Empowering Managers with People Data Analytics: An Interview with Alex Outwater

Aug 23, 2018 1:51:08 PM / by Mary Kaylor

Alex leads product marketing for ADP DataCloud, ADP’s industry-leading portfolio of reporting, analytics and Big Data solutions, named “Top HR Product of 2016” by Human Resource Executiveâ and a multiple-time Awesome New Technologies winner from the HR Technology Conference. Drawing on nearly 20 years of marketing experience, Alex is responsible for go-to-market strategy for ADP DataCloud, achieving double-digit revenue growth following its launch in 2015. He has spoken at SHRM and been quoted in numerous publications, including HR Professionals Magazine, TalentCulture and TechTarget. Prior to joining ADP, Alex led global marketing for IBM Interactive Experience, where we helped grow the digital consulting agency into an industry leader cited by Ad Age and industry analysts, and has also spent time in consulting and higher education administration. Alex has an MBA from Emory University's Goizueta Business School and an undergraduate degree from Tufts University.

Empowering Managers: Using People Data Analytics for Retention and Business Growth: HR data is no longer solely the domain of HR. Progressive organizations are empowering frontline managers with workforce insights to help them manage their teams and drive better business outcomes. GBW Railcar Services, the largest independent railcar repair network in North America, sought to improve how managers attracted, managed and retained the right employee mix, especially for hourly employees who are critical to the organization’s success. The company developed a program to deliver insights to managers that is enabling them to improve hiring, retention, and time and labor management. Hear how GBW Railcar Services deployed analytics to its managers, and in the process improved how insights are applied to advance both workforce management and talent management.

As an HR Technology Conference Insiders blogger, I conducted a Q & A with Alex to learn more about how organizations can empower their managers with people data analytics.

Alex, the title of your session at 2018 HR Tech Conference is “Empowering Managers: Using People Data Analytics for Retention and Business Growth”.  Why should 2018 HR Technology Conference attendees attend this session? 

Anyone who is interested in how to take workforce data and bring it to the front lines of the business will learn some valuable and candid insights from Lisa Maxey at GBW Railcar.   So many companies that I speak with know “what” they should do with data – it’s the “how” that is hard and complicated.  My conversation with Lisa should help organizations think through some of the tough parts of using data --- the change management, process changes and alignment of HR goals with business KPIs that comes along with access to information.

Progressive organizations are empowering frontline managers with workforce insights to help them manage their teams. What type of HR insights and data are the most helpful to supervisors for hiring and talent management?

It really depends on the organization and what the key business KPIs are.  But in general, we see trends in a few key areas, including turnover/retention, overtime and workforce demographics such as headcount by generation.  The tight U.S. labor market and focus on using data to optimize staffing and production to reduce costs are macro drivers, for sure. More and more organizations are also focusing on the employee experience and looking at data such as % engaged on a weekly basis, to try and head off attrition before it happens.  Predictive analytics also is playing a larger role in helping managers know the key drivers of turnover – and what to do about them.

Thanks to technology, gathering data has become easier, however, analyzing can be time consuming and tedious.  What advice can you share with HR and people managers for making workforce data analysis an easier process?  

Fewer people in a business have time these days for “analyzing data” -- the pace of business is just too fast, and insights need to be closer to real-time and served up in a way where the data analysis is done behind the scenes.  Lisa will talk about this, and how she’s tapping into AI from ADP to help surface what’s important for a manager to know – all on their mobile device.  “Tell me what I need to know” is a common theme we hear from clients who don’t have the staff or time to wade through the sea of data to figure out what’s important to focus on.  It’s easier than ever to do data analysis given the technology now available, yet many organizations already are seeking how to go to the next level – i.e. “do the data analysis for me and tell me what I need to know”.

GBW Railcar Services developed a program to deliver HR insights to managers that is enabling them to improve hiring, retention, and time and labor management. What advice can you share with other HR professionals who are looking to develop the same type of program at their organizations?

Lisa will discuss the importance of setting expectations and KPIs up front – where specifically do you want to impact the business? For example, is time-to-fill for key roles a business issue that should be prioritized?  Or turnover among a key demographic in your organization?  There’s no one size fits all approach – it really depends on business drivers and strategy for each organization.  That’s why an HR partnership with the business is so important – those key business drivers should be agreed on before any analytics program is rolled out.

With artificial intelligence and blockchain completely changing the way HR data is gathered, shared and stored, what do you think the future of HR analytics will look like?

HR analytics will become less about data and the toolsets – i.e. the term “analytics” and “intelligence” will fade and be replaced by the outcomes – near-time compensation trends, or overtime rates in a department that this week may be out of synch with the rest of the organization.  Machine learning and AI will help make HR insights feel like a part of everyday life in the workplace – in the same way that Amazon has changed how many of us access product information and make buying decisions at the “speed of life”.  The HR organization will increasingly be able to operate at this same “speed of life” – the question then becomes about readiness.

Want to learn more?  Alex Outwater will present with Lisa Maxey at the 2018 HR Technology Conference:  Empowering Managers -- Using People Data Analytics for Retention and Business Growth | Wednesday, September 12, 2018: 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM


Topics: technology, analytics;, data, HR, hr tech, HR Technology, HR Tech Conference

Mary Kaylor

Written by Mary Kaylor

Mary Kaylor is the Public Affairs Lead for the Society for Human Resource Management. She is the Managing Editor of the SHRM Blog and the creator and producer of #Nextchat, a leading global Twitter chat on the HR trends and all things work. Her career in communications spans from technology and workforce management in the telecommunications industry to external affairs and public relations. An HR Technology conference blogger since 2015, you can find her on Twitter at @SHRMKaylor.

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