IBM Connect 2013 Notes: Creating a Smarter Workforce – Panel

This is another in a series of my notes on IBM Connect 2013. I am very pleased to be back again after the last two years thanks to IBM’s support. Here is a summary of my notes for 2012 and 2011. These notes cover the Monday Press Session: Creating a Smarter Workforce with Rudy Karsan, CEO, Kenexa, an IBM Company; Jonathan Ferrar, VP Strategy & Product Management, Smarter Workforce, IBM; and Tim Geisert, CMO, Kenexa, an IBM Company.

It was asked why Kenexa decided to be acquired.

Rudy mentioned the opportunity to change the world with IBM support. The IBM name and capabilities allows them to go beyond what they could do on their own.

It was asked about the recruiting process. 

Rudy mentioned KSA (knowledge skills, and attributes).  These dimensions are the traditional ones used by HR. Now a fourth dimension is culture. As an example, for culture issues, they can look at all the data points to see predictive factors for profitability and then what is driver of these sales. For example, at AMC movie theaters it was popcorn sales and the manager was the major driver of popcorn sales. So they can look at how the manager can drive sales to spread the activities of the successful ones.

Home Depot ran three tests for their on-the-ground store personnel. One was the IBM-Kenexa model and it led to significant increases in revenues per sales person. The approach of the sales people was a driver here. The big data also said that the number one driver of turnover was the length of commute of the employee.  It took a big data look to discover this, even though it makes sense. How you handle this is tricky so you are not discriminatory and subject to law suits. One approach is to raise the commuting issue and let recruits self-select.

The benefit for the employee is having a better chance to find a meaningful job. This discussion has helped people find work that is meaningful to them. Many people are unsure about what they want to do. The tools can help with channeling into the right work and then succeeding. The tools are not perfect but predictors.

It was asked about the fact that people do not always give honest answers to interviews.

Rudy said there are authentication steps but it is not precise. The tools are to help people make better decisions, not eliminate people and make decisions for them. Their model can predict which people will stay at up to 95% reliability. This helps with workforce planning. It also helps identify issues before they happen and make corrections.

A case example was given where a company was having trouble filling some key jobs.

Kenexa came in and interviewed. They found that this was seen more as a transition job.  So they needed to find people who wanted a transition job.  They filled the jobs in 6 weeks that had been open for 6 months. The people are still with the company in different positions.

Behavioral science has changed in the last 15 years. If you can provide people with more awareness about the job, the more likely they are to stay. You need to better empower people to make decisions. They are introducing not just smarter HR but smarter workforce. We are helping people better self-manage their own tools.

Social learning with Connections and Kenexa was the next topic. 

Rather than connecting people in a room, a company used Connections for virtual social learning around product development. It led to more collaboration and brought a new product to market sooner. This occurred because it tapped into a wider portion of the company so there was some crowd sourcing.

It was asked does data only give you correlation or can you find causation?

The big data science can look at what likely causes the correlation. Then you can move to validation to find causation.

Rudy said at the end of the day the smarter workforce is about the individual.

People do want to be better.  However, they distrust corporations since they see them only interested in profits.  These tools do help people become more engaged because they feel more connected to the company.

What do you think? Please share...