Dreamforce, Human Resources and Bono


I was in San Francisco to do some consulting work, last week, and had a day before my workshop to kick around and recover from my marathon. I wanted to keep up and keep moving — part of my recovery plan — so I went over to Dreamforce.

If you don’t know anything about Dreamforce, it’s a big conference where tech nerds converge to talk about the future of work, money, power, politics and cloud computing. There is an expo floor where B2B companies try to sell stuff to other companies. Lots of parties, lots of meetings and a lots of hype.

As an aside, here is my friend Scot Sessions meeting a guy who really looks like Bono but is an imposter. Pretty convincing though!

The one thing I noticed about Dreamforce is that every company on the expo floor is a version of a human capital company. It’s all about metrics, analytics and data.

  • Are you a provider of cloud-based electronic signature technology that facilitates exchanges of contracts, tax documents and legal materials? You’re really measuring work outputs, win/loss ratios and people.
  • Do you simplify the work and personal lives of more than 200 million people by letting them collaborate seamlessly with their teams and securely bring their documents, photos, and videos everywhere? Collaboration means that performance can be measured, checked and confirmed through a new and validated form of crowdsourcing.

Human Resources professionals like to take ownership of people-related processes. They make the claim that you need internal expertise to help guide the heart and soul of an organization. I think there’s a role for executive and strategic guidance from HR practitioners; however, technology companies are staking a claim on the human resources function without even calling in HR. Through both automation and advanced product development, they don’t think twice about the convergence of work and technology. They just claim it as their domain of expertise.

I hope HR can take a lesson from that kind of bold and confident thinking. Walking around Dreamforce, I fear it’s too late.

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