The Trends (and Anti-Trends) at the HR Tech Conference

By David Wentworth

It’s been a busy few days at the HR Technology Conference and Expo in Las Vegas, and everybody is placing their bets on analytics. It’s been talked about plenty before, but both solution providers and companies finally appear ready to start putting it into practice.

It doesn’t matter if we are talking about recruiting, performance, learning, or anything else related to Human Capital Management, the conversation inevitably turns to analytics. Companies are desperate for solutions that will give them insight into their talent and how they are impacting the business.

Analytics is not the only hot topic, however. As the event closes, we offer a snapshot of some of the developments and trends that the Brandon Hall Group analyst team of Mike Cooke, Michael Rochelle, Laci Loew, Daria Friedman, Cliff Stevenson and David Wentworth has seen and been discussing with solution providers, clients, members and other attendees:

Predictive analytics: Solutions are popping up everywhere. Whether an organization is interested in modeling hiring data, understanding how talent is developed, forecasting pipeline health, or anticipating the business value of internal job mobility, analytics solutions and tools are becoming plentiful.  Mercer’s Internal Labor Market Analysis and Business Impact Modeling tools are two examples.

By wrapping consulting services around a comprehensive set of people modeling tools, Mercer helps organizations establish measurable links between their people solutions and business results. Mercer is not alone in this space. Thomson’s Darwin Analytics Centre was unveiled this week and IBM showcased their solution as well.

Companies are using both client-centric data (key performance indicators, recruiter/hiring manager data, etc.), external publicly available data, and their own internal learnings based on their client data to help companies identify candidates in terms of likelihood of being a good fit, likelihood of being able to go through the hiring process, likelihood to make a move in the market, and tenure likelihood. Examples of providers using a variety of these techniques to varying degrees are: Gild, PeopleFluent, and Entelo.

Measuring the effectiveness of sourcing is changing in several ways. Smashfly’s recruiting analytics not only tracks the last source of hire (last brand touch point), it also tracks all the sources of influence. This will begin to give HR professionals an understanding of the impact of their brand marketing throughout the job search process. SmartRecruiters’ platform dynamically suggests the best job boards, sites, and tracks sourcing effectiveness back to type of job, recruiter, and geographical market. It also compares spend on a per-applicant, per-hire basis.

As for learning and analytics, Watershed LRS has officially spun off from Rustici Software and is showcasing the power of the xAPI to gather and analyze data. Companies will soon be able to see correlations between multiple data points and sources without needing PhD level data analysts on staff. Learning technology companies, from content providers to LMS platforms, are all looking at their solutions with an eye on analytics. How do we give companies the relevant data they need and help them make sense of it all?

User experience: Another common thread across all the HCM solutions is a focus on the user experience. Interfaces have been smoothed out and modernized. Many solutions have distilled the majority of user interactions down to one or two clicks, which is essentially the Nirvana of user experience.  Search for most solutions is also getting better, faster and smarter. Since search is probably the most commonly used function for a platform after a user scans the landing page, providers have been working diligently to make sure search results are targeted, relevant and easy to understand.

Video interviewing: HireVue has released video interviewing and video-based coaching to build high performance teams. Montage boasts of new partnerships with SuccessFactors and IQNavigator joining its already impressive partner ecosystem to offer video and voice interviewing purpose-built to transform talent acquisition. And then there is WePow, which offers yet another video interviewing solution that accommodates employer branding messages and personalized interview questions.

With Millennials and digital natives in mind, all solutions are mobile ready and friendly. These digital interviewing solutions enable organizations to hire better talent, more quickly and effectively. Using scenario-based questions based on organizational competencies, hiring managers are asking candidates to respond to real work situations, thus improving the quality of hire. Digital interviews allow a rapid – often 2 days or less – cycle between interview date and next steps and eliminating process inefficiency with which HR teams have struggled for years.

Cliff Stevenson, Principal Analyst for Workforce Management at Brandon Hall Group, noticed an interesting trend – the anti-trend:

“After talking to over 30 companies (and probably close to 100 people) at HR Tech, I think what strikes me more than the similarities and general trends (analytics, social, user experience, real-time updating, integration etc.) are the companies that differentiate themselves by flying directly in the face of those trends. It is one thing to see competitive advantage in specialization of either your product or the market you serve, it is quite another to find advantage by deliberately offering the opposite of your competitors.

“I might meet 10 companies that talk about integrating HR data with other data in the organization or external data sources, and then one that is determined to keep their data siloed and intentionally segregated. Or the time I met a company that didn’t have account managers or customization, specifically so customers could handle their own problems. Of course, this isn’t how they would word it, and they do make strong cases for creating products that seem counter to the trend line, but it does make me wonder how many people that don’t have a chance to meet so many different companies might believe that these outlier approaches are actually the norm.”

Reprinted from the Brandon Hall Group blog series

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