One thing that is certain during the current economic climate is that talent matters. This is the assertion of talent solutions company Taleo's chairman and chief executive Michael Gregoire.
There are many challenges facing the talent field at the moment. A lack of leadership skills and lean workforces are just two of the obstacles that talent managers are having to overcome.
But one thing that was clear from Gregoire and his team is that social media and mobile technology are high on the agenda of future talent strategies and could be the new tools to help companies overcome these challenges.
Taleo's new "Radar" mobile app.
Tagging your location is now a standard option across many social media platforms. While some shiver at the thought of telling the world where they happen to be at any point in time - how would they feel if location tagging allowed them not only to find jobs closer to home but actually brought the job to them?
Taleo's new "Radar" mobile app does just that. It allows recruiters to see nearby jobseekers on a map, along with their skills, experience, photo and contact details (depending on how much the individual wishes to share).
The jobseeker benefits because they are more visible to recruiters and can see, and request to connect with, other individuals that they are interested in meeting. The recruiter benefits because they can see when skilled candidates are right on their doorstep.
Jason Blessing, Taleo's executive vice-president of products and technology, says that Radar shows a shift in the way that we consume technology.
"In the 1980s, technology was used in the business world and then expanded to the consumer world as we got more confident with technology in our personal lives. Now the opposite is happening. Consumer innovation is migrating to the business world."
The idea is that jobseekers can turn on their location when they're out grabbing a coffee, or sitting in a conference, and nearby employers can spot and talk to them through the app about potential jobs. This shifts the searching power somewhat from the candidate to the recruiter. In Blessing's words: "In the future, jobs will find you."
Gregoire says that those looking for a new job will be drawn to this technology because jobseekers will want to make themselves as visible as possible. "If you're looking for a job, you want to be found," he explains. "There are privacy issues but the key is to do something a little bit different and be very transparent about turning it on and off.
"If you are that person sitting in Starbucks, you want the head of HR [from a nearby company] to come tap you on the shoulder and say 'can we share a coffee?'."
Social networks in the workplace
At Taleo, we were frustrated at having to manage information in different systems, so the idea was born out of internally being frustrated at having to do that."
executive vice-president of products and technology,
The idea of internal social networks in business isn't a new idea. Tools such as Yammer allow colleagues who perhaps have never met to exchange ideas and knowledge with each other. Many organisations have forums where workers can interact or wikis where they can share their expertise on a topic and their know-how on certain projects.
However, Taleo thinks that it has something a bit different with its offering. Still in the development process, Taleo2Go, an extension of its current onboarding software, will allow employees to pull selected data they already have on social networking sites to populate a profile that will allow them to network, post and track goals, and set their career development path.
The company's recruiting platform is already integrated with LinkedIn, allowing members to copy their information directly over from the professional networking site. Taleo believes that this will be a key difference in its internal social networking platform. Employees won't have to spend ages filling out yet another profile for yet another site.
Blessing comments: "At Taleo, we were frustrated at having to manage information in different systems, so the idea was born out of internally being frustrated at having to do that.
"There's no reason why we have to be operating like that today because it is very easy to aggregate and 'mash up' data; that happens all the time in the consumer world. If you go to Amazon, for example, or any of the big consumer sites, there's data from all kinds of different stores plugging in; there's no reason why that shouldn't be the case in enterprise software, especially in something as important as the profile.
"Our belief is if you provide something useful for employees, they will use it; that's the fundamental design principle."
This tool integrates employee goals and networks. Workers can see a tree of colleagues connected with their individual goals. As well as tracking how they themselves are progressing with that project, they can see how other workers are doing with goals that directly affect it. So, for example, if one colleague is struggling to complete a task that your goal is reliant on, you can see and tackle this before it becomes a big problem, using the software itself to chat with them and find other people in the company who may have the skills to help.
Blessing explains the thinking behind this idea: "Success factors are all about very rigid top-down goals, but I've never worked on a goal that wasn't dependent on somebody else doing something; if you can't see those dependencies, and if you can't react in time, it's too late."
He adds that the network map representation allows employees to identify problems and helps them when they need feedback.
"If you don't have that level of visibility, everybody loses. That employee who's the weak link ends up with a performance issue and the rest of the team fails. It's a much better approach to use some of these technologies to show how we are interrelated and dependent on each other to drive success."
Success factors are all about very rigid top-down goals, but I've never worked on a goal that wasn't dependent on somebody else doing something; if you can't see those dependencies, and if you can't react in time, it's too late."
executive vice-president of products and technology,
So what else does technology have in store for the future of talent? While Taleo is using location mapping to aid recruitment and social networking to encourage collaboration, it seems that there are a few rather more extreme ideas floating about the head of Gregoire.
Never mind tracking job candidates on your mobile, he proposes, how about tracking the location of your own colleagues?
"I think that would be interesting," he says. "If you're trying to build something and you need somebody to make sure they're getting it done, it drives a bit more accountability.
"It's just being able to track people who are in your critical path. If you're in the middle of something, you've got to get it done by the end of the month and somebody needs to do something in order for you to get your part done, then having a location-aware resource based on your goals would be useful.
"If the person is hacking about a golf course and you've got a deliverable, you want to get hold of that person."
But workers afraid of their boss tracking their exact location can breathe a sigh of relief for now. At the moment, this is an idea Gregoire is just "toying around" with.
For the time being, at least, HR and location tracking seems to be an idea being tested on the recruitment industry. While Taleo's social network will mean that colleagues will be able to track the progress of those they work alongside, it's still a little way off being able to track their exact location.