:29


John Sumser 2:30
And I imagine you’re gonna do some analyst room time as well?


Stacey Harris 2:33
I’ll be doing a little bit of analyst room time. And I’ll also be taking some briefings after the event for anybody who was sponsoring the event too. So either way, if you’re in the sort of already got your time booked in aren’t sure sort of where you’re at. And as long as you’re part of the event and seen some of the presentations and have some questions about what we’re talking about. I’m happy to do some meetings afterwards as well. Yeah, I think normally, the rush up to the HR tech event has been a ton of time focusing on scheduling right now. It’s all kind of being done electronically. So I have to go in and kind of look and see where everybody’s at what they’re scheduled. And we’re normally I would have this whole calendar full of stuff. So yes, but there will be time that we’re going to be available to talk to people. And I think that’ll be interesting and fun to see how that plays out for the HR Technology Conference. And I’m already starting to see a little bit more interaction, just from the pre conversations I’m having with people and the fact that they’re excited that they might be able to watch two sessions, normally, they wouldn’t have been able to watch because they were back to back or they were you know, parallel with each other. And now they’ll be able to watch the one they want to watch and then go back and watch the replay of the one they didn’t get a chance to see. And that alone I’m hearing is exciting people. So I think that a lot of the things about being a virtual event, the ability to do the scheduling and the analyst room, the ability maybe to set up a little bit of chatting while we’re in the sessions, the q&a, questioning, I think we’re all planning on making sure that there’s time for q&a question in our sessions. And all that’s focusing on how our virtual event runs not so much know how we might have done it in the past. I think people are excited about it.


John Sumser 4:05
I get that sense too and there are eight keynotes and there’s a ton of really interesting stuff that the universe includes you and me and you know, minor figures like Josh Bersin, that was a joke.


Stacey Harris 4:22
Yes. We’ve also got Jason Averbook and we’ve got Stacia Garr.


John Sumser 4:28
It’s awesome. It’s awesome. And you! Your picture is plastered all over everything.


Stacey Harris 4:35
I have to admit, I have a wonderful and amazing group of partners in my new company. And I think they can’t do a whole lot to help me. You know, because it’s a brand new team. We’re all trying to figure out how we work on the you know, the stuff that needs to get done and they can’t write the research. That’s my space and my baby. So the only thing I think they know how to do right now is just keep telling people come to the presentation, see the session download the paper. It’s wonderful to have people behind me so excited about What we’re doing on the research side, but yes, I do think I see my face a lot.


John Sumser 5:05
Oh, yeah, there’s that. But everywhere I look at the promotion for the conference itself, you are at the top of the list, the two most important talks, the talks at the top of the fold are Josh Bersin and Stacey Harris.


Stacey Harris 5:19
Well, I’m excited about that, I will have to say, I hope that the people who participate in the research and the organizations who are excited about what that data is going to be able to share for how they’re doing their planning next year, I hope they’re all able to come. That’s been my biggest thing is that having this as an open forum is just fascinating. We just haven’t had the ability to have this many people sign up for an event. Usually, it’s a room of two 300 that you can fit into a small setting everyone who was able to get to Las Vegas, this is the first time we’ve had something where we’ve got such big crowds that are able to sign up for these events. I’ve talked at big events that have had lots of people at the sessions and lots of involvement. Have you had the opportunity and other events to get a sense of what the difference is between those smaller sessions versus the really big sessions and stuff to kind of questions that you’ll see and stuff. I know you’ve done a lot this year on virtual events.


John Sumser 6:17
So it’s weird, right? It’s just weird. Because when you do a talk at a large event, and there’s people in the room, and you know that maybe we have a couple thousand people in the room, you get feedback from the audience that you can feel in your bones. And when you do a virtual event that has thousands of people in it, it seems like every other webinar in some ways, because there’s no real feedback, except you get a much more interesting set of questions.


Stacey Harris 6:49
That’s what I’m hoping for.


John Sumser 6:51
And so that’s what I noticed with this latest thing, which is recorded presentations for large audiences. And I’d be interested to see how that goes. So you and I both recorded and shipped our recordings off to LRP. And we’re gonna go watch ourselves with everybody else watching us and then answer questions afterwards. And that’s a different thing. And that’s new. And so I don’t know anything at all about that.


Stacey Harris 7:21
I will have to say now I’ve done I think four or five sessions like that this year, where we’ve pre recorded and then done question answers afterwards. And for me, it’s a very different experience. Because there are things that I think about in the moment that oftentimes I will say in my presentations that are what’s happening, and connecting it to things that are a little bit more right at that moment. And that was a little harder to do. Because you know, knowing that this will be a week out, you kind of have to think a little bit about what’s going to be most relevant to you a little more scripted, right, I really retard I know you do as well, I’m making sure that it doesn’t feel very scripted. I’ve torn myself between whether I really like the pre recorded or whether I kind of like the live, I think there’s benefits to both of them. And so it’ll be interesting to see how the audience, you know which of those environments they like a little bit better? You know, do you like that in the moment conversation? Or do you get a better picture because people have a little bit more time to prepare, and to work out how it all sort of ties together in a pre recorded session. So there’s good benefits to them.


John Sumser 8:14
Yeah, I’m not sure that I could tell you which is better, and which is worse, I am in the middle of learning a whole lot about video production. And so I think that part of what you’ll see next week is that the quality of video production is starting to seriously matter. And that will be a meaningful difference going forward. Because when you take the time to methodically record and produce video, it’s an entirely different thing from showing up with a presentation deck and giving a talk. It’s an entirely different thing,


Stacey Harris 8:53
Yeah, it’s a very different thing, I will have to say I used a lot of gorilla tape to get my lighting to stay where it needed to stay. I used a lot of books on top of things to move the dome cameras up to the levels, we wanted them to add a couple of remote controls, it was definitely much more of a production. And you’re right, I think we’re kind of feeling a little bit like you have to because it’s just harder when you’re sitting at a computer than when you’re engaged in person. And so you have to make it a little bit more interesting and have a little bit more space, the ability to just show your hands and not just your head, that kind of thing makes a difference. I had hoped to be able to stand up I couldn’t quite get my camera angles to quite work out that way when I was presenting this year. But if we do this again next year, no or if we have another virtual event like this. I’m like I really like the idea of being able to stand up when you present there’s so much more energy that comes out of it. I did that at another session where someone was taping it. Those kind of things make a difference. And you have to think about you know, how can I do that in my home environment which is different and you’re sitting up like a hole at some point you’re gonna have to take a picture for everyone and like share them like you’ve got like a whole production studio that you’re getting ready there.


John Sumser 9:54
Sort of. The hardware and lighting is intense, but it looks kind of like a cave right now. Because all the production is centered around a large display. So there’s like seven cameras and five lights and couple of computers and sound processing equipment, and another six or seven microphones and various headsets floating around here to try to get all of the pieces, right. It’s a very interesting thing, when you do video for a living, it’s not like getting on the telephone. I think that’s part of the problem that we’re seeing with zoom meetings is to really do good video, you can’t just get on the zoom meeting, you actually have to take some time to make sure that the environment is set up. And because lighting changes, you have to adjust the lighting every time. And so it’s a different world.


Stacey Harris 10:50
Well, you know, we do have a lot of news going on this week, just I think just because it’s a couple weeks out from the elections here in the US. So there’s some quiet time going on because of that. We’ve got HR Tech, so from the HR community, there’s not a lot of big announcements, there’s some through the HR tech conference, we’ll talk a little bit about that. And pinatas having their event today, we should probably talk a little bit about that. But one of the things kind of along what you were just talking about that came up in my newsfeed this week was for those of you who remember pressy, it was a really fun tool that was used for a little while in corporate and then everybody abandoned it to have your PowerPoints kind of zoom in and zoom out. And you’re able to point at different things that made it feel a little bit more like a video, but edited version of PowerPoints, they’re coming out, they’re still around with a brand new set of tools for educators, I think talk about exactly what you’re just talking about john, which is they’re going to be doing video within video opportunities, the ability to put animation in a much easier way. And they’re tailoring it, as they say for educators. So premiere has taken their entire audience and shifted from corporate to education, that I think is fascinating to see some of these older tools that have been around for a long time, because we’ve been doing virtual classroom for a long time, and see how they’re trying to reinvent themselves to fit this new world where a zoom meeting isn’t just enough sometimes when you want to engage everybody,


John Sumser 12:04
Right. So, this Prezi thing is similar to a tool that I’ve been using heavily called mm hmm, which is a beta piece of software for Macintoshes. That allows you to have more control over your little box in the Hollywood Squares, slash zoom meeting, the view of the world, you could actually present multiple things inside of your box. And the technology is called Virtual cameras. And part of what I have here is a ton of virtual cameras now that do a variety of different chores based on what you need done in the process. So Prezi is making a virtual camera.


Stacey Harris 12:50
Interesting, okay, I didn’t even know there was a difference between a virtual camera and not a virtual camera, john, knowing the video space. And understanding that having different angles and different ways of looking at stuff is really powerful. I get what you’re saying there from a virtual camera perspective. But that’s interesting to have that outside of the application area, which is I think, where we would think of it most of the time. So that’s fascinating. Like I said, at some point, you’re going to have to document your studio and all the pieces and parts of it because you’ve gone through quite the process to get it all put together. So…


John Sumser 13:22
Well, you know what I’m in the middle of this big long project to create a video class for Job Hunters. And one of the things we’re going to do before the end of the year, is have a class about how to set up a studio for doing your top. Right, and you can do it from a ring light and the slightly better mic to all sorts of control over lighting and green screens and that sort of stuff. And it’s just a question of how much money you have to invest.


Stacey Harris 13:56


John Sumser 13:56
So you can do it at multiple levels.


Stacey Harris 13:59
Money, and probably a little bit of technical knowledge, too. I think, you know, for some people, it’s very intimidating to try and figure out how to plug and play. Some of these things are but some of them require understanding the settings inside of all these systems to make them work to, so.


John Sumser 14:12
Yes, and you end up looking at like this, there’s this piece of software that I am beginning to get familiar with called OBS. And OBS is the video production tool that people who use twitch use to share their video game while they’re playing it and talking about it. And oh, geez, I bet it’s got hundreds of things that you could do that I have no idea what they are. Yeah, absolutely done. It’s like it’s not as bad as when I tried to go use Photoshop, which is just a mystery to me. But it’s the same level of complexity and could do all sorts of things to perfect the video ever. You’re sitting out. And as you spend time with these tools, you start to develop a sense of what’s a good video image of what’s not a good video image.


Stacey Harris 15:08
Yeah, well, I don’t know, John, you are creating, I think the rest of us who have to do this for a living too are going to be following in your good graces figuring out what you’re doing and trying to balance somewhere in the middle, I think it really is. It’s like a full time job just to keep up on the technology around the the video and the audio part of this, on top of all the other things we do, which I know is what everybody else out in the world is kind of thinking if their job has anything to do with communications these days. I mean, one of the things I talked a lot about this year, and the research is this need to shift, the idea that communications is not only just a one way conversation, but that it’s a single medium. And we’ve talked about multi mediums for a long time and the communication space. But I think in reality, we used email, and maybe one other tool, when you looked at what the data set, right, like it was two types of communications we would have with people. Now the pandemic has definitely pushed the idea that you truly need multiple mediums of communications, and different levels to write in some cases and emails good enough. In other cases, you have to have a finely tuned production to get the message across. And I think when you’re not all in the same building, and when you’re thinking differently about how your remote workforce is seeing things based off of their own personal experiences, it just requires you to have more depth and understanding of what these tools will all do for you.


John Sumser 16:25
I think that’s partly right. But I think it’s worth saying that some of what you just described, were the reasons that people didn’t start to use PCs initially. It’s so complicated. And we already have full time jobs. Why would we? Why would we learn how to use a computer on top of all of that, and that was there was 10 years of that, there’s 10 years of that. And the truth is the people who advance in their careers and in their professions, and in their consulting practices over the next five years, will be the people with the best radio, not conditional, but the people with the best radio and it isn’t any different than dressing for success, or being the person who brings computing into your company. If you have this is the new technology, it’s a communications technology. And you can either get ahead of it, or follow the people who are going to become your bosses because they know how to do it. But in very simple your choice, you want to be in charge or you want to follow because…


Stacey Harris 17:29
John’s career advice today that’s we’ll call the show.


John Sumser 17:36
You’re either, you’re either going to have video and because you have video and because it’s high quality, you’ll be more compelling and persuasive or not right. And so the people who don’t do it will have a harder time. It’s very interesting, because it seems like learning video would be hard to view, sort of an ER problem. But the truth is not learning video is way harder than learning it.


Stacey Harris 18:05


John Sumser 18:06
Because, you fall behind the people who are taking the time to learn it.


Stacey Harris 18:11
Well and if you think about the analogy that you put out there, which is the computer, I will say personally, the idea of being having to write everything out like writing is a very long process. In some cases, the ability to be able to put out a video to sort of share your ideas is really actually speeds up the process and makes it better from a communications perspective. Because you get to see my facial features, you get to see the context and environment which I’m sitting in which I can portray that information that also provides some information to you. So in all reality, it’s a better communication platform. So I do think there’s a little bit of an analogy with the technology is that, yes, it’s harder right now, just like doing a computer was harder, maybe in the very first stages. But eventually what it did is it made you faster, more efficient and able to move to a more strategic level in your work. And I think that’s something we’re going to see with video if it’s done well.


John Sumser 19:01
Right. Right. That’s exactly right. It doesn’t take as much as it sounds like so I would recommend that anybody listen to this go Google Katrina Kibben. And watch some of Katrina Kibben’s job advice videos. They’re fast shot, but she understands the camera. And she works really well with the camera. She works really well with lighting, and it’s simple and compelling stuff that has an immediacy that other kinds of communications don’t have. And she’s a great example of what getting the most out of the minimum looks like.


Stacey Harris 19:43
And that is the future that we’re talking about. There’s so much of this that we’re gonna be talking about both at the HR tech conferences. We are also going to be seeing it in some of the other sessions. I think that we’re attending. I think we’re both going to be at the ifI Nam event this afternoon and I know I’ve got the California social For HR professionals that I’ll be doing later in the week as well, all of them have some level of video and different types of video connections. I’ve done interviews and some I’ve done stand up in one I’ve had remote video editing crews come out, I think everybody’s trying to figure out the right answer to this. But this is the time to do it. This is when we have to do it.


John Sumser 20:19
Yeah, it’s good. Well, so is there and besides Prezi, we talked about Prezi, we talked about HR Tech, is there anything we want to be sure we hit here before we wrap up?


Stacey Harris 20:32
Yeah, we did note that the spotlight innovations that we saw coming out of this year’s HR Technology Conference. So every year, if you don’t know, HR technology puts out basically a long list of innovations that are released around the HR tech conference. And it’s always a good way to get a good sense of what the market has been working on for the last year, because you see a little bit of that in it. And you and I had looked through this. And there’s a lot of really interesting things, but not a lot of artificial intelligence, and not a lot of brand new things. And I think we can count safety like 10 times in this report, there’s three or two different platforms doing virtual recruiting and virtual recruiting for campuses. So companies are starting to think about that kind of issue. It’s just a different kind of a list this year, which I think fits with a lot of the conversations we had. So I think that was the only thing we had talked about earlier that I think it’s probably worth noting for everyone that this is a year where the practical and the business conversations are definitely taking precedence over what would have oftentimes been much more of a flashy technology conversation. I don’t know if I’m saying that appropriately. But a focus on maybe the glitter on top of everything. This year, the conversation is very, very down to earth about any kind of new functionality organizations are putting out. Would you say I state that correct?


John Sumser 21:48
Oh, I think another way of saying that is most of the vendors in our industry spent their time for the last six or seven months focused on keeping their customers up and running, and figuring out how to help their customers solve their problems, rather than inventing new things. And so it was a quiet year, it’s a quiet year for stunning innovation. But it’s an extraordinary year for tightening the bonds between vendors and their clients by solving some little problems. Little meaning how do you move the workforce out of the office and into the house. And so that stuff is not as sexy as brand new, shiny object. So there’s a sort of a shortage of brand new, shiny objects, because everybody’s been busy working. That’s how I’d say it.


Stacey Harris 22:40
Yeah, it’s profound. You know, even when I was doing my presentation this year about what we’re going to be seeing in the next 12 months, the focus is so much more on that relationship with a vendor, right. And that expectation of how the vendor is going to partner with you to do these things. I think, if anything this year, really honed in on why that relationship is really important. Because when everything else is going to chaos around you the idea that your vendor will maybe stop and start to help you on the things that are most important to you makes a difference. And we definitely saw that in the data this year. And I think you’re going to see it in the next 12 months to 24 months, as people start to look at, you know, sort of any new buying that they’re going to be doing. It’s this idea that the really exciting technology is great. But if I can do the most important thing in my organization, like keep my employees safe, it’s not as important. So yeah, it’s gonna be an interesting year this year.


John Sumser 23:33
Okay, well, what an interesting conversation today and next week, we will be coming to you live from the virtual HR Technology Conference.


Stacey Harris 23:43
As we have for the last several years, and we’ll be giving updates on what we’re seeing and what’s going on both from our presentations. Now is our session on Thursdays is that before or after. So that’s before your session on Friday, right?


John Sumser 23:55
it’s before my session on Friday. So who knows, maybe we’ll have some advanced previews of it.


Stacey Harris 24:02
There you go. A little bit of exciting stuff.


John Sumser 24:04
Your presentation is on Tuesday,


Stacey Harris 24:08


John Sumser 24:09


Stacey Harris 24:09
At 4:45. Yeah, in the afternoon. So it’s the last session of the day, which is great, because they kind of get through all the other events, you get to listen a little bit. And then if you come and join mine, you’re going to get a chance to hear how you might think about taking all that information from gathering for this day and applying it and how the data is telling you that that’s going to be helpful or not helpful in what you’re doing. So yeah, we’re really excited lots of good stuff about talent management and learning systems and what’s happening in the query grms buying market as well as things like continuous change management and where the markets heading from a long term perspective as far as spending, which I think is on everybody’s mind right now. So big stuff that we’ll be talking about on Tuesday. So I hope to see everybody there.


John Sumser 24:50
Good. Okay, Thanks for doing this again Stacey. We’ll come back next week for the 290th of the show. And thanks, everybody for tuning in. You’ve been listening To HR Tech Weekly, One Step Closer with Stacey Harris and John Sumser. See you here next week. Bye, Bye.


Stacey Harris 25:06
Thanks everyone. Bye.