In my previous post, I discussed my view back in late 2002/early 2003 that competency management was going to become important again. Competencies are a fundamental component of talent management applications. They are used as part of the hiring process to determine candidate fit. They can be used in performance reviews (though not everyone thinks this is a good idea). They are used in assessments that drive training and development. The results of those assessments also drive succession planning. Finally, in some cases, they can even drive compensation (e.g., pay-for-skills programs). The reason that competencies can link these various activities is that it is structured data. This is a good thing -- but it is also a not so good thing. It can be limiting.
Competencies are usually defined for jobs (or job families). So, basically the systems track individual competencies only for the job that that person is in. That is the limiting part. It does not provide a complete talent profile for that individual. I may have other competencies that have nothing to do with the job that may be useful to an employer. It is not easy to capture, much less maintain this full picture. In a earlier post, I provided a link to a Gartner High Performance Workplace blog entry on dynamic profiling which is one approach to helping fill in the blanks of a talent profile. I will not repeat all of the details here, but the concept is to build a dynamic profile that uses both structured (e.g., competencies, certifications, etc.) and unstructured (e.g., resume, e-mail, discussion forums, etc.) information to build a more dynamic (and complete view of the) talent profile. Think ZoomInfo but leveraging internal and external data.
I think this is a good direction, but there are more opportunities for a richer model. I have to give credit where credit is due. I was having dinner with the Workday folks last week and Mark Nittler , Karen Beaman, and I were discussing tags (i.e., as used in sites like del.icio.us and digg, etc.). As I thought about the conversation the next day, it struck me that this could be very useful for talent profiling. Imagine a system that allows you extracts a set of tags from a resume and that would allow a candidate to self-describe their capabilities using tags. What if you could easily tag documents that you create with tags that describe the competencies demonstrated in producing those documents (and the system could read those tags and associate it with your talent profile)? It would be pretty cool. As much as I think competencies are important, I think within five years we will see systems supporting richer, more dynamic talent profiles.