Thursday, October 13, 2011

There is not going to be one super employee profile

Today, my colleague Dave Brockington and I were discussing the topic of profile within organizations and swapping war stories about customer conversations. Dave is responsible for product management and strategy for SAP Streamwork. He asked me if  I believe that there will be one single super profile of an employee in an organization. I told him "No".

I believe that there will be multiple places in an organization where a person's profile information is stored. In the future, systems will talk to each other to exchange data about a person when required, sometimes even in real time.

The concept of what is a profile is changing drastically. In Career OnDemand, for example, a person's profile will include his or her performance and development goals, her activities, the feedback she has received, her formal and informal network in the context of her work and so on. The idea of what a profile means in the consumer world is evolving drastically as well. For example, most people will have profiles in LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Quora, Amazon, Blogger, Wordpress and Google+ among other places. No one single place can be considered the super profile of a person. Every profile will contain different pieces of information that is relevant in different contexts.

So my advice to customers is to give up the futile attempt to build a super employee profile within the company and focus on exchanging data between appropriate systems that store employee related information. One more thing. Let the person who owns the profile, maintain the profile information. Do not try to maintain the profile information using an administrator. You will find it hard to make that work.

@SameerPatel responded to this post with his thoughts here. I am revisiting the topic of employee profile and decided to capture and highlight his views. I highlighted some of his thoughts below.

Prashanth Padmanabhan has a thought proviking post up on why there will never be one super [employee] profile in the enterprise. I understand his issues with this but I think it is important to decouple sources of employee intelligence and the profile itself.  
I fully agree that we have to have systems engage and share data but still, as we start to understand the implicit and explicit elements of what makes a complete profile, we need to start to bring the right information together in one place.
I agree with Prashanth that we need to let employees maintain their profile but I think thats a rat hole for the most part. When is the last time you updated MyYahoo or Google profiles? As bad as HR might be at some orgs when it comes to updating employee data, employees might be no better at updating their profile.
We need implicit data to feed a profile to truly get a sense of what each employee brings to the table – based on not just what she thinks she knows, but her work and how the community feels about it.
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