I recently returned from SHRM Annual in Chicago. 20,000+ attendees. More than 700 exhibitors. 50 official onsite bloggers. 35,000+ tweets from 6,000+ people. These were just a few of the perennial signs that SHRM continues to be the world’s largest HR conference.
I spent nearly 20 hours on the exhibit floor and, as always, witnessed more than a few surprises from the vendors and exhibitors. This year’s biggest surprise? Microsoft.
Yes, Microsoft at SHRM. And it’s presence was large: an impressive island booth, major signage throughout the McCormick Center, four speaking sessions, a VIP/influencer luncheon, and even a new #MicrosoftforHR Twitter hashtag.
So, what HR solutions does Microsoft offer? Their brochure lists four:
- Workplace Analytics: Microsoft entered this space with their 2015 acquisition of VoloMetrix. The product has gone through an extraordinary evolution and is, well, quite remarkable. More on this later.
- Microsoft 365: the collection of communication, collaboration and productivity apps—email, calendar, file storage/collaboration, Yammer/Teams, Skype, etc.
- Dynamics 365 for Talent: although not fully pieced together yet, this is a soon-to-be-complete HRIS/ATS platform to help companies hire the right people faster, onboard and develop them.
- LinkedIn Talent Solutions: wow, where do I begin to describe this? Targeted job postings and candidate engagement, employer branding, training and development content, and so much more.
To the casual observer, which I was before the SHRM conference, all these products seem to meet market needs and one can imagine companies using most of them. Heck, most companies already are using them in the form of Microsoft 365 tools. But when Microsoft describes these products as a bundled suite, things get interesting—really interesting.
Here are a few examples …
Imagine you work at a company that uses Microsoft 365 products. You send emails, schedule and invite people to meetings, accept meeting invites, upload files to Onedrive, collaborate with Yammer, Teams and Skype, etc. Using these tools properly, you’re more productive and you’re communicating better with peers. And because senior management uses these tools, you feel more connected to them and to the company’s mission.
You access your “My Analytics,” an individual version of Microsoft’s Workplace Analytics, gives you insights into your work patterns (when you’re most productive, who you collaborate with most, the quality of your meetings, etc.) along with AI-powered suggestions for how to improve your productivity (when to work on emails, what meetings are worth or not worth attending, people you should be working more closely with, etc.). The more you use this tool, the more data it analyzes and the better its insights are. The same is true of all of Microsoft’s HR products.
As employees use these Microsoft tools, Workplace Analytics collects and analyzes information from across the entire workforce to give management better insights into the way work happens on an organizational scale. It also gives CHROs the information they need to have meaningful conversations with CEOs and other C-Suite executives on how to align talent strategies to business outcomes and profitability.
See where this is going? Now imagine the outcomes when data from Dynamics 365 and LinkedIn is analyzed. And picture the improvements we’ll be able to make to recruiting, onboarding and employee development. That’s Microsoft for HR.
I have a feeling the surprises have just begun.
P.S. #SHRM19 is in Vegas from June 23-26, 2019. Details here.