Thursday, July 19, 2012

Whatchamacallit Human Resource Data Solutions

We’re having an identity crises. My partner and I started a business in deep web data mining. We have lots of ideas about data products, but we’ve not settled on the best idea yet. Part of the problem is we aren’t really sure what our focus will be. We’ve generated so many great ideas. We could focus on human resource data. I have been in various roles in the human resource field since 1983 (that ages me). My background is mostly business process and technology and my focus has been on building better HR solutions: payroll, recruiting, employment screening and testing, on-boarding and training. So something in the HR field makes sense. But there are a lot of other areas where data can be used. Insurance companies for one; Government, business intelligence, market intelligence are some other areas. My partner’s background is in artificial intelligence with a specialty in finding information in complex data relationships, so the potential is fairly broad.

As we were looking at the product ideas and starting to apply a number of classic product feasibility models to the list, I stopped us about two-thirds of the way through and asked: What is our name? This earned me strange looks from my partner but I pressed on. I felt that one of the critical missing elements of our product assessment was “did it fit with our company mission” and in order to know that, we needed an identity. Are we going to build something that reflects our passion, our personalities? Yes. That is very important to us. Do we have a social commitment, a commitment to our profession, a goal for the impact we want the company to make? Yes, all these things are important to us. I felt pushing ourselves to find a name and define the company would help us narrow the list of potential products.

So, we stepped back. We went through an exercise to identify what was most important to us. We asked where our business would be 3 to 5 years out. In fact, we went through a series of exercises designed to define why we were in business and what we wanted to achieve. Using that, we applied it against the product list – along with some of the more traditional product assessments and narrowed it down to the top 5 ideas that we can now more fully vet.We know what we want to be, and how our products will be a part of that definition. 

But we still don’t have a name. Guess I’ll still have to keep answering to Whatchamacallit. Wonder how that will look on a business card?