The Hard Truth About TA Technology Adoption With Kris Dunn From Marriott

What if you could ensure your team adopts and embraces new TA technology without a hitch? Join us as we sit down with Kris Dunn, the Global TA Leader for Marriott International, and uncover the hard truths of technology adoption. Together, we dissect the challenges teams face when transitioning between applications and the crucial role change management plays in guaranteeing a smooth switch. Kris also sheds light on the importance of communication when vendors may not fully comprehend the roles of recruiters, sorcerers, and hiring managers.

But that’s not all! We also explore the power of incentivizing technology adoption through rewards and recognition, and how it encourages employees to utilize new features. Using real-life examples, we emphasize the need for effective change management, training, and communication, as well as the value of celebrating employees for their initiative and engagement with new tools. Don’t miss this enlightening conversation that could transform technology adoption and personalization within your organization.

Listening Time: 28 minutes

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Kris Dunn
SVP of Global Talent Acquisition Mariott

Who am I? That's an easy question - I'm a TA Leader who has led talent practices in Fortune 500s and venture capital-held startups. I work for a living, and believe that the key to great business results is to get great people, then do cool stuff to maximize their motivation, performance and effectiveness once you have them in the door. As it turns out, that's my simple definition of talent management. I believe that all forms of administration should be squeezed down to the smallest amount of time possible, giving you more time to do stuff that matters.


The Hard Truth About TA Technology Adoption With Kris Dunn From Marriott

William Tincup: [00:00:00] This is William Tincup and you’re listening to the RecruitingDaily podcast. Today we have Chris on from Marriott, and our topic today is the Hard Truth about Tali Technology, adoption Story near and dear to my heart and to Chris’s heart. Chris, why don’t we do some introductions? Why don’t you introduce yourself and then we’ll jump

Kris Dunn: into the topic.

Thank you, William. Hey, it’s great to be with you. Chris Dunn is the name. I’m the global Tali [00:01:00] leader for Marriott International. For all of you who stay at our properties, thank you for your patronage and for those of you that don’t come on by

William Tincup: we’d love to host you. I’ve switched. I’m, I was a Hilton guy for years.

And I switched to Marriott and I love it. And I and I haven’t looked back, quite frankly the properties. Yeah, no, it’s the relationship between, I think it was American Express and American Airlines and Hilton was a tight bond, and they broke that bond. And then I started staying at Marriotts, and I’m like, I like this better.

Kris Dunn: Awesome. We’re glad. We’re glad you’re with us. Yes. Really?

William Tincup: Yes. I’m a Bonvoy. I’m a Bonvoy member. Done Check.

Kris Dunn: And I think just to round out the introduction, so I’m a recruiter by trade. It’s what I love to do. I get the pri, I have the privilege of leading a great recruiting team at Marriott.

And when we talked about doing this session, you’ve done tons of adoption [00:02:00] work on the technology side. So I thought it’d be a good opportunity for me to learn from you as well as just have a conversation about it because. To use your phraseology. As it turns out, that’s your phraseology William, right?

As it turns out. As it turns out, adoption with technology is really hard and it’s not for the faint of heart. And I think especially when you get into, I. Multi-location type of companies and enterprises with people doing great work that’s away from their computers. It’s a hard thing.

So lead me in this conversation, I’m excited Sure. To talk about it. And also again to learn from you.

William Tincup: It’s funny, I was at a, an HR tech conference a couple weeks back and a practitioner came up to me and she said, Hey, I wanna pick your brain. I said yeah, of course.

What’s up? She goes, I want less tech, right?

Kris Dunn: I said

William Tincup: we’ll do tell. And she said, I just want less. I need, I know I need more. I don’t want less. And I said, I [00:03:00] totally get it. You’re not alone, by the way. It’s because, we see all these things. We’re at an HR tech conference at the time, and you go in there, there’s 700 exhibitors and they all have cool stuff, right?

But it’s you gotta go look back at your team and your workflows and then think, okay, does this, is this a distraction? Is this something, is it additive? Does it work with the other things that, that we’ve already laid bets with? If we’re a workday shop, does it work in the Workday ecosystem?

If we’re work an Oracle shop or whatever, wherever it’s gotta work. And this is where I think vendors miss is they know that they have a cool tool or a cool application, right? But they don’t know the job. Like they don’t know what a sourcer does. They don’t know what a hiring manager does.

They don’t know what a corporate recruiter does. They don’t know how this works. So they know they have a cool app and that will help people truly, but they don’t know how it, inter, inter how to actually get people to not think of it as more work. [00:04:00]

Kris Dunn: Yeah. And the way you laid that out with the sourcing example, you’re really talking about.

Even though that’s a known challenge. You’re really talking about probably the easiest right, of the adoption plays, which is just the Tali team not getting to end users, like hiring managers in the field. It only, even as difficult as that is, it only becomes exponentially harder. The more, client groups.

Or people in different roles you want to touch.

William Tincup: And I think adoption generally comes down to training. I. And communications and change management and some things like, okay, we used to have this crm. We’ll just use something like that. Like we used to have this remark recruitment marketing platform, and it did these things for us.

Okay, we’ve moved away from that. Now we have this. That decision seems like a pretty straightforward decision. We had ature, we moved to, something else, whatever pheno. [00:05:00] Again using random names cuz it really doesn’t matter. But we moved from one and then we moved to the other. If someone was competent then in this exchange like Avature, if they’re, if they’d been in Avature for 10 years and they knew all the ways that they could bend ature, the massive amount of change management that you have to go through, they have to relearn.

They have to basically relearn their job. A hundred percent.

Kris Dunn: They don’t want your change. They do not

William Tincup: want your change at all. And don’t get, they not ask for your change. And they didn’t get communicated. They weren’t brought in, they didn’t get to do the demo. They, it’s it’s like that bit and history of the world.

Part one, when Moses comes down with the 15, 10, 10 commandments, like they, they get your 10 commandments and it’s It is better tech. Again, I’m not, I don’t have your favorites here, but, it’s better tech, but it’s not better if they don’t, if they can’t use it.

Kris Dunn: Yeah. And we’re blessed to as a Tali organization, when we undergo change, [00:06:00] We’re blessed to have the resources, to have a great change management team, a great comms team

William Tincup: with us.

That helps, that immensely helps.

Kris Dunn: And think about not having that oh even with that, when you get into thousands of locations and in the hospitality industry doing work where, people are taking care of guests, they’re not always at their computers. Their computer time may be limited.

Yeah. And I can’t imagine what other companies face who don’t have change in comms. Experts who are with us, if you will, to remind us of all the ways, all the things we have to accomplish, all the things we have to do, all the follow-ups, help us with that. And then to be experts just in our culture about how you get to thousands and thousands of locations, right?

How you get the word out. Across multiple communication methods. It’s it’s a march.[00:07:00]

William Tincup: It’s a concert, it’s like the Symphony conductor. That’s, it. And again, things can go e even with its well-planned. I worked with a company good God is a company in Canada Bombardier.

They make planes small jets, and about 75,000 employees. Not a small company, but not a huge company. And they, and they brought in SuccessFactors for the performance management and they brought it in a year before they were gonna launch it to their team. So they literally brought it in, their change management team went through the entire thing, built out all their comm strategy, and built out all of their training philosophy and, all the content, all that type stuff.

And it’s the best rollout of success factors I’ve ever seen. But think of okay, just think of like the investment that they made. Not just in the software but like all of that change management and communications and [00:08:00] training and everything. Their employees loved moving to SuccessFactors because they manufactured that feeling.


Kris Dunn: William, like taking that example, even in that great example you just provided out of a hundred percent adopted. They’re a success story. What do you think their total adoption rate is? Just all in 80%. 80%? Yeah. That’s what they told me. Can I tell you a quick story to piggyback on that?

Sure. So I’m gonna be, I’m gonna be like vague. Yeah. I’m gonna be somewhat vague, but we had a rollout of a feature that. Our clients, right? Hiring managers, HR professionals in the field. We had the rollout of a feature that everyone wanted. You mentioned the 80% like thing, so we had the advantage, like thinking about where we’ve just gone into this conversation, we had the advantage and I’m gonna be vague to

William Tincup: Yeah.

Kris Dunn: Protect, protect, protecting people. I work for a little bit. Of course. Just [00:09:00] imagine the most desirable change known. To talent acquisition. And they

William Tincup: wanted the, and they wanted the feature. So they, everyone wanted it express, they wanted the feature. Okay, good. There, there was no debate. I’m gonna go ahead and I’m gonna go 50%.

Kris Dunn: Hold on. Don’t steal me thunder, William. Oh my bad, jp. That’s tough. So our change in comms, people went to work, they did everything they were supposed to do, and as it turns out, this adoption game is so hard. That we ended up at a 50% adoption rate. Darn you William. We ended up at a 50% adoption rate with people who

William Tincup: wanted the feature

Kris Dunn: took advantage, yeah.

Of the feature. Yeah. Yeah. And here’s the kicker, though. You ready for this? This feature had conventional wisdom that it was universally good for recruiting results. We ended up because of the 50% [00:10:00] adoption rate, with really a perfect AB test. Yeah. And we learned out that there was no difference in the results.


William Tincup: oh, that hurts. You wanted the feature because some of you tried the feature, some of you didn’t, and it didn’t really impact results.

Kris Dunn: Yeah. And it’s really an unbelievable story. I’ll tell you more specifics offline. Wow. These are the best people. Oh, yeah. In the world of hospitality, doing their jobs, everybody wanted it, but thousands of locations. Different communications thing. Yeah. How do I do it? How do I take advantage of it? So I’d have the old thing going on because we couldn’t abandon it.

William Tincup: Here’s the hard and inconvenient truth, if we can use that, borrow that phrase, okay.

Is is it’s not. Whilst someone wants something and might even see the utility in that, or it makes their life better, job easier, or even they see the results, et cetera, it’s not their [00:11:00] job. And this is where we fail. That’s true. In general with technology other than payroll clerks,

Kris Dunn: they have a hundred things going on.

That’s right. This is additive. This is And with the best of attentions. That’s right. Your change, your new feature, your new solution. Is it best? Number 14 on their list at

William Tincup: best. And that’s not even to do with

Kris Dunn: personal stuff. Yeah. And it has. Yeah. And it has to be because like in our case, we’re taking care of guests.

That’s right. That has to come first. And it’s a really humbling thing. And when, this is why I wanted to talk to you about it, cuz you gave me a great example. I asked you the question. Okay. I. That was the best it could be done. You were at 80%. We did what I recommend or what I outlined to you.

We did it in the best way possible. Great change. Great comms, 50% adoption ended up like, I was just like, oh, so I have an AB test. What does the data say? It was like, [00:12:00] no change. Yeah. I was like, oh, okay. I guess I’m glad it went down that way, but like literally, you know that scene in the movie A Beautiful

William Tincup: Mind?

Yes. I love that movie. I love his speech at the end where

Kris Dunn: our guy is looking through the window and it’s got all these formulas written on it. Yeah. John Nash that’s me. And I think probably a lot of my colleagues in any function. Once they’ve been around the block on adoption a little bit.

William Tincup: Oh, you get

Kris Dunn: jaded quickly. That’s me. Wistfully looking out the window,

William Tincup: wondering, trying to make sense of the chaos.

Kris Dunn: Wondering what will the matrix do? Yeah, exactly. With this initiative that I know can deliver. Good.

William Tincup: Okay. So do you wanna know how to game this?

Kris Dunn: Sure. I’d love to. That’s why, that’s actually, that’s why I’m here, William.

William Tincup: Alright, so we’ve discussed that it’s not their job. They have to, they have other jobs, 14 on the list, [00:13:00] et cetera. The motivator for most people, and especially with a lot of employees outside of recognition and just a, an attaboy or at a girl et cetera, is money. Okay? So pay him.

To adopt software.

Kris Dunn: So tell me more about how that would work. Let’s say, I’m trying to get the word out to 10,000 hiring managers. Yeah. How would that work? I’m fascinated.

William Tincup: Sure. $500 if you get certified. Or a thousand dollars a day off. So it can be, you can use different incentive packages, but basically, Hey, listen, why don’t you get two days off.

If you get certified this week, could I

Kris Dunn: interest you in $50?

William Tincup: How about a night? How about a nights? I know. How about a nights day? No, the thing is it’s, you look at what’s done in the rewards and recognition game, and you basically say to yourself, okay, what works? And you can try all kinds of different things because you’ve got, I can’t, what is it?

40 different properties and, all the, [00:14:00] every global presence. So you can, you actually test this out in a lot of different ways with a lot of different groups of people. But you pay ’em. At the end of the day, if you really want, you put training. Okay, so let’s just assume comms change management and training are a given.

So those are assumed that they, we’ve done those well and the vendors helped us, et cetera. Okay, good. You pay ’em, you literally, you incentivize them to adopt technology and they’ll adopt technology. Have you

Kris Dunn: ever seen someone pay. For adoption. Yeah, it’s great idea. Has anyone

William Tincup: ever done it? Yeah I’ve about 40 of my clients yes.

I’ve done this because I, when I was doing all my adoption research back in 20, 20 10,

Kris Dunn: I was gonna ask you, when you made that run, you made a hard run at adoption for a

William Tincup: couple of years, right? Yeah. Yeah, 2010 is when I started the research and this is when I left Star Tincup. So basically once I left, I was really fascinated with, okay, how do you market technology internally?

Which was really what was, I [00:15:00] was trying to, it was a puzzle I was trying to solve for the algebra I was trying to solve for. And so basically what I finally found, figured out is it’s a three-legged stool of comms change management and training. Training being the most important leg of that stool.

You can do all those things at a high. Quality level and still not get the outcome that you want. What is ultimately the glue that holds all of that chair together is rewards and recognition and mostly recognition. Okay. And, got it. So it can be as simple as a pat on the back or whatever you already have in your incentive package.

But again, You want people to do something that’s outside of their job, right? That’s the acknowledgement. So when we buy technology, we have to actually factor in other things into the cost. So when we buy new technology, we have to factor in the headcount. We never do this. We’re horrible at this.

We’re just not taught this way. Like it’s

Kris Dunn: a bolt-on. It’s a [00:16:00] bolt-on project to

William Tincup: the existing. Yeah, exactly. It’s we’re gonna use the existing people to do this new thing. No, we’re not. We’re there’s, eventually we’re gonna have to hire Jimmy or Sally to do, to manage this thing. Okay, great. It’s headcount, so there’s that.

The other part is E every, all these technology outside of payroll for payroll clerks. It’s not their job, it’s the 14th on the list. So what do we do when we wanna move something on their up, on their list? If we wanna prioritize something on their list, we pay them.

Kris Dunn: Got it. I did the math. I did the math on your $500.

I did the math than it was it was hard. It was hard to look at from a cost perspective, but I get what you’re saying, by the way, before I forget. You’ll have to have me on another time. You mentioned Star 10 cup. Yep. And, you made this move into the adoption world. Yep. As well as other things that you’ve been doing over the last decade plus, I gotta come back on another time.

A lighter topic to be Sure. And we just [00:17:00] talk about great marketing in the human capital industry, of which, you know, my view on this star Tincup. Was the vanguard of that in what I would call the late s

William Tincup: We thank you. Very take all the praise. Wonderful. And we will do, we will tackle that because there was things that were done there.

That were counterintuitive encounter to what you could do. And again it’s really interesting to see what vendors struggle with. Like I, I went to ISO’s they have a road show and I went to their road show and, I had 200 of their customers in a city. And It was really just kinda showing ’em product and it wasn’t under the guise of thought leadership or any this type of, to foolery.

It was just showing them, here’s what’s going on with the product. If you’re using this or you’re how use this. And then they talked like, it was fascinating cuz they like, they just opened it up saying how, what kind of problems are y’all having? What are you doing with this? How about that? And it’s like their company had been completely rebranded [00:18:00] into this fuchsia color and HR heroes and all this kinda fun stuff.

And it’s it’s a fun company. It’s not like most HR tech companies are. They’re, it’s technology. The technology is generally boring. They’re boring people, and the marketing is boring. It’s it’s just, it gets, just gets worse. So when someone does something special when sonar sick with my carton and when they do something special they stand out.

Not because it’s that great, it’s because they’re the tallest midget. So I think yeah, we will do, we will definitely talk about that. Now, back to the adoption and paying people for adoption. Hey, before

Kris Dunn: you go, can I ask you a question? Yeah. And then you’re gonna come back to that.

What is the opportunity you can hit me with paying people for adoption? Then come back to this if you want. Sure. What’s the opportunity to be a disruptive marketer in your own organization to gain attention and adoption in

William Tincup: within your own organization?

Kris Dunn: Yeah, I like because it, you went through, the history [00:19:00] there in terms of being a good marketer, right?

Is there, nothing,

William Tincup: so your employees, All of your employees, everybody that works for Marriott and all the different brands and everything, they all have a sense of pride. They’re somewhat on some level competitive and they would like to have some level of recognition or to be treated in a special way cuz they treat customers, they treat guests all the time and in all kinds of different ways, right?

So to market that is to market a leaderboard. And to be transparent about who’s using the technology to, for their betterment, right? The betterment of the customer and guest, et cetera. So I would flip that around and show, be transparent as to who’s doing, who’s using the technology really well.

It’s a good idea. So it becomes a game of, instead of you and your team looking at the data and saying Marcus is never leaving the application, [00:20:00] and Janet doesn’t log in every two weeks. You know what, why is that? Why are we holding that secret?

Kris Dunn: What great idea.

William Tincup: At first, it’s, again, these are awkward things because it’s like we’re gonna say, we’re going to be transparent about the adoption of every application that we have.

Now. Everyone’s user, everyone’s login. Everyone can see.

Kris Dunn: And for the company that wasn’t the company of seven 70,000 that you mentioned earlier. That was right. Bombardier best success factor is adoption ever at 80% for the normal company. There’s courage in that because you have to say the truth, which is Yeah, like we’re 45% adopted.

William Tincup: Which again it’s as a Catholic you’re not, there’s no such thing as half pregnant. And I’ve said this on stage a thousand times you’ve heard me say this, a feature isn’t a feature unless people use it. So

Kris Dunn: again, so back to money. Back to money. You were gonna tell me something else about money.

I. [00:21:00]

William Tincup: The, the thing is it’s also making it highly personalized. So what motivates Janet versus Tommy? Just ask him, Hey, I can give you, it can equate to the same thing. Like I can give you two days off if you get certified. So the certification thing is we work with the vendor and come up with a test and that’s actually good for the vendors and it’s good for you.

So you come up with a test, you just go, Hey, we’re gonna give you the training, we’re gonna help you with everything. We just want you to be certified. And if you do that for us, it means that you know how to use the application. It doesn’t mean you need to live in the application. It just knows. It means that you know how to turn on the car done.

And if you do that for us, we recognize. That’s outside of what your scope of work is. We understand that and we’re willing to give you a day off or give you your Starbucks gift card or whatever the bid is. It’s what do you need, right? So that you can then take this from 15th on your list [00:22:00] to

Kris Dunn: third.

I like it. See, I’m learning. That’s why I came on the William Tincup podcast.

William Tincup: It’s an to learn. I’m interviewing other people.

Kris Dunn: It’s an opportunity to learn, ask smart questions or just questions. I won’t say they’re smart, but good. I like this.

William Tincup: So the two things that, that I think that most people when they listen to this is just, okay, first of all, it manu you, you manufacture adoption.

You, you can actually manufacture it. And so you have to actually think of this as I’m going to go into the lab and I’m going to create adoption. So one is when you buy technology, there’s all kinds of hidden cost. There’s the cost of training, there’s the cost of of headcount.

There’s a cost of these incentives and things like certifications and stuff like that. So there’s a bunch of more cost to every piece of technology that we buy. Period. End of story Now. The two things that I think can help drive or not think, I know that drive [00:23:00] adoption is to meet people where they are recognizing that this isn’t their job and then giving them something that they want, right?

Whatever it is. Hey, I want to talk to the ceo. Okay, good. I get you. 15 minutes with ceo. Done. What do you want? That’ll get this from 15th to third and two, reverse the technology out in terms of the reporting. To show everybody’s usage so that it isn’t it. I’m not trying to shame people. That isn’t the bid.

It’s showing we’ve made an investment, a significant investment in technology to make their jobs better and to make the experience better. Some people are taking us up on that ex on that, and some people aren’t. And instead of holding that back and holding that, which, which is typical, we hold that in and we look at it and we know, but everyone else doesn’t know.

And I think some of that, if you, if we do both of those things simultaneously, where we meet people where they are, give them something that they need, [00:24:00] recognize is outside of the scope of their job, and then we show them that, hey, this is how other people are using this to the betterment of their whole life and their job.

Now. Now we’ve got, now we’ve got, now we’ve got an interesting situation where people are like, I want to be certified and I wanna do what Tammy’s doing, cuz Tammy seems to be killing it. And oh, by the way, I can see that she’s in the application every day. Okay. Doesn’t take a genius to kinda put those things together.

Kris Dunn: So I think, I know we’re almost out of time. Sure. So then it becomes, what’s the, you put in a lab, really the goal is conversion. And then it’s, you’ve got two or three. Tools in your tool belt, depending on your resources right then, but then you do have to figure out a way to measure it, which I think that’s the big takeaway for me is what is conversion?

You have to define it, right? You have to say how you’re going to measure it, and then you gotta go measure it, and then you can get into things like leaderboards and behavior change. I think probably [00:25:00] we we probably complain about adoption. We probably don’t try and measure it as much as we should as a component of any launch.

William Tincup: Worse than that is we build our business case for the CFO and for our CHROs and all the other folks in the, we build our business case based on a hundred percent adoption. Yeah, so all business cases in HR Tech are all flawed. There isn’t, there’s not a single business case that’s ever been created that’s actually not flawed.

Yeah. Cause they’ve all assumed that everyone will adopt the technology at a hundred percent, which is insane. But even if they were to, diminish that by a percentage, it’s like, again, knowing your numbers and having an idea of what the conversion rate is, going into that ROI case and say, listen, okay, let’s just assume we get 50%.

Adoption. Okay, now what? Now what is the real return and how long does it take to pay off the investment, et cetera. But I, Hey,

Kris Dunn: The last thing I’ve got for you Sure. And then I know we can wrap up, [00:26:00] is the concept of leverage. The only other thing that, that you can do, and it’s not possible in most of the things that folks like us launch, is does someone have to use the tool in question to get work done?

William Tincup: If they if, first of all if you’ve bought technology that they don’t have to use and they can do a superior job without it, then why do we build, then why do we buy the technology?

Kris Dunn: We did it for the promise.

William Tincup: No, but it’s actually it’s a, again, it’s a great reckoning. We the maybe this isn’t a game of adding more technology.

Maybe this is a game of actually using less technology, but more of the feature set of that technology.

Kris Dunn: Yeah. And using what we have for

William Tincup: sure and using what we have maybe we don’t need and again, you’ve bought cars. Like I have you go and you buy cars and they show you stuff and you’re like, oh man, that’s cool.

Yeah, but are you ever going to use it? The back seats are, have warmers on it. [00:27:00] My kids don’t care. Kids. I live in Texas, like I’m never gonna use the seat warmers in the backseat.

Kris Dunn: I’m, what you’re saying resonates with me. I’m Mr. Mid-range. Just gimme the mid-range option. I don’t need the cheap one.

I don’t need the luxury.

William Tincup: Midrange is fine. I have pleather. I can, I can work, I can work with it. Chris Thiss has been fantastic. Thank you so much. I know you’re crazy busy, but thanks for coming on the show and this has been a wonderful

Kris Dunn: discussion. Yeah, I learned, and I’m gonna hold you accountable.

We’re gonna do that. Great moments in HR marketing. Oh yeah.

William Tincup: Soon. We, there’s a video, there’s a VMO video. We’ll just, we’ll pull out the video and then we’ll say, okay, what’s changed in 14 years?

Kris Dunn: Oh, we’ll do like mystery science Theater 3000 or whatever. It’s, that would

William Tincup: be great. We’ll just talk over it.

All right, my friend. Take care of yourself and thanks again for being on the

Kris Dunn: podcast. You too. Thanks, William. [00:28:00]

The RecruitingDaily Podcast

William Tincup

William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


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