Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Talk By Michael Housman - Chief Analytics Officer At Evolv

Today I attended a talk by Michael Housman - Chief Analytics Officer at Evolv, at the School of Information of UC Berkeley. Michael analyzes employee data for a living. My colleague Andy Yen, who is now responsible for the product marketing for SuccessFactors Extensions and Technology topics joined me as well.

Michael said that Evolv focuses mainly on the selection and retention of hourly workers mostly in the hospitality and retail industries. They do provide other services. He talked about their Evolv Selection product that helps customers hire the person with the right fit for the job. Evolve looks at data based on candidate surveys and on-the-job performance of hourly workers. Evolv does not look at data generated outside the context of work. For example, they do not look at facebook or twitter data.

Here are some key insights he shared based on the data he has analyzed.

1. Poor working relationships with managers and colleagues are the main reason people leave a company, followed by macro economic trends. Interestingly lack of skill to perform a job was the last reason a person leaves a job. In other words, bad people managers are a huge liability for a company.

2. A person who is hired via a referral stays with the company for a much longer period compared to one without a referral. In other words, invest in your referral program.

3. People who are honest perform better in their job. The only job were dishonest people performed better than honest people is inside sales.

4. Office locations with better amenities led to employee retention. So invest in free food, gym laundry and other facilities. It is a much better investment than increasing salaries.

5. Employees who work at home full time stay longer in the job compared to people who commute to work. This is in the call center industry, mainly. However the productivity of employees who work at home went down over a longer period. I suspect that is because they lack opportunities for informal learning. This problem, in my opinion, can be addressed to some extend by investing in informal learning tools such as SAP Jam.

6. Employees who are active in 3-4 social networks tend to be more productive and better employees.

7. The kind of training a person receives and even the nature of the trainer has a huge impact on productivity and performance of an employee. So invest in good training content and good trainers. It is worth it.

8. One toxic employee can bring down the productivity of many other employees. Get rid of them quickly or screen them out during the hiring process with data driven screening tools.

Michael mentioned that he is looking for partnerships to help him analyze the large volumes of data his company has. Reach out to him if you are interested.

After the talk I met Pavel Vanegas and Nicolas Soldi, both graduate students at the School of Information. They has interesting ideas about how data can help job seekers, not just recruiters. One of the ideas was to proactively analyze companies that might be a good fit for a candidate and give such report to the job seeker. Job seekers might be willing to pay for such information.

Michael commented on that idea, saying that Evolv did build a product aimed at job seekers and later decided to focus on the enterprises.

Evolv is now part of Cornerstone OnDemand.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Second ‘S’ in SaaS

The second ‘S’ in Software as a Service (SaaS) stands for service. The service in SaaS is much more than making the software available for use from a remote location in a reliable and usable manner. That is just the foundation. A service is a promise to be available and help a customer get the best value for their investment. It is also a promise to help them avoid problems or solve problems when a customer runs into them.

Evaluating a service is hard. You cannot see a demonstration of it, watch a video of it, see a glossy magazine advertisement of it or get a trial version of it.  One way to evaluate a service is to learn about the service delivery model (SDM) of a provider. A service delivery model is a set of principles, standards, policies and constraints used to guide the design, development, deployment, operation and retirement of services delivered by a service provider with a view to offering a consistent service experience to a specific user community.

A clearly articulated SDM conveys the commitment of people and time made by a service provider to help customers get the most out of their investment. Another way to evaluate a service is to look at the experience of the organization as a service provider.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Community Health Index for Collaboration Software

The internet and social software have brought down the cost of organizing a group of people. Bringing people together who care about a cause or a topic does not cost any money anymore. You can do it for free in the public web using software such as Facebook or LinkedIn. Within organizations you can use software such as SAP Jam, Yammer, Jive and others

Within SAP, I was told that we create thousands of Jam groups every month. With the proliferation of such communities, it becomes harder and harder to separate the good communities from the mediocre ones. One of the ways collaboration tools could help users identify valuable communities is by creating a Community Health Index and prominently displaying that index in the front page of the community. The formula used to calculate the health index could be clearly explained so that everyone know what drives the index up.

Such an index also gives community managers a clear measurable goal to achieve. SAP Jam already has many clear indicators that show the value of a community. The number of members is a good indication of health. Number of total views are also a proxy for health. All these factors could be taken into account to calculate the index.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Employee Central To Thomsons Darwin Integration Guide

SuccessFactors Employee Central is integrated with Thomson Darwin, which provides employee benefits administration. The integration guide for professional services teams is available. links to all integration documents are available from the location

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