The New Battle Ground: Employee Experience Fueling HR Innovation (Joanna Riley segment)

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Clip from SAP Closing Keynote Panel — Joanna Riley, CEO and Co-founder of Censia joins SAP’s partner ecosystem on the HR innovations that are challenging traditional thinking and streamlining old processes. Learn how AI, machine learning, predictive analytics are helping companies create people-first cultures, and how those cultures are making for smarter more engaged, and more creative employees.


Host: Please give a warm welcome to Blake McConnel from ServiceNow; Robert Hartsough from Skillsoft and Jo Riley from Censia. Come on out. [Applause]

Thank you for coming. I appreciate it. Thank you, Rob. Jo, thank you for coming. I’m glad you guys are here, and I love the red jacket. Or is it mauve?

Blake McConnell: It’s plum.

Host: Plum. That’s an emotion, too.

Blake: I don’t get a lot of stage time, so.

Host: I thought you said you wear it every day. All right, so I’m excited to have these three partners. Very different in what they do. Very different in their lifecycles as companies, all bringing this amazing additional value and experience to you, our customers that are using success factors. I’m excited to have you here.

So I think the best place to start. I’ve got some questions for you and they’re really good questions. But I think the best place to start is maybe we go just down the line and maybe just sort of introduce yourself, introduce the company. Tell the 4,000 family members here the value at a high level that it brings to them. And then we’ll go down into some details. Sound good? And Jo, we’ll start with you.

Joanna Riley: Cool. Hi, I’m Jo Riley. And I am the CEO and co-founder of Censia. Censia is a talent intelligence platform that really changes the way that companies recruit talent. We predictively match the best people in the world to opportunities at scale, all powered by AI. But really what excites us the most is that we’re on a mission to transform search so that we can eradicate some of the human bias that’s gone into the process and is affecting over three billion people, globally.

So very excited to tell you more about what we’re doing and thanks for having me.

Host: Perfect. And you’re based out of?

Joanna: San Francisco.

Host: Great. Thank you.

Rob Hartsough Rob Hartsough, SVP of Sales and Professional Services for Skillsoft. And first I’d just like to say the Skillsoft family is just thrilled to be here. To be part of this incredible partner network. And a little bit about Skillsoft. We are a global leader in training and learning — digital training. And we train more professionals in a single day than any other organization. And that’s not as important as actually what our purpose is. Our purpose is to improve the performance of our customers by improving the performance of the employees.

The war on talent is tough out there. The very demanding line of business wants to see return on the investment. Users, they don’t have a lot of time. I mean, we could look around the room and say how much time do each of us spend on learning and getting better, and it’s tight. They have very little time. Maybe 24 minutes, on average, a week. So it’s very important that we engage them and we quickly produce performance in them.

And we do that through the user experience. And having it be consumer grade. So we’re very happy and thrilled to be here and can’t wait to partner with all the SAP customers.

Host: And Blake, I think the audience should know that you’re really an extension of the SAP family because you used to work at SAP, right, Rob?

Rob: I did. Actually 20 years at SAP. And it’s an interesting homecoming to come back. There’s a lot of people here who mentored me and poured into my career. And it’s a great homecoming.

Host: Thank you, Rob.

Rob: So I’m personally thrilled and Skillsoft is very thrilled to be here.

Host: Blake? I think a lot of people know the ServiceNow name, but I think an introduction is still good.

Blake: Sure. So number one, thank you for having me on the panel. I was here yesterday, I was here today and I couldn’t be more excited, and I’m reminded that, you know, we work for like-minded organizations. Organizations that think about technology and service of people and think about prioritizing employee experience. So, first and foremost, I’m super excited to be here.

ServiceNow, we’re the market leader in digital workflows. We make work, work for people. We service 75 percent of the Fortune 500, have roughly 9,500 employees globally. And so what do I do at ServiceNow? I am an SVP in the product organization. I run our employee workflow division. And within that division, the products are IT service management, and HR Service Deliver. And we’ll talk a little bit about employee service delivery.

Host: Fantastic. And based out of San Francisco. Correct?

Blake: I am in the Santa Clara office, which is headquarters.

Host: Fantastic. Well, thank you.

Blake: Thank you.

Host: I got some questions, now, and I think what we’ll do is I’ll just down the line, right? And I think since you’re right here, Jo, we’ll start with you.

Joanna: Sounds good.

Host: So, Censia, I mean, young company, high growth, great relationship with SEPIO from an incubation standpoint. You’re on the SAP app store. You’re actually our first Solex Light partner. That just got announced. Congratulations.

Joanna: Thank you.

Host: Maybe just tell us what are you doing to transform the recruiting process?

Joanna: Yeah so, you know, we all know that there is, as Ron said, a massive war for talent. And everyone is desperate for how can we get the best talent into our organizations. But what’s shocking is that while we spend globally over $5 billion trying to recruit people, that three quarters of organizations are scared that they aren’t going to find any talent for their most critical jobs.

And we also all know that the best talent in the world isn’t always applying for jobs. The best talent in the world for jobs is passive. They are in jobs. But actually, funny enough, they would be interested in moving to another company for the right opportunity. So Censia looked at it and said why don’t we create a talent intelligence platform that unlocks that hidden talent and delivers passive candidates to our clients in a matter of seconds to what they would traditionally take weeks to do by a human search.

Also, let’s go at it by saying let’s remove some of the human bias that’s going into the process of filtering. Some of the very common human bias filters are things like gender, ethnicity, education – did you go to an Ivy League school? Did you work at a Fortune 500 company? And so we look at how we can remove those by predictably ranking the best candidates that are coming inbound and really giving back the time that it takes to filter candidates. So, in addition to passive, also making sure we find all the good talent that is actively applying and really transforming that recruiter experience while at the same time focusing on providing the optimal candidate experience.

Host: Fantastic. Can you give us an example of a success factor customer and a Censia customer working together and how they’re working together?

Joanna: Yeah, absolutely. So Censia is integrated into the recruiting suite. Gerdau is a fantastic customer of ours. One of the largest organizations in the world. They have over 40,000 employees. They’re based outside the United States, but they recruit everywhere around the world. And really we’re looking for how can they find a solution that solves the problem of recruiting. How can I find talent that isn’t applying to my company?

And so by working with them we plug right into Success Factor so we can surface those passive candidates, all ranked, but also leverage the data they have of candidates that maybe have applied in the past and candidates that are applying right now. So they’re not missing anybody and they’re getting the best talent into that organization so really transforming that for them.

Host: Fantastic. Great example. I think Brazil, right?

Joanna: That’s right.

Host: Fantastic. Last question before we go to Rob. So the SAP IO program really helping companies, young companies, incubate themselves, leveraging technology from SAP. I mean, you spend a lot of time with them in San Francisco. What’s your thought on the SAP IO program?

Joanna: Yeah.

Host: I’m just trying to plug SAP. It’s so great, right?

Joanna: Well, I’m all about plugging them. They are fantastic. SAP IO really is an extension of SAP listening to their customers. I think as I’ve even been with all of you over the last months, I hear all the time, “Can we have this capability? Can we have that capability?” And what SAP IO is dedicated to is finding some of the earlier companies that are going and solving these problems that are really early technologies but are really good at what they do. Helping them create the right integrations for the customers because they know you best, and incubating us to understand how to navigate the very large thinking that that’s SAP. Who are the right people to be working with, what are the right solutions for us to integrate with, and then also helping us as we scale to the next level of partnership.

You know, I still every day turn to help with SAP IO even though we’re at another level of partnership with SAP. And so that is something that they’re constantly listening to the customer and constantly saying how can we bring in the best solutions for our customers so that there is no transformation gap.

Host: Thank you. They’re an amazing organization. So thank you. Okay, Ron.

Rob: Yes, sir.

Host: I’m a huge learning fan. And I don’t take my learning classes when I should but I try to, right. At SAP, I mean, we’re in success factors. We’re a big believer in learning. We’ve got I think about 4,000 customers that use our LMS solution around the world. We’ve done something very special here now with Skillsoft. It really allows us to bring this additional level of value to those four customers and more. And in today’s learning world, it’s not just about your own employees, but it’s your temporary employees and everybody else who really is an agent of your company.

Rob: That’s right.

Host: Maybe tell us – let’s go into what is that value that you provide to anybody using LMS from Success Factors.

Rob: You bet. So, first of all, for the existing SAP customers that are Skillsoft customers, with this Solex partnership, you’re going to see enhanced integration and innovation right off the bat. That’s going to be a benefit of the partnership. For those of you that are SAP customers and are not Skillsoft customers, you’ll also have the ability where we’ll be going on the SAP Price List and make that much easier.

But the partnership in general that we announced, the Solex, is really about extending the LMS and extending it to a consumer experience. The individuals that are coming into our workforce have high expectations. Very high expectations. They are already familiar with the digital learning environment. They’re coming in with that. So if you don’t provide that, we’re already behind. They also expect a consumer grade experience. They may start their learning experience at a desktop in the office, they may then have to switch and go to a train on the commute home and they expect to pick it up right there on their phone.

They expect that if they took a piece of training and they’re done, our AI platform is going to then suggest the next one based on their profile and what their desires are. It’s very personalized. Basically, what they expect is to have a Netflix corporate learning environment. That’s their expectation. So it’s very high. And quite honestly, it’s really not that complex for us to solve because what we deliver is a very consumer grade, personalized experience. We’re going to extend the existing LMS and provide that experience we talked about yesterday. And companies that do that will see huge advancement. Because, today, the organizations very much are top- down driven in learning. And the big benefit, the white space, is the bottoms-up. The user-driven, user-directive, companies like Deutche Telecom, who was here, today, speaking at our master class use the same demographic, use the same portfolio of learning and when they moved over to our new platform they saw the same amount of consumption in 4 days that they did the entire last year. So that’s the performance in the white space where we can extend to a consumer grade environment.

Host: So, Ron, let me just clarify something because I made a big faux pas. I used an acronym called Solex. I’m not sure everybody knows what that is. But it does stand for Solution Extension. And what’s Rob’s saying is the partnership is now at a place where we can actually sell the Skillsoft solution through Success Factors and support it for our customers. Right? So that’s how tight the relationship is.

Rob: Very tight.

Host: So, hey, another thing that I wanted to bring up here is that, I mean, one thing that really makes this special is that personalized learning and that employee experience. And we’re all about experience the last two days. Can you just branch into that a little bit so we know what that means?

Rob: Yeah, happy to. So that experience has to do with being personalized. So we talked a little bit about AI and guided. It can come across in two situations. One, very informal. Take, for example, I’m in a Success Factors employee review and you may tell me that I have an effective communication improvement opportunity. So I can literally highlight effective communication. Do a right mouse click and then you see the integration come up right there. I’m not going to leave the application. I’m just going to have an opportunity to branch out to maybe watch a video. Just a quick – Now, it’s not an hour. It’s a three-minute video. Or maybe I want to read up on a chapter in a book, specifically go right to that chapter on effective communication.

I may want to have an audio book or I may even have we have practice labs where you would have a practice situation where you would role play. So all within the flow of work. Never leaving the application. Line of business, leaders love that. Because you’re not pulling that individual out of their organization. They’re learning in the flow of work. So that’s a consumer grade, at the minute, in the flow of work situation.

Now, there’s also a more formal version of that. So, say, for example, I wanted to go from Point A to Point B in my career. That could be from a beginning to an advanced skill level. It could be from one role to a very different role or it could be through a certification. We call those aspired journeys. And those modalities that I talked about: watch, read, listen, learn – watch, read, listen, practice, excuse me. Those will be in that aspire journey and the individual has two options. They can drop right into the middle of it. Say they don’t really feel that they can value from steps one through three but can accelerate their path for five through six, they can certainly do that.

Or they could start from the beginning, go all the way to the end and get a badge associated with that that’s portable in the career.

Host: That’s fantastic, yeah, thank you. That’s great. Alright, Blake, let’s talk a little bit about ServiceNow. I mean, you’re a big company. We share hundreds and hundreds of companies or customers around the world using both products together. I mean, we’ve stepped into a – what I’m going to call a much more formal partnership here where we are really integrating our solutions together in a manner we’ve never done before for the benefit of our customers. I’m going to turn it over to you. You want to talk about that and the value that it provides to everybody?

Blake: Great. Thanks, Greg. So it probably started by stepping it up a little bit and referring to some of the slides from yesterday around employee experience gap and changing workforce demographics. We completely believe that those sound like the right messages. Within ServiceNow we’ve also done a fair amount of employee research, and what we found is half, you know, over half, 52 percent of employees genuinely feel like their employer is not doing anything to improve their experience. And so that’s pretty crummy.

We all have consumer technologies at home. We understand that technology is easier to use, it’s more simple. We go to work, it’s hard, things are siloed, things are slow. So I think we have a lot of alignment around kind of the case for change, if you will. And so at ServiceNow when we think about employee service deliver, we think about enabling the employee to ask questions, get help, do approvals, do requests, all through a central place, a central application. Whether they’re going to self-serve or call an agent, they can perform this centrally and that those actions take place across the enterprise, across corporate services, across the back office.

So to deliver that, we have to remove a lot of complexity. A lot of our focus is removing complexity for the employee, because then that delivers an experience for the employee, the employee is more productive and you’re kind of getting this fly wheel of experience and productivity. And so as we think about complexity, we think about it in two ways. Number 1, you go back to the changing demographics and we’re focused on meeting the employer where they are. What are the interfaces that that employee wants to engage through?

And some employees want to engage through a browser interface on a laptop or a desktop. Some employees are comfortable with native mobile devices. Some employees want to engage with an intelligent chat bot that understands natural language, natural language query. And some employees are just in collaboration tools like Slack or teams, and that’s how they want to interface.

And so step one for removing complexity is to meet the employee where they are, engage with them through the interfaces where they do work. Number two around removing complexity is how do we abstract the corporate services from the individual employee? How do we abstract that complexity? And we start with ITSM, HR Service Delivery, the products that are part of the employee workflow organization. But ultimately the special sauce is the platform. Those applications reside on the ServiceNow platform. And ServiceNow is ultimately a platform company, and that platform is extensible across facilities, across legal, across finance, and that’s how we abstract the complexity of the back office from that individual employee.

And two weeks ago we had our most recent product release, and we released Now Mobile. And Now Mobile is our first instantiation, if you will, of employee service delivery, and Now Mobile is a native mobile app. And so then we bring it down another level and we think about the integration with Success Factors. Why is that integration so important to us? It’s because it removes complexity. And so through ServiceNow I can see tasks, I can see to dos, I can see approvals that are to be executed in Success Factors. And in Success Factors I can see to dos, approvals, and task to be executed in ServiceNow and the bidirectional integration really makes the two systems work better together, not only for the individual employee but also for that agent that is delivering the service to the employee.

Host: Fantastic. That’s great. We’re basically out of time. I want to close with this. First off, a big thank you, and we’ll give you a round of applause in a second. Because I love doing that. You know that. But from a Success Factor standpoint, one of the things that I want everybody to understand, here, is that we want to be as open as possible. We want incredible organizations like these three here, to be able to extend the value and innovate around Success Factors.

Technology moves really fast. Innovations are happening every single day. We want to do it, though, in such a way that you can depend on it, you have confidence we can support and at the end of the day you get incredible value out of it. So three examples of a lot of the great partners we have. I really appreciate the time here. I know it’s tough with 4,000 people here, but man, you guys did great. So thank you very much. Give them a big round of applause.

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