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Harnessing the Power of HR Analytics: Quick Bytes from Dr Arun Krishnan

July 21, 2015

HR has been a laggard when compared to other functions in opening up to the possibilities of analytics. Through an interview with Dr. Arun Krishnan, Founder & CEO, nFactorial Analytical Sciences, we explore details on how data-driven insights obtained from HR analytics across three main areas: Hiring, Engagement and Retention can help HR leaders make judicious, critical and informed decisions.

  1. How do solutions from nFactorial Analytical Sciences help facilitate seamless data integration of the HRIS systems with other data sources?

By slurping relevant data into the crowd from existing HRIS systems (or even from simple Excel Sheets), n!Core provides a de-facto integration of existing systems without too much of an overhead.

  1. What are the demand drivers propelling growth of the company in the times to come?

A growing Indian economy with an increasingly diverse and mobile employee base poses significant challenges for organizations as they look to hire and retain the right talent. We believe that the need to become more efficient in talent acquisition and engagement are going to be key drivers for business and for the industry in general. These in turn will help us as we look to scale-up.

Dr. Arun Krishnan Founder & CEO nFactorial Analytical Sciences

    Dr. Arun Krishnan           Founder & CEO  nFactorial Analytical Sciences

  1. Some of the USPs of the products and solutions from nFactorial are predictive analysis for absenteeism prediction, influencer identification, employee segmentation and churning at work. How do these processes work in tandem to support seamless data integration?

Companies on an average, have between 6-10 systems that store employee specific data including payroll, performance and leave management systems.  Our philosophy has been to make our solutions agnostic to any underlying data and information systems that organizations might have.

Rather, we are working on lightweight solutions that sit on top of the existing data systems and pull together data required to build predictive models into a data store in the cloud. This ensures that organizations don’t need to change their legacy systems but can still benefit from using advanced analytical tools.

  1. Kindly describe the key features of n!gage, n!tice and n!list and n!core. Please provide more details about these products in brief.

Our core product is called n!Core (pronounced encore). We are building six key modules currently with the modules being in various stages of development. The six modules are:

  • n!Viz – Most HR functions struggle with the simple task of being able to bring together their diverse data and being able to visualize it. Most HR functions tend to pull together monthly reports. n!Viz is a customizable dashboard that is specific to HR and allows users to slice and dice their data interactively.
  • n!List – HR personnel spend a lot of time in finding the right candidate for open positions. n!List simplifies this task for them by not just automating mundane tasks like resume-JD matches but also predicts candidate stickability and personality matches.
  • n!Gage – Everyone knows what makes an organization work is the underlying informal network. This network, unlike the hierarchy which is imposed on an organization, is fluid and dynamic and cuts across hierarchical boundaries. n!Gage uses a simple online survey to not just uncover the underlying network but also identifies key influencers, local leaders, network leaders, flight risks, future leaders, value performers, underperformers etc.
  • n!Tice – This is a module focused on retention, by enabling employers to identify variables that can be predictive of performance, of differentiating employees along the variables to help improve their performance and in predicting the probability of employees to churn.
  • n!Pulse: Organizations face a daunting task in understanding the engagement levels of employees. Year-end surveys are often skewed and do not help organizations to become proactive in ensuring that employees are engaged throughout the year. n!Pulse provides means to get real-time feedback from an employee on a daily basis. Analyzing the data allows organizations to identify hotspots and time, day and function/division specific engagement trends.
  • n!Quire – In addition to getting simple feedback from employees on the overall mood of the organization, it is also important to allow employees channel to express themselves without fear of reprisal. n!Quire provides an anonymous feedback mechanism for employees. It also provides sentiment analysis on the feedback thereby allowing organizations to really listen to their employees.
n!List-1
  1. As we understand, n!list is designed to make hiring easy for HR professionals through stickability prediction and predictive hiring. What are the core distinguishing features that will make companies opt for this solution over others available in the market today?

n!List will provide automated resume and job description (JD) parsing, resume-JD matching, candidate “stickability” prediction and candidate “personality matching”. While many companies can accomplish resume/JD parsing and matching, our unique differentiator is in the industry-specific stickability models that can provide probability estimates for a candidate’s tenure.

Another key differentiator is in our personality-matching algorithm that makes use of IBM’s Watson Analytics suite of tools. As one of IBM’s Global Entrepreneurship Program members, our access to the entire suite of Watson Analytics tools enables us to provide products with cutting-edge algorithms.

  1. What is your comment on the recent mobile recruitment trends picking up fast among HRs. Has nFactorial made its presence felt on mobile apps as well. If yes, what are your plans for the future going mobile?

While we recognize the trend towards mobile recruitment, especially since nearly 45% of job seekers use a mobile device for their job searches, our products are focused more on internal use by HR departments and the executive teams.

Most of their work still gets done on laptops and desktops with a few using tablets. Our strategy is to start with responsive sites that would render well even on tablets and other mobile devices. Eventually, we do plan on having native applications for mobile devices.

See: Monetize HR Functions for HR Analytics to Pay Off

  1. What is n!Pulse? How does it capture data anonymously and provide heartbeat reports of employees?

n!Pulse, as the name suggests is a pulse survey that provides a “happiness index” on a near-real time basis. Employees will get a popup at a random time during the day with different mood indicators. A simple click on their mood at that time the popup comes up will be recorded. Anonymity is provided by averaging the mood at a functional/divisional rather than at an individual level.

 Analytics on the data collected can provide organizations with critical information on the differences in “mood” between different functions/divisions or across days or the time of day. Correlations can also be observed between specific periods of high stress and specific projects or policies.

  1. What is sentiment analysis of internal unstructured data being performed by one of your products, n!Quire? How do you guarantee the accuracy of predictive results from these products?

Sentiment analysis is provided through the tool n!Quire wherein employee feedback is collected. Natural Language Processing (NLP) is used on the unstructured text and advanced sentiment analysis procedures are used to obtain an overall trend about the sentiment associated with various topics. While accuracies for predictions can typically not be guaranteed, we will keep updating models such that accuracies increase over time.

  1. How does the attrition prediction model n!tice work? 

n!Tice uses historical data about employees including their pay, performance, personal characteristics, employment history and other associated metrics to build a model. This model is then used to provide an indication of the probability of an employee to churn at any given point in time, given the employee’s history in the company.

n!Viz-1

Since, the probability of survival of any employee in a company decreases with time, an indication of the probability can be of immense value to HR leaders and the management at large.  They can be proactive rather than being reactive in terms of the actions they take for either retaining high-value employees or in planning for the eventual parting of employees they deem as providing less value.

  1. How do you see the HR industry in India going forward? Trends for the future till 2020.

The HR Industry overall, is waking up to the fact that they are trailing other functions when it comes to the judicious use of data to make critical decisions. As companies like Google demonstrate, using analytics to inform talent acquisition, engagement and retention can really help in building both a strong culture and an efficient organization.

I foresee a greater foray by organizations into HR analytics. HR functions will definitely start to hire people who have expertise not just in organizational behaviour but also with a more analytic bent of mind. Older systems such as year-end organizational surveys will give way to continuous engagement and feedback mechanisms leading to HR organizations gradually transforming itself from a reactive to a proactive force.

  1. What are the target markets of nFactorial Analytical Sciences to market its products and expand reach through foray into new countries?

We are initially looking at companies with over 1000 employees at a minimum, within India. Our goal is to become India’s premier HR analytics company. At the same time we are exploring channels with multiple partners to take our products to US and Europe. Some of our modules such as n!Pulse and n!Quire lend themselves well to being served as SaaS products and we intend to make use of digital channels for these.

  1. Shed light on the future plans of nFactorial Analytical Sciences with regards to enhancing current products with upgrades or new product offerings in pipeline for the HR professionals.

In the near term, we are looking at completing all the modules that we have planned for and that are under development. In addition, we are looking at developing modules for workforce planning that would use models to help simulate multiple scenarios based on business goals and deliverables.

  1. How do you see the Indian market embracing HR technology to upgrade standards of excellence? Do you see companies investing heavily into HR technology at the moment or are organisations sluggish to adopt digital trends in HR management?

The Indian market is slowly but surely waking up to the possibilities that analytics can provide for the HR function. While attrition and retention have been the key areas that have traditionally got lot of attention, I see a lot more companies investing in solutions to track and enhance employee engagement.

 Also read: HR Analytics: Go data crunching and set communication protocol

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