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8/4/2014
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IBM Applies Analytics To Big Workforce Transitions

Cloud-based predictive readiness, recruitment, and retention services are part technology, part consulting for firms facing disruptive change.

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Can software alone help your organization sort out challenging human resources problems?

If you believe that's possible, then check out the bells-and-whistles features checklists from the likes of Oracle, SAP, Workday, and others, and let HR figure it out. IBM spent $1.3 billion to acquire Kenexa back in 2012 because it believes analytics, behavioral science, and company-specific consulting are needed to solve tough HR problems.

On Monday IBM announced three new cloud-based predictive HR services, all of which include consultative engagements from Kenexa workforce scientists. And with the rollout of a new Talent and Change consulting practice, IBM also introduced four consulting services aimed at companies in transition.

[Want more on consulting help with cloud-based HR app deployments? Read HP Takes Workday Under Its Wing.]

Disruption is being experienced in many industries, according to a recent IBM global C-suite study, with two out of five CEOs saying their next competitive threat will come from organizations outside their industry. Retailers, for example, are threatened by online competitors, telcos by new mobile and broadband competitors, and financial services by new regulatory requirements. The challenges include rethinking workforce practices and priorities, and attracting and retaining the best people.

IBM Kenexa Predictive Hiring combines a cloud-based platform with consulting. IBM workforce scientists model high-impact roles such as sales associates in retail, brokers and advisors in finance, researchers in the pharmaceutical industry, or production line workers in manufacturing. Modelling spots the skills that make all the difference in these roles. IBM Kenexa then tests for those skills by creating assessments that are embedded into the cloud-based recruitment platform.

IBM Kenexa Workforce Readiness targets companies facing change and plagued by complexity, such as organizational layers that have outlived their usefulness and job titles and families surviving from mergers, acquisitions, and long-gone market conditions. This service assesses the skills that organizations have in place and then predicts the crucial job families required for a customer-driven organization geared to emerging market conditions.

Complex and regulated industries are ripe for the Readiness service, according to IBM, because personnel often require certification and training, yet layers and redundant job titles can get in the way. Financial advisers, for example, get frustrated with overlapping compliance-education programs created because HR doesn't know the skills of current employees. Telcos need precise knowledge of the technical skills of engineers and field workers as business shifts into new service categories. By consolidating potentially thousands of titles into a "Talent Framework," the Readiness service can help HR eliminate unnecessary training and focus on the people who really do need development.

IBM Kenexa Predictive Retention has three components. First, it offers senior HR leaders a predictive understanding of the people who are at risk of leaving. This predictive insight relies in part on historical patterns and job profiles, but Kenexa also offers exit surveys (the second element) that help companies assess location, pay, promotions, and other aspects of employee profiles that contribute to employee departures. With statistical analysis and a bit of consulting support (the third component), IBM can help companies develop programs to retain high-value employees.

Since the Kenexa acquisition, IBM has melded its behavioral science and analytical skills into four core practice areas serviced by more than 1,600 Global Business Services professionals. Organizational Change Management consulting addresses changes in org structures, technology, or development of new businesses or product teams. Talent Analytics consulting helps HR organizations develop data-driven workforce analysis capabilities. Employee Experience consulting is aimed at changing organizational cultures and communication and collaboration styles. HR Cloud consulting helps companies move from legacy systems to cloud-based HCM systems from IBM and third-party vendors.

IBM Kenexa Predictive Hiring entails a consulting fee for the analytics and assessment development, paired with an annual license for the use of the assessment. Workforce Readiness entails a consulting fee for the process consulting, a perpetual license for each Talent Framework purchased, and an annual license for a Skills Manager tool. Predictive Retention entails an annual license fee for the exit survey and a consulting fee for the predictive analytics.

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Doug Henschen is Executive Editor of InformationWeek, where he covers the intersection of enterprise applications with information management, business intelligence, big data and analytics. He previously served as editor in chief of Intelligent Enterprise, editor in chief of ... View Full Bio

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D. Henschen
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D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
8/4/2014 | 3:57:07 PM
Kenexa is not an HCM system.
Just so you know, IBM Kenexa is not an HR system of record, like a PeopleSoft or a Workday HCM. Rather it integrates with those and other HCM systems -- and that could include Talent-management systems -- to provide predictive insights into the workforce and the state of leadership, hiring, retention, collaboration, and preparedness to meet changing marketing conditions or technical or regulatory requirements. Think of it as the icing on the cake or the butter on the bread of HCM. 
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