HR Executives Gather at the 3rd Annual People Analytics Summit
AI is taking over. Middle East with its evolving appetite for technology is investing in People Analytics (field of analytics that refers to the application of analytic processes to HR to improve people’s performance and to help managers and executives make informed decisions about their workforce, eventually getting better ROI). As per PWC, Middle East is expected to accrue 2% of the total global benefits of AI in 2030 that is equivalent to US$320 billion (source: https://www.pwc.com/m1/en/publications/potential-impact-artificial-intelligence-middle-east.html).
It was the 3rd Annual People Analytics Summit organized by MAVEN Insights and Solutions in the heart of Arabia, Riyadh. Summit invited renowned researchers, practitioners and thought leaders in People Analytics space. It was attended by HR leaders from diverse sectors and industries. Alper Kulak from Maven stressed on the importance of aligning Saudi market with global market and matching the unprecedented technological pace to stay competitive and relevant in business.
Richard Phelps, experienced management consultant and founder of The Human Times, highlighted global and MENA trends in People Analytics space and explained how this change is encouraged by Vision2030. The application of technology to HR will transform the way people will be on-boarded and managed, and the way their productivity will be measured. Richard discussed new concept of relational analytics. The insights into quality of relationships and interaction between workforce fuels innovation. All this requires structured collection of data points of workforce movement that can be a minefield if not used responsibly. Hence, the need for ethical and legal frameworks were also established. Richard presented interesting case studies where organizations are leveraging people and relationship analytics to increase their bottom line.
Ross Sparkman, former Head of Strategic People Planning, Facebook, and current Head of Workforce Planning, LinkedIn, built upon the foundational knowledge shared by Richard. Ross discussed the overarching goal of Analytics. The exercise of practicing People Analytics is to make informed strategic enterprise-wide decisions supported by evidence. The outcome of People Analytics is to reach to ‘People decisions’ that optimize future organizational performance. Data driven HR is grounded in facts to verify decisions and enhance learning about people. The journey of defining the business goal, gathering data points out of myriad sources, giving it a structure, modeling it, visualizing it and using it to verify hypothesis – every step requires sophistication in human skills and tools to achieve the outcome. Ross presented many case studies that mapped these concepts to the practical implementation of People Analytics in successful organizations, ultimately linking ‘People decisions’ with the shareholder value.
Dr. Steve Taylor, Senior Manager Consulting on human capital including analytics projects with Rolls-Royce, British Airways and Unilever, expanded further upon Ross’s explanation and went through Deutsche Bank’s (DB) story of People Analytics Journey. The inherent complexity of the financial business and diversity DB entails (footprints in 70 countries) make it a challenge bigger than usual to implement People Analytics capabilities across cultures; Europe, Americas, Middle East, Asia Pacific. It demanded laser focus and clarity on DB’s global initiatives, regional alignment with global initiatives and regulatory needs to institute analytics function. Steve took us through the journey from drawing connections between HR and business activities and asking critical business questions. The evolution of organizational capabilities from basic reporting to predictive analytics requires deep engagement of the leadership. Doing hypothesis testing around business activities to discover and explore insights demands vertical engagement cutting across all parts of the organization. Steve’s case study included interesting insights and connection among multiple, seemingly disparate, factors; gender diversity, feedback culture, cross-divisional mobility, employee commitment and enablement, and external hire rate.
Anand Nigam, fourth speaker in the Summit, underscored ‘employee experience’. In the market obsessed with ‘customer voice’ and ‘customer experience’, Anand emphasized how employee experience rewards organizations financially by increasing value for the customers. As Richard Branson puts it “Take care of your employees, they will take care of your business”. Anand expounded on the emotions and perception of the workforce about their employer. He shed light over how employers must strive to design a workplace desired by the most talented people to join and stay. He presented it through an Employee Engagement framework. Endorsing Dr. Steve, Anand stressed on leadership as a major driver of employee engagement in the overall experience of the workplace.
The speeches were followed up by a concluding panel discussion. Panel was comprised of the guest speakers and two leaders from the Saudi retail and telco market. Panel discussed how regional businesses can benefit from the advancements made in the People Analytics discipline and shared their organizational journey in implementing People Analytics platforms. There are few remarkable case studies in the region. These organizations can lead and inspire the rest to approach HR from a completely new perspective to drive their bottom lines.
It was clear at the end that the lines between technology and HR is blurring, and blurring too fast. Leaders of the organization in general and HR leaders in specific must join hands to craft critical business questions and lay down the foundations of data-driven culture. The initiatives to put their organizations on this path today will have dividends in near and long term future. From what we have learnt, people analytics will play a vital role in transforming organizations in becoming attractive for the top talent, and eventually staying competitive in their respective economies.
Mirza Asfaar Baig