Feb 6 2014, 4:31pm CST | by Forbes
In the 15 months since their first notice to acquire Kenexa, and across their other various recent acquisitions, IBM’s intentions for social business are starting to crystalize. At the recent IBM Connect 2014 event, I heard three key closely fitting themes across various interviews and sessions:
To begin, I interviewed Craig Hayman whose Industry Solutions unit included SmarterCommerce, and SmarterCities solutions together. To this, they have added the SmarterWorkforce, which also includes collaboration technologies, under the same banner.
Rawn Shah: Why this new role? Can you describe how these groups fit together?
Craig Hayman: “An individual as a consumer is better served if you’re creating engaging moments for that consumer. Similarly, in SmarterCities, a lot of that is about engaging citizens in cities and municipalities. And now, I’m continuing the great work that [Rudy Karsan of IBM Kenexa] has been doing to create engaging moments with an employee, as you attract, retain, or develop them through the full life cycle of an employee.
So my role is General Manager of Industry Cloud Solutions, which means to cover the individual as an employee, [customer and citizen] and focus on: How can we better serve and create moments of engagement?”
RS: Can you give an example what is common in the social processes in this space?
CH: “Think about how much science goes into sending an email to a consumer. We can help somebody craft and email; design an email campaign; do A/B testing; wire analytics into that campaign, see who opens it, see who clicks through to a landing page; figure out when to send them an email; if someone chooses to get a notification instead of an email, we can do that.
For a marketing campaign, we have all that capability. We can show a digital analytics survey, by the minute what consumers are buying; what the penetration of mobile feeds are; how many come from social feeds; ad provide that back to our customers. During the Christmas holiday, the Thanksgiving holiday, we report on that as the Digital analytics benchmark.
So that is for consumers. Why can’t we do that for employees? How many horrible emails do you get inside an organization: do this; fill this in. We sent it to you once and you didn’t respond. That’s like the Dark ages. Can you imagine if you just got one email to buy something? If you just got one email for tickets to your favorite show? That would not increase your rate of adoption.
So why do we accept such primitive engagement techniques with employees? So now, bring it back to the survey. You get to set an employee survey. Let’s spend some time to author that survey. Let’s get some analytics about someone to enroll in that survey. Do some A/B testing. Let’s get someone to engage in that survey.
The science behind it is very similar. You could also apply that to citizens. “
“If you hire the wrong person for the job, all the fancy management techniques in the world won’t bail you out.”
Quoting the wisdom of legendary basketball coach of the Boston Celtics, Arnold “Red” Auerbach, Keith Weidenkeller of AMC Theaters pointed out a key HR challenge particularly poignant for the movie theater business. According to Mr Weidenkeller, this is highly commoditized industry where generally all providers offer the same thing (movies) and which typically employs a large number of young employees (high school or college students) that have a turnover rate of 200%. Hence, making the right hire can be the difference between a bad and a great quarter.
High turnover also means a huge volume of candidates and resumes: 1.6 million of them a year, apparently. They needed a better way to sort through that mass and seek out those who would honestly be friendly, creative and dependable. “AMC used to rely on instinct and gut to hire General Managers for each location,” said Mr. Weidenkeller. “For us in the corporate environment, they are the theater. There were huge swings and results across our theaters. We had engagement scores as low as 40% to as high as 80%.”
The change they made in both the cases was applying a behavioral science view through IBM Kenexa solutions. Understanding psychometrics of general employee candidates helped them reduce staff turnover from 200% to 90%, while also increasing guest satisfaction by 10 points. Creating a specific assessment tool allowed them to discover different attributes of their general managers and get recommendations. They found that managers specifically recommended by the system made a $300,000 different. In little over a year, per theater (unit level) cash flows increased by 18%.
The AMC Theaters case generally falls under traditional HR talent development methods. However, what lies ahead are new possibilities that enrich the types of data, data collection, and analysis methods behind psychometrics and behavioral metrics.
Online interactions create volumes of behavioral data of a different sort than that in person. Aside from behavioral data (“how you act”), social environments also breed content within these engagements that describe attitudinal data (“how you think”). An organization’s capabilities to work with behavioral science, psychology and analytics will become a future differentiator.
This aspect became clearer in my next conversation with Scott Hebner, IBM VP of Social Business Solutions, driving us towards the ability to really understand everyone individually, rather than as market segments or aggregate groupings.
Rawn Shah: Can you share what you have learned from analytics in SmarterCommerce?
Scott Hebner: From what we are learning from our clients, we recognize that the marketplace and the workplace are fusing together. Everything is becoming more transparent. We have all these social technologies that is amplifying the flow of knowledge content. That is such a great opportunity to learn about people.
If you think about business traditionally, they have always had empirical data, customer records, surveys, transactions, and instrumented data. Now you have all this wealth of human behavioral data that is out there because of social. It is a gold mine of data that really didn’t exist four or five years ago. So, from a SmarterCommerce point of view, I think the lynchpin here is to treat customers are individuals, not as segments.
We know from some pretty solid data, the more you can engage with someone on a personal level, on their interests, needs and intentions, you are a lot more successful at being able to sell things.
I think at the core of all this is this explosion of data, this human face to data that then allows me to do analytics on it, learn about people, their activities, their performance, their sentiment and their behaviors, and be able to target people more effectively.
RS: When you get down to the level of individual, just how much processing is involved? Let’s say you have a million customers; are you really going to look at every single person at that level?
SH: With the scale of the compute power you have now, you certainly can. That’s where the trick comes in here, on how you structure the analytics. You can make the argument that it is going to be really hard to program the analytics that you need. That’s where this notion of cognitive computing is starting to come on the scene, where these systems essentially program themselves based on the learning. IBM Watson is where we are doing that.
You start to apply that to commerce, to customer service, and things like that. You have the ability to deal with large numbers of people. You start to create the profiles on what they think and do. That’s the notion that’s really starting to happen here in behavioral science.
The [opportunity] here is to turn Marketing into a service. It’s more than throwing out ‘Here’s 25% off [the price]’. They learn about what your interests are, your intentions, your flow of information, and get you in contact with different people. It almost becomes like a service to you [the customer], right?
It all circles back to the ability to tap into this behavioral data. Again, it wasn’t there five or six years ago, and it is there now. So I think a lot of companies are starting to say, ‘We’re going to figure out how to tap into it and really start to treat people as individuals as best we can.’
Source: Forbes Business
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