Category Archives: Applicant Tracking Systems

Grandfathering bandwidth and the flexible appliance

There is a new commodity in the high tech world.

Unlimited bandwidth.



Ask any of the iPad user that got one in the early days. Unlimited bandwidth is no longer available on the iPad.   I am one of the lucky users. With a combination of my travel schedule,  high Bandwidth using applications like Netflix and Broadlook’s Profiler, I regularly top 12-15 Gigabytes per month in data transfer.  Data plans today cover 2GB which means I am using 6-8 times the bandwidth that new iPad users get.

I am a bandwidth hog.   I am one of the 2% of people that use the majority of the bandwidth and I’ve got a message for AT&T…I’m keeping my plan…forever.

Why blog about this?  It is a warning for the uninformed.

Guess what?  Very soon you will be a bandwidth hog.  AT&T, Verizon and the other carriers understand this.  It is the nature of technology.  More and more applications, business logic and media rests in the cloud.  Now Apple and Google each want to offer streaming music services.  No longer will you have your iTunes on your desktop, laptop or iPad.  Nope.  They want all your music in the cloud.  Why?   Apple gets a piece of the service fee that you pay AT&T for your iPhone or iPad.  Bandwidth is the new electricity.

This is reminiscent of 2002–2008 when every idiot said that you must make your software offering SaaS (Software as a service).  SaaS is mostly good for service providers since it gives them reoccurring revenue, but it is not always the best solution.  Don’t get me wrong, I am huge believer in SaaS, but it is not a panacea.

Now they (the same smart zealots who want your $$)…are saying that they want all your stuff in the cloud.  Why?  Simple, if you store everything : backups, music, CRM, etc in the cloud then you need bandwidth to access it.

Whose cloud?

At the recent Oracle OpenWorld conference, Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle talked about the cloud NOT being a single set of servers but a flexible appliance.  Thank you Larry!  He gets it. Most don’t.

The Flexible Appliance

What is it?  My iPhone is a flexible appliance.  In a recent talk at the MRI Worldwide conference (The Near and far Future of Recruiting), I demonstrated on stage the advent of the mobile web server.  My laptop connected to a website that was hosted on my iPhone and one person in the front row said “that’s cool!” out loud.  Not the response I was hoping for, but it sunk in to enough  people that had time to think about it.  It inspired some great conversations about the future of recruiting.

I used an iPhone app called ServersMan that makes your iPhone a web server.  Being able to run a web server on a mobile phone has huge implications.

If you want to test the vision of a technical leader ask them this question:

When mobile devices (iPhones, iPads) can act as functional web servers, what does that mean for the technology landscape?”

They should be stunned, they should be wondering, they should be smiling.  If they don’t, then they lack vision.  The advent of the true flexible appliance will bring:

-Massive bandwidth usage.  Via your mobile flexible appliance/personal web server, you will be connected to everything

-Downfall of Facebook.  News to Zuck.  The future social networks will be controlled from the pocket.

-movement from “their” cloud to “my” cloud.

When I have proposed the above, among tech folks, they remind me that some sort of middleware needs to facilitate one mobile web server finding and connecting to another.  This already exists, it is called dynamic DNS and their are a bunch of companies that offer this.   With DynamicDNS, my iPhone web server could very quickly connect to 200 of my friends and update my status on their mobile devices.   No cloud, no Facebook needed.   The only limitation is bandwidth and mobile processing speed.

The above scenario will happen once people realize they don’t want Facebook storing everything about them.  Due to the nature of the beast, they will continue to violate the privacy of their users.  Eventually it will go away.  Don’t get me wrong, I like Facebook.  It gives me a way to connect with grandma and show pictures of the kids.  Facebook may change and become the king of the middle, middleware the ties everything consumer together.  But do you trust them?  I don’t.

It’s all about the middleware.

As I look at SaaS (Software as a Service) and then PaaS (Platform as a Service) combined with the advent of the flexible appliance, I realize that my previous thinking was limited.  In the mobile future,  the mobile is the cloud, the flexible appliance.  For consumer apps like Facebook, people will eventually prefer to keep their personal data in a place they control it.  However, for business applications like CRM and ATS (Applicant Tracking), I see a new class of business.  Middleware as a service (MaaS).

Middleware as a service will balance the load between the cloud and the flexible appliance.  Unlike the limited browser-based applications today, MaaS systems will balance the rich interface and local power of flexible appliance with the security, flexible business logic and data storage in the cloud.  It will be interesting to watch it evolve.

With all this stuff in the works… if you get an unlimited bandwidth package, read the contract and if you can, never give it up.  Providers will offer unlimited bandwidth as a promotion and then like AT&T/Apple, try to get you to downgrade from $30 per month to $25 per month to relinquish your unlimited package.

Did I mention that once you get it, never give it up?

Peter Clayton Interview’s Donato Diorio: Total Picture Radio

Peter Clayton always does a great job of asking me questions that get me charged up.  Here is the interview from the HR Technology conference.

The Single Point of Truth: Broadlook Technologies Takes a Big Move Towards the Cloud

"With CRM Shield, we are solving the actual disease of dirty data" Donato Diorio

Donato Diorio at HR Tech in Chicago
Donato Diorio

Welcome to our continuing coverage from HR Tech in Chicago. Donato Diorio is a pioneer in the field of Internet research. As software architect and the owner of a top billing placement firm, Donato envisioned applications that could automate many of the most time-consuming research functions performed by his recruiters. With the assistance of a team of developers, Donato created a series of innovative tools that immediately impacted revenue for his firm. It didn’t take long to realize the potential of these applications beyond the scope of internal use, and in 2001, Broadlook Technologies was born.

"Linkedin is not a social network. Linkedin is a social database."

20 Min :

Download the mp3 file 21 MB Download Now!

Stay tuned… a complete transcript of Donato’s podcast coming soon!

What you know about Internet Resume searching is wrong

Do you use search engines to look for resumes on the Internet?   Do you use exclusions such as “-jobs”  or  “-submit”?

If you do. Stop it. Read on and I’ll tell you why.

First a story about Easter hams.

To understand what I am going to say about searching for resumes, you will need to be in the right frame of mind. Here we go…

A little girl was closely watching her mother prepare the Easter Ham. She was five years old, a great age for asking questions about the world.  She watched her mother prepared the glaze, preheated the oven and brought out the large roasting pan.   In an automatic fashion, her mother took a large knife and sliced off 2 full inches of meat from each end of the ham.

The little girl,  Sarah, smiled as a question came to mind.

“Mommy, why do you cut the ends off the ham?”  she asked.

As if startled the mother replied, unconvincingly  “I don’t know Sarah, my mom always did it.  Maybe it is so the glaze gets inside. ”

Not being satisfied with the answer, Sarah tracked down Grandma.

“Grandma” She asked.  “I just saw mommy cut off the two ends of the Easter Ham.  She said that she learned it from you.  Why did you make the Easter Ham that way?”

Grandma answered.  “That is a good question, Sarah, but I learned it from my mom, your great grandma.  I always thought that it was so the Ham cooked faster.”

Again, unsatisfied, Sarah tracked down, Great Grandma, the family Matriarch.

“Great grandma”, She asked as she crawled up on her lap.  “Mommy cut the ends off the Easter Ham. She thought is was so the glaze flavor got into the ham.  She did this because Grandma did it.  Grandma thought it was so the Ham would cook faster.  Grandma learned it from you. ”

With anticipation, Sarah asked her Great Grandma. “Grandma, why did you cut the ends off the Easter Ham?”

Grandma, wise as she was old, chuckled and answered.  “Sarah, when I married your great grandfather, the roasting pan we got for our wedding was too small for a Christmas Ham.”

“We cut the ends off the Ham so it would fit in the pan”.
xmas ham

Such is the progression of knowledge.  There is no fault when we inherit a practical idea that worked in the past, yet is anachronistic.  In the case of the Easter Ham, a practical, real world solution should have lived and died within a single generation, a single iteration.  However, it continued until one with a child’s mind, a questioning mind, wanted to know why.  When she was not satisfied with the answer, went on a journey of discovery.

Looking at resume search with a “Beginners Mind”

In the past 2 year I’ve taken a bit of a journey in questioning how people use search engines to search the Internet.

Observation:  Top Internet searchers, myself included, had an innate set of beliefs that they held.  These observations eventually evolved into The 8 Laws of Internet Search,  which are a set of axioms for searching the Internet.

At this point I want to make a disclaimer:  I am really, really good at finding things on the Internet. This is not due to any formal training, nor did I have the advantage of a teacher or mentor.  I am self-taught.  I have literally been immersed in searching the Internet for the last 15 years.

Second disclaimer:  I do not include myself as one of the search-string guru’s out there.  To be a search string guru, you need to be current, know the latest websites that are out there, as well as the latest capabilities of each of the search engines; you need to be immersed in the searching.  My immersion is in the underlying rules.

I recently had a conversation with a search string guru .  We agreed that the best analogy was that I design the aircraft and the search string gurus are the pilots.  Works for me.

So what about resumes and searching the Internet?

If I attempted to research the state of resume search, without a basis or set of axioms to work from, I would not have known where to start.  Fortunately, I decided to use the 8 Laws of Internet Search as a starting point. With a special emphasis on the first 3.

8 laws of internet search

So the question I decided to ask myself is: How do the commonly taught practices of resume search stack up to the Laws of Internet Search?  This was a definable goal.   Caveat: My focus is “Open web” resume searches and not searches within a controlled environment like Monster.com or CareerBuilder.com.

1-law of environment
The Law of Environment. Trainers do an excellent good job talking about the various search engines, their capabilities and limitations.

Industry score on the Law of Environment: A+

2-law of permutation

In taking The Law of Permutation into consideration, I found 2 areas that were very different.

1.  Boolean search methods

Sub-score:  B.   Trainers are clear on the concepts that you must search using multiple permutations such as “VP of Sales”, “Vice President of Sales”,  “VP Sales”, etc.  However, the reality is that you may need 15-20 title combinations to reach all possible results.

2.  Semantic search methods

Sub-score: C.  A good deal of mis-information is being spread about semantic search.  Some of this stems from irresponsible vendors that are trying to make a buck.  It would not be a big deal,  if trainers actually tested, scientifically, what they started teaching.  The funny thing is that the value proposition is significant with semantic search.  Say what it can (and can not do) and those vendors will have happy customers with proper expectations.  I shouldn’t be too harsh here, in the early days, I believed the software from Broadlook was meant for everyone.  It is not.  Setting clear expectations of technology capabilities is the mark of a mature vendor.

Semantic search is great when you have a type of resume that is well identified and the rules have been built.  However, throw it a niche area that has not been cataloged and it will fall flat.  Advice:  If you are looking for a commodity position like a .NET programmer, semantic search can work marvels.  If you are working in a niche area, pick a semantic search engine that can be trained by inputting sample resume data.  In the later case, you may have to do the leg work with good old Boolean search first.  Also, ask your semantic search vendor if they use exclusions when they mine search engines.  If they do, twist their arm until they stop.  It’s an old Easter Ham.

Industry score on the Law of Permutation: C+


3-law of completeness
The Law of Completeness.    Widely taught methodologies, that have not been questioned in years (like the Easter Ham) are yielding approximately 65%.  If you get 65% on a math test, that is not a good grade.   The first example is not using the full available results from a search string query.  If a google search yields 380 results,  the Law of Completeness states that you must work with the entire set of results for maximum yield.

Completeness is not being reached. Why?  When trainers first started teaching how to use search engines (before google),  there were limitations in the technology.  Those limitations were:

(1) No high accuracy method to screen out page results that were NOT a resume.  Therefore search strings needed to be modified to exclude results that were not resumes.

(2) No method to extract all results from a search query.  Therefore search strings needed to be modified to reduce results to a manageable quantity

In both cases, the strategy worked, unfortunately there was a side effect:  Many good results were also thrown out.

Industry score on the Law of Completeness: D

Dropping the bomb on search string exclusions.

So where is the proof, where is the science?

First, I want to thank Cory Dickenson at Broadlook Technologies for leading the team of researchers on search string exclusion metrics.  Looking through tens of thousands of resumes, by hand, and then doing it two more times, is not a fun task.  The reality is that someone had to do it.  Hopefully when this study is reviewed both recruiters and technology vendors will have a better foundation in which to build upon.  I basically hate inefficiency.

Resume Exclusion Metrics (Broadlook project: FRET, Frikken Resume Exclusion Test)

The study was simple.  What was the effect of using exclusions on a resume search string?

The first thing we did for the study was to mine a bunch of social networks and sites that had advice on resume search strings.  We wanted examples, over the past 10 years, that experts were using.  From a few hundred examples, we made a list off all the popular resume search string exclusions that were being used (i.e. -job -job -you -your -submit).

Creating the resume data set

To set up the study, we created search strings for about job 50 positions.  The positions were a wide range: IT , biotechnology, health care, sales, business development, financial, etc.  Next for each search,  we made sure that the search string was specific enough so the results from the search engine was <1000. We did not use any exclusions.  Last step:  Hand verification of every single search engine result.  Each result was classified in one of 4 categories (1) Resume (2) Resume sample page  (3) resume book page (4) Junk: Not a resume.

At this point, we could bring automation into the equation.  Using Broadlook’s Eclipse tool, we automated each of the 50 searches with one of the exclusion terms.  We then repeated the each of the 50 searches with each of the exclusion terms.  Since we already hand-identified which search engine result pages were resumes, we were able to calculate, for each search-exclusion combination, how many REAL resumes were skipped by using each exclusion term. When the searching was done, we had average percentages, across many industries and titles.  We know, with high precision, what percentage of resumes you will lose by using an exclusion term.

Why did I do this study?  Too much time on my hands?..no.  I was interested in making the best open web resume search tool possible.  To accomplish that goal, the tool needs to work within the framework of the Laws of Internet Search.  Specifically the first 3:  Environment, Permutation, Completeness.  The end result was Broadlook Diver 3.0.  The resume search part of the tool *automatically* screens out pages that are not resumes.  In addition, since it is an automation tool, it allows the user to work with complete results from a search engine.   While you can only get Diver from Broadlook, the Resume Exclusion Metrics are free to all.  Enjoy.

The Axioms of Internet Resume Search

1.  Seek <1000 results per search.

You should conduct your search with enough specificity that the search engine reports that there are less than 1000 results.  If you are doing a search that yields many thousands, break up the search into a few separate searches

2.  Never use single-phrase exclusions

Otherwise you will miss a good percentage of resumes.  It is reasonable to use multi-word exclusions, as the level of ambiguity is low.

3.  Use multiple search engines.

There are varying reports of the cross over being as low as 20%.   (Happy to get comments from additional sources on this)

4.  Use automation to screen out non-resumes

Don’t do it by hand and don’t ignore the data below and use exclusions.  This is not 1998 anymore.  Let automation technology screen out Search Engine Result Pages (SERPS) that are not resumes. This includes sample resume pages, job pages, etc.

And now for the Exclusion metrics.

From pool of about 50 job descriptions,  100+ searches,  75,000 search engine results, 28200 resumes, hand verified.  The sort order is based on the worst offending term.  These exclusion terms were pulled from top experts answers on forums about resume search.  Remember the Easter Ham, it is not my intention to reduce the tremendous contribution of those people that freely answer questions (every day) about internet resume search.  It is my intention to give more data so that the entire industry has more facts in which to work with.

Exclusion % REAL Resumes Missed
-job 49.78%
-jobs 40.89%
-summary 37.33%
-intext:resumes 34.37%
-about 34.07%
-writing 32.74%
-your 29.19%
-you 27.41%
-example 25.78%
-required 25.19%
-require 23.70%
-free 23.26%
-list 19.11%
-“how to” 17.04%
-template 16.15%
-library 14.96%
-intitle:jobs 14.37%
-professor 13.48%
-intitle:job 13.19%
-inurl:aspx 12.74%
-send 12.44%
-write 11.56%
-inurl:php 11.41%
-requirement 10.22%
-apply 9.78%
-intitle:apply 9.78%
-sample 9.78%
-intitle:sample 9.48%
-“resume
service”
9.19%
-intitle:career 9.04%
-intitle:example 9.04%
-careers 8.89%
-submit 8.89%
-intitle:examples 8.59%
-intitle:write 8.59%
-intitle:how 8.44%
-intitle:submit 8.44%
-inurl:books 8.44%
-trainings 8.00%
-wizard 7.70%
-samples 7.41%
-inanchor:apply 6.67%
-opening 6.37%
-reply 6.22%
-wanted 6.07%
-applicant 4.89%
-inanchor:sample 4.59%
-inanchor:submit 4.00%
-eoe 3.70%

This resume research project yielded many other interesting facts, such as percentages of doc files vs. pdf, etc.  In the coming weeks, I will be publishing a white paper that breaks down the data in a bunch of categories… after I get back from DisneyWorld!

The future death of social networking

Social networking is going to die.  This article is about how it will happen.

The focus for this article will be business social networking.  If you are worried about your Facebook friends and photos and the life sucking that goes on in personal social networks, don’t worry, they will be around for awhile.  They will be dying a totally different death.  That will have to be a future blog posting.  Ask me over a beer and I will explain it.

Ask three people to define business social networking and you will get three different answers.  Try it. Going even further, I hypothesized that you ask ten different people about the benefits of business social networking, you will get ten different answers.  I was recently inspired by a quote attributed to Steve Jobs about dogma as “Being satisfied with the results of other peoples thinking.”  This article will be as dogma free as possible.  While I can’t help being influenced by everything that is being written about social networking, I have come up a few unique conclusions.

1.  LinkedIn is not a social network. Most of my contacts are either in a sales or recruiting role.  In the early days, the premise behind LinkedIn was that you can connect to many people through a chain of trusted referrals. It does not matter what the creators of LinkedIn claim it to be.  LinkedIn was founded on the idea that you can go through a series of trusted connections to network with a target person.  It was a noble idea, however, LinkedIn is now controlled by the mob.  The real question is… how are the majority of people using LinkedIn?   The answer:  Get as many connections as possible, build as big a network as possible.  Next, when you find someone in LinkedIn that you want to connect with, read their background and connect directly.

LinkedIN is a social database.

2.  Social CRM is a buzz word.

The community aspect of SocialCRM is aptly named.  Unfortunately, the average person confuses the community, group and collaboration aspects of SocialCRM with popular social networking sites like LinkedIn. They are different.

SocialCRM is not concisely defined.

When everyone is copying what everyone else is thinking, you get a buzz word.  Fun to report, you don’t need to think too much to find other articles to read, alter and republish.  Read about Social CRM and then write about Social Recruiting. It goes both ways.  But what is Social CRM?  SOCIAL is the base part of the equation.

Unfortunately SocialCRM is being used as a catch-all phrase and it is confusing the consumer. For clarity,  SocialCRM should be broken into 2 distinct terms.  Here is a way to clarify thinking and talking about it.

CollaborationCRM – Denoting the functions within a CRM that allow group collaboration, community connection and project sharing.  Salesforce chatter is a good example.

SocialCRM –  Connectivity to existing social networks like LinkedIn.  This is the definition, when polled,  that most people believe social CRM to be.  (Straw poll yielded 9 out of 10 assuming this definition).

Social Linkage – defined below

The current implementions of Social CRM (as defined above) defeat the purpose of having a CRM.  The best implementation of a CRM is when the CRM is self-contained.  Art Papas, CEO of Bullhorn, an Applicant Tracking System (recruiter CRM) describes it well.  “Our clients live inside Bullhorn”.   The best CRM should have everything the users need, inside the CRM.

Example: you click on a LinkedIN link next to a contact record in your CRM.  What happens?  A browser page opens and you are in a separate web page, disconnected technology, outside your CRM.  This is Social Linkage, not social CRM.  Bad process.

If a CRM is implemented correctly, you should not have to leave the CRM to perform important tasks.

Most of what is touted as Social CRM today is simply Social Linkage.  Social CRM sounds better, sounds integrated, but in every case I have seen…it is not.   What is the challenge here?  Until LinkedIN and Facebook and all the other networks allow tighter integrations,  social linkage will be all that we have.   LinkedIN wants you to stay on LinkedIN,  Facebook wants you on Facebook.  Salesforce wants to be able to say they have connection to LinkedIN.

3. Marketing, not sales, is driving “the idea” of Social CRM

If you look at who is pushing the SocialCRM idea, it is marketing.  The dream:  Having EVERY contact in your CRM mashed up with all social network information.  This would be great for marketing and market segmentation, but unnecessary for sales.   The Reality:  Click, click, and more clicks.  The current state of SocialCRM is, at best, Social Linkage.  The reality does not match the dream.  Marketing is pushes the dream and leaves sales stuck with the reality.

If you have a question about what sales thinks about “Social CRM” as it relates to social network data, look at the ratings The LinkedIn plugin got on salesforce CRM.   Don’t get me wrong,  I am a fan on LinkedIN.  Visionary concept, great source of data, however, it is not seamless with CRM.  If anything the combination is anti-social CRM.

Attn marketers: Your focus should be social media, let sales people worry about and define SocialCRM

4.  Social Agents will replace Social CRM. Social CRM/Social Linkage tries to solve the problem of having “an answer” for every contact in your CRM.  Every contact that you can view in your CRM will, if available, have a link to external social network profile(s).  Services like RapLeaf aggregate multiple social network links associated with a specific person.  Due to the sheer volume of information, mashups are not always correct due to the ambiguous nature of contact information.  The end result:  You click on multiple different links in your CRM and open multiple disparate sources of information.  Even when the links are correct you get Another Bad process.

Enter social agents.

The best products are built from dreaming an ultimate scenario.  Then, working backwards to what is possible.  If there were no constraints…What is the ultimate potential of Social CRM?  Answer:  Every CRM contact has real-time social network information from all social networks.  This information would not be linked, but mashed up inside the CRM.  This is not happening.  Why?  (1) It is not in the interest in the Social Network (really social database) to make the information free and fully available.  (2)  The incentive chain of $ is not there.

So if it is a bad idea to pre-populate social network information for every contact in your CRM, what should be done?  On demand, social agents.

The average sales rep engages 10-20 contacts per day.  A real-time, on-demand social agent is fully capable of making a real time extraction of social network information, mashing that information up inside the CRM and presenting it in a usable format for a sales rep.   This is what sales wants.

Conversely, I have seen a sales reps presented with a CRM that has Linkage to social networks.  While the potential is exciting to the sale rep, they are fired up about the available information available, usage drops off dramatically.

As soon as marketing starts thinking and stops listening to reporters & consultants (who listen to reporters), demand for social agents will proliferate.

5. Social Data comes in 2 distinct flavors

Where someone went to college will never change.  It is a fact, fixed in time.  Where someone currently works is a fluid social data point.   A fixed social data point only needs to be found and stored once in a CRM, whereas fluid data points require social agents to keep them updated.

Fixed and fluid social data points should be treated differently.  Why is this important to understand?  Treating  fluid and fixed data points, with different agents reduces the refresh and load on the technology infrastructure that empowers social agents.  In addition, what can be done with the result of social agents varies based on the information being fixed or fluid.

Last thought. Adding a human-verification element, to cement data accuracy, is realistic on a fixed data point.  Scan once, verify and store forever.

6.  Social Intuition will evolve from social agents

Once we have on-demand social agents, then what?  Take a mind walk:  We now have a CRM, where, on-demand, or slightly before  (predictive system)  social network information is extracted, parsed and mashed up inside the CRM.  No need to live anywhere but the CRM.  A dream of efficiency.

Now that I have all this information about someone.  How do I leverage it?  The fact that someone went to the University of Miami (The Hurricanes) is something that would be in social network profile.  Thus, via a social agent, I would have the University of Miami as a data point in the CRM.  However, would I know the UM mascot is the Hurricanes?  Would I know the score from the football team the night before?  Would I know the weather in Miami that day?   The answer to all these questions is no.

Enter Social Intuition

Social intuition is a combination of social network data points combined with real-time agents to gather additional talking points.   The prerequisite for performing this type of mash-up is (1) Aggregated & scored data from Social Networks (2) Highly accurate fixed data points (i.e.  Mascots for every college)  and (3) Intelligent agents that leverage, fixed data points with social data points to “intuit” additional information.

7.  Company-centric (NOT contact-centric) social mash-ups will prevail

Even with the proliferation of social networks, the average person has just a few, if any data points about them.  Multiply that by the number of people at a company and patterns emerge.  Patterns that would not be apparent in the microcosm of one person.  The best approach in sales is to engage multiple points of contact (people) at a company on the onset of first contact.  This approach is called Sphere of Influence Selling and is well documented in The Sphere of Influence Selling webinar.

Remember:  You talk to people, but the company writes the check.

8.  CRM Socialbases become the ultimate silos

The most valuable list is the list that no one else has.  Think about it.

The most unique set of data is inside your CRM.  Don’t worry about the world,  just about your clients and the companies you want to sell to.  Gather rich data from social networks and other sources and combine it with your CRM.  The future king of all data sets will not be inside social networks.  Companies will mash data from social networks and combine it with conversation history, notes, purchasing habits, etc.

CRM Socialbases will be built on a combination of Fixed and Fluid social data points.

The value of any list can be scored based on data quality & competitive advantage.  For example, LinkedIN has great data, but it is it exclusive?  No.  Anyone with a bunch of connection can get to the names of almost everyone.

9.  Things to watch

Bleeding edge: Watson.  An IBM supercomputer that will, in the coming months, be competing with top Jeopardy players.  In initial testing, it beat the average player, that were winners, on the Jeopardy TV show.  5 years ago this was not possible.   Watson is an answer machine.   What happens when you connect an answer machine with your CRM SocialBase?

Hot: Salesforce chatter: I like this technology.  Nothing that can’t be copied.  Expect to see it in every CRM within a few years. Brings another aspect of social into CRM, in terms of work teams and projects.

Fun: Proximity based social networks – Not a primary technology, but something that should be eventually mashed up. FourSquare is a good example.   (Yes, I am the mayor of Broadlook).

Practical: CRM Profiler – The next iteration of the technology is cloud-based, lives inside the CRM, jumps over social linkage and includes social agents.  Build your own social knowledge-base.


10.  Black swans emerging?

Black swan theory Something that changes everything in a space.  Denotes an occurrence that no one though of.

LinkedIn CRM – It makes sense, but would they alienate CRM’s that currently mash up with them?  It has happened before.  In the recruiting space, AIRS, a recruiter add on tool, created their own applicant tracking system.  Guess who integrates with AIRS today?  Nothing of importance.  Next AIRS was acquired by a RPO (recruitment process outsourcing) company… how many competing RPO’s will continue to use them?  The number is declining.

Facebook CRM – That would be real scary, however, a spin-off without the facebook label might fly.  The yo-yo ethics of their privacy policy is comical.  Can’t ignore them.

Salesforce acquisition of LinkedIn:  More likely to be Oracle, SAP, Microsoft or a company that has deep pockets.  Salesforce already acquired Jigsaw.

Scariest combo:  Google Acquires LinkedIn, creates the Google CRM and makes it free.  It actually makes total sense.  If Google wants to push ads all day long, while people are at work.  This is the way.  Gmail is already the best web-based email system.  They have google docs.  They have a mobile platform.  All the components are there.  If you take a step further and look at the talent they have hired, patterns emerge.   Nuff said.

Recap:

Social Network -> Social Database -> Social CRM  ->  Social Linkage -> Social Agents -> CRM SocialBase.

You heard it here first!

Are mobile Sales & Recruiting apps for real?

The Stage

The Apple AppStore has over 100,000 iPhone applications.  Verizon’s Droid is a a few months old and Google just launched the Nexus One.  Microsoft has Windows Mobile and the Palm has the hot new Palm Pre.  The current king of Mobile Business is the Blackberry (RIM),  but it is losing ground fast.  Apple, Microsoft, Google, Palm, Verizon & RIM all going   after the same market and that makes for great headlines.

The Hype

Articles are starting to appear talking about the mobile replacing desktop as a work environment.  For the most part, this is bunk; A symptom of someone looking for a headline, but not thinking.  When I see an interesting article about a controversial topic, I like to first look at the last 2-3 headlines by that author.  If last week they were talking about global warming, the week before about cyber-crime and this week about mobile technology replacing the desktop; I classify them as “reporter”.  Reporter does not equal expert.  While reporters are absolutely essential to get a pulse on minor variations on trends,  I prefer to seek the experts to get a deep understanding of a new technology.   Even better is to immerse yourself and get first-hand experience.  Most of the buzz today is reporter, not expert created.

Definitions

To better understand if/when/why mobile will or will not replace the desktop, definitions are in order:  Desktop refers to the hardware, be it PC, Mac, Linux, either desktop or laptop.  This desktop can be running any form of software including installed, Client-Server, SaaS and browser based.  Mobile is the generally understood concept of a smart-phone like a Blackberry or iPhone.

Mobile vs. Desktop

So will “mobile” business application replace the “desktop”?  Yes and No.  The first Hurtle for Mobile to replace Desktop is CPU & Memory. Over the next decade, mobile form factor devices will have the processor and memory of today’s desktops.  So throw out processing power as a differentiator.  Mobile will catch up.  In fact, most applications today, especially SaaS applications only take up a small amount of CPU and memory on the desktop.

What else constitutes a desktop environment?   Input and output devices.  This is the big one.  I personally have both Mac and PC setups, each with a bunch of big monitors. Besides the large monitors, I use full size keyboards, and a laser mouse.

My Mac & PC workstations

Big ideas need big work spaces.  When I first realized that my iPhone was actually a mobile computer, I tested the limits.  Doing basic operations like reading email works fine.  What about spreadsheets I thought?

Designing a spreadsheet on a mobile device is possible, but very, very inefficient.  I tried it and it’s infuriating.  However, using an already designed spreadsheet on mobile device is realistic.  Reading email; easy.  Writing email; possible, but not as easy as using a full size keyboard.

This is where I had my epiphany that would steer the mobile strategy for Broadlook.

Mobile Technology is an extension of and not a replacement for PC-based business applications.

Why?  Desktop business applications have evolved over the years to take advantage of everything possible.  Case in point, at Broadlook, we switched to the Microsoft Dynamics CRM.  The default setup did not fit our selling model, so we modified Dynamics to fit our business process.  Dynamics is a Platform as a Service (PaaS) environment; a base of CRM functionality which each business can build on.  Our modifications to Dynamics CRM included data points that most companies don’t have access to (unless they are Broadlook customers).  Simply put, the average screen was too small to get all the data on it that we needed.  We could have created a system where everything was accessible in a drill-down fashion (click, click, click).  However, this included too many clicks to be efficient.  I can’t stand having to click 3-4 times to get to data that should be there.  The answer: bigger monitors.  Standard at Broadlook, we now have 24 inch monitors with 1920×1200 resolution.  The things that most people have to click 2-3 extra times to get to their CRM, we have on the first screen.  Simple things like having all the contact info points in the initial search grid.


Broadlook’s Leads Screen in MS Dynamics CRM on a 24 inch monitor.  All info points are available so a sales rep can take action from the first screen.  A typical implementation of SalesForce.com or MS CRM would require you to click 2-3 times to get at all the information on this screen.

As a side note.  These monitors are about $250.  Picking up 50 of these monitors was many many more times cheaper than wasting the time of a sales rep in click-click hell.  In addition developing with the large monitors in mind is much more forgiving than having limited screen real estate and making a design decision that makes 1/2 the people happy and 1/2 ticked off.

How would this business process, which depends on “big hardware” translate to a 4 inch mobile screen?

It won’t.

No way, no how. This is why we won’t see CRM for mobile replacing CRM on the desktop/laptop.  I’ve seen a few mobile “stand-alone” CRM’s on both the sales and recruiting sides.  They are a joke.  An absolute productivity waste.  What works with mobile CRM is when it is used to enhance the desktop experience.  Salesforce has done a good job of it, as have several others.  If your mobile can access your CRM, you can look up a contact, review notes, or line up a few calls for when you are on the road or after hours.  Mobile CRM as a value add to your CRM is an absolute must-have.

What about applications like social networking?  LinkedIN is a good example.  LinkedIN for iPhone is great, I’m looking forward to when LinkedIN or Facebook adds a practical proximity alert to your social network.  That would be something that the desktop or even laptop would not be practical for.   This leads me into the areas that mobile will dominate and why.

For those existing business applications that have evolved on the desktop, mobile will add additional value.  However, for the new frontiers, areas that were birthed in mobile, those will be the areas where mobile can stand alone. It is the same concept which allowed desktop applications to evolve.  You develop to the potential of the environment.  CPU, memory, screen size, input devices, always on (yes/no), network connectivity, battery life.  All of these are the factors that effect Darwinism on both the desktop and mobile device.

Today, most of the successful mobile applications are consumer-based.   As of this writing, none of the top 25 apps in the iPhone AppStore were business apps.  Blackberry pundits:  only 2 of the top 25 for Blackberry were business apps.

So where does this leave us?

  • For business applications that evolved on larger form factor systems such as CRM and  Spreadsheets, mobile will be a value-add, but not a replacement.  If someone is promising CRM on your mobile to replace your desktop, run like hell or carry a 12 year old with tiny fingers to type for you everywhere you go.
  • New and currently undiscovered business applications that are born and evolve on the mobile will rule the mobile.

2010 is going to be a fantastic year for mobile! I am excited and personally committed to developing on mobile.

Caveats:  (1) When mobile becomes a conduit to work with outside peripherals such as an wall screens and video goggles, then mobile could replace the desktop, however, what is really being accomplished here is emulating the functions of a full form factor desktop & monitor. (2) Seamless voice recognition can get around the problems with small form factor keyboards.  I have not seen voice recognition that is worth it’s salt.  I tell my car “Radio Off” and it says “Please say the name of the street you want to navigate to”.