For someone like me who has been involved in the space for over five years, last week was the strongest signal yet that we reached a tipping point with people analytics.
Amidst much fanfare, LinkedIn made a series of announcements immediately before and during its flagship Talent Connect show. As well as confirming the acquisition of Glint, LinkedIn also announced the launch of a series of data driven products including its own Talent Hub ATS the long awaited Talent Insights.
Last week also marked the emergence from stealth mode of former Google Chief People Officer Laszlo Bock’s new start-up Humu, with the launch of its long anticipated Nudge Engine and the promise to blend ‘science, machine learning, and a little love’.
This article will focus on the new product offerings from LinkedIn and Humu, but before that it’s worth highlighting recent research that substantiates the growth of people analytics and explains why LinkedIn in particular is investing so much into this space.
THE RISE OF ANALYTICS IN HR
During the course of 2018, LinkedIn has published three regional versions of its research study into the growth of people analytics, The Rise of Analytics in HR. All three reports – for APAC, North America and EMEA – confirm that the number of HR professionals on LinkedIn who cite analytics as a skill is rising significantly (see Figure 1 below).
Each report also provides a fascinating insight into the countries (or cities in the case of the North American report) and sectors that are leading the charge, as well as the top use cases for people analytics (see Figure 2 below for example from the North American report).
One of the reasons why this research is so fascinating is that the insights were derived from the LinkedIn profiles of people analytics professionals. This may explain the low ranking for ‘Retention’ as a use case (the same also applied in the EMEA research). I’d like to think that this was an indicator of the growing maturity of people analytics, and that companies have moved on from the common initial use case of predicting attrition but suspect that it can more likely be attributed to the lack of ‘glamour’ associated with the topic of retention.
69% of companies with 10,000+ employees now has a people analytics team
The key finding in LinkedIn’s research of the rise of analytics within HR echoes those found in other recent studies from the likes of the CIPD, Corporate Research Forum, Visier and Bersin by Deloitte. My recent ‘Research Special’ of Data Driven HR collated some of the best research, but two findings that illustrate the growth in people analytics and the business reason for doing so are:
69% of large organisations (those with over 10,000 employees) now have a people analytics team (Source: Madhura Chakrabarti, Bersin by Deloitte)
Advanced organisations with a high level of people analytics process maturity financially outperform their peers on profit margins (56% higher) and return on assets (22% higher) (Source: Lexy Martin, Visier)
THE SCOPE OF PEOPLE ANALYTICS IS BROADENING AND DEEPENING
The continued rise in adoption of the use of data in HR and the shift of analytics from the periphery to the core of HR strategy is also evidenced in the broadening and deepening of the work people analytics teams are undertaking.
I’m currently writing an article on the key learnings from PAFOW, but it’s worth providing a few examples of the work being undertaken by people analytics teams as presented at the show:
Arun Chidambaram (Pfizer) and Marilyn Becker (Western Digital) both outlined how they are using organisational network analysis to respectively gain insights to improve business outcomes and the integration of three companies following a merger within their organisations (For more on ONA including several case studies, please read my The Role of ONA in People Analytics primer)
Similarly, Brydie Lear (ING) described how her team created a matching algorithm that has supported the redeployment of over 5,000 people at the bank.
Patrick Coolen (ABN AMRO) described a case study where insights from a people analytics project helped support an organisational restructure and training program to boost customer growth in the bank’s retail business.
LINKEDIN ENTERS THE FRAY
As Josh Bersin writes in his typically superb analysis, LinkedIn is now unquestionably a powerhouse in the talent solutions market, with offerings covering recruiting, learning, engagement and performance management. When you factor in parent company Microsoft, the combination of LinkedIn and Microsoft will have the more traditional HR technology giants quaking in their boots.
The acquisition of Glint
The acquisition of Glint is a masterstroke. The employee engagement market has shifted significantly away from traditional consulting led survey providers to technology enabled tools that have analytics at their heart. Along with the likes of Culture Amp and Peakon, Glint has been one of the vendors leading the way – and their growth has been remarkable.
What makes the Glint acquisition so shrewd is that it will enable LinkedIn to combine Glint’s internal view of what drives engagement within companies with LinkedIn’s unique data set on the wider workforce. This acquisition offers the potential for LinkedIn to use the insights gleaned from Glint’s engagement and performance management tools to personalise feedback to managers and also LinkedIn learning programs.
The arrival of Talent Insights
I’m really excited about the introduction of Talent Insights, which I see as a unique and powerful tool to support recruiting, workforce planning and site location strategy.
I’ve seen at first-hand the excitement that Talent Insights has generated with HR and recruitment leaders having been fortunate to speak at the Talent Intelligence Experience events in Paris and Sydney over the summer.
LinkedIn used these events in part to demonstrate the power of Talent Insights by using examples from pilot customers like Atlassian (see Case Study in Figure 3 below) to show how the product can provide accurate views of labour market trends and answer complex questions in minutes.
Eric Owski’s article here provides more detail, but the power of Talent Insights to provide answers to questions such as - Where is the best location for us to open a new office or base a new team? Which companies am I losing talent to? Which competitors should I target to hire new talent from? – is a good reason why the recruiting leaders I spoke to in Sydney and Paris couldn’t wait to get their hands on the product.
HUMU NUDGES ITSELF INTO THE MIX
If the swell of new products from LinkedIn wasn’t enough, Humu finally emerged out of stealth mode after an incubation period that reminded me of the wait for the second Stone Roses album.
From the detail provided by Laszlo Bock confirming the launch, just like The Second Coming, Humu’s Nudge Engine appears to have been well worth the wait.
As the name implies, the Nudge Engine is a behavioural science product that draws on the work of the likes of Professor Richard Thaler, with the premise being that micro-interventions or ‘nudges’ have a significant and long-term effect on human behaviour and decision-making.
In his article, Laszlo describes how the Nudge Engine is designed to deploy thousands of customised nudges throughout the organisation to empower every employee, manager, team and leader as a change agent. He goes on to explain how that over time the engine learns about the timing, messaging and motivational techniques that ultimately inspire individual employees to take action. Humu’s mission is to make work better, for everyone and through this product, Humu believes its customers will be able to make the small incremental steps required to build happier, more capable and more successful organisations from the inside out and bottom up.
There has been a lot of excitement about Humu, partly because of Laszlo and fellow co-founders and ex-Googlers Wayne Crosby and Jessie Wisdom’s involvement, but also because of the scale of what they are attempting to achieve. If people analytics has one aim, surely it should be to build better organisations that make work better for employees at the same time as achieving improved business performance.
THE FUTURE OF PEOPLE ANALYTICS LOOKS BRIGHT
The launch of products like LinkedIn Talent Insights and Humu’s Nudge Engine are good for the field. The potential of people analytics is enormous, and the burgeoning vendor space coupled with the ambition of people analytics leaders I regularly meet with augers well for the future.
Are we ‘there’ yet? No, people analytics teams are still striving to grow their impact, create more value and improve focus (which inspired Jonathan Ferrar and me to create the Nine Dimensions for Excellence in People Analytics model). Critically, many organisations still face challenges around improving the data literacy of the wider HR function, and certainly the debate around ethics and data privacy is set to top the agenda for the foreseeable future.
Nevertheless, there can be little doubt now that the practice of people analytics is here to stay, and the promise of a data driven HR function no longer resembles a pipe dream.
High-Impact People Analytics study, Bersin by Deloitte (November 2017)
The Age of People Analytics: Survey on Characteristics, Value Achieved, and Leading Practices of Advanced Organizations, Lexy Martin (Visier, July 2018)
LinkedIn Announces… A Lot! Josh Bersin, see here
LinkedIn + Glint: Helping Talent Leaders Build Winning Teams, Daniel Shapero – see here
LinkedIn Talent Insights Gives You the Real-Time, Accurate Talent Data You Need, Eric Owski – see here
The Humu Nudge Engine is Making Work Better—Here’s How, Laszlo Bock - see here
Nine Dimensions for Excellence in People Analytics, Jonathan Ferrar – see here
As mentioned in the article, I spoke at and attended LinkedIn’s Talent Intelligence Experience shows in Paris and Sydney earlier this year. I’d like to thank Carole Zibi, Ryan Batty and the team in EMEA as well as Sarah Husbands, Jason Laufer and the team in Sydney for looking after me. Both shows were amazing.
Thanks also to Eric Owski, Sarah O’Brien, Kate Hastings and team for letting me have an early view of Talent Insights, and also Laura Collins for getting me involved with the EMEA version of The Rise of Analytics in HR.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn on 18th October 2018: New LinkedIn and Humu products show surge in people analytics