The Small Business Hype Cycle: Talent Management

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Do you remember the fever surrounding “Pokemon Go” last summer? When the popular phone app dropped, it seemed like it was everywhere overnight.

People were using it to promote their businesses, generating advertising around it, and trying to monetize it any way they could as fast as possible. It was an amazing phenomenon…for one long summer.

First came fall, then early winter, and it got a bit too cold to be walking around town hatching virtual eggs. Interest quickly waned. While “Pokemon Go” has retained thousands of loyal fans, gone are the days of everyone playing constantly.

“Pokemon Go” was a pretty cool fad, but it was terribly overhyped. Users found a bunch of kinks in the tech it used, and the number of active users fell. I expect the app to go into hiding for awhile, only keeping its die-hard fans.

Pretty soon, someone will find a new, better way to use the artificial reality functionality employed by “Pokemon Go”. They’ll repurpose it and gain popularity until hitting the mainstream, which is when we’ll see more “Pokemon Go” style games and apps, most of which will meet calmer receptions.

“Pokemon Go” and artificial reality tech are right on track with a well-known and accurate chart: the Hype Cycle.

What is the Hype Cycle?

Tech research giant Gartner is an IT-focused Fortune 1000 company. According to its 2016 revenue, the company is just a touch bigger than The Cheesecake Factory, Revlon, and hhgregg.

One of Gartner’s biggest creations is the Hype Cycle, which looks like this:

Gartner

Gartner’s Hype Cycle

Gartner keeps up with new technology and then applies it to this chart to see how close the tech is to mainstream adoption.

The cycle’s first stage, the innovation trigger, represents the drop point for new technology (think the announcement of a new iPhone). There’s an immediate frenzy about a product that isn’t yet available. The buzz grows, and it’s all over the internet. Nobody knows if the new product is actually any good yet, but who cares? It’s exciting!

Next, we experience a quick ramp up of early adopters as the hype continues to build. People are expanding on the tech and writing about possible applications left and right. This brings us to the peak of inflated expectations, as people insist that this is the tech that’s going to change the world.

Inevitably, the new product doesn’t do all that was suggested or promised during the first two stages. We start to fall off the peak as people realize that the new tech isn’t perfect, and can’t actually slice, dice, or julienne their problems away. Interest wanes as the innovation enters the trough of disillusionment, where the product is forced to rely on early adopters and die-hard fans to make it through.

If it survives the drop, the product reaches the slope of enlightenment, a stage where it is found to have realistic, meaningful applications in the business world. New versions that improve on the original product are released, and the elements that were over-hyped during the peak of inflated expectations are cut away. The product is usable and will keep getting better now that the tech has hit its stride.

The plateau of productivity is where all the best products end up. This is the point where the use of a new technology has been sufficiently proven, meaning it no longer needs or generates hype, just results. Even the most risk-averse companies embrace a product at this stage, and mainstream adoption has taken hold. According to Gartner, you know a product has reached the plateau of productivity when “The technology’s broad market applicability and relevance are clearly paying off.”

Why should HR and talent professionals care?

At first glance the Hype Cycle is more likely to make you say, “Well, that’s cool,” instead of, “Wow, that’s helpful!”

When you’re in an industry like HR and/or talent management, it’s even easier to think that a lot of what occurs in the Hype Cycle wouldn’t apply to you or your business.

Except there isn’t just one Hype Cycle. There’s a bunch.

There’s even one for HR (research available to Gartner clients only).

Insights provided by the Hype Cycle can affect the tools you use, the trends you follow, how you conduct your business, and shape your own career.

Large businesses have been using Gartner’s Hype Cycle for years, but it’s important for folks over here in the small and mid-sized businesses arena to have a look, too. This information can help you compete with the biggest names in your field.

Let’s take a closer look!

What does the HR Hype Cycle look like?

Innovation Trigger: Neurological and AI-driven assessments

Neurological and AI assessments are tests used to determine an applicant’s mental fitness for a job or evaluate their mindset before bringing them into a company’s existing culture.

They’re a fairly recent development, but if you work in the hiring industry you’ve probably heard chatter about applicant assessments. I know I have, and I’ve written about how much they tend to irritate job seekers.

These tests started cropping up in the 1950s, and focused on specific skills a candidate needed for a specific job. Recently, assessments have shifted to become less of a knowledge test and more a personality evaluation.

The current tech largely involves testing applicants via multiple methods (such as biological evaluation, personality testing, and a knowledge assessment) to generate a comprehensive picture of an applicant. These complex tests can even be gamified to help improve the applicant experience if you set them within a narrative or make each question worth “points”.

The problem with these tests is that they’re still new. They’re in the earliest stages of the Hype Cycle, meaning you can watch as the industry buzz surrounding them ramps up. Such assessments are themselves largely untested, and it’s hard to say at this early stage what’s a reliable workplace personality test versus a fancy Buzzfeed quiz (I’m a Yorkie and it’s science, OK?).

Since we’re in the innovation trigger phase, it’s likely that more flaws with such tests will be identified as the hype continues to increase, until they fall off the peak.

To do:

  • Read up on the science and history behind personality tests, and decide whether they’re something your company trusts enough to become an early adopter. NPR has a helpful article on this topic.
  • If you think assessments might be your thing, look into the methods other companies are using to implement personality testing in hiring.
  • Verify your chosen personality tests by checking them against the performance of existing employees. If a test taken by Bob in accounting tells you he’s a horrible fit, but he’s one of your top performers, how much can you trust that test? This is a great way to troubleshoot before you put any facets of your hiring decisions in the hands of a test.

Peak of Inflated Expectations: Video Recruiting

Video recruiting—using video in the hiring and recruiting process—covers a lot of ground, including live video interviews when you can’t meet with a candidate in person, and accepting recordings of applicants answering established question sets.

In Hype Cycle terms, video recruiting is just about to cross over from the peak of inflated expectations to the trough of disillusionment.

Why? A host of inherent issues, including lack of security, associated expense, feed lags, and low sound / picture quality pending on platform, equipment, and internet connection. We’re in the period where developers are seeking ways to fix these problems and improve existing services.

It’s a good time for you and your business to be choosy and look into what features you want or need to give you an edge over competitors who aren’t as selective or innovative.

To do:

  • Look into how to use existing tech effectively when you conduct video interviews. If you’re expecting your software to do everything for you, you’re not maximizing its value.
  • Consider a hardware solution if you’re struggling with audio or video quality in your existing tech.
  • As we move into the trough of disillusionment, take a look at the history of video calls to appreciate how far we’ve come.

Slope of Enlightenment: Talent Management Suites

In case you haven’t encountered them before, talent management suites are an all-in-one software system that handles your talent management needs, usually covering some mixture of hiring, onboarding, performance, and benefits management in one cohesive place.

Talent management suites are great for businesses that don’t want or can’t afford five different software systems to manage just a few people.

Talent management suites are fairly mainstream in the industry, and are doggedly climbing their way up the slope of enlightenment and inching onto the plateau of productivity. Expect the software to just keep getting better from here on out.

To do:

  • Check out Gartner’s Talent Management Magic Quadrant (gated content) to get a good idea of which companies are leaders, disruptors, or otherwise big competitors in the talent management software field.
  • Peruse Capterra’s free talent management software directory. Explore reviews and see what’s on the market, especially if you’re looking for a new system.
  • Review research that explains the best talent management software options for small businesses, because the size of your company has a huge impact on which suite is right for you.

Did I miss the “Pokemon Go” of Talent Management?

Tell me about the trends you’ve observed personally. Where do they fall on the cycle? Any surprises? Tell me all about it in the comments below, or tweet me @CapterraHalden.

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Looking for Talent Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Talent Management software solutions.

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Halden Ingwersen

Halden Ingwersen is a former Capterra analyst.

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