Big Picture Interviews
Peter Clayton talks with Jonathan Weiner, Executive Producer of A Real World Documentary on the Staffing Profession
As anyone in the recruiting or staffing profession will tell you, misconceptions and misinformation run rampant. A new film documenting the "day-in-the-life" of a real recruiting professional aims to show how the business really works.
I met Jonathan Weiner in New York several years ago and was impressed by the quality of the film and video work he was doing, and his success in executive search and staffing. A rare combination. We had agreed to stay in touch. However, he returned to North Carolina, I returned to Connecticut, and that was the end of our contact - until several weeks ago, when I interviewed Karen Russo, executive search and sourcing professional. Karen moved her business, International Executive Research & Search - IIPE - from Stamford, CT to Playa del Carmen, Mexico. I wanted to know why! (See the link on the sidebar). Karen, a born people-connector, did just that!
So here's the backstory: Jonathan Weiner and his partner at Mez Media, Jim Shaki, wanted to showcase a high performer in the recruiting and staffing industry with documented success. They chose to profile truly a successful staffing and recruiting professional with proven accomplishments, a stellar resume, real clients and the type of integrity that the industry values most. They chose Jenifer Lambert, vice president, sales and marketing with TERRA Staffing Group. Jenifer has been a member of the Pinnacle Society, a consortium of the nation's top producing recruiters and is a noted trainer and public speaker.
What's Bill Kutik's most memorable HR Tech experience? NEW - Watch the video Now!
It's a podcast. It's a vodcast. It's a curtain call for the the leading independent analyst of the HR technology marketplace with specialties in HCM, Recruiting, Talent Management, Social Networking, and debunking the latest shiny thing. Good luck doing a demo tap-dance for this guy.
Bill Kutik has been technology columnist for Human Resource Executive magazine for 24 years (seven years for HREOnline dot com. He is also the host of the independent bi-weekly Bill Kutik Radio Show, where he interviews industry luminaries. Bill is perhaps best known as the founding co-chair of the magazine's famous HR Technology Conference & Expo, where he is stepping down after October's event after 16 years, but continuing his other industry activities. Which is a polite way of saying that he's looking for new and exciting ways to stir up some trouble.
Every year, Bill invents new ways to engage the audience at the HR Technology Conference. According to Kutik, "Why have a panel with a bunch of people who agree with one another?
That's no fun!" This year, Bill will be hosting a Tonight Show format (including a live band), organizing a new HR Tech Talks segment (vaguely resembling TED Talks), and moderating a Next Gen Influencers Panel: "Getting Out from Behind the Baby Boomers." Which is exactly what Kutik is trying to do by turning his co-chair responsibilities over to Steve Boese.
I am pleased to offer TotalPicture Radio readers, listeners and viewers a $500 discount off the onsite rate for the HR Technology Conference. When you register at http://bit.ly/HRTech13 , just use Promo Code CLAYTON13 (all caps) to pay $1,395 instead of $1,895.
If you still don't believe Big Data is about to impact everything you do, and change the human resource management game - you need to listen to this.
Here's a quote from a recent New York Times article titled Big Data, Trying to Build Better Workers: "Employers often avoid hiring candidates with a history of job-hopping or those who have been unemployed for a while. The past is prologue, companies assume. There's one problem, though: the data show that it isn't so. An applicant's work history is not a good predictor of future results."
And that, ladies and gentlmen, is just the tip of the HR Big Data iceberg.
Workforce analysis, Big Data for HR, and predictive HR analytics are being discussed as necessity for the future HR organizations. But what is big data for HR, who is using data smartly, and how is impacting recruiting teams each day?
In this Big Picture podcast on TotalPicture Radio, Andrew Gadomski, founder of Aspen Advisors and leading expert in the emerging field of work-force science (a k a Big Data), will discuss with producer/host Peter Clayton:
What is big data?
Why is it important for HR?
How will it directly affect recruiting leaders?
How will it directly affect recruiters?
How will it affect HR outsourcing and HR technology providers?
Why is big data for HR suddenly available?
How are companies trying to get a handle on big data for HR?
What is the linkage between the data and the work that teams do every day?
Andrew Gadomski Big Data TotalPicture Radio Transcript
Hi. This is Peter Clayton. Welcome to Big Data Channel podcast here on TotalPicture Radio. I am in New York City today with Andrew Gadomski who is the founder of Aspen Advisors. Aspen is a consulting and HR technology company that specializes in providing businesses with workplace analytic tools and processes they need to succeed. Over the past couple of months Andrew and I have been talking with Anna Brekka actually about launching a Big Data Channel here on TotalPicture Radio and turning the microphone over to Andrew and having him interview a number of the thought leaders in this space because as you know if you're attending any of the recruiting or HR conferences or events this year, big data is always on the agenda and it's something that a lot of people really don't understand. It's a term that is very confusing to a lot of people.
Workforce analytics, big data for HR and predictive HR analytics are being discussed as necessity for the future of HR organizations. But what is big data for HR? Who is using data smartly? This program that we're going to be launching this year is dedicated to that discussion by talking with both leaders and recruiters in the talent acquisition space on how data is affecting their organizations, their performance and their careers.
Andrew, thank you so much for speaking with us today here on TotalPicture Radio.
Andrew: My pleasure. Thanks for having me, Peter.
Peter: Let's start at the beginning talking about big data for HR. Again as I said in the introduction, this can be a very confusing topic for folks.
Andrew: It's not a very well-defined topic and that's part of the problem is that I think recruiting, especially in HR, there's a lot of terminology that floats in the marketplace and there's not a place to necessarily have definitions or a glossary, and big data for HR is certainly not absent from that list. Really because there's no definition what you've got is people struggling with trying to get a hold of their metrics, understand what metrics to track and then realize that big data does not equal metrics.
Big data, for lack of a better definition, is data that you can't easily necessarily get your hands around or a score card and it's constantly changing. So you need powerful analytic tools or intelligence tools to have you sort through what is not thousands of lines of data, but potentially millions. That's what's, I think, a little scary to the marketplace is they don't know where to start because everybody's starting at the same time, and it's well related to the cloud in that we know that we can store unlimited amounts of data now and there's so much noise that you can't quite get your hands around it.
Peter: A lot of the research that I've been doing for this interview I was surprised to learn that there is so much what they refer to as dirty data out there and that is a real challenge in just getting into this stuff is first you've got to clean this stuff to make it usable.
Andrew: Part of that comes from really over the past 15 years human resources has spent a lot of time implementing systems of record, whether it's a performance management system or it's an applicant tracking system, CRMs have been the rage for a number of years now. And then with all the social media, what we are is we're engaging a lot of data and a lot of systems at once but because we're not necessarily looking at that data, there's really no one checking on what's going in or how often it's going in.
And so now what we have is you've got analytic tools, business intelligent platforms that allow you to look at that data relatively easily and then you realize how dirty it is. You realize that's what's been put into it is old or should be archived or isn't effective and now you realize that I need to build processes with my teams such that they don't put in dirty data because I can see the data all the time and that's a real problem for a lot of HR organizations right now.
Peter: In the brief you sent me for this interview you talked about that there are really three things at its core which define the whole big data business around HR and recruiting, which includes things like predictive analytics. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Andrew: I think I'll quote or steal some ideas from other thought leaders in this response. There's been a lot of talk about big data and one of the things that other thought leaders are talking about is how there's data that you look at transactionally or in terms of execution and it's a little bit more reactive. Then the next stage is linking it to strategic HR organizations and then using it to make some other types of strategic decisions. Then there's talk about the next step is talking about more talent management and workforce analytics and then using it for predictive analysis, and I think that's correct.
Predictive analysis using big data is one of the keys and that's really where people who are doing workforce analytics or workforce planning or in HR really need to spend a lot of time that they can make different types of decisions about the workforce itself and what they're going to add or how they're going to resource that workforce using big data.
That leads us to the second part, which is making sure you're fusing in data from other functions within the business. HR is spending a lot of time trying to figure out its own data but it's one of the few functions that permeate throughout an organization. So you need to add customer service data, sales data, IT data, customer data and that's a new place for HR. They haven't been asking for that type of data ever and now all of a sudden they're going to start asking for cost and quality and information about customers and the organizations, other functions are going to say "Wait a minute, why am I giving you this data? Why is it related to HR?" That's going to be interesting problem for a lot of different companies and there isn't a roadmap. This is a problem that's going to be unique to each organization because it's politically loaded.
I think the third one is then you've got to use the first two. So you've got to use this concept of predictive analysis and having competencies around doing that and then gathering data from all the different organizations and then making decisions about how you're going to structure the workforce in the future. When you understand what's going on with your customers or how engagement is going on with your customers because of HR processes or you understand how quickly you can recruit because of recruiting processes as an HR process, you can make decisions on am I going to develop people, am I going to acquire people, am I going to outsource, am I going to hold off on this project, are we going to develop this product, or oh wow we have a lot of different skill sets we didn't realize we had across an organization, we should develop this type of product. And that's really where HR wants to be and it really has the ability to get there but you have to take the first few steps.
Peter: Something that I've been concentrating on over the last couple of months is around the candidate experience and employer branding and that is a key element I believe to what we're talking about here today and how HR and recruiters need to work with the marketing and advertising departments who are out there perhaps managing the brand on the social networks, the Twitter feeds and the Facebook and the LinkedIn so that they really understand and can participate in the conversation that the marketing departments are having out there with their customers and potential candidates.
Andrew: It's interesting you say that. That's absolutely true, especially if you're a retail oriented brand.
Peter: Yeah, like a Verizon.
Andrew: Exactly. So if you're like a Verizon or if you're a bank or anything like that where you have lots of customers most of those organizations have field operations where not only are they staffing tens of thousands of people, they have hundreds of thousands of customers all of which who could be employees and vice versa. All of them could be customers. So the connection between marketing data and HR data has the opportunity to be very, very tight.
In fact just in the last two weeks I've had a number of senior talent leaders call me and say "We're thinking about restructuring how marketing and recruiting or our employment brand people interrelate. Should I lead that effort? Should marketing lead that effort? How does that relate to our data? What should we give up?" I appreciate the question because it's very relevant right now that even I get questions like that from senior leaders on how they're going to engage with marketing in regards to social media but really in regards to data.
Peter: Back to this whole conversation about predictive analytics there are organizations out there now building software that can go out and scour the social networks and predict when an employee is going to leave their current role and perhaps may be looking for a new job. A lot of the things around the predictive analytics that I've read about are if there's a particular function within an organization where there's a lot of turnover you can use predictive analytics to go in and really analyze that and figure out why is there so much churn in this particular department and put some metrics towards it so you can realize what you need to do with your pipeline to be able to fill those positions as they become available.
Andrew: Well it's interesting how the predictive analytics are probably going to challenge a lot of the HR processes that we have now. If you look at analytics and you know that there's a tendency for people to leave after a certain amount of time or you know that there might be a group of people who are going to leave, the natural reaction is we've got to keep our pipeline up.
Well the thing is with big data, actually that may not be the way you think about it. What you might want to look at is how does this impact us financially, how does this impact customer service and then how does this impact service or product development? Maybe what this means is you change your projects, you change your initiative to accommodate that natural turn rather than trying to actually thread the needle of lowering retention. If you actually knew that your retention on an associate for an example is normally 24 months and people say well we need to know month 21 through 24 we have to be pipelining I challenge that and say if you really know these things then why not build a project plan around initiatives that are based on 24 month cycles, rather than just focusing on the fact that you need to replace the team member, maybe you change the initiatives so the team members when they leave the projects are over. That's where big data really comes into play. It's almost impossible to do that if you only look at HR data, but if you look at business data you can start doing those types of things.
Peter: Andrew, this whole conversation around big data, it didn't creep up on us; it just dropped on our heads, right? It's sort of like the conversation around mobile, where two years ago nobody was talking about it and today it is the topic of conversation. How has this happened? How has this evolved so quickly to be a concern and something that HR and recruiting specifically really need to pay attention to?
Andrew: I think how it manifested is believe it or not I think the recession had a really good push for data because it forced major corporations to squeeze their resources and they had already been operating in a somewhat lean environment and they squeezed it out and they realized that they have all this data lying around, they have to get a hold of it and of course then people started using it and they get a competitive advantage.
Right now talent will continue to be a shortage. Talent will continue to be tough to get people, but we have lots of data. So it's a natural resource to start investigating and with things like the cloud and better security and quite honestly the fact that you can control it, it's a lot easier to control data than it is to control people, by the way. It just is.
Peter: That's true.
Andrew: So you can look at it and you can say let's shape it and let's mold it, okay this is a resource, let's use it and we just haven't been. So it doesn't take a lot in a downward spiraling economy to look at your resources and try to squeeze everything out of it you can. So that's how it kind of dropped on us.
What was the second part of your question?
Peter: The second part of my question is what are some of the things that recruiters and HR professionals need to do proactively now to start implementing some of the things that they need to do to get their heads around this and to get resources in-house to manage this data?
Andrew: I think the first thing is don't make the mistake of immediately transitioning to different systems. That's a red herring and I think that it's easy to hear that and say 'we'll change your system of record and then thereby will change your reporting problem.' Well I'm here to tell you that that's not true. That data could be exported and pulled into any number of intelligence platforms and moved around and all kinds of companies have internal organizations that can help weave that data. They can use the cloud.
So don't do the silver bullet thing, which is we'll get a new ATS and that will solve all of our data problems. We've tried that before with other problems and that's not necessarily the case. What we need to do is we need to first allow for time, or you invest in time where we're going to look at analytics, we're going to make decisions based on data and we've got to slow down enough to actually stop, look at the data, analyze it, make decisions, have conversations about it. And the problem is we don't have a lot of competencies out there that the people have invested in to do that.
So the first thing is slow down, see what you have, start making decisions based on it, see how valid it is and start using the right kind of governance on a regular basis to do that. Start making the decisions. That's the first part of, I think, the step.
The second one is get the rest of the business involved. If you only focus on HR data, you're going to have a lot of deaf ears in the organization because they're saying "Well, that's your data." Even though I own it and it's in my function what's going on in my business, if you start linking in financial data, operational data, safety data, those types of things and say "Look, we're doing this HR process and we're seeing these things over here improve," you're going to have tremendous credibility much more than you would without this and you're going to get a better audience.
And so that's what we need to start doing. And those are two really big things to do. I mean that's probably enough.
Peter: Right, absolutely. You brought up something here that certainly has been going on for the last couple of years and that is the Oracles and SAPs of the world are buying up everybody. There's just a tremendous amount of consolidation going on with the ATS providers and the big data base systems, the IBMs, the Oracles, SAPs in an attempt, I guess, to try to be able to bundle everything together in one nice little package and market to their clients.
Andrew: It's a very smart move. I like what SAP is doing from an on-premise perspective and how they're thinking about keeping things safe and secure. What Oracle is doing makes a lot of sense with their HCM Fusion products and those types of things, these are all highly valuable. Having a system and having it all work together is highly valuable. Again, though, you have to still use the governance - and I'm not a big fan of that word but I've used it twice - but you have to have that discipline to make sure that you're not making dirty data with that system.
These are very, very expensive and you have to realize that even if you go to those types of systems or if you consolidate to a handful of systems, recruiters especially use all kinds of other systems and methods to engage data. Just social media alone, you have to aggregate that data. That's not going to necessarily aggregate an Oracle for you very quickly and not to pick on them.
LinkedIn is another example. LinkedIn has really been playing around with who can pull data out of their system and pull it into another system. They've been struggling with trying to figure that formula out. And so just those two things - social media and LinkedIn - recruiters spend as much time doing those things as they do in an ATS.
And so if you can't integrate those key things for recruiters anyway, that's why I caution this whole concept of moving to a different system of record is use what you have and if those things aren't working because you're not inputting good data, or people aren't using it, well, then get a different system of record that's more innovative. But the consolidation makes a lot of sense for companies that want to make this move. It's a significant investment, the chief executive can really wrap their hands around it, and he or she can say to the organization 'we're going to spend X million dollars to get this done. So here's that investment. Don't mess it up.' And you can hold some accountability because of the spend.
I think it's a strong move what SAP has done, I think what Oracle has done in combining and acquiring these businesses and success factors and everybody else consolidated, it makes a lot of sense, but you've got to have leadership kind of say if we're going to do this, we're going to do it right. What's the plan? How are we going to translate that down to the individual contributors, how are we going to monitor it, because it's easy to spend a few million dollars and say it's "working" (as I throw up air quotes on a podcast) but how do you know? You really have to know.
Peter: And certainly, one of the big dilemmas I've heard from HR leaders for the past 5 years is that data is all over the place. It's on Excel spreadsheets, it's on systems that don't talk to one another and they're just trying to figure out how they can somehow get everything to talk with one another and play nice together, right? Is that a right assessment?
Andrew: That's a very good assessment and the fact is that from a big data perspective, it's likely not all going to sit in one system anyway.
Andrew: You're going to have data coming just simply from a vendor, and that would have to integrate with your system of record or it may or may not. And so the thing about data is it really separates into two pieces. You have fixed data - let's call it that - and these are things that are in columns and rows. You can basically export it. It might be tens of thousands of rows and tens of thousands of columns but we've input data into a field and that could be exported into you're a fancy Excel spreadsheet, basically. There's lots of that.
And then there's the variable data which is data that's usually connected to that system of record like a résumé. So we attach a résumé and maybe it is parsed and then maybe it is put into fixed data but many times those are just documents sitting in the tool. The thing is you actually can go through variable data and you can pull it altogether and you can scan it, you can pipeline it, and you can move it around and you can do the same thing with fixed data but you have to realize that this is a straightforward process, very similar to climbing a mountain, though. You can kind of see it but you have to have the right tools and the right equipment, the right training to get there.
I think the concept of we can never do it and I've heard that a few times in the last few weeks from some of the HRO providers we talked to and they say "This is impossible. We've got 300 companies working with us and how are we going to see all their data?" You can see it but once it's there it's great but you've got to make the effort to get there. You can do it. It's just a process that most HR organizations say we can never do, but of course you can. It's just data.
Peter: Let's talk a little bit about outsourcing and the contingent workforce which with some companies now is up to 20% of their workforce. That's another trend we've seen over the last few years with this recession is companies aren't hiring FT employees. They're bringing people in on a contingency basis and if they don't know who their FT employees are, they sure don't know who their contingency employees are. So I think that's another reason and another excellent way of looking at setting up these data systems so you can really understand who it is you've got working for you and what their role is and what their expertise is.
Andrew: Absolutely. When you think about big data for HR, you certainly don't want to limit the data associated with just your employees. You really want to look at what data do we have for our contingent workforce, for our vendors, or services that we outsource to in general and also our technology that might be replacing human capital, right? So those are our resources that are doing work. And if you can cull data from all those places, that's when that predictive analysis, pulling data from other functions and then allowing for making workforce decisions, those three things we talked about earlier - if you absolutely should pull that data. In fact, that's how you're going to really make decisions as an HR leader in the foreseeable future is I've got all this data from who worked for us in general and here's how we should then reinvest in that workforce and here's how we know because we've got the data from the contingent labor group. We know what their capability is. Let's not go ahead and hire 25 people or 2500 people to do this. These guys are doing a better job than we are. The price is a little bit of a premium but on the 5-year horizon, it looks like we'll make more money. So we're going to go ahead and we're going to outsource it deliberately.
We've used data to make that decision because we have daily performance of that group. And that's where HR is really going to move to. We've always talked about let's have a seat at the strategy table, right? HR is everywhere; 70% of a company is SG&A and there's a lot of people working at companies and HR is going to be in a really good spot to make those kinds of decisions soon.
Peter: Talk to me a little bit, Andrew, about your applications. You not just do consulting work but you have developed applications to help companies organize this data and give them meaningful reports.
Andrew: A few years ago as we've been doing efficiency consulting within HR and within recruiting, we would go back to our customers and we said how are things going, and they were really struggling monitoring their progress after we had put in an initiative, because we leave. So they have to keep running and they're trying to keep it running and they kept on fumbling on their data.
What we decided to is make it very easy for them to pull the data both fixed and variable out of their systems and into a location that they could dashboard it and scorecard it, look at key performance indicators and that's actually one of the first key steps is having an application that allows you to feed in your ATS, your HRIS, customer service data, sales data - whatever kind of data you need to make those HR decisions and have what we call data visibility, right?
So you really can see it. Now, it might be dirty but at least you know it is and so then you start to clean it because you can see it, right, not just hope it gets better. So we have an application that does specifically that and we have to create that solution not only to operate in the cloud which is very popular but we also had to make it operate on-premise which is an older term that people have been talking about SAS or software as a service for so long, we had to make it on-premise as well.
So the cost structure is the same whether you do a hosted solution or you do on-premise but there are customers who are going to say "We're not going to throw any sales data or customer service data or customer data through a firewall. We're going to keep that in our own security."
So we had to develop actual software with our partners Metric Insights. So we had actually developed that with them and make it so that they can put it on a server that they control which is really unusual. You don't hear about that a lot right now but security is probably as important if not more important than just the analytics now. I mean you can appreciate that these applications, whatever we build, if it controls all this data, you can see all this data, it's an easy target and you've got to have the right kind of security settings around it.
Peter: Well, aren't there robust security systems for cloud-based systems as well?
Andrew: Oh, of course. I mean you can even do... It's not said very often but the concept of a private cloud where you can have your cloud solution, you can have that account, those are very, very secure systems but the thing is is that some systems that are legacy are only on-premise and so security organizations have decided to not push that through the firewall and maintain it behind the firewall. And so some cloud solutions don't allow for that. And it's harder for an organization. So we've just decided to make our application very portable because we're not going to dictate to a major corporation with 25,000 locations or 5,000 locations what their security setting should be. We're just going to say what are your security settings, and you can put this any way you want.
Peter: For companies that aren't embracing what's going on today, this is going to be very disruptive for them and they're really going to be behind the 8 ball if they don't start really putting some resources and some serious thinking behind how they want to manage all of this big data.
Andrew: Yeah, I think it is. I think it's disruptive for a couple of reasons and I like that word. The first thing that's disruptive is the technologies themselves that can analyze this data. They're not necessarily because you can get data from anywhere and kind of move it anywhere, you may not need to change your system of record to see your data. So that concept itself is disruptive to HR that you mean I don't need to change my system in order to see this data and get everything I want? No, you don't. That concept is disruptive.
I think why also it's disruptive is this is probably as important as the talent shortage or the war for talent to really age myself that we've been talking about for years. It's really one of the last resources that we haven't really squeezed on and companies are looking for that competitive edge are really going to get a hold of big data and understand their workforce, understand engagement, understand their processes, they're going to see lots of savings. The ones who decide to not do this are going to find themselves having internal questions around their pricing strategies.
They're going to say we feel like we're being squeezed. Our profitability is suffering, because the competition is going to be able to pull those resources together, squeeze the data, pull their markups down and become more price-competitive in the marketplace and they're going to get more business. It's just that simple. Those who don't embrace big data are... they might get the work and that's great but ultimately, people who control the data control information and that's always a wonderful thing.
Peter: What haven't we discussed today that you think is important for our audience to know about big data especially people who are in HR and recruiting who are trying to figure out the best way of approaching this and wanting to go to management with some concrete plans of how they're going to implement this?
Andrew: I think the first thing is this is not a leadership initiative - big data. This is a competence that needs to be built actually more at the individual contributor level than at the managerial level. If an organization understands that they're using big data to make decisions, the individual contributors are the ones who are actually controlling the data the most because they're inputting the data the most. And so there has to be a push by leadership and respect with the individual contributors that what you're putting in the system has to be clean, that you're not wasting time, that you are being measured based on data. So understand that.
We didn't talk very much about that but that's what's important with recruiters is using their systems the way that people are telling them to use them or if they're not getting told the right way, say to leadership "Hey, this is not the way to do this. I'm an expert. I use this system every day. Here's how we should do it," because then it's going to get revealed properly in the data. It's really easy to go into a boardroom and say "Oh, we're going to do big data and we're going to pull all our systems together," well, and we can help you do that, right?
I mean, but if the data's bad, well, let's say if someone's entering the data portal and you got 400 recruiters working for you. I mean they're all going to put it in right. Otherwise, this all kind of falls apart. I think the other thing is leadership has got to spend time building competence and analysis. They've got to spend some time with - data scientists are a hot topic right now. We got to get...
Peter: And there are not a whole lot of them out there.
Andrew: There's not a whole lot of them out there. I would say there's a lot to be said about that from a very, very big data perspective but just understanding key performance indicators, how to make decisions, using analysis on a regular basis... We shouldn't shy away from allowing leaders to make mistakes, experiment, talk about the data, and then start using that data on a regular basis to make better decisions, that competence has got to be built. Once that's built and leadership is going to start to permeate down to the individual contributors who are going to say hey, if I want to be a manager I have to understand data, I have to understand how to use it, how to make decisions with it, and then they'll want to know more about it, too.
Peter: Andrew, thank you so much for taking time to speak with us on TotalPicture Radio and I look forward to working with you on the big data series.
The concept of Big Data for HR is not a well-defined topic, And there haven't been leaders in our industry who are trying very hard to work together to define what encompasses big data for HR. Realize that most organizations are just trying to understand specific HR metrics that are transactional or execution oriented. They typically have the ability to acquire data that shows them where they were or what has been performed across a number of systems of record, but rarely are they using it for predictive analysis, gathering data from systems outside of HR, or using yet as a daily performance management tool.
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In 2002, Ken Winters was responsible for a department of 120 employees and had to lay off 112 before laying himself off. Since then, he has been searching for a way to provide support with an ROI for laid off employees... this lead to the development of JobEscrow, a licensed internet escrow company which manages rewards, in escrow, on laid off employees resumes.
Welcome to a Big Picture Channel Podcast on TotalPicture Radio with Peter Clayton reporting. Joining me today the the Co-Founder and CEO of the recently launched JobEscrow, Ken Winters.
JobEscrow is a pay-for-performance outplacement webapp that enables employers to place a reward in escrow tied to the resume of their laid off employee. Any recruiter who helps, or employer who hires, the laid off employee can earn the reward. Unpaid rewards refund back to the employer at the reward termination date. Job Seekers who do not have a reward sponsor can self-sponsor their own JobEscrow. The system is designed to be in addition to traditional outplacement/career coaching services and reduces the Unemployment and COBRA claims exposure for employers while protecting their employer brand.
Stay tuned... a compete transcript of our interview with Ken will air soon!
Exclusive IACPR Innovation Panel Interview with Dr. Linda Pittenger
Companies that create a culture of risk, change and creative thinking help spur innovation - and build an environment of collaboration and questioning that can provide critical insights into consumer needs and different ways to solve market challenges.
"I think in the past 20 years we've seen what technology has done and the play that it has had in our organizations in so many ways. So you know it led to outsourcing. It led to globalization. It led to us thinking how do we run technology keeping the strategic pieces and outsourcing the transactional pieces. So it's really changed the organization and I want your listeners to understand that the role of big data will disrupt all of that again and it will disrupt all we know about organizations."
Our guest today on this Big Picture Channel podcast from the IACPR Global Conference is Dr. Linda Pittenger. Her career has included everything from start-ups to large corporations - she served as Managing Director at Lehman Brothers, and Vice President, HR for AT&T's Network Services Division. Her current roles include principal of the Pittenger Group and Associate Professor of Leadership, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
Linda is recognized as the leading industry expert and thought leader on IT human capital. At IACPR, she participated in a panel discussion moderated by Eileen Finn titled Recruiting, Fostering and Retaining Innovative Leadership. Other panelists included Deborah Arcoleo, Director, Global Innovation Center of Excellence, The Hershey Company; Mary Beth Robles, Vice President, Innovation Capabilities and Knowledge Systems, Colgate-Palmolive; and Terri Zandhuis, Vice President, Human Resources, eBay.
Recruiting, Fostering and Retaining Innovative Leadership. Linda Pittenger, IACPR Conference TotalPicture Radio Transcript
Hi this is Peter Clayton. Our guest today on this Talent Acquisition Channel Podcast from the IACPR Global Conference is Dr. Linda Pittenger. Her career has included everything from start ups to large corporations. She's served as managing director at Lehman Brother and vice president HR for AT&T's Network Services Division and her current roles include principal of the Pittenger Group and Associate Professor of Leadership Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Linda is recognized as the leading industry expert and thought leader on IT human capital. At IACPR she participated in a panel titled Recruiting, Fostering and Retaining Innovative Leadership.
Linda, welcome to TotalPicture Radio.
Linda: Well I'm really, really happy to be with you today, Peter.
Peter: Two part question for you here. Your takeaways from the conference and what are the big issues facing HR and recruiting leaders in 2013 regarding recruiting, fostering and retaining innovative leadership?
Linda: One of the big takeaways that I had from the conference was that I sensed that people realized that things need to change in terms of the way things are done in HR and recruiting. What I didn't sense was a lot of direction in doing that. So kind of on a high level of thinking I think people know there's some kind of elephant in the room but they don't know what to do it with it. So that was a high level takeaway from the conference. But in terms of the big issues I think HR really... they talked about for a decade, about being more strategic and I believe they still pretty much function in a transactional mode because the processes within HR have not changed much in the past decade but the demographics of the organization has changed.
So you have a global workforce. You have three generations in the work force and they all require various needs yet HR continues to run themselves in the processes within the organization as a one size fits all process if you will and that's not going to work and then secondly I think HR needs to be more externally focused. I don't believe that bringing the knowledge about the external environment relative to population inside the universities, talent development to etcetera to CIOs, CEOs that they're supporting.
In terms of recruiters, again, I think they also need to be more strategic because there are so many of them and they need to differentiate themselves and one way to do that is to consult on roles that are coming up, advise clients on trends, new positions. So that's on the client side and then on recruiting the talent they're all fighting for the same small group of leaders so they need to differentiate themselves for the long term and one of the ways to do that is through relationships.
I know when I was out there as a C-level and the recruiters were calling me I finally actually took a position being placed by a recruiter and as soon as the position was sold and I started work and that 6 months of by end that person got paid I never heard from them again. So I think on the talent side the recruiters need to really pay attention to working that network of talent because there isn't a lot of talent and that talent can work with whoever they want.
Peter: I think that's a really interesting perspective regarding recruiters becoming consultants instead of just doing transactional business.
Linda: Right because they're not differentiating themselves and if I'm a C-level I want to get more value out of the person I'm paying a lot of money to.
Peter: We recently published an interview with Susan Blackburn, a senior executive who spoke at the conference who was speaking directly to this issue. A number of the recruiters that were contacting her when she was in transition were just transactional. They really weren't trying to establish a relationship.
Linda: That's exactly right. That's spot on. Exactly right. So they need to create relationships with the few really good talent available but they also need to provide value to the client meaning the corporate client. So they have two relationships to nurture and frankly I don't think they're doing either of them very well. There are some exceptions but talking in the vast majority of these recruiters everybody's just another résumé or CV that they can use or leverage and that's not the way to do business.
Peter: One of the interesting and somewhat counter intuitive pieces of advice you gave the recruiters at IACPR hire for behavior, train for skills. Can you explain this to us because most of, especially people who are hired for IT roles their skills and certifications are the first things that a recruiter is going to look at?
Linda: Yeah. No. Exactly. Well there's been two... well actually three decades of research on emotional intelligence and fit within jobs and so behaviors are hard to identify and hard to develop in people and the way to find behaviors in an interview is when you interview for the more recent the behavior is performed the more likely it's going to happen again because past behavior predicts future behavior.
So it's easy to identify skills. Do you have C++ or not right? But it's hard to identify are you achievement oriented or not. It's also easy to train someone in C++ and so when you're placing people unless you need an immediate skill at very fine depth in those cases I would hire a contractor get the work done and have the contractor leave. But for your full time work force I would hire those people that contribute the most from a behavioral perspective and then send them to C++ school and let them learn the skills. In the long run you're going to get more out of these people. They're going to be more loyal. They're going to have higher productivity. They're going to collaborate more and I have some very, very big clients that have completely changed the way they hire to screen for behaviors first and then skills but the majority of companies still don't do that.
Peter: Speaking about technical professionals, your background includes significant responsibilities for the care and feeding, recruiting and retention of IT professionals. How do these folks in IT differ from other professionals within an organization with issues related to HR and recruiting?
Linda: This goes back to the HR leaders doing a one size fits all approach. IT professionals, it has been proven, I've been doing this for up to 20 years, that they're driven by different things. One obvious fact is that what works for the organization doesn't work in IT is engagement; so only 22% of IT professionals are engaged in the organization, that IT professionals have the lowest level of engagement of any group within an enterprise. You have to question well why does that happen?
Well that's fine. There's research that will tell you that. I've actually done research on that and they need vision and compassion and if they get vision and compassion they will become very engaged but how often do you see IT professionals sitting down with the leaders of the organization talking about where is this business going and having compassion with those people on IT? They're usually treated as "those IT people" right?
Linda: And actually they're very sensitive. They're very creative people. The best technologists have degrees not in computer science but in music, in art. I remember when I was at Gartner the chief analyst had a degree in music because that's the part of the brain that works the same way as IT works. So these are very, very creative people that are typically put in boxes. What's also important to them is professional development.
So they want to attend that conference. They want to get reskilled whereas a manager, they don't care about that much about it. Once in a while they'd like to go to a conference but to IT professionals these are very very important and this is what engages them yet companies have cut their training budgets, don't send their IT professionals to conferences and again these are our drivers.
And then finally titles. So a lot of organizations have cut out levels to flatten the organization so there's fewer titles. Well that's great. You can have corporate titles but I also believe you should have IT titles in addition to the corporate titles. So someone coming into the organization might be a junior programmer and in six months they become an associate programmer and in another six months they become a programmer.
All the while they might still have the same corporate title. You need to nurture these people with titles because that's what they really, really enjoy and they also enjoy the ability to be labeled something like a distinguished member of technical staff or a fellow, and in the typical HR titles, none of that suits the IT organization.
Peter: I think that's a really interesting perspective and both of us in our background have AT&T and for a number of years I was producing films for AT&T, Bell Labs and AT&T Labs for their fellows program who were recognizing the people who are actually providing the cash to AT&T; the people who have invented 800. I mean that was an invention.
Linda: That's exactly right but unfortunately even today in today's environment, AT&T is cutting their Bell Labs budgets over and over again. It's now seen as an expense. In its heyday nobody touched the laboratories ability to care, nurture and motivate technology professionals. They're second to none. There's no one who could touch them. They were so ahead of themselves but I still think that model works very well now and some companies are trying to emulate that. So there is promise but to me that's what provides the thought leadership for us in America are laboratories like Bell Labs.
Peter: You actively consult with CEOs and CIOs of global 100 companies. Linda, what's on the minds of the C-suite these days especially as it relates to HR and recruiting issues?
Linda: The C-suite I think they're looking for strategic partners from HR but I believe they're rarely getting them. A lot of them will come in. They'll say "Linda, I need a Chief HR Officer. How much do I pay?" And my answer to them is "Who do you want?" So you can pay $80,000 or $5 million. What are you looking for? How do you view HR as part of your business and what it can do for you?" And once I get them through that conversation then they start saying "Oh yeah. You know what? I need to change this job. I need to pay more. I need to get the right person in."
So it's really back to what's the role of HR in that enterprise and does the C-level see it as a tactical function that's a pain and something they had to deal with or do they see it as something that can be an enabler of their business and that differentiates who they hire. Unfortunately there aren't a lot of HR professionals that are highly skilled at being that strategic partner. But C-suite folks, you're looking for advice on what should my structure be. Help me nurture the culture that I need to achieve my business goal. What are the emerging roles out there? What are the emerging trends like big data?
These HR partners, I got the sense when I was talking about big data the other day at the conference they were going "Wow. I better read about this." Well this has been going on now in the head lines for over a year. So where are those people and why aren't they supporting their C-levels on "Hey this is going to be a differentiator in business?" Not only do we need to hire the right technology people. We need to hire the right managers and guess what folks? There's not going to be enough around.
So we need to deploy some strategic ideas around how to recruit and retain these people but I don't get a big sense of that happening and then finally I think HR's management silos still. So the compensation guy or gal doesn't talk to the performance management guy or gal. Everything's managed. Talent management separated from compensation. They're all managing their own. There's a director for each of these processes and to me the best HR organizations are those that integrate those processes. So what you want to manage performance for aligns with how you pay for performance and a lot of times the two don't meet.
Peter: I know you're writing a book on big data, a topic on the agenda of many HR and recruiting conferences and certainly discussed by HR leaders and recruiters, something that really got my interest at the IACPR is when you were talking about the staggering number of unfilled data jobs and data management jobs that currently exist and that this is going to become really disruptive to corporations who aren't able to bring in these types of skills into their companies.
Linda: Absolutely. So what's happened is technology has enabled to, at a low cost and with fairly excellent sophistication, take raw data and have it answer questions for us. Without getting too technical I'll kind of leave it like that. And so there are many companies that are realizing this and they are setting themselves up to really ask the strategic questions that big data can answer and in many cases this can change your entire business. It can triple your revenues, quadruple your revenues, decrease your cost - I mean there is just so much value that big data can do for a company.
The problem is because the technology happens so fast there aren't enough people, i.e., data scientist that can analyze this raw data that have the brain power to create the algorithms that will give the answers to the companies and even the universities, I helped start the first business intelligence and analogs program in the north east. There's very few of those out there and they're just in the process of starting to graduate their people this May.
So the number of people coming out of programs will not even touch the need and McKenzie quotes there'll be 190,000 unfilled data scientist positions or data analytics positions by 2018 and a half million gap of managers who will manage big data organizations. So some of the companies for example Deloitte has created a relationship with the university where they're training their people on certifying them rather than giving them degrees and I think that's an excellent approach.
So they're taking current employees and skilling them on big data. But these companies, the bottom line is these companies that don't play will be left behind because the companies that do play will be making so much money and have such a differentiated model that they're the ones that are going to exceed but surprisingly there's a lot of C-levels that still think "Oh this is an interesting articles in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal." They don't quite get what this means.
Peter: Speaking about big data, there was a whole section in a recent Wall Street Journal on the topic. It included an info graphic that I'd like to point out a little bit here. Mining the data mountain, the tab keeps growing as organizations collect mountains of data. They're spending more and more to make sense of it all. Estimated total of IT spending driven by big data in billions of dollars 2013 about 35 billion. By 2014 that'll increase close to 45 billion and by 2016 almost 60 billion dollars will be spent by corporations trying to make sense out of all of this big data and one of the data points that I found particularly interesting of the survey business professionals and this survey was conducted by MIT Sloan Management Review, 58% say analytics has played a more intricate part in their organizations' strategy and operations than it did just even 12 months ago. Only 8% say analytics has greatly helped innovation in human resources. So it seems to me, Linda, just looking at this info graphic HR really isn't paying as much attention to this big data trend as they should be.
Linda: You're absolutely right and again big data and the ability for them to not only get it based on their business but buy it from vendors can absolutely change the way they're doing it. What worries me the most and hopefully when the book comes out we'll have this some advice for people. My co-author Dave Belanger is from Bell Laboratories; we're talking about how to structure big data as well in terms of the teams. So if these organizations are just growing big, big data groups, that's not the right answer.
So it really needs to be treated like innovation groups: small working teams that are made up of data scientists, some marketing person, a sales person, maybe a client. So it's all about small teams to create the innovation and ask the right questions that big data can answer. It's not about growing a huge organization. That won't pay off for the companies.
Peter: As I mentioned at the top of the show, you were on a panel at IACPR focused on innovation that included a couple of executives from large corporations with innovation in their titles. Now you've seen these programs from about every single angle. From your perspective who's driving innovation in large corporations? Is it HR? Based on your experience, do these innovation taskforces illicit any sort of measurable results?
Linda: That's a great question. I think it's driven by the C-level, the CEO maybe even the CIO. I don't think HR has a good play in it. I think you can't structure innovation. I think that innovation has to be in the culture and people have to feel free to fail in the culture. So that's something you can't create overnight but I do believe innovation could have... You could have a chief innovation officer in the organization that is more of the band conductor that brings together the people and they facilitate the process and you need to grow rotating small teams that go into, I call them quantum leap teams.
They go into hiding for several months and they pick each other's brains and they brain storm and then you put them back in their jobs and you create another team and then when the ideas come to fruition and they're decided to be funded then that gets built by a regular team within the organization. The other thing that I like is the use of outside design firms to come in and facilitate and also look at your business because they're not wearing rose colored glasses and they can see things that you can't see and then finally I think organizations need to budget this.
So when you look at the dollar that they spend they spend some portion on running the business, some portion on improving the business and hopefully some portion on innovation and the percentage of money spent on innovation is significantly low and so I think companies especially in the incoming decades with this big data, companies needs to reevaluate their spend and try to lower their running the business and fund more money for innovation and most of that money will go basically down the toilet except for that one thing that might create a billion dollars in revenue. They can't expect to win every month. That's just not the way it works.
Peter: One more piece of advice you shared with the IACPR audience was to tap into the wealth of knowledge and expertise at your local college or university. Obviously you now have worked on both sides of the fence so to speak. You're currently in academia but for most of your career you were in leadership roles with large corporations.
Linda: I've been in academia now two years full time but my entire career I was in the corporate sides and I never ever had a relationship with the university, used an academic professional. It just wasn't on the radar and shame on me and shame on all the professionals that don't. So I'm kind of on this bandwagon now that I'm on the other side. These people are brilliant. Not only do they have availability to all research on any topic that you want but they consult and they consult so much cheaper than the big consulting companies and they are so much smarter.
The limitation is that they haven't worked inside your company or they haven't worked in the energy industry or the consumer products industry and some have but most haven't. But they bring with them facts and facts are a friend and a lot of times the consulting companies will bring best practices or best guesses but these people bring facts. You can provide a grant to students and get six students working on a project for you for next to nothing because all the students want is to have their tuition paid for and then they're also the source, these professors are the source for your future workforce.
I mean they know who the great students are and so you have this whole campus recruitment program that you pay all these campus recruiters and spend all this money when if you have relationships with the computer science department or the MBA program guess what? You can have access to the best of the students for free. So why don't we do that? I didn't do it either so I'm not trying to point a finger at anybody but wow I really got smart about this and if I ever did go on the other side again back to corporate IT you can bet I will be the first one to have relationships with all these universities because they're on the forefront of research, they have your recruitment, your students and they're low cost with high benefits. So it's a no brainer to me.
Peter: I think that's some terrific advice. One last question for you Susan. What haven't we discussed that you'd like to share with our audience today?
Linda: I think in the past 20 years we've seen what technology has done and the play that it has had in our organizations in so many ways. So you know it led to outsourcing. It led to globalization. It led to us thinking how do we run technology keeping the strategic pieces and outsourcing the transactional pieces. So it's really changed the organization and I want your listeners to understand that the role of big data will disrupt all of that again and it will disrupt all we know about organizations.
I view that as a very exciting time to be in enterprises but I sincerely believe the people that get on the band wagon now and are first to do this will be the winners and we will see another series of big companies that don't exist anymore because they failed to get on this bandwagon and so I really want to share and get your listeners to take this seriously and start to think about "What does this all mean for my organization?" And then consult to their C-level to say "What are we doing about big data? What's our strategy? Have we thought about this? Maybe we need to make this an agenda item at our next board meeting. How are we funding this? How are we getting the people?" And I think that would be the biggest gift I could give to them.
Peter: Linda, thank you very much for your time today and I really enjoyed meeting in you Philadelphia.
Linda: You bet. Thanks for having me.
Dr. Linda Pittenger is the principal of the Pittenger Group, an associate professor of leadership Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
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This is Peter Clayton. Thanks for tuning in.
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