When I went to college, the big thing in the interpretation of American ethic culture was a debate about a melting pot or a salad bowl. In honesty, they are nice images – in a melting pot, all ethnicities represented in American society were homogenized and made “American.” In the salad bowl, each individual component kept their separate identities, but the idea was that the combination of those identities was more “beautiful” than the individual.
I was reading an article about this, and with my peculiar mind, I thought about HR technology. With so many HR technologies out there (HCM, TAS, TMS, LMS, EPS, TLM…) what do we want? I’m going to say that from a user perspective, I want an amorphous mass of a melting pot. As an employee, I don’t care if the data came from the HCM or the TMS. The more fluid the transaction the better.
At the portal level, the user should have absolutely no idea what system they are logging into. The portal should be a single point of contact for all transaction, even though data is being brought forward and pushed back to multiple systems of record. As a user, I’d really rather not see “Kronos” in the timekeeping portlet, or “ADP” in the pay statements area (sorry vendors). In the same vein, I don’t want to have a launch page that simply launches another application – even if there is single sign-on.
The ideal is a seamless user experience where to that end user, it’s a single application, single environment where s/he can perform multiple functions from transferring an employee, changing their address, seeing their pay statements, changing their benefits, or conducting a performance review. The look and feel should be the same, and the flow of fields should be similar.
At the same time, SOA architecture is making great strides in the integration of multiple apps to the end user. While not particularly focused on the user interface, it does impact the user interface by bringing integrated business process to the UI.
In tomorrow’s part 2 of this post, I’ll address why sometimes salad bowls are good things.