Corporate data talks: Inspiration for my People Analytics journey

IBM Cognitive café 2017 in Tel Aviv, was a great opportunity to meet and hear data leaders of some Israeli companies. I listened to them very carefully, knowing that their experience is most valuable for any journey in the field of People Analytics and data-driven HR. Here are my take away from some inspiring presentations, with my personal notes:

Mega-trends of the digital era

This should not be new for any business leader, but Daniel Melka, CEO IBM Israel, nicely reviewed the mega-trends of the digital era, when he talked about “organizations which re-invent themselves in order to deal with the ever-changing business environment, and tied their success to insights derived from data”. Malka described the endless amount of data, the new communication channels between people, organizations and machines, and the new business models born in the cloud by APIs. He mainly referred to company clients, but I believe that every trend he mentioned is applicable to employees too.

The recipe for data product

Dana Arditi, Strategy Service Line Leader in IBM, talked about the success in any analytics project. The secret sauce in her recipe is the people involved. “You need both domain experts and data scientists”, she explained. This talent combination enables to transform data to insights in a short time, and rapidly create a unique customer experience. The practice of combining various data sets from different sources, using machine learning and predictive models, to the final wrap-up in a customer interface, are parallel to many People Analytics case studies I know. The main difference is the target audience: employees who want to “consume” HR products, and managers who want more “democratized” HR insights.

Corporates find innovation outside

Shira Baum, Director of Innovation & Business Development in Leumi Card, learns the disruption arena, and contacts start-ups that are focused on a particular solutions. To do so, Baum starts with mapping the goals of business units. Within the solutions that she source and sense, she pick those which are valid for the company, in terms of technological maturity and business compatibility. Baum shared her experience regarding the conceptual gap between start-up and corporate guys. She recommended open communication, setting expectations, and being able to say “NO”. “There is no doubt, a start-up is a long-term partner, but you need a dedicated team for this partnership”, she concluded. Her brilliant presentation led me to think about dozens of startups in HR-tech, and the complexity in implementing their solutions in organizations.

It’s a marathon, but you can run

Ronit Hayman-Strifler, CDO in Israel Discount Bank shared her personal story. She started to run from zero to marathon. Reaching the marathon finish line inspired her, and so, she founded a startup – an experience that was important to the corporate world too, because, as she said “being a CDO, leading a change, is as hard as running a startup. But like a marathon, she made it, with the right support around: She established a multi-disciplinary forum for the digital domain, which discussed the client experience derived by data and insights. “To lead a change, you need both clear goals and passion”, she admits. “You must understand that it is possible, and you can deal with the opponents. Have a clear plan, maintain a support group, be a people person and tie all the edges”, she recommend. I take her story as is: pure inspiration. My journey is truly a marathon, but I can make it, and I am, and I will.

It’s all about the money, and good spirit

Ido Biger is the CDO of Yes Satellite TV. In his role, he is measured “by the money” as he put it. His goal is to create revenues and decrease costs and risks. He does it with data, although sometimes this means to tell other business units what they should do to make more money or cut costs. Interestingly, he reports both to CMO and CTO, therefore he is simultaneously engaged with entirely two different sectors within the organization. In his own words – my most important client in the company is myself. Biger has some recommendation for success as a CDO: “Leave your ego at home and learn to credit others for your success. Combine technological background with business acumen. Maintain mental strength as a leader but understand that the support of your CEO is crucial. I believe that Biger’s good spirit and sense of humor were also a huge advantage, and this insight is important as well.

To conclude an inspiring event, I chose again Daniel Melka’s words: “Change All but your basic values”. Indeed, practicing People Analytics requires constant change of practices and technologies. But inside, let’s remain the same: curious, collaborative, and with good purpose to bring wellness to the future of work.

 


About the author:

Littal Shemer Haim brings Data Science into HR activities, to guide organizations to base decision-making about people on data. Her vast experience in applied research, keen usage of statistical modeling, constant exposure to new technologies, and genuine interest in people lives, all led her to focus nowadays on HR Data Strategy, People Analytics, and Organizational Research.


 

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