Taking Predictive Analytics a Step Further

The AI hype in HR tech is expanding faster than Tesla’s “ludicrous mode.”

HR-tech buyers report receiving five to seven AI-based software solicitations per day, prompting the emergence of a new job title: HR Tech Vendor Manager, the person charged with wading through the solcitations, offerings and options. He or she routinely works with the director of HR data and analytics to try to understand the market and develop a strategy for intelligent software.

So what does intelligent software look like?

While the market is developing quickly, intelligent HR solutions currently come in five main categories based on a combination of how they are delivered and how they fit in with existing HR-software solutions:

  • Build it yourself: Cloud-computing providers (Amazon, Microsoft, Google) offer modular tools that very large HR operations are using to build their own internal intelligent HR-tech tools.
  • Data workbench: There are a finite number of external-data sources and currently understood HR data model types. It is possible to make customize tools using templated data models. Examples include One Model, SwoopTalent and Visier.
  • Microservice: The vast majority of venture-backed solutions (and almost all of the high volumes of email) involve very focused single-point solutions that are part of a larger standard workflow. There are significant efforts in learning, assessment, sourcing, hiring, interview scheduling, forecasting, performance management, contingent-workforce management, vendor management and data transformation.
  • Embedded: From enterprise-level HR-solution providers to data vendors, intelligent software is being embedded in existing software programs to provide higher-quality data and services. Workday, Oracle, Ultimate Software, Ceridian, Kronos, Paychex, Salary.com, Glassdoor and ADP are among the leaders. Size and age are serious advantages. In AI, access to more data is almost always better.
  • Suite: New systems that work across the entire talent-management and talent-acquisition spectrum are being built from scratch on a foundation of inteligent HR. Ascendify, Bridge by Instructure and Google are key examples.

In the coming months, I will look at each of these types of intelligent software and highlight some of the vendors on the front edge of AI, starting this month with a vendor that has evolved from the big-data and cloud technologies that are the foundation of the new intelligent software coming our way: One Model.

A pioneer in figuring out how to effectively use data in HR was InfoHRM, an Australian firm purchased by and integrated into SuccessFactors almost a decade ago. Founded in 1982, the company helped clients develop business-driven talent measurement. (In those days, computing capabilities and storage were precious resources.) One Model, based in Austin, Texas, is a direct descendant of that InfoHRM. It was founded in 2014 by former key employees who went on to spend the interim years at SuccessFactors. With hundreds of engagements under their belts, they concluded that clients need greater flexibility to use all of their data to solve big problems.

One Model fits neatly into the data workbench bucket. Neither built from scratch nor limited in focus to a single point solution, the tool encourages its clients to innovate in their use of analytics. One Model is designed to integrate the entire range of data sources within an HR department. (Some have as many as 125 different software tools.)

Following a simple data-integration process, the user may create predictive models for any subset of the data. Control is in the hands of the user. Modifying the templates is easy and encouraged. One Model also supports the use of external data models and data sets for tasks like workforce planning, curriculum development, pipeline analysis, commute-time calculations, demographic comparisons or stock-market analysis of competing employers.

Paychex currently uses One Model to build analytics for its own internal use. “We leverage One Model’s solution to feed more than 25 sets of internal HR data into one place. This has been a very beneficial partnership for us,” says Laurie Zaucha, Paychex’s vice president of HR and organizational development.

There are two main paths to analytics literacy and working processes in today’s market. The first is templated toolkits for specific purposes that can give employers a quick start and repeatable/benchmarkable processes. One Model represents the alternative: a complete set of tools for designing and building your own nuanced analytics, predictions and applications.

After years of promise, HR-analytics and predictive tools are finally coming into the sunlight. Stay tuned as we profile the vendors and ideas that are changing the marketplace. Each of the five buckets contains a few tools or products as interesting as One Model.

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John Sumser
Emerging Intelligence columnist John Sumser is the principal analyst at HRExaminer. He researches the impact of data, analytics, AI and associated ethical issues on the workplace. John works with vendors and HR departments to identify problems, define solutions and clarify the narrative. He can be emailed at hreletters@lrp.com.