Archives for December 2012

HR and IT Must Work Together to Control Mobile Devices

According to Forrester Research, 23 percent of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) workers claim their mobile device is not IT approved. With the number of devices moving in and out of organizations and the potential security risks at stake, all devices on an employer’s network should be approved by IT before gaining access to corporate e-mail and/or IT infrastructure.

While on one hand mobile devices can help employees and companies increase productivity, they also can be disruptive to an entire enterprise. These risks can be eliminated through implementation of a mobile device management policy and establishing a mobile monitoring service, but it’s important to know where to begin.

HR’s main priority is to protect the company’s IT data and infrastructure, and mobile devices are an extension of the organization and its valuable data. As such, it has become a part of HR’s job to implement tools that improve employee productivity and, as of late, these tools have included mobile devices and tablets.

And while the increased productivity and even the perks around mobile expense reimbursement have been beneficial, HR needs to play an active role in creating terms and conditions for employees using these devices to ensure there is a clear understanding of how the mobile devices are to be used.

These acceptable use policies must balance corporate culture, common sense, and business objectives, and limit potential risks to the enterprise. To be effective, it’s important that HR and IT are seated together at the mobility strategy table. Doing so ensures that the IT department, which is procuring, provisioning, and enforcing policies for these devices and managing enterprise mobility risks, is mindful of HR’s goals of improving employee productivity and satisfaction levels.

Creating a Plan

The first step to managing mobile devices in a company is to create a plan. To be effective, HR and IT departments need to join forces to understand what functions are required of a mobile device for an employee to work efficiently, what they want their employees to use their devices for, and what device applications support these goals. Applications that can be distracting or pose a threat to a device or network integrity should be banned from an employee’s mobile devices.

Once there is a general understanding of how employees should use their mobile devices, a mobile device management policy can be established. This policy should include all rules and regulations associated with mobile devices owned by the company and all devices owned by employees that access company data or use the corporate network. Here are some questions to ask while developing the policy:

  • Which mobile platforms, and models, can be enrolled for business use?
  • What minimum business and security requirements must the device satisfy?
  • What applications are required and which are prohibited?
  • How will you monitor and enforce these apps?
  • Which corporate networks, services, applications, and data are they permitted to access? How will you secure corporate data?
  • What rights must the employee grant the employer?
  • How will you monitor and control device settings, applications, and data to mitigate business risk?
  • Will you allow mobile VPN? If so, for what platforms do you trust most or least?

Application Management

With more than 500,000 device applications available in the Apple Store, it’s critical that the mobile device policy clearly addresses application management. Applications can be very dangerous for networks and devices as they can be an entryway for hackers to access private data and can distract employees from their job responsibilities.

Application restrictions reduce the risk of an application harming a device or network. One hacked mobile device can be an entry point for malicious activity that can affect the entire origination.

Policy Must-Haves

  • Ownership: Establish written policies for multiple scenarios to indicate who is responsible if the device is lost, broken, or stolen. It’s important to outline who will be responsible for the cost of a device if it is lost or stolen. It should be made clear that all employees must report missing devices immediately to allow HR and IT to take the necessary steps to secure the device
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    and its data. The device needs to be remotely wiped to limit the risk of company data being exposed.

  • Device Trust Model: Make it clear that devices distributed by the employer are trusted, while BYOD devices have limited trust. IT needs to communicate what devices are allowed access to what company programs—e-mail, VPN, apps, etc.—and if the employer will service the device. Establishing a list of devices at the outset that will not be allowed on the network will help enforce these policies.
  • Mobile Software: Choose mobile software packages every employee is required to have loaded and updated on their device. MDM can help define and deploy packages, as well as resolve platform, memory, and application dependencies. Define how deployed packages will be maintained to eliminate user pain or failed updates. Ensure there is secure communication to each device. Lastly, make sure the apps you deploy utilize the data protection APIs for iOS, and for Android platforms, the apps must not allow access to the native data on the device by other apps.
  • Device Control: Know your device capabilities to encrypt and protect data, applications, and network access to limit the risk of data being inappropriately accessed or changed. If the device becomes compromised, you need to be able to wipe the device, remove the iOS Exchange Payload (and the certificates for hardware authentication and VPN communication), or block network access points such as Exchange ActiveSynch. Schedule over-the-air backup from remote handhelds to a central location by authorized users or administrators. If necessary, maintain an audit trail of corporate data copied to and from mobile devices.

With 78 percent of companies permitting employees to use their personal devices for work-related activities, there is a need to address the risks associated with BYOD. BYOD devices need to be monitored and managed just like company-owned devices. These devices also can be harmful to an enterprise if they are not monitored correctly.

In order for mobile devices to be useful for employees while not introducing unnecessary costs and risks to the enterprise, HR and IT need to work together to develop a mobile device management policy that clearly outlines the regulations associated with BYOD for employees to understand the risks and restrictions.

About the Author:

Troy Fulton is director of Product Marketing at Tangoe, a global provider of Communications Lifecycle Management (CLM) software and related services to a range of global enterprises. He is responsible for guiding product concepts and leading the strategy and execution efforts to deliver seamless mobile solutions to enterprise customers. Reprinted from the Training Magazine Network

How to Improve the ROI of Your Sales Training

Billions of dollars are invested in sales training every year. With more informed customers, fiercer competition, and the rate of new products introduced to the marketplace higher than ever, the need for effective sales training never has been more important. Yet we continue to see a desire to cut training expenses and the cry to reduce the time that salespeople are “out in the field.”

There is a continual need to defend sales training investments since the return from such investments is frequently hard to quantify and often disappointing. With this as the backdrop, the advisory committee to ASTD’s Sales Enablement Community of Practice embarked on a research study about how sales training can better provide the expected business result.

Developing the model

After studying more than 100 sales training investments and having discussions with providers, developers, facilitators, and frontline salespeople, three themes emerged:

  • Key to any successful outcome is active engagement by sales management.
  • Sales training is successful when it is viewed by salespeople as both relevant to their immediate success and can be immediately applied.
  • There is no single recipe to guarantee success.

We saw how some small and tactical investments led to business returns that were many times the size of the investment. We also saw projects for which significant amounts of money were invested but led to little result.

At this stage, we realized we needed a classification system for the different types of sales training investments so that we could determine what style of training investment best meets each situation. For each of the five categories we identified, we determined the critical success factors that will make the difference between gaining a clear business return versus a lackluster result. This led to the development of the Strategic Alignment Model for Sales Training Investments.

It should be stressed that there is no intention to assert that one category is superior to another. It is, however, vitally important to align the type of investment to the business need.

Level I (ad-hoc)

The first level of the Strategic Alignment Model represents one-off types of sales training. Typically these are isolated activities that someone has undertaken in response to an apparent sales training requirement. It may be a sales manager dedicating time to role plays in a monthly meeting or a marketing manager training salespeople on a new product.

By definition, they are not part of a larger sales training initiative. They rarely need funding—but if they do require investment, it is both a small amount and approved locally.

The initiatives in this category are those that have the highest payback in terms of business results. This is not simply due to the low level of investment usually associated with these programs but more due to the closeness of the sponsor of the program.

The individuals who determine the need often are those who develop and deliver the training, and are usually right about what is required. Many of the investments at this level are highly responsive and meet particular training requirements in a highly specific, and often effective, way.

This often means redundancy and wasted effort across an organization because more than one person is trying to address the same problem. It is usually difficult to capture and share best practices as a result of these ad-hoc sales training activities.

Level II (local)

The second level defines sales training that is conceived, funded, and implemented at a local level. Such initiatives typically are a geographic or small component of the larger organization. They are not funded or sponsored at an organizational level, but rather conceived, funded, and implemented across a smaller team. This type of investment in sales training may be over time, typically contained within a matter of months.

We saw relatively high levels of return on these investments, primarily as a result of the local ownership by the sponsoring, and often funding, management. As with the Level I programs, there is little way to capture best practices, and these sales training investments often can dilute overall organizational investments and, at times, even offer competing sales approaches to those that have been adopted more universally. These types of initiatives often are the “skunk works” that then grow into overall organizational programs.

Level III (tactical)

Level III represents the lowest level of maturity for an organization-wide initiative. Such an investment in sales training is across an organization (either the corporation or a division of a company), but is discrete in nature. It is not a component of a wider initiative and essentially is conducted in isolation of other factors.

This type of investment typically is in response to a perceived need. For example, to address competency gaps such as negotiation skills, to provide information such as a new product launch, or to introduce or reinforce a selling methodology such as account planning. A Level II and a Level III initiative may be similar; however, the Level II program is sponsored by and completely implemented across one segment of the overall organization, whereas a Level III program is across the entire organization.

At this level we noticed the most disappointing results, and yet also saw that a majority of the organizational sales training investments would be put into this category. These poor results are due to several factors.

First, they are, in part, a result of a lack of local ownership. Another factor is that these sales training initiatives usually are implemented in isolation. Without an overall sales competency model adopted by the organization in which the specific skills and competencies are defined, and the gaps between existing and optimal known, the effectiveness of any sales training investment is going to be compromised.

Third, the training is directed at a perceived need, and we often found that the real need is quite different. In most of these cases the training addresses a symptom and not a root cause.

Negotiation training is a great example of this. Just because the salesforce is providing large discounts to customers does not automatically imply that negotiation skills are inadequate. Instead, there could be pricing pressures from new competitors, or more than likely the salesforce is entering the buying process too late and does not have the opportunity to build any value differentiation.

A final reason that also led to poor results is that these training investments often fail to address factors upon which the successful adoption of new practices and skills was founded. Maybe the salesforce requires different technology or tools to successfully implement the new approaches that they were to be trained on, or possibly their compensation needs to be changed, or how they are managed.

There were many instances of training that was sound within itself, but likely would never yield the expected results due to such dependencies.

It is perhaps worthy to note that our research found that the greatest opportunity to increase the return on sales training investments is to carefully look at all sales training initiatives that would fall into this category. It may be best to push the initiatives down a level, where they can be owned by local managers, or move them up a level, so they are included in what we have termed an “integrated program.”

Level IV (integrated)

The fourth level describes a sales training initiative that is integrated with other factors in the organization. Such an initiative usually is in response to more rigorously defined need than a Level III initiative, and identifies other factors that will affect the business outcomes.

A sales training initiative at this level has numerous different components such as a formal management coaching program to reinforce the training, tools, and technologies that support the new skills or application of new knowledge, or a change in the roles of the sales and sales support team.

When designing a sales training initiative at this level, a more holistic

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approach should be taken to define the need and understand critical success factors. Change management factors also should be considered as part of a sales training initiative and, at a minimum, should isolate and address the elements that could inhibit or motivate the required change.

Successful sales training investments at this level always are built on a specific competency model that reflects the foundational competencies, areas of expertise, and roles of the organization. Such programs are developed after conducting thorough assessments of existing competencies and approaches, and when there is a clear understanding of the real issues that should be addressed to reach the expected business outcomes.

Level V (strategic)

Level V is the highest level for a sales training investment. Such a program always is based on a vision that defines the future selling model and a robust competency model that provides a way in which to define existing and requisite sales competencies.

All sales training initiatives at this level are a component of an overall change model that defines both the current and optimal future state. There should be clear linkages between the sales training, the sales process, and sales enablers such as tools and technologies.

Such sales training programs are considered as one component of an overall change management program. Investments being made at this level rely on the sponsorship and active engagement of the executive of the company and are viewed as transformational initiatives.

This level of sales training investment in not cheap, it is not quick, and it rarely would be considered easy. Yet we saw this was the only way to achieve transformational change within a salesforce. When done correctly, the return-on-investment can be significant. Especially when companies are under new or changing market pressures, this level of sales training investment may be the only way to succeed.

Sales training investments

Our research revealed that not all sales training initiatives are, or should be, equal. Great results can be gained from a small and local program, but those results just will be local. However, if the organization needs sales transformation, this must be achieved through a Level V investment. By understanding the need, the appropriate level of sales training investment can be determined. And by adopting this level, an organization can focus on the critical factors that will ensure success.

What becomes clear is that there is a significant opportunity to increase the return-on-investment of most sales training investments. The Strategic Alignment Model should allow an organization to

  • categorize any sales training investment to understand the factors that will affect its success
  • set realistic expectations across the organization for what it will take for a sales training program to be successful, and the results that can be expected
  • examine critically any proposed investment in sales training to question if it is appropriately aligned to deliver the expected business results
  • understand the most critical success factors for maximizing return-on-investment dependent on the nature of the sales training program
  • determine the most appropriate type of investment to meet a specific training need.

For the vast majority of organizations, there is a significant opportunity to directly increase business results through an investment in sales training. That sales training does, however, need to be aligned to the requirement, organizational constraints, and the expected business results.

About the Author:

Martyn Lewis is the Chair of the Advisory Committee to the Sales Enablement Community of Practice for ASTD. In his position of chair of the committee he led the work that culminated in the Strategic Alignment Model for Sales Training. He has a 35 year career in sales and marketing, including founding Market-Partners a sales consulting company, and 3g Selling, a company focused upon the delivery of highly effective live virtual sales training.

Reprinted from T&D Magazine

The Power of Addressing Learning Needs, Not Wants

Being a learning and development practitioner is akin to being a sales professional. Before offering solutions, practitioners must be sure they have all the relevant information. This could involve taking a series of required steps before providing the client with the appropriate solution.

The comparison applies in other ways as well. For instance, there are four critical skills common to both: earning the right to advance with the client; listening; assuming one already knows what the client needs; and importantly, helping the client to think differently about a situation by providing new insights.

What They Want

Consider this scenario. The phone rings. It is an internal client who sounds rushed and stressed, calling to ask how he can identify training solutions to teach his sales team ways to improve their closing ratio. Initially the learning leader’s instincts indicate there might be more to this issue than just teaching sales people how to close new business. However, in situations like this pausing, suspending judgment, requesting more information and listening to the request are necessary.

After 30 minutes, the conversation ends, and it appears the closing ratio concern may be one part of a larger issue. It could be the business lacks a formal and well-articulated sales strategy. Without this critical component, training people on sales skills is only a short-term fix. Further, it is a potential waste of training dollars and time because it may not address the root cause of the performance gap.

There are essentially two views the learning and development professional should consider when engaging the internal client in a needs assessment dialogue — what the client wants and what the client needs.

What the client wants — results, performance change, a solution that is easy to access and use — can be relatively straightforward. What the client really needs — root cause analysis, organizational performance change and sustainability — takes more time, but can lead the way to the root cause of a performance issue.

Addressing root causes results in lasting change. When clients see their staff not performing to the levels it should, they assume the staff lacks the knowledge or skill to do so. The value add of the learning and development professional is to help clients understand there may be organizational processes, structures or other restraining forces that inhibit workers from doing their jobs correctly and efficiently.

For example, consider the following scenario. An internal client can’t understand why portfolio managers don’t ask clients for business. The internal client thinks a training program will solve this issue. After speaking to several portfolio managers, however, it became apparent the portfolio managers didn’t know they were expected to ask for the business. They thought they were expected to explain the features and benefits of the product, and the sales manager was expected to ask for the business.

Clarifying roles and job responsibilities for both parties was the appropriate intervention, not a training program.

What They Need

The first step to build trust and rapport is to listen to the client to understand the initial problem. Learning practitioners should have an open mind and ask the internal client a series of open-ended questions — who, what, when, where, why and how. The responses will enable them to understand and frame the issue at hand. The relationship then can advance to develop the solution the client needs. By using the following four steps to engage the client in a collaborative problem-solving process, the learning professional can provide the client with what is wanted and needed.

Clarify what good performance looks like. Preparing performance-based questions is an important part of the needs assessment process. According to Dana Gaines Robinson and James C. Robinson’s Performance Consulting: Moving Beyond Training, performance-based questions should focus on exemplary performers. For example, “Select your top salesperson. What does this person do when closing a sale that makes her successful?” This question will provide a set of specific behaviors from which a behavioral model can be constructed as part of the training content.

High-gain, performance-based questions to describe the current state include: What have you observed your sales representatives doing that has led you to conclude they would benefit from a training program? What are people doing that they shouldn’t be doing as it relates to closing a sale?

Finally, there are restraining and driving forces questions that will help to identify the organizational, process and other non-training-related issues that will impact the participants’ ability to apply the training. These question include: What factors will get in the way of participants applying what they learned in training? What factors will help participants apply what they learned?

Conduct the needs assessment. Conducting a needs assessment to determine the training and the non-training-related issues takes the initial request beyond a specific area or business and elevates it to the organizational level. The needs assessment process provides a legitimate business reason to interact with the client team and research the true nature of the gap across the organization.

Much like peeling away the layers of an onion, uncovering the organizational issues associated with the lack of effective sales performance is a gradual process.

At this point the learning practitioner must manage the client’s expectations about how long this process will take. It’s better to put the time in on the front end of the process to avoid costly and time-consuming fixes. At the same time, when conducting the needs assessment, the client’s original perspective is being validated while identifying additional performance barriers. In this way, the learning professional can objectively view the problem from different perspectives, which helps to develop recommendations the client might not initially see.

In Performance Consulting: Moving Beyond Training, the authors note that often the traditional training process confuses training activity with performance improvement. This is where the learning and development practitioner, taking a helicopter view, adds value to the diagnosis and solution design.

Further, the assessment process helps the learning professional build stronger relationships with internal clients, which leads to more benefits. For example, as Chris McCann, CEO of 1-800-Flowers, said during an episode of CBS’ Undercover Boss, “Build relationships first and do business later.”

For learning and development practitioners, building rapport is just as important as it is in sales roles. Starting with relationships builds trust and confidence so the client will listen more seriously to learning recommendations.

Once the training issues are identified and rapport is established, the learning professional is in a better position to provide clients with what they want, as well as deliver the additional solutions they need.

Involve the client along the way. The next step is having the client become part of the decision-making process. This increases the client’s ownership of the problem and solution. Clients who own the solution assume accountability for it, and they will ensure it takes root in the business. They also will realize and be more open to the fact that what they initially wanted may not be everything they actually need because what started out as a simple training need has taken on broader importance and scope.

In The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson, the authors discuss how current market conditions and economic realities have shifted the sales model from one based on relationships to one based on challenges. Clients and prospects alike want to work with sales professionals who can provide them with new information and insights that will challenge their current way of thinking

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and doing business.

Clients want people to educate them and help them think through business problems and solutions. Learning and development professionals should work with internal clients in much the same way. Asking high-gain, performance-based questions enables the learning professional to enter into a dialogue with the client to determine the types of performance support needed.

Provide data and options for the client. Facts and data to support the identified problem and recommendations will enable the client to make an informed choice about the appropriate solution to achieve the business goals. In going back to the original request for training on the topic of closing a sale, there are myriad solutions. However, clarifying the issues facing the business and the cause of those issues can facilitate efforts to provide the proper resolution.

With these four steps as guide, the learning and development professional’s role cannot be underestimated. Learning and development practitioners play an integral role in managing the process as they identify the performance-related issues and potential solutions. They enable the business stakeholders to make informed decisions about what the solution will look like and how much it will cost. While learning and development professionals do this, they are also building a level of trust with their stakeholders, earning the right to advance clients in selecting the best solution from a range of possibilities.

As a result, the client obtains what is needed — a sales strategy and a consistent sales methodology. Once the sales strategy and methodology is delineated and implemented, the client also secures what he or she originally wanted.

About the Authors:

Dave DeFilippo is chief learning officer and John Rogener is vice president of learning and organizational development for BNY Mellon Asset Management. Reprinted from Chief Learning Officer

5 Ways High-Performance Organizations Use HR Analytics

Mining masses of data for performance-improving insights is at  once the biggest challenge and greatest opportunity presented by big data.  While this is true for every function in the enterprise, the wake-up call for  HR should have been answered well before now. In fact, i4cp’s most recent  research on the analytical practices and capabilities of HR organizations  suggests that most are woefully unprepared to do little more with a rapidly  rising ocean of data than drown in it.

While many HR organizations are proficient  at collecting and measuring activities, few have the ambition or ability to  measure outcomes or identify the factors that most affect results.

i4cp’s new report, HR Analytics: Why We’re Not There Yet, pinpoints  the reasons for these shortcomings and highlights differences in the strategies  and practices of high-performing organizations (HPOs) and low-performing  organizations (LPOs) in addressing five key factors driving effective usage of  HR analytics – ambition, skills, data accuracy, HR leadership’s role and level  of sophistication.

1) HPOs use HR data to plan and perform better;  LPOs seem content to merely report it.

HPOs take a more calculated approach, using data for strategic, long-term  planning over twice as much as LPOs (96% compared to 47%). Far more HPOs (91% compared  to 59%) rigorously assess the ROI of initiatives and programs. Not only is the use of data to make business decisions the marker of an astute organization, it  underscores that HPOs are focused on far more than simply reporting.

HPOs actively seek information that improves the effectiveness of their planning and the performance of their programs and processes. Low-performing companies do little more than meet minimum requirements necessary for business.

2) Turning data into information is the most pressing analytics challenge — and HPOs are better equipped to meet it.

A common challenge cited by HR practitioners is the difficulty in  determining what the data that is gathered actually means. This was the top  data collection obstacle cited by all survey respondents. As Sue Suver, Head of  Global HR at U.S. Steel pointed out, “Data is great if you have it. But without  people who know what to do with it, you’re still stuck.”

Sifting through an  expanse of big data to pinpoint trends or uncover stories is a difficult and  time-consuming task. It requires analytical and interpretive skills, which more than half of respondents from low-performing companies said they seriously lack compared to little more than a third of those from HPOs. Their experience  suggests that companies that can transform data into information, and  information into profitable action, will reap a competitive advantage.

3) HPOs take full advantage of processes,  automation and standards to ensure data accuracy, while LPOs rely mostly on manual checking.

Twice as many HPOs reported using company-wide standard definitions as a method for guaranteeing data accuracy. Both HPOs and LPOs check data reliability, but HPOs use automated processes (68% compared to 38%) to a  greater extent, which not only reduces errors, it frees up employee time for more  pressing tasks.

The most difficult task of all is setting data standards in the  first place. Data councils, which convene stakeholders to set policy around activities such as data collection, standards,  and security, are pivotal because they enable enterprise solutions and ensure organization-wide  consistency.

4) HPOs’ HR leaders are highly engaged in using analytics to drive performance; LPOs are content to supply data to the  executive team.

More than twice as many HPOs have HR leaders receiving workforce data than LPOs  (81% compared to 33%), which suggests a more robust, analytics-savvy HR  department in more successful companies. i4cp’s study indicates that HPOs are moving more aggressively toward the  performance advisor role identified in i4cp’s 2012 report, The Future of  HR: The Transition to Performance Advisor. HPOs are also using  people-related data and metrics to proactively inform and engage both the  senior leadership and line managers on how to better manage talent and improve  business performance.

Dominique Ben Dhaou, SVP of HR at SGS, a global leader in providing verification, testing and certification services, underscores  the importance of having a basis for action regarding data: “If you benchmark  or read a report and do nothing with it, it’s useless. But if you transform the data you have access to into solutions for business issues, it has value. When  business people say HR doesn’t understand the business, it isn’t that – it’s that  we don’t do anything with the information we have.”

5) Predictive analytics are underused for  human capital measures – even by HPOs. 

Both HPOs and LPOs are still finding their way in developing the skills and technical capability to perform and use predictive analytics. Few are now using  analytics to answer questions such as how many employees are needed, who is likely to leave, which skills will be in short supply, how changes in workforce  cost and productivity affect the bottom line, and which HR practices directly  increase company performance.

Predictive analytics can reduce uncertainty and provide an evidence-based grounding to the decisions of both HR and the  business. Using predictive analytics to understand the true drivers of customer  service representative productivity, i4cp member-company Sprint was able to improve its customer satisfaction by  record levels.

The bottom line: HPOs  are ahead in the race to connect HR initiatives to business outcomes through  data. The gap between HPOs and LPOs in mining insights from big data to show how HR initiatives  and practices generate hard financial returns is the single-most important  difference between the two groups.

The ability to close this gap – to find and  use data that can show the impact of HR programs – is one sure way that LPOs can become HPOs. By showing the actual financial impact of a program or a practice, the  relative merit of each can be seen, and strategies and budgets can be adjusted  accordingly. This evaluation of ROI is the key advantage of meaningful HR  metrics.

Reprinted from The Institute for Corporate Productivity

It’s Mobile HR Software — But it’s Not an App

While some companies are using human resources applications written specifically for iPhones and other mobile devices, a far larger number of organizations are tapping into Web-based services that are mobile enabled. The difference is subtle, but important. True mobile apps are written specifically for smartphones and can only be used on the devices they’re designed for—Android phones, BlackBerrys, iPhones or Windows phones.

Software services that are “mobile optimized” or “mobile enhanced” are basically websites or Web-based applications that are engineered to work well and look good on any mobile device, whether it’s from Apple Inc., Samsung Electronics or Research in Motion. The only things anyone needs to tap into these services are Internet access and a Web browser.

Today, more HR technology vendors offer mobile-enhanced software or services than true, mobile-native apps, and some industry watchers expect it to stay that way. Many of the biggest tasks that HR staffs want employees to handle themselves—like updating a personnel record—happen so infrequently it doesn’t justify the extra expense of creating an app when the cheaper alternative of modifying an existing website will do.

“Is that something you are going to use an app for? No,” says Jason Averbook, CEO of consultancy Knowledge Infusion. Instead, he predicts companies will continue to use more mobile-enhanced apps and only adopt apps that workers already use outside of work, such as tools for collaborating with co-workers.

Sonic Corp. is one company that’s opted for mobile-enhanced software over true mobile apps. The food chain is slated to begin offering a mobile-enabled hiring assessment service from PeopleAnswers Inc. in early 2013. Sonic wants to make it easy for job seekers to use a smartphone to apply for a position at its 3,500 Sonic Drive-In locations.

PeopleAnswers began offering a mobile-enhanced version of its screening and hiring software in May, and by the end of 2012, the company expects several hundred customers to have incorporated it in their career websites. The number of job seekers using it to apply online, though still small, has already doubled, according to PeopleAnswer Chief Operating Officer Ira Grossman. Eventually, “We expect the majority of candidates to come through that way,” he says.

Recognition services provider Achievers Corp. sells a mobile-enabled service for employee recognition programs that works on smartphones, tablets or desktop computers. When introduced the service to its employees, the company highlighted the fact that it worked on mobile devices, and “It’s been a huge hit,” says Nicole Vereen,’s senior manager of recognition programs.

Since they’re not technically apps, don’t expect to find mobile-optimized HR services on iTunes’ App Store or the Google Play store. The best way to track them down is to look on the “Products” or “Solutions” pages of a technology vendor’s website, or talk to a vendor representative to see what’s available.

Reprinted from Workforce Management

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