Blockchain, AI, or Squirrel on a Wheel?
It's the Chad & Cheese Podcast's first invasion of the StaffingTec conference. We corralled the Founder, CEO and pod lover, Maurice Fuller to talk about the event, Blockchain, AI and if those words really matter?
This podcast series brought to you by the super smart people and tech over at Jobcase.
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Chad: We caught up with StaffingTec's founder Maurice Fuller at the Monster after party in Nashville. Check it out.
Chad: Sponsored by our friends at Jobcase.
Joel: Yo, Chad. Got a question for you.
Joel: Say I'm looking to hire hourly workers for hard-to-fill jobs. Where should I go?
Maurice: Easy. Jobcase.
Joel: Okay. All right. Now, let's say I've tried the job boards and all I'm getting is clicks, and I what I really want are qualified candidates, actual people. Where should I go?
Chad: Dude. Jobcase.
Joel: Now, what if I want the team who is helping me with all this sourcing to be really, really, really smart. And before you answer, keep in mind, I'm talking MENSA smart, like MIT-affiliated data scientists and people who are at the forefront of machine learning. Who you got?
Chad: Oh, my God, dude. It's Jobcase. Jobcase. Look, with 100 million members in their community, active and passive job seekers, a huge team of data scientists who are experts at targeting and connecting employers with the right candidates, the answer is always going to be Jobcase.
Joel: I dig it. I'm picking up what you're putting down, but what if-
Chad: Hard stop. Jobcase. See for yourself why the answer always comes back to Jobcase for all your hiring needs. Learn more at jobcase.com/hire. That's jobcase.com/hire.
Announcer: Hide your kids. Lock the doors. You're listening to HR's most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheesman are here to punch the recruiting industry right where it hurts, complete with breaking news, brash opinion and loads of snark. Buckle up, boys and girls. It's time for The Chad & Cheese podcast.
Chad: All right, Nashville. We're here with Maurice Fuller, right?
Chad: See, that was easy to remember.
Joel: People call him the gangster of love.
Chad: Some people call him Maurice.
Joel: Please tell me that's not the first time you've heard that.
Maurice: It's not the first time I've heard that.
Joel: How many times you get Maurice?
Maurice: It never-
Joel: A lot, right?
Maurice: I never get tired of it.
Joel: I can tell.
Maurice: Steve Miller.
Joel: Unfortunately, our listeners can't see your face.
Joel: And the dismay that you're showing me right now.
Chad: We have to ensure that everybody understands that's Steve Miller
Band, by the way.
Maurice: Steve Miller, yeah. Good stuff.
Chad: Maurice, you are the founder, chief bottle washer, I mean everything-
Chad: Janitor of StaffingTec. What is StaffingTec?
Joel: And welcome to The Chad & Cheese Podcast.
Maurice: Well, thank you.
Chad: Longtime listener, I understand.
Maurice: Longtime listener. You guys are awesome, and I love your podcast and I love the dialogue. It's smart conversation that's needed in our industry. So, thank you for all the things that you guys do and bring to the industry.
Joel: You're welcome, Maurice. But this is about you.
Chad: It's all about you.
Joel: Not about us.
Chad: It's all about you, Maurice.
Joel: You're already on the show. You don't need to butter us up anymore.
Maurice: All right, all right.
Chad: I don't mind it though. I don't mind it. Keep it going, Maurice.
Joel: That's true.
Chad: Okay, so tell us about StaffingTec.
Maurice: Let's talk about StaffingTec. So, StaffingTec is a conference. We do it once a year and, like the name suggests, it is focused on staffing technology. So, we think that technology is a really big driver of staffing firm success, and we want to create a forum for staffing firm leaders to learn about staffing technology and to help them make better decisions to help their firms grow faster and operate more profitably.
Joel: And how long have you been doing the show and what's your background that sort of was the genesis of this?
Maurice: Yeah, how did this come about?
Maurice: Okay, so I have been in the staffing industry now for 25 years. I started as a recruiter.
Chad: Holy shit.
Maurice: Yeah, exactly.
Chad: Did you start when you were 10?
Maurice: I started in the ancient days, literally with piles of resumes.
Joel: Did you use a rotary phone to call candidates when you first started?
Maurice: Just about.
Joel: Just about?
Chad: Morse Code.
Maurice: Yep. If I had started any earlier, I would've been hand-delivering resumes to customers.
Joel: Pony Express.
Maurice: So, I literally didn't have a computer in the beginning. It was fax machines and newspaper ads and dialing, and from there it's evolved very rapidly into extremely advanced technology. So, it's fascinating how the industry has evolved and what I said this morning in my opening remarks, that staffing firms are becoming tech firms, whether they realize it or not.
Maurice: Staffing firm owners, for the most part, they think that a staffing firm is a collection of people enabled by technology to deliver staffing services. But it's actually increasingly becoming the reverse. It's technology that delivers the staffing services and the human beings only become involved where they absolutely have to. There are more and more examples of staffing firms where orders are being filled automatically, without almost any human intervention.
Maurice: And so that's the kind of the new standard is staffing firms that are operating completely autonomously.
Joel: So, at what point do we not need staffing firms anymore if everything's autonomous?
Maurice: Yesterday we had our blockchain summit. It was the world's first conference ever for the staffing and recruiting industry on blockchain, and that was very interesting.
Chad: All day?
Maurice: All day, yeah. So, we had 15 speakers and panels and it was very intense and we brought all the smartest people together that were involved in blockchain and staffing and recruiting. And there were so many insights that came out of that. But one of the insights is blockchain is designed to dis-intermediate. It was originally designed to take the U.S. government out from cryptocurrency and other governments.
Maurice: And so I've been thinking all lot about the impact that blockchain is likely to have on the staffing industry, and I think, as a whole, blockchain is going to make the staffing industry more efficient. It's actually going to grow our industry. But it's not going to be a rising tide for all ships. I think staffing firms are going to have to take advantage of blockchain, and in some cases they're going to have to kind of rethink incentives, because blockchain actually reverses and flips upside down some of the incentives that we traditionally know about.
Chad: Don't you think that we are focusing way too much on a term and not what it does? I mean, because we talk about blockchain. We don't really talk about the advantages of blockchain without ... I keep hearing AI, AI, but it's like, just talk about the advantages. I don't need you to slap blockchain or AI on it.
Maurice: Yeah, so I'm totally with you. So, for example, there was a panel on AI today. In a lot of ways, I just think that it's a solution, and it has magic that does whatever it does and like who cares whether it's machine learning or AI or blockchain or cloud-
Chad: Or a squirrel on a wheel behind the thing.
Maurice: A squirrel on a wheel or a bunch of elves that are performing the service. It does technological magic and it delivers a result. And so I think that there's too much discussion about is it AI or is it semantic? What's the underlying technology? In a lot of ways, who cares? The engineers have created this magic that creates a great solution and let's leave it at that.
Joel: So, before you were rudely interrupted by Chad, you were talking about how-
Chad: It's what I do.
Joel: You were talking about how ... not Bitcoin.
Chad: Would you like another bourbon?
Joel: Blockchain, yes. Give me another bourbon. How blockchain was going to save the staffing industry from being obsolete by automation.
Maurice: Right. Well, it's one of those things that's going to make us more efficient. So, I can go into a bit of detail on what blockchain will bring.
Maurice: Blockchain, in my mind, it's synonymous with trust. It will bring more trust to the staffing industry. Right now there's all kinds of trust issues that we have. Trusting candidates. We know that many candidates misstate their credentials on their resume. We have trust issues with competitors, trust issues with clients, trust issues with suppliers. So, what blockchain does is it tightens up the whole relationships and it ensures a higher level of trust and delivery.
Maurice: So, if we can make our industry more trusted and more efficient, it's going to take less gross margin to cover our operating expenses. Our operating expenses as a percentage of revenue should go down. So, it's going to make us more efficient and if you look at supply and demand, if we're more efficient, more customers are going to be buying our services. So, it's going to make us a better industry, but again, everyone has to buy into blockchain who wants to succeed.
Joel: So, are you saying you'll be more profitable but there may not be more staffing firms or staffing professionals in five to 10 years?
Maurice: I don't know that it will make us more profitable, because I think at the end of the day we're going to be ... the staffing firms are going to be basically getting returns based on return on capital invested in the firm. I don't know that that part of the equation is going to change, but I do think that it will make us more efficient so we can deliver our services with lower operating expense.
Chad: So, who should come to StaffingTec?
Maurice: That's a really great question, and thanks for asking that. This conference is specifically designed for staffing industry leaders and staffing industry executives and also individuals that work within IT for staffing firms.
Maurice: Yeah, so this is to identify solutions to help grow the staffing firm faster and operate more efficiently.
Maurice: And there's a lot of staffing firms that need to improve their staffing technology stack, and we're here to help. I talked to a staffing firm owner today. He said, "Maurice, we went to your conference last year. We grew 80%, our revenue 80%."
Maurice: Isn't that crazy.
Chad: Well, was it a two people ... a two-person firm and they went to like ten?
Maurice: No, this was a big company.
Chad: Yeah, okay.
Maurice: I said, so you got some technology solutions that you implemented from Seattle ... our Seattle event? "Yeah, yeah, we implemented a whole bunch of solutions." And did it help. I mean, did that play a role in the growth? He said, "Yeah, absolutely."
Maurice: So, when I hear stories like that, that really makes me happy. Not everyone's going to come to StaffingTec and grow 80% next year, but it will certainly help staffing firms grow, and certainly it's a very selective group of people that come here and that group is going to be aware of what's out there. And they're going to succeed in the years ahead because they're paying attention to technology, which is really where it's all about. Technology is really the key to success in our industry now.
Joel: So, your conference has a unique feature called Matchmaker-
Joel: ... where vendors can have a table. They set up schedules for basically pitches to people. I've noticed a hodgepodge of solutions. I mean, it's all over the map, but if you could say outside of, I guess blockchain and AI and automation, what are some other major trends or vendors that you see really lighting it up in the industry?
Maurice: Okay, so I think the number one trend that's happening in the staffing industry is what we call the Uberization of staffing or the digital transformation of the staffing experience. There's a couple ways of phrasing that, but the bottom line is that ... and I'm holding up my iPhone right now ... everything is moving onto the mobile phone. You have to have a great mobile phone experience for candidates. And it's critically important that you have a mobile app and you engage with your candidates on the mobile app. So, you're being compared against Ebay or Amazon and so your mobile app for your firm has to be up to that level.
Maurice: Not only that, when you engage with a candidate and you call them, they want to be able to text back on that number. So, they want the same kind of experience working with you like that would be engaging with a friend, but too often we have this kind of older technology from the past that's disconnected from the modern mobile phone experience.
Maurice: So, what we're seeing is that staffing firms, especially in light industrial and labor, that are using mobile are just crushing it. They're doing super well, and it's just changing the economics of the staffing industry. It's changing the job of recruiters from proactively qualifying candidates. Once they're qualified then you just push out opportunities to them through the mobile app. It's a-
Joel: So, just like everything else, messaging is sort of taking over the staffing world.
Maurice: Exactly. It's a huge game changer. The number two trend is chatbots, and what's interesting is that chatbots are actually becoming more and more like digital assistants.
Chad: Yes, and engagement ... really focused on engagement, not just a ... What is a chatbot? It's all about the engagement that candidates might have, that recruiter might have, employees might have. I mean, just all the way through, yeah.
Maurice: Exactly, and the results, the ROI, that staffing firms are seeing from bots is very, very significant.
Maurice: So, I would say the areas where we're seeing the highest ROI is the Uberization of staffing, mobile apps ... and we have multiple vendors here in that area ... and also in AI and chatbots.
Maurice: And that's an interesting area, AI and chatbots sort of working together, and there's so many different chatbots out there that ... It's interesting. Even the chatbot vendors barely understand the differences between the different chatbot vendors, because that area's evolving so rapidly right now.
Chad: So, this year, obviously if our listeners have not had an opportunity to come to Nashville and enjoy StaffingTec, where's 2020 going to be?
Joel: Is it always in Nashville?
Chad: No, last year it was in Seattle.
Maurice: Yeah, Seattle, Nashville, and-
Chad: What's next year?
Maurice: We haven't settled on 2020, but we'll announce that to the world once we have the location. It'll be somewhere on the eastern half of the U.S.
Chad: Okay. You'll have to let us know.
Joel: And how many attendees are here today?
Maurice: We have north of 200 attendees and then that doesn't include the vendors that are here.
Joel: It's a very intimate show.
Maurice: We like it that way.
Joel: I say that as a compliment.
Maurice: Thank you.
Joel: I mean, there are real conversations happening. I love the Matchmaker.
Maurice: Thank you.
Joel: Sit at a table and talk to a vendor as opposed to the trade show booth sort of model.
Maurice: Yeah, we like to keep it real.
Joel: Yeah, now having 1,000+ people I think it would overrun the vendors.
Maurice: It might not work so well, yeah.
Joel: I mean, you do your own thing, but I would think if you got too big it would be difficult to pull off the model that you currently have.
Maurice: Yeah. That's a good problem to have, and when we get to that point we'll ...
Joel: We'll talk about that in the next podcast.
Maurice: We'll talk about that when we get there.
Chad: Excellent. Well, we appreciate you taking the time, Maurice. Thanks for having us out.
Maurice: I'm really honored to be on your show. I have such great respect for you guys. It's really fantastic to be sitting between the two of you and talking. So, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
Joel: Some call him the gangster of love. Maurice, thanks for being on the show and thanks for inviting us.
Chad: Maurice. Thanks, man.
Maurice: Thank you.
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