Interview: Embracing People Analytics
In an exclusive conversation with People Matters, Arun Sundar, Chairman of Asia Analytics Alliance (A Special Interest Group of Asia Cloud Computing Association). Arun is a renowned leader in the Asia Pacific technology space, specifically in the evolving AI and Analytics space. He is the Founder of The Social Capital Institute and a TedEx speaker. In this extract, Arun as Chief Strategy Officer of TrustSphere shares his take on People Analytics and what challenges do organizations face while embracing analytics as a DNA.
Q: Recent report by Deloitte talked about the growing importance of Organization Network Analysis (ONA), tell us something about Trustsphere and the science behind relationships.
A: Organizations are a loose collection of people which move forward by leveraging the relationships that people have internally and with the external stakeholders. For example, the most critical business processes like sales, investments, change management and much more are all dependent upon relationships and trust in it. On the flip side, instances such as fraud are also a result of misuse of trust.
Therefore, there is immense business value in understanding these internal/external relationships and how they impact processes and decision-making.Many of these relationships through which most work actually gets done lie outside the formal business hierarchy. And hence, we built a technology to capture these relationships. Adding behavioral science to this information presents powerful insights.
Q: What are your thoughts on the maturity level of organizations when it comes to adopting such solutions in people analytics?
A: There are multiple ways of looking at this and here are some instances to understand the maturity levels. One of the most common ways is to profile organizations based on regions but that is now passé. Asia is now gaining strength in People Analytics. Organizations have started leveraging analytics for initiatives including understanding the impact of leadership, identifying high potential employees, employee engagement, wellness and inclusion mindsets etc. Another lens could be by industry. An industry where talent management has a direct impact on the bottom line definitely has a higher propensity to invest in people analytics. For example, a specialized industry where revenue per employee is high has a definitely higher propensity to invest in people analytics. In a specialized industry, the dip in the motivation and engagement levels will be profound, in such cases the investment in people analytics will be significantly higher.
Q: What are the most common challenges that you have seen organizations facing when it comes to embracing analytics in the DNA?
A: There are two major challenges when it comes to actually embracing analytics as a DNA – expectations of multiple stakeholders and the mindset related to data. In general, there are 4 categories of stakeholders when it comes to analytics or for that matter, any technology – the buyer who takes the final decision to buy; the doer, who implements the technology; the spender, who actually gives the money; and lastly the person who gets impacted by it – the general employees. Each of these categories of stakeholders has different expectations of value and for a successful implementation, it is critical to democratize the value of implementation to all these categories. The other challenge is to build open mindsets to share data; often organizations feel too protective to be willing to let external experts help them.
There are two major challenges when it comes to actually embracing analytics as a DNA – expectations of multiple stakeholders and the mindset related to data protection.
Q: Any shifts that you are seeing in the people analytics space in the last 2-3 years?
A: One of the biggest shifts definitely has been that people analytics is now being viewed as an enterprise-wide level and not just as an HR initiative. Today, in a lot of organizations, analytics sits outside of HR. 3 years back, it was just a fancy word, but in the last 2-3 years, this space has moved from defining “why” and “what” of people analytics. Next in line is a strong focus on defining the “how” part.
Q: What would be your advice to organizations that are starting on the analytics journey?
A: It is important to focus on the business priorities first. If you are starting on an analytics journey, find solutions aligned with business priorities and challenges. And always bucket these solutions into three categories: Strategic, Tactical and Operational. Strategic projects will be slow but eventually lead to a culture of analytics; tactical projects will be the low-hanging fruits and yield quick ROI to help you get the leadership buy-in, and lastly, operational projects will involve a lot of people and hence will help you create the right mindset among the masses.