SumTotal Blog

What’s a CRM Guy doing at an HCM Company?

August 7, 2017


Greetings from the newest member of the SumTotal Systems marketing team!

I think I’m very fortunate to be joining the SumTotal journey at this stage and I’m excited about what the future holds as the SumTotal story unfolds.

Coming from a background in CRM and e-commerce, you might wonder why I chose to move into the human capital management (HCM) market, I mean they are very different beasts aren’t they?

Actually they aren’t. Not anymore anyway, especially when you think of the challenges facing companies on both the customer and employee fronts.

What do I mean? Well think about it.

For starters there is The Millennial Effect. Just as they shop and respond to marketing differently, Millennials are rapidly changing business environments: they work differently, and more than any generation before, they perceive employment differently. When thinking about Millennials, smart employers should think of this group the same way marketers and retailers are increasingly – as a psychographic, not just a demographic. In other words, Millenial-ism (is that a word?) is a mindset and a behavior, not an age group.

Then, there are social and mobile market disrupters. Just as they changed the way consumers interact with brands, they are dramatically changing the way employees interact with prospective employers, managers, and each other.

Job hoppers and brand hoppers are awfully similar. Whether you are talking about employees, easily lured by recruiters and the gig economy, or consumers mercilessly willing to start buying from another brand, no one can count on loyalty long-term. Every company must work constantly to retain either their key people or customers.

Competing on price or comp is always a losing proposition, as someone will always offer a lower price or higher comp. Successful marketers and retailers seek to differentiate through the customer experience. And this now holds true for employers and the employee experience. In the past, employers only had to reward with a high compensation to keep employees engaged, but now employees look for more, in particular, a great employee experience.

Gone too are the days when the best way to engage consumers was through pre-planned campaigns, promotions and advertisements happening at predictable intervals – and also gone are the days of maximizing employee effectiveness through scheduled reviews, training classes and compliance sessions. Engagement, of consumers and employees, must be continuous and real-time, not episodic. Now employees, much like consumers, must be engaged in a carefully balanced, but never-ending communication and interaction cycle – in the case of employers, continuously providing personalized, agile, just-in-time feedback and training.

Everyone wants a unified experience. Employees, like consumers, don’t want to have to jump from system to system or person to person to get something done. They want to be treated consistently and in a coordinated way across all communications and interactions. To get their job done and better themselves on the job, employees want the same convenience and streamlined experience they demand as consumers.

And finally, in the pursuit of the best experience, both marketers and employers are increasingly relieving themselves of the burden of “keeping the lights on” by embracing the cloud. They thereby free themselves from worries about systems uptime and instead focus on their employees and their customers.

There’s at least one more link between CRM and HCM. Despite all the talk about the power of CRM and commerce technologies to improve business success, in nearly every industry success or failure ultimately came down to the effectiveness of the company’s employees, particularly front-line employees like store associates, customer service agents and salespeople. In retail, for example, it’s often said “the success or failure of your brand rides on the people making minimum wage.” Making your people smarter, more engaged and committed to your brand is the best way to make sure consumers are engaged, too. So, arguably, CRM and HCM have actually been in pursuit of the very same goal!

Bottom line: any company that’s not thinking about engaging employee talent as earnestly as they think about engaging customers is going to lose out. And the reality is, few companies feel ready for this challenge. Commit yourself to being as employee-centric as you are customer-centric.

SumTotal Systems has a lot to offer employers facing this challenge. We certainly deliver a market-leading technology platform. But we also embody a powerful combination of long-term domain expertise and a modern mindset on all the topics I’ve just mentioned. My mission is to make sure SumTotal is known for the kind of leadership we can provide and which is so sorely needed in this rapidly changing environment.

For these reasons, I’m already feeling quite at home here at SumTotal Systems, after a career in CRM. I’m looking forward to working with everyone out there to shape the future of employee success.

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