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Tag Archives: Customers

November 1, 2017

What were people talking about at Unleash?


HR Tech World in Amsterdam, rebranded now as Unleash, wrapped last week. It was hectic and tiring at times, but it was one of the more productive events I’ve been to in a while.

Over the course of the two days, lots of themes and trends were discussed, some new and some we’ve been hearing about for quite some time now.

But I think there were five key topics that warrant our attention.

#1 The rise of the gig economy

Dr. Daniel Thorniley’s keynote drew attention to what some see as the end of the traditional workforce. Currently, approximately 160 million westerners work in the gig economy while in the US alone around 55 million people work as freelancers. Think about what that means for, well, everyone. For HR, for the people themselves who must now operate under different criteria than in the past, and how this changes the landscape for training and development purposes.

#2 AI in the factory

Every conference today addresses this issue, and Unleash was no different. During a panel discussion around analytics and what HR folks are doing with the data that is being accumulated, David Wilson of The Fosway Group asked us all to consider how AI is impacting industries like manufacturing where the work environment is rather atypical.

#3 Will robots mean job losses?

Henrik Schärfe, like so many others, is raising our collective awareness that soon many jobs will no longer be filled by humans. But rather than bemoaning this fact, he recommends we see it as an opportunity to upskill; to concentrate our training efforts on those jobs/skills that require creativity and judgment – tasks robots are less suited to, and then happily leave the more mundane, time-consuming jobs to them.

#4 Will the 4th Industrial Revolution bring about a dramatic change in HR?

Josh Bersin spoke at length on this. And he is in perhaps the best position to given that Bersin by Deloitte is about to publish their HR Technology Disruption for 2018 report. While he didn’t give everything away, suffice to say if you are an HR professional, and you are not preparing for how things are changing, then you are preparing to fail.

#5 HCM tools can help foster diversity and inclusion

Gartner’s Research Director John Kostoulas addressed this issue in his presentation, and I hope, given all the recent bad press surrounding this issue, people took note and returned to their organisations with some solid and actionable insights. I like that he stressed that not only must diversity and inclusion be recognized as one, but importantly that for such efforts to succeed, they must be CEO-led. Real, significant and lasting change is only seen when the decision-making is occurring at the top.

For us it was a real pleasure to see Sarah Otley, ‎Vice President and Next Generation Learning Lab Director at Capgemini University, a SumTotal client, present a session on how once they established the Capgemini University, they were able to reach over 190,000 geographically dispersed learners with ease and convenience, which consequently enabled them to align and accelerate their organisation’s learning goals.

And of course, it was great to see Morne Swart, VP Global Product Strategy at SumTotal, demonstrate our updates to the Talent Expansion Suite®.  Some great questions were asked, and I feel people were impressed with our latest enhancements.

Now it’s time to review all that we learned and prepare for next year!

October 17, 2017

Jumeirah Hotels – where succeeding means success


Recently I came across this quote: “True succession planning takes time – it’s a process, not an event.”

Earlier in my career, I think I may have underestimated the full impact of this concept; but over time I have come to realise that not only is succession planning a process, but it is also a vital process that serves and benefits both employees and the organization equally.

About a year ago the Jumeirah Group, a global luxury hotel and resort company with over 14,000 employees, decided it was time to design and implement a comprehensive and structured succession planning framework, and one that allowed us to incorporate performance reviews.

This was by no means a small undertaking, and the technology and the work involved from moving data from one system to another required training. In fact, it was only when my colleagues and I first sat down with SumTotal Systems to begin the discussion about how we would proceed, what our goals were and how we envisaged achieving these goals, that the enormity of the task dawned on me.

But fortunately, SumTotal was there to help me integrate the new system with all the old systems, provided training for new systems and technology, and even when it was all up and running continued to provide much-needed support, advice and reassurance through their support portal.

There were a few bumps naturally, but thanks to the simplicity of the design and the expert training, our completion rate of appraisals rocketed from 7% to 97%.

We also noticed that, due to the implementation of the succession planning process, we now could set in motion the steps to ensure any high potentials who were identified were suitably recognized and provided with additional support and opportunities to develop and thrive. In a way, having all this data about our employees has enabled us to establish a talent pipeline and consequently both employees and the organization reap the benefits.

We also went paperless, something I’m personally quite proud of, and despite the additions to our talent management system, it is now a lot easier to access and utilize.

Earlier this month Aon Hewitt, a leading global human resource consulting company named us a “Best Employer in the UAE,” and although I know there are many reasons we earned this accolade, I can’t help but feel that our new talent management processes played a part.

Muna Al Mazam is the Talent Manager of Learning & Development for the Jumeirah Group.

April 20, 2017

Why I believe we need to rethink how we measure Customer Support Services


“The doctor of the future will give NO MEDICINE, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.” -Thomas A. Edison

About 7 years ago, while on a flight from Frankfurt to Orlando, I ended up sitting next to a gentleman who although dressed in civilian attire, I knew by his attitude and demeanor was a military man. When I opened my laptop to start working, he asked me what kind of work I did. I told him that I ran a global customer support organization and we ended up talking about how to measure success and the metrics typically used to drive a support organization.

It turned out that he was a Brigadier General in the US Marines responsible for one of several hospital units in Germany. While most of his peers ran their hospital units like a support organization measuring incoming volume, the MTTR (Mean Time to Recover) of patients, bed occupancy and any backlog of patients; the general’s unit took a different view.  Instead of measuring how quickly they healed sick, injured or wounded soldiers, his unit focused on making soldiers more battlefield ready. Using physical and psychological training, diets and supplements, his goal was to make each soldier more battlefield ready. He believed that, “the growing population of not-medically-ready soldiers has begun to erode the readiness of the military.”

Think about it.

What would happen if the World Health Organization (WHO) focused 90% of its resources on illnesses without any focus on prevention?

We would not know about life expectancy and root causes.

We would not have awareness campaigns about tobacco & alcohol.

We would not have cancer detection programs.

We would not have centers for Disease Control and Prevention or vaccines.

We would know only about sick patients; not about how many were saved.

This was an epiphany for me.

In traditional Support Services the focus is always on solving customer problems. All our metrics and measurements are around that single currency. But what if we changed the focus and started measuring how successful customers are when using our software?

In other words, our new currency in Support should be Customer Health and not Customer Problems.

There is a long journey ahead of us to achieve that goal. Going back to the General’s story again, the service trigger is always somebody falls sick or gets injured. Traditional support then focuses on sickness recovery management, and we use bed turnover rates, time to recovery, quality of diagnosis and treatment as the metrics.

In the new world of Support, the trigger is now a healthy person and the focus is on Health Maintenance. The push in the new Support is to maintain health and well-being through awareness, preventative medicine and regular checkups; while the metrics and measurements are frequency of known illnesses, life expectancy, health care cost to individuals and quality of life.

Over the next few months I will be talking about the Skillsoft/SumTotal journey into service excellence. About how that to be successful on such a journey, the first focus must be customer context: the need to build deeper connections with customers by understanding more about them, their projects, how they are trying to leverage our products, and what are their key business drivers. Information we can then use to draw a complete picture of our customers’ ecosystems enabling us to provide a higher level of service for customers.

As you join me on this journey, feel free to comment.

March 29, 2017

Unified SumTotal Suite Enables Digital Workforce to Develop, Lead, and Achieve

We just unveiled a range of new features and additions to our SumTotal Talent Expansion® Suite.


What do these enhancements mean?

As well as supporting our mission to deliver beautiful technology, they mean we can stay true to our commitment to empower employees – allowing them to become more informed, engaged, and better able to take ownership of their own career paths.


By giving you and your employees:

1.      Enhanced Career Planning and Job Matching capabilities.

Employees are a company’s single most important resource. With these enhancements, we’re introducing new capabilities which will enable employees to feel more engaged, while simultaneously making them their company’s biggest ambassador.

For instance, career maps are created which will identify the steps needed to be taken to progress and what, if any, gaps exist that could hinder such progression. We also added new dashboards, which provide at-a-glance competency metrics that highlight any areas that need developing in both the current position and any role targeted as part of their career path.

This enhancement is invaluable not only because it will help HR departments demonstrate their commitment to employee retention and progression, but it demonstrates it to their employees as well. This also feeds into the goal of encouraging internal mobility – employees will remain loyal if they can see a clear path for progression within and enabled by their organization.

2.      The full benefits of Mobility

With the new SumTotal Mobile App, managers and employees can learn, manage, and give feedback, anywhere at any time.  Accessible anytime is everything from a complete employee profile to compensation and performance details to the ability to provide continuous feedback to colleagues. What’s more, employees can now access content using Windows 10 on their laptop and Windows Surface devices either online or offline.
Gone are the days of yearly reviews. This is the era of mini-reviews.

This 24/7 accessibility means users- at every level- can easily request and provide feedback “in the moment” via a tablet, smartphone, or laptop, regardless of location or time. For managers, it means they have constant feedback at their fingertips on individuals – information that allows managers to have continuous conversations on both positive comments, but also improvements an employee can make. In real-time.  Talk about optimizing your workforce!

3.      A streamlined and unified Workforce Management (WFM) user experience

We’ve given our WFM a new appearance, making it easier to use with a single sign-on and a new unified look and feel. We’ve also made it easier to integrate daily shifts and schedule changes and given you a new single timeline for managing and completing tasks.

By giving everyone a single point to search for other employees, reports, or activities we are using technology to do what it does best – improve and increase efficiencies in workflow. This will then, hopefully, translate to a correlating improvement in the organization’s efficiencies and output. Making it a win-win for everyone.

Want to learn more? Turn here to review more of our enhancements.

July 29, 2014

TotalConnection: Not Your Average Conference

When I headed to TotalConnection 2013, I didn’t know what to expect. Sure, I’d attended many conferences in my career, but this marked my first vendor-hosted user conference, and boy, what an amazing difference!

Profession-focused conferences certainly provide the opportunity to gather with folks who have similar interests and goals, but user conferences, like TotalConnection, take it to a whole other level. TotalConnection 2013

Perhaps I’m biased, as SumTotal’s customer communications manager, but I think it’s our customers that make this event standout.

Here are my top 5 reasons, in no particular order:

  1. Customer Presentations: I got to hear firsthand from our customers of the creative ways they’re addressing their HR and human capital management (HCM) challenges, and specifically how they’re using our technologies to achieve their goals. From keynotes from Praxair and Howden (view case study) to breakout sessions from Lowe’s and City of Boise, it was great to see the excitement customers felt in sharing their stories and the engagement from the audience in learning new ideas. This year’s agenda is shaping up to be equally, if not more, informative and entertaining.
  2. Customer Videos: There’s nothing I like better than having an opportunity to share our customers’ successes, and I’m grateful that many customers feel the same. A handful of them, including McAfee, Good Samaritan Society and Tokyo Electron, sat down with me in front of a camera to talk about their business challenges and how they’ve overcome them. View other customer videos.
  3. Customer Innovation Awards: You can’t be in the HR business and not understand the importance of recognizing people for a job well done. That’s the idea behind SumTotal’s Innovation Awards. Last year’s 20 finalists and six winners, including Duke Energy and Univar, demonstrated how to create outstanding value with HR programs and technologies. I can’t wait to see the variety of submissions we get this year. Submit your application before August 18.
  4. Customer Appreciation Event: Who doesn’t want to unwind a bit after several information-packed days? Last year we celebrated our final evening at BB Kings – the photos say it all. This year, prepare for an awesome beachside “Cirque du SumTotal” celebration.  Circus/street performance acts with the smell and sound of the ocean? I can’t wait!
  5. Customer Connections: I think you’ll be hard pressed to find an event more aptly named than TotalConnection, because that was the real value I took away. It offers fantastic opportunities to connect with peers, customers, partners and SumTotal executives and experts.

In a world in which relationships are increasingly built virtually by phone and the Internet, there’s something to be said about having a chance to put a face to the name. I had the pleasure of doing just that with dozens of customers last year. I’m looking forward to reconnecting with them and making even more connections this October. I hope to see you in Miami!

Do you have more to add? Tweet me (@KimJamerson) or @SumTotalSystems using the #SumTotalTC14 hashtag or leave a comment below!

May 16, 2014

TotalConnection Miami: More than cool tchotchkes and hot weather

Last week I had the refreshing opportunity to spend three days chatting with attendees, thought leaders and colleagues about training development trends and challenges at ASTD (now ATD!) in Washington, D.C.

After having so many great conversations, I couldn’t help but be reminded of TotalConnection and the invaluable opportunity attendees will have to learn, network and share ideas. Then I realized TotalConnection is only 5 months away. Continue reading

April 2, 2014

McAfee, Avanade and SumTotal Tackle Developing Frontline Employees

What do you get when you put three HR thought leaders of super innovative companies together in a Google hangout to discuss how to unleash the potential of their employees? You walk away with insightful and practical advice on how to develop the face of your organization – frontline employees.

Frontline employees don’t sit at desks or in front of computers. They’re out there servicing customers, selling products and building our brands. Given their limited access to formal training, delivering learning and development to them can be difficult. But with the right strategy, internal buy in and technology, organizations can offer the training and development these employees deserve.HRIQ Roundtable

Two innovative learning and development leaders from Avanade and McAfee got together last week on a virtual roundtable to discuss how their customer-focused organizations are creating dynamic, yet practical strategies to overcome these challenges.

Led by moderator Steven Parker, vice president of HR strategy and transformation at SumTotal, Ashley Graham, manager of global learning operations at McAfee, and Vince Pace, HR technologies director at Avanade, shared their successes in a lively discussion that tackled topics such as:

  • Incorporating technologies that are changing society, like social collaboration and gamification, into learning
  • Avoiding the pitfalls of a one-size-fits-all approach to development
  • Demonstrating how training investments are paying off in employee performance
  • Delivering learning that it is more accessible and seamless with work duties

Hear how McAfee and Avanade are addressing the unique needs of their frontline employees head on.  View the one-hour recording, and then join the discussion below by sharing your experiences and ideas.

March 26, 2014

Make the Case for Your Trip to TotalConnection

If you read my last blog post, you’ve heard me rave about how life changing it will be to attend TotalConnection 2014. But do you find yourself wondering how best to pitch the idea to your boss?

We know there is a lot to gain from attending this three-day event. From opportunities to hear from industry experts and get more details around the product roadmap, to networking with peers and thought leaders, TotalConnection promises to be one of the most important HR events this year. (Plus, did I mention it was in Miami?) Continue reading

March 3, 2014

And the award goes to… you!

Oscar producers went with a more traditional approach for the show last night. And while it lacked some of the entertainingly awkward moments from last year, with the exception of Jennifer Lawrence stumbling for the second time, I found it hard not to get caught up in all of the excitement as I kicked back on my couch to watch it.

When Lupita Nyong’o gave her heartfelt acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actress and later Bette Midler sang “Wind Beneath My Wings,” I admit it, I got a little choked up. But, I also smiled as the married songwriters and Best Original Song winners rhymed their way through their thank yous, and laughed at Ellen’s epic selfie, which apparently crashed Twitter.

Most of us will never experience the pageantry of the Oscars, but beneath all of the glitz and glamour, the Academy Awards really boil down to one thing – peer recognition for a job well done. And that’s something that we all can and should go after for our customers, our organizations and ourselves.

Here at SumTotal, we’ve placed a bigger emphasis on that recently, and it’s paid off.

Best Original Screenplay: Customer Kudos
In April we launched our first Innovation Awards program and honored 20 customers, including our winners McAfee, Univar, Praxair, Duke Energy, Lowes and City of Boise, at our TotalConnection customer event. (Check out the photos)

Their creative approaches to Talent Expansion™ deserved recognition, and we were thrilled to give them a platform to showcase their initiatives. They earned acknowledgement for their innovation and other attendees walked away with new ideas. Win, win!

Speaking of which, we’re accepting nominations for the 2014 SumTotal Customer Innovation Awards through August 18. Check out how to apply.

Best Producer: Organizational Success
In the past year, we’ve been honored with more than a dozen awards, including:

That third-party validation, of course, helps the organization in terms of sales and marketing opportunities. But this industry recognition also boosts morale.

I felt a sense of pride with each of these announcements, and as one of the people responsible for sharing them internally, I can tell you that other employees did too. Email replies like these make my day:

“This is so exciting!”
“Can you feel the momentum building?”
“Another reason SumTotal rocks!”

Best Leading Actor/Actress: Individual Accolades
Putting together a winning application is important for personal reasons too. Not only does it feel great, (“I was jumping up and down in my cubicle when I heard our name,” is what one customer emailed after learning they’d won), it’s also an opportunity to get internal recognition for your team’s efforts and is another way to strengthen your personal brand.

Find Your Academy Award
There are dozens of awards programs out there, from industry publications to analyst programs. I encourage you to research them to find ones that fit with what you and your organization are trying to achieve.

Make note of deadlines and application requirements. Mark your calendar with reminders. Then, throughout the year, file away examples of successes to make it easier to build your application. Having solid metrics matters, so be prepared to demonstrate measurable results of your programs.

With preparation and a little luck, you might just walk away with your own “Oscar.” And in the words of Best Actor winner Matthew McConaughney, that would be “All right, all right, all right.”

January 22, 2014

You spoke, we listened. Great Changes Coming to TotalConnection 2014.

CALLING ALL SUMTOTAL CUSTOMERS & PARTNERS – Have you registered for TotalConnection 2014 yet?

This fast-paced, three day conference will help you realize the full potential of your software, data and enterprise solutions. Learn from the experts, share innovative best practices and network with your peers in the vibrant, cosmopolitan city of Miami. If you’re serious about your business, you can’t afford to miss this real world, results-oriented conference.

Continue reading