Big Data and HR: In Conversation with Sebastiaan Bos and Ian Latulippe, Nakisa

Today’s HR leaders need to move beyond the traditional soft HR agenda into helping their business create sustainable competitive advantage. This means not only becoming more effective and efficient in the ways that they work, but also understanding the impact of everything they do in the business. We speak to Sebastiaan Bos, Head of Product Management & Ian Latulippe, VP of HCM Program and Strategy at Nakisa on how HR leaders can succeed with data analytics in the 21st Century.

Tell us a little about Nakisa. What role does Nakisa play in the HR Tech space?

Nakisa’s software roots are organizational charts, bringing to market the very first web-based org chart solution in 2001. The natural evolution from here was Nakisa Hanelly, which takes organizational charts one step further to answer the question: what do I do when my org chart needs to change?

Nakisa Hanelly is a single and interactive organizational design solution used to unify HR data, view organizational structures, assess key HR analytics, and plan organizational transformations to facilitate better-informed decisions for changing business needs.

Data analytics is a significant part of the HR leader’s responsibilities. What type of insights should a CHRO be looking at while working with a data analytics tool?

To fully understand your workforce as an organism, CHROs should be looking at prescriptive analytics like span of control, layer, budget, head and position count, and any data that provides a clear understanding of the impact of any proposed changes before it is applied in the HCM solution. This analytics assist CHROs in the day-to-day functionality of human resources and becomes particularly relevant when going through any kind of reorganization or enterprise modeling and to identify the best course of action for the future of your organization.

In continuation of the above question, when working with Big Data how can CHROs ensure that – a) the dataset is complete and b) the accuracy of the data?

Full system integration is required to fully support complete and accurate data across the board. Without this integration, there can be multiple data sources at different degrees of relevancy and completeness. If your HCM data is spread across multiple systems, it’s strongly recommended to make use of a platform to bring them together in a single-source-of-truth. Using a solution that will provide visibility of the complete and up-to-date org structure in real time is essential – as long as this information is shared and validated by the HR VPs, and the managers validate their structures, this, in turn, can turn into a de-facto data cleansing process that promotes data quality.

HR teams deal with a vast amount of sensitive data on a day to day basis. Data privacy and integrity is a major concern for CHROs. How should CHROs approach Data Governance? Are there any key points that could possibly ease this process?

Many organizations have clear processes that dictate internal permissions and access to data. From a software perspective, this translates into secure authentication protocols, application-based role-based security, structural authorizations, and derived authorization based on a variety of data points that need to match the internal process-defined needs. Support for derived authorizations is key, as it is key in providing the flexibility to meet internal business requirements. Solutions should have the ability to secure the data contained within through restriction by multiple data points including function, region, country, division, role or business unit as examples. Moving away from technical product capabilities, support for compliance with various regional regulations such as GDPR is a no-brainer with SOC2 compliance also obviously applying to any cloud product.

What are some of the biggest challenges that CHROs of large organizations face (global presence, mergers, talent acquisition etc.)? How can technology assist them in surmounting these challenges?

One of the biggest challenges is often providing a single-source-of-truth for the information during any restructure processes such as merger & acquisition (M&A) or reduction in force (RIF) activity. Excel, PowerPoint, and email can make this messy, produce multiple versions of data records, and make even the day-to-day functionality incredibly difficult. Deploying a platform to integrate all native systems in one place will provide a single and reliable source of information and a collaborative approach to make the right decisions at any level of restructuring.

We have clients prior to deploying Nakisa Hanelly working in multiple Excel workbooks, one for each country, asking local managers to identify the positions and people to retain, to move, or to add prior to an organizational change – the problem with this approach is that it does not take into account the overlapping responsibilities or employees moving countries during the transition. Without a global view of the entire structure, decision-making will be blurred, outcomes inaccurate, and delays and unexpected expenses likely.

Communication is a key aspect of employee engagement and employee empowerment in any organization. How can CHROs leverage modern communication tools to increase the productivity of the employees, and, decrease the redundancy of the messages shared in the team?

Having a secure and unified communications platform that includes all forms of internal and external communication is invaluable. Going one step further, in an ideal world, third-party software and other technology can integrate with your social media channels. This allows teams to document and review needs and objectives, as well as reasoning and thinking behind certain decisions. One of the risks of non-integrated communication tech is siloed work and cross-functional inefficiencies, but obviously, each platform has unique differentiators with advantages depending on your organization.

Employee engagement is a crucial factor in lowering the attrition rate of an organization. What blueprint should a CHRO follow to increase the employee engagement?

Creating an online brainstorming environment that can bring together groups of employees to share new ideas, best practices and knowledge from multiple locations around the globe can bring a small business feeling to a large organization and give your employees a platform to be heard globally . We have internal software to enable all levels of the organization to have their ideas heard – in a larger company, using technology in this way keeps employees engaged.

AI, machine learning, deep data science and chatbots are some of the hottest topics in the HR Tech landscape. Does the development of these technologies lead to an extinction of the “human” part in Human Resources?

On the contrary. We strongly believe that the addition of these technologies will actually increase the human factor for HRBP’s who are now doing more mundane tasks and not interacting with their managers on a regular basis. These kinds of tools allow them to have that human contact element that can be missing.

HR often don’t have the ability to lead the human aspect today being so tied up with the reporting and collating and getting stuck on the data. Advances in AI can only facilitate their ability to engage more.

What are the essential skills for HR leaders in the digital age?

Digital fluency and technical skills are increasingly an asset in this digital age. In the absence of these skills, flexibility and a willingness to learn combined with an ability to communicate are invaluable . Understanding that the AI developments are a way to improve functionality and efficiency that will ultimately increase face time.

What questions are your customers asking you? How is that impacting your platform’s roadmap? Are there any new features or upcoming upgrades that you’re excited about and would like to give us a sneak peek into?

Being a customer-oriented and customer-centric organization we are constantly looking to our customers for their requirements and direction. Being a cloud-based solution, we like to co-innovate with customers to provide updates on a regular basis incorporating their feedback. Whether it’s specific analytics that would be useful, a new functionality that would help move them forward or completely new innovations, we endeavor to develop and incorporate these features to make them available to all customers as we upgrade our client platform.

Our most recent Nakisa Hanelly release in May 2018 is the development of succession planning capabilities and metrics – this is an incredibly important metric in enterprise-level companies to ensure ongoing, uninterrupted leadership and planning and came directly from customer feedback.


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