In the Workday Predict and Prepare videocast last month, one of my predictions was HR is at the cusp of an analytical revolution as it learns to leverage sensory, social and yes, plenty of HR data. I used examples like UPS operations research and its ORION project which has led to minimization of left turns for driver routing and start ups like Knack which are using games to help companies better analyze potential recruits. I wanted to also showcase some use cases Charles Phillips, CEO of Infor had shared with me in a meeting a few days prior. But Charles had requested I not disclose them till Infor was ready to share its acquisition of PeopleAnswers, which it has today.
PeopleAnswers’ elevator pitch is attitudes more than skills are better predictors of employee performance. Its behavioral scientists have over the last decade working with customers like Audi, Hertz and Neiman Marcus derived 39 attributes like ambition, flexibility and empathy which help in better recruiting, work assignment and other HR decision making.
Charles gave me an example of empathy in nursing work assignments. Two nurses with similar credentials would do differently in healthcare settings. One who scores higher on the empathy scale would be a better candidate for the maternity ward versus an orthopedic ward.
PeopleAnswers’ “big data” comes from statistically designed online interviews it helps administer to 20 million applicants annually. They shared with me another use case which looked at employee theft, a major issue in retail. Working with a sample of over 50,000 participants across 7 retailers with specific “termination reasons.” they found strong link between low behavioral fit to the job and an increase in theft terminations. Of course, moving that nugget to the front of the recruiting process is now helping many of PeopleAnswers retail customers.
Infor, in its marketing, is emphasizing “cloud” in its announcements of the acquisition. To me, Infor’s real value proposition is its growing micro-vertical transaction processing functionality, and with PeopleAnswers now a piece of the verticalized analytical puzzle. I expect more Infor products and announcements of industry specific analytics beyond just the HR angle. But this is a significant start for a functional area swimming in all kinds of data but which historically has prided its “touchy feely” side.