Friday, May 30, 2014

How to Build a More Diverse IT Workforce

A diverse workforce is more productive, innovative and contributes to increased market share, profitability and lower employee turnover. Agreeing with that statement is the easy part. The tricky part: How to achieve that diversity.

One possibility is Entelo Diversity. The service is designed to give hiring managers, human resources professionals and recruiters an additional way to help identify, attract and hire talent from diverse, underrepresented populations, says Entelo CEO Jon Bischke.

Recruiting a Balanced Workforce

“Many companies still struggle to create such diverse and balanced workforces and to identify and reach out to women, to different ethnicities and other underrepresented groups,” Bischke says. “We found many clients already working to address the issue of diversity, and we built this tool to assist them in their efforts,” he says.

Entelo Diversity works in conjunction with Entelo’s existing suite of recruiting and hiring tools, which leverage big data, analytics and social data to screen and source candidates, says Bischke.

How to Build a More Diverse IT Workforce

“Entelo Diversity is a Web crawler that uses a proprietary algorithm to aggregate profiles from publicly available information,” Bischke says.

“It uses what’s already indexed to create a more in-depth profile of a candidate, and then look at certain data points that could signal whether candidates are male, female, Hispanic, a veteran, ” Bischke says. For example, is the candidate a member of the NAACP? That could signal they’re African-American. Or, if the candidate was a member of a sorority during her college years, the assumption’s made that they are female, he says.

Proof of Compliance

Bischke says though Entelo has done its due diligence around the legal and social implications of the tool, each client should understand the legal and compliance regulations of its particular industry and make sure the tool is right for them.

“As long as this tool is only being used to proactively recruit and identify underrepresented groups for hiring, then it’s fine, but if it’s used to weed out people, then obviously we don’t want any part of that,” Bischke says. “But we don’t see companies using the tool that way; what we see is that many companies are already searching for more diverse candidates manually, and Entelo Diversity helps them automate some of these manual processes, saving both time and money,” he says.

Entelo Diversity can also help companies meet legal and compliance statutes that require proof that they’re searching for and hiring a diverse workforce, Bischke says.

Companies that contract with the United States Government, for example, are often required to provide documentation of their search and recruiting efforts from underrepresented groups, and the tool offers a fast, simple way to document compliance, Bischke says.

Hiring Veterans

In addition to helping companies identify and recruit women, minorities and other underrepresented groups into the workforce, Bischke says Entelo Diversity also helps businesses identify and recruit veterans.

“We’re also excited about the military aspect, and application of the tool for that population, too,” he says. “We know that hiring from the population brings candidates with great leadership and technical skills, and we hope the tool can help veterans find employment,” he says.

In addition, Bischke says, Entelo is committed to helping close the technical and skills gap currently plaguing the education system through its Hiring for Good program. Bischke says that Entelo works closely with CodeEd, an organization that teaches programming skills to middle school girls from underserved communities.

“Every time someone’s hired via the Entelo tool, we fund one year of code instruction and education for an underprivileged girl through the CodeEd program,” Bischke says.

via How to Build a More Diverse IT Workforce –

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How to Build a More Diverse IT Workforce

Thursday, May 29, 2014

8 Reasons Google is a Desirable Employer

Guest Blog: Alexandra Levit

Upfront disclosure:  I don’t work for Google…yet.

Thanks to my new friend Sally Anderson, a human resources partner at Google Chicago, I recently had the opportunity to tour the office and see for myself why Google is one of the most desirable employers in the world.  I wasn’t disappointed.

The Customer is King

While I sat in the brightly lit, colorful lobby and sucked on a lemon Jolly Rancher, I watched the front desk receptionist field several calls from prospective summer interns.  Did he turn up his nose and scoff?  No sir.  Google understands that when a call comes into the organization, you never know who’s on the line and what kind of influence that person might have – so its receptionists are helpful and friendly to everyone.

Diverse Work Spaces Promote Concentration and Collaboration

Google generally favors an open office environment, but the organization is very creative in its use of space.  If you need a moment to relax alone, you head to the porch swings by the windows.  You can brainstorm with colleagues in a room decorated like a garden.  Want to impress a new client?  Take her over to the speakeasy-themed conference room.

A Wellness Focus is Everywhere

Google serves up gourmet, healthy breakfast and lunch to its Chicago employees so they won’t rely on the plethora of fast food options in the area.  And if you don’t have time to hit the in-house gym or massage chairs, you can meet with colleagues as you walk around the office track – 12 laps equals one mile.

Creativity Flows Unobstructed

The people at Google, even the engineers, are always making art.  Evidence of their work is on every floor, from wall masterpieces made by paintball guns to complex “Blox” structures built to resemble Stonehenge.  I think if I worked here, I might just get over my fear of art class and discover my inner Picasso.

Every Office is Innovative

I would have thought the coolest projects would be reserved for Google’s West Coast headquarters, but Chicago can hold its own when it comes to intrapreneurship.  Employees here were responsible for Google code (an internal site for developers, the Data Liberation Front, including Google Takeout, and portions of the Art Project.  The latter was responsible for bringing the collections of museums including the Louvre and the Art Institute of Chicago online.

Community Engagement is a Priority

Google Chicago supports its local branches of the National Society of Black Engineers, National Engineers Week, National Lab Day and Girls in Engineering Day. The office participates in Chicago Ideas Week and helped judge the FIRST Robotics Competition. It provides space and resources to non-profit tech incubators, and hosts or co-hosts events including ORD Camp, the Parent Internet Safety Workshop and the Internet Bootcamp for Your Business.

It’s Like Being at the Ellen Show

A string of high-profile visitors parade through Google Chicago’s hallways, from the mayor, Rahm Emanuel, and chef Rick Bayless, to Lollapalooza acts like DJ White Shadow and Cold War Kids. Standing in the main meeting room, which manages to be intimidating and down to earth at the same time, I could fancy myself among the roster of authors and thought-leaders that grace the stage on a monthly basis.

It’s an Open Book

Other than not allowing me to take pictures of specific employees, Google was happy to show and tell me anything I wanted to know about. This openness and transparency was a refreshing change from working with organizations that ask me to sign an NDA before a 30 minute phone conversation. Google people trust others, and so others trust them.

via 8 Reasons Google is a Desirable Employer | The Fast Track.

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8 Reasons Google is a Desirable Employer

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Most Talented IT Executives are Advancing Beyond CIO

Column by Peter High

I recently completed a series in this column referring to the CIO-plus. In it, I interviewed a number of chief information officers who had been asked to take on additional responsibilities, due to the great work done as CIOs and the appreciation that that good work translates well into other functions within the company. The companies were a diverse lot, including ADP, P&G, Marsh & McLennan, Waste Management, McKesson, Merck, Walgreens, Owens Corning, and the San Francisco Giants among others.  (To access the entire series, please visit this link.)

I would like to introduce a new series, which I refer to as “Beyond CIO.”  There is a growing cadre of former CIOs who have been promoted or hired into positions that continue to take advantage of their technical acumen, but provide them with expanded purviews.  Most of the executives that will be profiled will be CEOs or COOs who were former CIOs.  Again, this is a diverse lot, including executives from companies like American Express, T.D. Ameritrade, Caesars Entertainment, Schneider National, Fifth Third Bank, and HP, among others.

Chief operating officer has traditionally been a key role to have to put one’s self as “on-deck” to the top job.  Chief financial officers have also hewn their path to the CEO role. Not long ago, it may have seemed absurd to think of the CIO as an important stop on the way to the top role in the company.  Yet a group of special technology leaders have spent meaningful time as CIO but then continued the ascent beyond the role.

There are some common denominators among these trailblazers:

  1. All of them have thought about business value first, and technology second

  2. Most have worked in other business disciplines prior to ascending to the CIO role

  3. Many work within organizations that promote from within

  4. A majority have an MBA or advanced degree in a business discipline

  5. Many also have spent time as consultants


Business Value First

As one former CIO turned CEO recently told me, “too many CIOs live in the technology world rather than the business world.” By this, he meant that they retreat to their primary area of expertise without thinking about the broader implications of the use of technologies.  CIOs need to think of their roles as part R&D on behalf of the company.  This means developing perspectives on trends like cloud computing, data analytics, and social media, to name three often written about trends. Understanding what they are is all well and good, but it is more important to think about how these trends apply to one’s company, and the value they should bring to the company, optimally with a quantified benefits estimated wherever possible.

The CIOs who have grown beyond this role also have a clear understanding of how value is created in their companies.  CIOs have long monitored systems uptime, and the degree to which projects that they manage are on-time, on-budget, and on-scope.  While these remain important, they are only foundational metrics. It is critical that IT manage to the same metrics that the business holds dear.

Diversify One’s Experiences

CIOs who have become COOs, CEOs, or who have taken on other wide-ranging responsibilities have typically spent some time in a business role within the company, even early in their career.  This familiarizes them with the company’s customers, the profit and loss statements and the drivers of each,  and simply builds their networks across the company.  When they achieved the top position in IT, they have walked a mile in the shoes of other divisions of the company. They also are probably familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of the IT department as a user, which provides a strong degree of empathy in their perspective.

Ben Allen, for instance, was the CEO of Kroll, an operating company within the Marsh & McLennan portfolio of companies.  When Kroll was divested, Allen joined Marsh & McLennan as chief innovation officer, and soon thereafter as global chief information officer for the entire company.  His having spent time as the head of an operating company meant that he knew about the traditional complaints of IT as a past user.  He had been one of the executives offering constructive criticism.  As he spoke about changes that IT would mgake, he was able to speak with the operating company CEOs as a peer in a way that others would not be able to. Last month, Allen was named President of Marsh & McLennan Agency, a subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan’s largest operating company which was established in 2008 to meet the needs of midsize businesses in the US. Thus a CIO-plus (read my interview with Allen here) has moved “beyond CIO.”

Promote from Within

When executives leave major corporations, many times, the company initiates a search from outside of the company to replace the departing executive.  One can argue that this is a failure in succession planning and career development of one’s staff.  Companies that promote from within are constantly cognizant of rising talent.  Companies like GE and P&G rarely hire executives from the outside, putting the onus on management throughout the company to identify future leaders. Companies like this tend not to think about their companies in silos.  They offer high potential employees the opportunity to work in multiple divisions in multiple geographies to learn more about the business as their careers blossom. This means that the rising star in IT may find him or herself in a rotation in a business division in a new geography for a time before they return to IT.  As Filippo Paserini, the CIO and Group President of Global Business Services noted in my interview with him, the company has a long history of hiring CIOs who have had significant experience in other disciplines.  This well rounded perspective is something that many of the CIOs who have grown beyond the role have had.

Business Degrees Lead to Business Opportunities

Many people who will be interviewed in the “Beyond CIO” series have MBAs or degrees in other business disciplines rather than simply having engineering or computer science degrees.  This exposure to concepts like finance, accounting, management, and entrepreneurship together with the network that these degrees provide mean that the tenures as CIOs for these executives are marked with a greater understanding of the other functions within the corporation, and a more proactive and consultative approach in collaborating with the rest of the company.

Once a Consultant, Always a Consultant

Many people who will be interviewed as part of this series spent time as consultants. Consultants are faced with a wide variety of issues that do not have easy solutions. (If they were easy, the consultant would not have been hired in the first place.) At their best, consultants are problem solvers who are great listeners and great communicators. These are all critical skills, and frankly they are characteristics that buck the stereotype of the average IT employee as a group that has historically trended toward the reactive and tactical over the proactive and strategic.  For instance, Bob Willett who was CIO of Best Buy, was first the head of Accenture’s retail practice, and would rise to CEO of Best Buy International before taking on multiple other CEO and board-level assignments. He had spent time with dozens of retailers all over the world before becoming an executive at one in particular. This meant that he knew retailers small, large, growing, fading, innovative, or not, and brought a broad arsenal to Best Buy when he joined.

For those ambitious CIOs who may not share these characteristics, there are ways to develop comparable experiences through training, and from spending more time with one’s peers.  Better still, surrounding one’s self with an IT leadership team with these backgrounds will benefit the IT department generally, and especially the CIO.  Lastly, these are principles that should be taken into consideration when developing one’s talent. A leader is as good as his or her staff, and it behooves the CIO to build the best team possible.

Please look for these interviews in the weeks ahead to understand what makes each of these executives special, but also why their stories may become more the norm in the future.

via The Most Talented IT Executives are Advancing Beyond CIO – Forbes.

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The Most Talented IT Executives are Advancing Beyond CIO

CIOs Are Increasingly Being Plucked From Other Functions

Information Technology is becoming much more of the business by the business and for the business than ever before. This is true because almost all business trends have deep technology components to them. Not only every industry, but practically every function within every company needs IT to run its most strategic processes and platforms. Lastly, customers are becoming ever more technology savvy. As a result, companies are demanding that IT leadership reflect this business-centricity.

It used to be commonplace that the chief information officer would grow up in the IT department, often from the level of programmer, working his or her way up the hierarchy until reaching the highest point. It also used to be that this was the end of the journey, by and large. This level of grassroots knowledge of IT was all the more important in an era where IT’s infrastructure was all on premises, and largely homegrown.

Now that substantial swathes of IT are managed in the cloud, and as more systems are leveraged in their “vanilla” state off-the-shelf, and as more of the actual IT work is done by vendors, a growing number of CIOs are taking on this role after having spent most of their careers in other functions.

The advantages of doing so can be tremendous. As IT becomes the business (rather than something separate from it or a support function to it), it is essential that IT leaders have greater business and financial acumen. This can come from an IT executive who has an MBA, or from a CIO who had a stint in a function other than IT while spending most of his or her career in IT. More companies are finding that it makes sense to have IT leaders who have walked a mile in the shoes of other functions.

Examples include Marriott International Global CIO Bruce Hoffmeister, who grew in the Finance function before taking over IT. He developed a training module to teach financial acumen to IT resources. Before long, he was the leader of that function. Jamie Miller also has a finance background, having been Controller and Chief Accounting Officer at GE before becoming CIO. She now brings the financial rigor and discipline to the IT function, ensuring that IT delivers the business value promised across its portfolio. Rebecca Jacoby, the CIO of Cisco Systems, was a Supply Chain leader before taking over IT. She has indicated that her expertise in cost accounting has allowed her to constantly monitor the many facets of IT to ensure that the right cost models are applied across the portfolio of IT. Whereas many CIOs are pressured into outsourcing IT functions, Jacoby constantly has the data at her fingertips to understand how the cost to build and manage things in-house compares to outsourced options. This is an essential skill today.

Other CIOs who came from other functions include

Kelly Breitenbecher of PETCO, who was a Merchandising executive before taking over IT

Bill Klitgaard of Covance, who was that drug development services company’s CFO

Eric Pearson of IHG, who was that hospitality company’s CMO of the Americas immediately prior to his current role

Some of these executives will be profiled as part of my “Business CIOs” series in the coming weeks, starting with my interview with Jamie Miller of GE this week. (To get notice on future articles in the series, please click the “Follow” link above.)

This is not an easy path for these CIOs, but they are often chosen because their strengths align with the weaknesses of the department historically. A transparent and accountable executive of another function with a history of collaborating well with IT can be a solid successor to a CIO who was opaque and who lacked accountability. Often CIOs who come from other functions also elect to hire a chief technology officer to run the most deeply technical aspects of IT.

This by no means the death knell to IT leader who grew up in the function. Rather, it means that those IT employees who aspire to become CIOs ought to spend time working in close collaboration with other functions if not spending time in another function entirely for a time. Depth of knowledge of technology coupled with a breadth of experience across the company is often the best combination of all.

via CIOs Are Increasingly Being Plucked From Other Functions – Forbes.

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CIOs Are Increasingly Being Plucked From Other Functions

17 Must-Haves for Your LinkedIn Profile [INFOGRAPHIC]

So you’ve got a LinkedIn profile, and you want it to be perfect – so what do you add?

This infographic by our friend Neal Schaffer at Maximize Social Business lists 17 things your profile must have.


  • A serious profile picture is necessary on LinkedIn – you don’t want one that will turn people off you.

  • Be active – update your status regularly and share relevant content.

  • Make yourself contactable – add an email address, and links to Facebook/Twitter to the description.

via 17 Must-Haves for Your LinkedIn Profile [INFOGRAPHIC].

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17 Must-Haves for Your LinkedIn Profile [INFOGRAPHIC]

Can HR add value to its data and analytics?

When it comes to HR, is data and analytics just another passing fad? Although skepticism abounds around measurement, its ability to create useful insight should not be underestimated.

In 2008, Google took another step towards omniscience. The company claimed it could forecast outbreaks of flu, weeks before the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, by intelligently using search data. For a while, it succeeded. Google had authored yet another big data success story. But, earlier this year, researchers from Northeastern and Harvard universities uncovered a rather large problem with Google Flu Trends: it was no longer accurately predicting flu cases – overestimating the number of cases in the US for 100 of the previous 108 weeks, by up to twice as many.

And the reason for this inaccurate reporting? Google’s own search algorithm and its auto-suggest feature. Type ‘Do I have f’ into Google and it suggests ‘Do I have flu’, which may have led to people searching for flu when in fact they were interested in knowing if they had food poisoning or even fibromyalgia (a chronic condition that causes pain all over the body).

Google’s focus on correlation rather than causation (scientists are clear that “correlation does not imply causation”) led to what the researchers termed an embarrassing case of “big data hubris”. In other words, it forgot some of the core principles of statistics and mixed big and small data in a way that proved problematic.

Can business and, in particular, HR learn anything from the parable of Google Flu Trends? Of course, most HR departments are nowhere near as sophisticated in their use of data, but there’s no ignoring the steady march of HR analytics. The question is: is anyone actually getting it right? Or is the profession in its own small way following Google’s precarious path, seduced by the possibilities of oh-so-sexy big data and attempting to measure too much, collecting data on meaningless things or starting its explorations from the wrong place?

Time to talk about analytics

According to Laurence Collins, director of HR and workforce analytics at Deloitte, it’s time to reconsider HR’s relationship with data. “I’ve spent the past few months at conferences taking the temperature of HR around analytics,” he says. “It’s been hot for the past couple of years, but I’m not seeing any significant progress in the profession as a whole in terms of actually being able to do anything about it.”

Many HR directors would agree with this. “The measurement of the impact on people is the Holy Grail of HR,” believes Jeremy Campbell, HR director at HR and payroll specialist Ceridian. “I’ve read a lot of books and articles about the methodology. What I’ve not been able to find is the practical application. There’s a lot of hype. We get slightly seduced by the potential of what the data could tell you as opposed to the reality.”

“This is a really complex area and the minute you start talking about big data and HR analytics, everyone wants to get involved and there’s not much clarity around what you actually mean,” adds Jez Langhorn, SVP and chief people officer at McDonald’s.

Given HR’s fondness for fads, it’s easy to be cynical about breathless HR analytics chatter, often coming from the technology vendors with the most to gain. “Data is the new commercial,” sighs Neil Morrison, group HR director at Penguin Random House. “When HR had to be commercial, it was all about understanding this, that and the other. Now, it’s all about understanding data. But it’s not just data that’s going to help you. The gap for me is around intelligent use of data.”

Why data matters

It’s a confusing subject, and a sensitive one too. Why does it actually matter? “There’s a massive risk for HR [if it doesn’t engage with data],” says Edward Houghton, research adviser for human capital metrics at the CIPD, who is leading the Valuing Your Talent initiative (see p9 for more on the project). “We live in an environment of data everywhere. Running a business without understanding data is not how the 21st century works.”

Collins makes a similar point: “There is a culture of analytic rigour being applied to everything, from smart devices in your washing machine to the way we work. Structured and unstructured data is there for us to use. HR either embraces that or decides it wants to be replaced by finance. If HR doesn’t seize this opportunity to become more credible around measurement and the insight that comes from that, we will be replaced by functions that will.”

For Campbell, the purpose of his search for data that proves HR’s impact is to help him come up with “a clear articulation of the business case”. He says: “HR professionals do a fantastic job of helping people reach their potential, but I’m not sure how good a job we do of articulating the business impact of that.”

“If you really value people, how do you demonstrate that?” adds Houghton. “It’s about having a conversation. Sometimes metrics will allow you to have those conversations with those leaders. If you don’t have the measures behind you, you can’t have that argument.”

At PwC, for example, HR has worked with finance to “create advocates in the finance teams for HR reporting,” says Chris Weeks, strategic workforce planning leader. “If finance colleagues see the step change in the HR reporting, then they point people to HR for HR data, rather than provide it themselves.”

Paul Kearns, co-founder of the Institute for HR Maturity, who also chairs the British Standards Institution’s committee on professional HR standards, says his interest in metrics was formed when he worked as an in-house HRD at a manufacturing company. “What really bothered me as an executive HR guy was that I couldn’t convince my exec colleagues that HR was important,” he recalls. “To convince them, I first needed to convince myself by measuring what I did.”

Then there’s the move towards integrated reporting (IR), which HR magazine has covered in-depth and increasingly looks like being a matter of not if, but when, and the ongoing discussion over HR professional standards. IR requires reporting around people-related measures, particularly human, intellectual, social and relationship capital. It makes sense for HR to play a leading role in reporting on these – whether or not it will be able to do so is another matter.

Meaningless measures

Getting all this right is easier said than done. Kearns puts it bluntly: “Most HR people are not measuring anything meaningful. There’s this big game being played where HR measures its activity and tries to use that data to justify its existence. The problem is, it’s not impressing anyone.”

We all know the adages ‘You can’t manage what you don’t measure’ and ‘What gets measured gets done’. Maybe it’s worth coming up with a new one: pointless measurement leads to pointless data. “HR is under so much pressure to measure that people measure everything that moves and hope they hit the target,” believes Kearns. “People are running around like headless chickens and not producing anything of real value.”

Morrison expresses a similar sentiment. “There’s something in using quantitative information to gain insights, but everyone rushes out to do everything and produces a huge amount of information that isn’t very useful,” he says. “We stopped doing a lot of data reporting because it was meaningless. We were creating reports that no one read.”

Weeks agrees: “The temptation can be to develop a swathe of reports based on information that is easily accessible, but this sort of information can be of limited value and the volume of it can overwhelm and turn off business users.”

Campbell adds that he feels a lot of the numbers flying around are “HR for HR’s purpose as opposed to business purpose”. He says: “It is useful to run HR more efficiently by getting a headcount report or being able to do reward quicker, but that’s just making an HR team more efficient. That’s all well and good, but the real nugget that drives me forward is trying to figure out how to measure the impact of people on the business metrics. HR is about supporting the organization to be better, and the purpose of the organization is inevitably to hit business metrics.”

The simple fact is true value-add measures are harder to arrive at, which makes taking the easy route all too tempting. “It’s like that old joke about the drunk man only searching for his keys under the streetlight because the light is better there,” says Thomas Davenport, distinguished professor in management and information technology at Babson College and author of Big Data at Work. “People measure what is easy to measure.”

So, in HR terms, that means looking at cost per hire, hours spent on a training course or turnover and absenteeism. They all have their uses, but that doesn’t mean they offer much value. “These are just ‘same as’ measures,” says Collins. “You have the data, so you report on it. But if you stopped producing those metrics, what would the result be? Why measure cost per hire? What about cost per effective hire? Would you pay 5% more for someone who was going to be a good performer and stay longer, or would you rather take a chance on someone who might stay for three months?”

David Bowes, chief people officer at managed services provider WDS, is trying to use data to come up with “a more balanced view of how effective a recruitment function can be”, looking beyond time and cost to quality of hire. “I look at how successful people are in the business and in the role they were hired for,” he explains. “That’s a measure I want the recruitment people to take on board. If we are hiring people poorly, if people aren’t staying or they are not successful, that is a recruitment issue. I want to hold recruitment people accountable. That’s a more sustainable model.”

Does HR have the skills?

Tellingly, Bowes adds that he has had to change his HR team in his determination to make more intelligent use of HR data. And at every conference I’ve attended on HR analytics this year (and there have been a lot), most of the speakers have moved from other, more data-driven functions into HR in order to help HR harness the power of analytics. Many speakers have also alluded to the ‘pushback’ and reluctance they have had to deal with from existing HR professionals.

According to Deloitte’s 2014 Human Capital Trends survey, 86% of companies reported no analytics capabilities in HR and 67% rated themselves ‘weak’ at using HR data to predict workforce performance and improvement. “Very few people went into HR to work with numbers,” says Davenport, but he adds this is “not unique to HR; it’s true of marketing too” – and the marketing department is often held up as the beacon of analytics good practice.

Collins believes there are two main issues HR needs to tackle. One is “endemic” in the profession, the belief that people are not a number. “We have senior HR professionals who have been schooled in the world of talking about intangibles, the value of people and the value in individual capabilities without looking at it through a commercial lens,” he says. “The second is we haven’t attracted the more numerate and statistically minded graduates and young professionals.”

But should HR become net importers of these skills from outside the profession? It could be an unsustainable approach. “You can’t remove the function of HR from the algorithm completely,” acknowledges Collins. “To operate analytics without that level of understanding and context creates a risk. That said, there needs to be an injection of analytic capability, and maybe that means bringing people in with those skills and developing their understanding of HR over time.”

Of course, tarring all HR professionals with the ‘bad at numbers’ brush is reductive, and implying that an understanding of numbers is all they need is false. “There are HR people who are really good at numbers, and there are those who aren’t,” says Stevan Rolls, UK head of HR at Deloitte, who adds that his background in occupational psychology gives him a great statistical grounding: “It’s good to have that as statistical people always assume HR won’t know what they’re talking about.”

And whether or not an HR person is good at numbers, Rolls points out “the kind of value you get from analytics requires specialist help”, adding: “Analytics can be really helpful, but the stats behind it are often so complex, you have to be a statistician to work it. From an HR point of view, it’s having the people around who know enough to question the data.”

Morrison points out that data is “only as good as the person who uses it”. “And that’s why we’ve got to be careful,” he adds. “If we’re serious about this, we need some really different skillsets, not just to be more commercially aware. Marketing has consumer insight teams doing this work properly.”

Big insight, not big data

The real value comes not just from data, but from insight, and knowing enough not to fall into traps like Google Flu Trend’s misstep. “If you rely overly on qualitative or quantitative insight, you won’t get to the best of either,” says Rolls. “Some things you only get to by speaking to people: it’s hidden away in the relationships.” But he concedes that being able to achieve meaningful insight is “a scarce skillset”. “It’s trying to get HR out of producing MI and more about delivering insights. Too often HR is asked to manipulate spreadsheets. You need commercial and numerate people, but you don’t go into HR to be a spreadsheet jockey. The focus needs to be on the understanding.”

McDonald’s Langhorn, whose HR department is successfully experimenting with analytics, agrees. “People talk about big data, but for me it’s about big insights that come from data, and putting the information in the hands of the right people at the right time. You often get report after report, when what I want is a report that tells me what I need to know and the areas to look at further.”

Kearns believes the concept of big data has actually made HR measurement worse as people are overcomplicating things, and Collins agrees the “analytics game for HR is about trying to get much more from less”. It’s insight that matters, and that insight comes from much more than filling in a spreadsheet or implementing the latest piece of technology. It comes from understanding narrative, context and matching qualitative and quantitative information from multiple data sets. It comes from understanding the meaning of correlation versus causation, and really knowing the culture and history of an organization. After all, as Langhorn puts it: “There is a head and a heart element to people. There’s science and there’s art.” And one cannot work without the other.

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Can HR add value to its data and analytics?

CIOs Talk Hiring and How to Win the "War for Talent" -

Surrounded by sexy tech job destinations such as Twitter, Salesforce and Dropbox, near San Francisco’s Union Square, Chris Morgan, an executive coach and founding principal at Morgan Alexander, asked a roomful of CIOs a challenging question: How do you get top-notch tech talent amidst competition from tech giants?

“The war for talent is mission critical,” Morgan says.

The CIOs gathered at San Francisco’s Hotel Nikko for a one-day CIO Perspectives event, organized by the publisher of, to discuss the pressing issues of the day, including recruiting and managing tech talent. Many CIOs, especially those outside of tech, said they simply cannot compete with the Googles of the world and are having a tough time finding and retaining tech talent. Yet there are ways to discover diamonds in the rough and get the most out of the people you already have.


IT hiring


Make no mistake, there’s a tech talent war underway on a scale unseen since the dot-com boom. Earlier this year, for instance, a Silicon Valley startup tried to woo a Google programmer away by offering a $500,000 salary, but the programmer refused and said he was making $3 million annually in cash and restricted stock units. Yahoo decided to give free food to employees as a recruiting and retaining perk at a cost of $14 million, Morgan says.

Demand is up for network engineers, software engineers and Web developers. Tech workers with “sweet spot” skills such as .Net, Java J2EE, PHP, SharePoint and mobile are getting multiple offers, according to David Knapp, metro market manager at staffing firm Robert Half Technology in San Francisco.


When recruiting tech talent, Morgan says, the key is to focus on individuals who want to quickly grow their skills and influence, and who may even look at their technical work as a kind of art form that requires a lifetime of improvement. It’s not about winning, he says, rather it’s really about working toward personal perfection.

“Recruit for attitude, not for skill,” Morgan says. “You’re trying to get raw material.”

That’s an instinct CIOs on the fringes of Silicon Valley’s starlit tech scene will need to tap if they want to recruit successfully. When B. Lee Jones, director of IT for the office of Mark Church at the County of San Mateo, ran across a stellar resume, he knew he had to appeal to the applicant’s lofty aspirations. He told her that she would be working directly with the head of the department, who was a year away from retirement, and thus she would be groomed to take over.

“That was the deal closer,” Lee Jones said at the CIO Perspectives event.

Given the recruitment challenges in Silicon Valley, CIOs might be better off coaching up their existing employees and inspiring them to pursue perfection. Unfortunately, CIOs give coaching short shrift, Morgan says. In a landmark study, three out of four companies said coaching is critical and should be someone’s dedicated job, yet only a tiny percent actually practice what they preach, according to Morgan.

One CIO attendee said he was able to inspire staff by letting go of a manager who would often shoot down ideas. The new manager now helps employees get excited about their work by showing them that he is excited about their ideas. “Want to fire people up? Fire somebody,” the CIO says.

Praising employees can inspire them to pursue perfection in their work, but CIOs need to praise the right way, warns Morgan. If you praise an employee for being smart, for instance, he might think he’s doing all that is expected and might not work as hard in the future. Or he might lie when he screws up, in an effort to maintain his super-smart status.

Instead, Morgan advises CIOs to recognize and reward employees’ pursuit of perfection, not the end product.

“Don’t praise or encourage intellect and talent,” Morgan says. “Do praise for their effort.”

via CIOs Talk Hiring and How to Win the ‘War for Talent’ –

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Power (And Peril) of Predictive Hiring Analytics

According to a new study, a growing number of new hires — as well as top-performing employees — are choosing not to stick around for long.

The 2014 PwC Saratoga U.S. Human Capital Effectiveness Report, which is based on a survey of 375 employers, finds the percentage of employee headcount for new external hires increased by nearly 40 percent from 2010 to 2013. Unfortunately, more of those new hires are leaving before their one-year anniversary: The report finds that first-year-of-service turnover increased for the second consecutive year, from 22.6 percent in 2012 to 34.1 percent in 2013. It also finds the separation rate among high-performing employees has risen to its highest level in 10 years, from 5 percent in 2012 to 6 percent last year.

The report finds that some organizations are turning to predictive analytics to boost their “quality of hire,” and thus reduce the likelihood of first-year turnover by ensuring a better fit between job candidates and open positions, says Ranjan Dutta, a director of PwC Saratoga and an author of the report.

“If employees join an organization and leave within the first year, whether it’s involuntary or not, it’s indicative of poor selection and poor onboarding,” he says.

Smart companies are turning to predictive analytics to do a better job of selecting candidates, says Dutta. Predictive analytics may help HR identify candidates who are most likely to stay (and thrive) with the company by identifying the characteristics of top performers who’ve held pivotal roles and then looking for those characteristics in candidates for those positions, according to the report. These tools can examine data from inside and outside the company, as well as input by the candidates via pre-hire assessments.

The use of predictive analytics for hiring is a natural occurrence, given the sheer amounts of data that technology has allowed companies to amass, says Jason Corsello, vice president of corporate development and strategy at Santa Monica, Calif.-based talent-management vendor Cornerstone OnDemand.

“Companies are sitting on more data than ever: They know who their people are, what skills they have, their educational backgrounds, their job performance,” says Corsello, who says Cornerstone is developing new applications that make use of predictive analytics. “The other part of the equation is that advances in technology mean that the cost of gathering all this data has gone way down.”

Companies’ use of predictive analytics in areas besides hiring has generated some controversy, however. In his 2012 bestselling book, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg drew attention to the use of PA by major retailers such as Target to predict what their customers will buy. In some cases, Duhigg wrote, retail chains can tell when a customer is pregnant even before she does by analyzing her buying patterns.

“The use of big data such as predictive analytics can be very powerful in terms of predicting what someone’s going to do,” says David Walton, a shareholder at Cozen O’Connor in Philadelphia and vice chair of the law firm’s labor and employment group.

It can also be used for questionable purposes, he adds, citing a Belgian firm that uses big data to create credit profiles of potential bank customers. The firm uses correlations which it says have revealed that people whose Facebook friends tend to write posts in all caps are potential credit risks, for example, says Walton.

“If they can do that with credit monitoring, then what can they do with employment practices, and what are the potential implications? It’s scary and amazing at the same time.”

The use of PA to make hiring decisions could lead to discrimination if not used properly, says Dutta.

“Organizations need to be very careful in how they’re using this software,” he says. “You don’t want to end up with a model that tells you not to hire people of certain ethnicities, for example.”

None of the three employment-law attorneys interviewed for this story knew of any current or recent employment-discrimination litigation concerning the use of predictive analytics for hiring. However, all agreed that the potential for adverse impact exists.

“Yes, I absolutely think it’s a legitimate concern,” says Erin Schilling, a shareholder at the Polsinelli law firm in Kansas City. “[The use of predictive analytics] could have a disparate impact on minorities, women or any different kind of class of worker.”

To stay out of trouble, she says, companies should first perform an “adverse impact analysis,” or a statistical test, on the predictive analytics they use to determine whether it screens out particular groups.

“In theory, predictive analytics should — if applied properly — broaden the possibilities for applicants to get hired and, theoretically, should result in possibly a more diverse workforce than what might have otherwise come through the door based on standard hiring processes,” says Peter Gillespie, an employment attorney with Fisher & Phillips in Chicago. “But, there’s always the risk of testing bias, and we’ve certainly seen the EEOC pursuing concerns about potential bias in the hiring process.”

HR leaders should ensure they understand how the factors that are being considered were selected and how the process was developed, he says. Should they use an outside vendor, they should check with other clients to see whether they experienced any negative outcomes with respect to adverse impact, says Gillespie.

Proponents of predictive analytics say the software can actually dispel myths that often stand in the way of people with certain backgrounds getting hired.

Michael Housman, Evolv’s chief analytics officer, says the predictive analytics his firm provides to its clients — a number of them large employers with many hourly workers — allow them to “hire and promote in a data-driven way.”

The company takes the information applicants provide via online pre-hire assessments and uses it to rate them as green, yellow and red. “Green” applicants are those who are most likely to stay with the company longer, while those rated yellow or red are more likely to leave, he says. These are important factors to consider for companies concerned about high turnover rates, he adds.

“We’ve been able to dispel a lot of myths around what predicts success in these roles,” says Housman.

For example, Evolv has discovered that applicants with a history of “job hopping” in their previous experience ended up having a job tenure just as long as employees without such a history. It also found that people who had previously been unemployed for long periods performed just as well in their jobs as those with more traditional work histories, he says. 

Employees with criminal convictions on their records, says Housman, also ended up performing on the job just as well as colleagues with clean records.

“It’s not a matter of where you’ve been, but whether you’re a good fit for the job you’re applying for now, and the best way to assess that is to determine who you are as a person,” he says.

With respect to potential adverse impact, Housman points to Evolv’s recently issued workforce code of ethics.

“Any time we deploy an assessment, we conduct an adverse-impact study to ensure that it won’t screen out members of a protected class — if it does, then we don’t deploy that assessment,” he says.

“All the data we use is legally submitted — we’re not going around scraping people’s Twitter feeds without their permission,” says Housman.

Shaker Consulting Group, a Cleveland-based vendor, also creates predictive-analytic tools designed to help its clients make better hiring decisions. The firm performs a validation analysis with each client to ensure there are no disparate impacts, says Brian Stern, president of Shaker Consulting Group.

“You should be using big data to help you ask smarter questions to help inform your decision-making, as opposed to letting this data make decisions for you,” he says.

Similar to Evolv, Stern says predictive analytics has helped dispel myths that had previously been treated as rules of thumb by many recruiters.

“We found that financial institutions were weighting candidates that had a lot of cash-handling experience more heavily in the process, but in fact, once you have a little bit of cash-handling experience, having more of it doesn’t make a difference,” he says. 

Dutta suggests that companies interested in using PA in the hiring process begin with a pilot project first and evaluate the results carefully. HR should also keep in mind that the software should never play a dominant role, he says.

“Use the software as a tool, not as a decision-maker,” says Dutta.

Human Resource Executive Online | The Power (And Peril) of Predictive Analytics.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Three Things CIOs Can Do To Improve Company Strategy

There’s a big shift going on among CIOs. By managing boxes and pipes, they make operations hum at top efficiency. They have these tasks down pat. Instead, increasingly, CIOs say their main job is setting strategy by helping their organizations craft new business models, tackle risks and forge closer relationships with customers.

This high-stakes evolution is the key finding of research we conducted with 1,600 CIOs around the world. Tech is shaping companies’ destinies and no one knows this better than the CIOs on the front lines.

Still, these tech leaders concede they have ground to cover before vaulting into this new role of strategy setter. Only 66 percent think their IT departments have mastered the basics of tech. More than 50 percent say that when it comes to performing complex activities, there’s room for improvement.

So what are CIOs doing to move forward? Our survey found three main steps that CIOs at the top-performing companies are taking. They all revolve around forging stronger ties with customers:

1) Engage digital savvy customers: First, smart CIOs are teaming up with Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs), who are also pushing the digital envelope. Next, instead of launching projects piecemeal for melding the physical and digital world to reach out to customers and create new products, they’re crafting broad, cohesive strategies.

Even more crucially, CIOs at top-performing businesses realize that to improve the client experience, they have to know customers better. Many companies have plenty of data — carefully collected from social networks, apps, Web sites, supply chains — but what they lack is actionable insight. That’s why so many respondents want to invest in new technologies for crunching all those bytes with two goals in mind:

Using sentiment mining and social network analysis to identify behavioral patterns and predict trends before the rest of the market.

Using analytics to quickly and effectively analyze the profitability of products and services so they can change their offerings on a dime.

2) Shine at the basics: of data centers, office automation, architectural standards and policy framework. CIOs have to get the basics right before turning their focus to business strategy. Yet, more than 50 percent of the CIOs we spoke with say their big data platforms, which underpin their businesses, aren’t scalable or extensible.

By comparison, outperforming companies were 42 percent more likely to have exactly this kind of platform in place. This can be a very costly difference. Keeping servers running typically gobbles up 65 percent of an IT budget in a company with a basic data center, but only 47 percent in a corporation with a highly efficient one, according to a separate survey by IBM and researcher IDC.

Meantime, when it comes to handling nuts and bolts, few CIOs have mastered the challenge of managing IT risk. On average, a company is pelted each week with 1,400 security attacks. That’s going to get worse as organizations rack up more information about customers and open up corporate networks with the rise of mobile devices and the cloud. Which is why CIOs at top companies are getting aggressive about improving their defenses. They’re 60 percent more likely to invest in more sophisticated tools for measuring and managing risk.

3) Boost collaboration inside and out: It’s not just what people know that makes them valuable, it’s what they share. When employees, suppliers, and partners cooperate, they’re more productive and innovative. Some 70 percent of CIOs expect to work with a broader group of partners in the future — not to boost efficiency or cut costs, but to bolster strategy. Which is why 82 percent of CIOs at leading organizations are putting in tools to improve collaboration, compared with just 69 percent at under-performing enterprises.

Mobile plays a big part in these plans, with more than 50 percent of the most successful companies reporting that they’re now equipped to do business anywhere, via any device. Still, CIOs struggle to address legal, security and privacy issues with employees who want to bring their own devices (BYOD) to work. More than 25 percent of the CIOs we spoke with report they’re holding off on BYOD, though ultimately they may have little choice but to consent.

Over time, playing a strategic role will come down to another fundamental kind of collaboration: working with the rest of the C-Suite including “new” IT buyers such as CMOs, Chief Financial Officers and HR. Part of managing the expectations that companies are placing on CIOs will mean getting buy in. This comes down to crafting partnerships at the top. Over time, every aspect of a company’s business will depend in one way or another on technology — and the CIO.

via IBM Smarter PlanetVoice: Three Things CIOs Can Do To Improve Company Strategy – Forbes.

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Why Your Thumbs Could Hurt on Your Next Job Interview

I’ve known about gaming applications as a hiring tool for some time now, but this new article over on the NY Times shows the serious investment being made in the development of video games to help hiring managers choose talent.

In short, more and more people will be using their thumbs to help them land the job. (My hands are aching just thinking about it!)

What If You Aren’t a Gamer?!

Okay, so if you’re reading this article and thinking, “Crud. I stink at video games. My 5 year old son, nephew, neighbor, etc. kicks my butt every time we play.” Or, “Dang. I was good at Ms. PacMan, but it’s been awhile,” then you’re not alone. Millions of job seekers aren’t gamers – and that’s okay. You’ll just need to leverage your other assets – and I’m not talking about your good looks or college degree. (Here’s an article on why college degrees don’t get you hired, passion does.)

Personality, Aptitude & Experience – They’ll Still Count For Something

While using video games might help a company identify traits in a candidate that aren’t easily recognized in an interview, they will still need to make sure that you have the:

A) Personality type that will mesh with the rest of the team. If you can’t communicate and get along with your peers, you’ll negatively impact the office environment and team productivity.

B) Aptitude to adapt to change without getting flustered. Yes, the game might be able to test that to some degree, but they’ll still want to see how you physically handle the stress. They need to ensure you are able to stay positive in your thoughts and communication style enough keep it in check and not let it affect your teammates.

C) Experience needed to maintain a certain level of professionalism. Being “professional” is learned. You spend time in an environment and come to understand the unwritten rules of proper business etiquette and teamwork requirements. Even if you were the top scorer on the video hiring game, if you can’t act like a proper professional, you won’t be selected.

Want to Skip the Games? Become a Super-Connector

I do think even when these video games become mainstream in hiring, there will still be a way to bypass this part of the process: just be a super-connector. Those that recognize their network is their net worth know building powerful relationships will always be the best way to find work. (Here’s the Ultimate Cheat Sheet on Becoming a Super-Connector.)

Super-Connectors Don’t Play Games…They’re Game-Changers!

The definition of a super-connector is someone who focuses on helping their network with their career goals. They serve their network, and in return, their network rewards them by referring them to employers looking for their type of talent. There’s a reason 80% of all jobs are gotten today via referral – it works. So, while it might not be a bad idea to pick up a video game from time to time so your eye-hand coordination stays current, I’d spend more time picking up the phone, inviting people to coffee, attending networking events, and making professional introductions for others so you can build and maintain the quality relationships needed to get doors opened for you in the future.

Humans Hire Humans to Play the Work Game Together

My advice to anyone worrying about the video game hiring trend is to remember the best companies create cultures where the employees feel like they are on the same team. Humans hire humans so they can play the work game together. Not every employer is going to use this type of hiring tool. There will always be plenty of employers out there for you to land a position with that won’t make you hurt your thumbs to get the job offer.

via Why Your Thumbs Could Hurt on Your Next Job Interview | LinkedIn.

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CIOs Must Adapt or Risk Being Replaced

Consumer tech and cloud services empower line-of-business managers to go around IT in greater numbers than ever before. It’s shaking up the role of CIOs, forcing them to shift from tech gatekeeper to tech enabler.

Michael Keithley at Creative Artists Agency in Hollywood, Calif., calls this shift the biggest he’s seen in his more than two decades serving as a CIO. He also says he fears many of his peers will struggle to make this shift and some may even lose their jobs. sat down with Keithley to talk about the new role of the CIO. You’ve been a CIO for more than two decades. How would you characterize this change? How big is it?

Michael Keithley: We’re at a unique time in the history of this industry. There’s more change going on now than there ever has, at least from what I can remember. It’s really significant, a big tipping point. The pace of change is also really accelerating. It’s exciting for me.

After years and years of traditional IT — standardizing on Windows desktops with Dell or Hewlett-Packard, and BlackBerry as the mobile device, everything locked down in a very command-and-control kind of way — recently the forces of cloud and mobile and consumerization have changed the game completely. I went from that traditional shop to one of wide-open enablement, where I allow users to use whatever tools, devices or technologies they need to get their job done.

It’s a sea change for how IT thinks about things. You’ve used the term ‘chief enabler’ to describe the CIO’s new role. I’ve also heard ‘cloud broker.’ What exactly are the demands of this new role?

Keithley: Pretty much everything changes. We’re a global organization, so I have data centers strewn around the world, yet I’m actively trying to get out of the data center business. The primary way I’m doing that is aggressively migrating to the cloud. You get wonderful benefits, but it also completely changes how you have to access risk. Security and compliance are things every CIO has to deal with.

Historically, we’ve had the concept of the corporate LAN or WAN and the wild Internet. The firewall was the choke point where you could implement all your security stuff. Now, on the cloud or mobile devices, I’m rarely coming back to the corporate LAN. And so you have to approach security in a completely different way.

Certainly one of the biggest areas where CIOs can provide value and leadership is in contract negotiations, especially with SaaS vendors. If you’re a CMO or line-of-business manager, you’re thinking very tactically about the problem you’re trying to solve. But the reality is that none of the historical things around data integrity, security and compliance, creating silos and master data — all the things that IT is really good at — are still there.

I think CIOs can be that coach, that mentor and lead in this area. Sounds like a vastly different skill set from the those of the traditional CIO. Will your peers be able to transition to this role?

Keithley: It’s challenging on a bunch of levels. We’ve always talked about aligning with the business. But this is much deeper than that. You really have to understand the business, speak in their language, understand the problems they’re trying to solve, what their challenges are, etc. You’ve got to get out of the office. You have to have excellent inter-personal communication skills. It’ll push and stretch CIOs, especially those comfortable resting on their technical laurels.

And it’s not just dealing with the CMO, director of HR, CFOs and other corporate officers, I think the cloud in general is really threatening to a lot of CIOs. It’s change, not something they’re comfortable with. And so I see a lot of CIOs reverting back to, ‘Well, we can’t do it because of security or compliance.’

In effect, you can, you should and you have to if you really want a future in this profession of being a CIO. The cloud is an unstoppable force, and the users are going to do it whether you like it or not. Lines-of-business [managers] or pretty much anybody with a credit card can go around IT and procure cloud services.

To put your head in the sand and say, ‘I’m not going to go down the cloud path’ or ‘I’m not going to make the investment to be able to relate to my C-level peers’ is just a prescription for being replaced.

via CIOs Must Adapt or Risk Being Replaced –

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