How to close the SaaS talent gap with machine learning capabilities

  • 80% of the positions open in the U.S. alone were due to attrition. On an average, it costs $5,000 to fill an open position and takes on average of 2 months to find a new employee. Reducing attrition removes a major impediment to any company’s productivity.
  • The average employee’s tenure at a cloud-based enterprise software company is 19 months; in the Silicon Valley this trends to 14 months due to intense competition for talent according to C-level executives.
  • Eightfold.ai can quantify hiring bias and has found it occurs 35% of the time within in-person interviews and 10% during online or virtual interview sessions.
  • Adroll Group launched nurture campaigns leveraging the insights gained using Eightfold.ai for a data scientist open position and attained a 48% open rate, nearly double what they observed from other channels.
  • A leading cloud services provider has seen response rates to recruiting campaigns soar from 20% to 50% using AI-based candidate targeting in the company’s community.

The essence of every company’s revenue growth plan is based on how well they attract, nurture, hire, grow and challenge the best employees they can find. Often relying on manual techniques and systems decades old, companies are struggling to find the right employees to help them grow. Anyone who has hired and managed people can appreciate the upside potential of talent management today.

How AI and machine learning are revolutionising talent management

Strip away the hype swirling around AI in talent management and what’s left is the urgent, unmet needs companies have for greater contextual intelligence and knowledge about every phase of talent management. Many CEOs are also making greater diversity and inclusion their highest priority. Using advanced AI and machine learning techniques, a company founded by former Google and Facebook AI Scientists is showing potential in meeting these challenges. Founders Ashutosh Garg and Varun Kacholia have over 6000+ research citations and 80+ search and personalization patents. Together they founded Eightfold.ai as Varun says “to help companies find and match the right person to the right role at the right time and, for the first time, personalize the recommendations at scale.” Varun added that “historically, companies have not been able to recognize people’s core capabilities and have unnecessarily exacerbated the talent crisis,” said Varun Kacholia, CTO, and co-founder of Eightfold.ai.

What makes Eightfold.ai noteworthy is that it’s the first AI-based talent intelligence platform that combines analysis of publicly available data, internal data repositories, Human capital resource management (HRM) systems, ATS tools and spreadsheets then creates ontologies based on organization-specific success criteria. Each ontology, or area of talent management interest, is customizable for further queries using the app’s easily understood and navigated user interface.

Based on conversations with customers, its clear integration is one of the company’s core strengths. Eightfold.ai relies on an API-based integration strategy to connect with legacy backend systems. The company averages between 2 to 3 system integrations per customer and supports 20 unique system integrations today with more planned. The following diagram explains how the Eightfold Talent Intelligence Platform is constructed and how it works.

For all the sophisticated analysis, algorithms, system integration connections, and mathematics powering the Eightfold.ai platform, the company’s founders have done an amazing job creating a simple, easily understood user interface. The elegant simplicity of the Eightfold.ai interface reflects the same precision of the AI and machine learning code powering this platform.

I had a chance to speak with Adroll Group and DigitalOcean regarding their experiences using Eightfold.ai. Both said being able to connect the dots between their candidate communities, diversity and inclusion goals, and end-to-end talent management objectives were important goals that the streamlined user experience was helping enable. The following is a drill-down of a candidate profile, showing the depth of external and internal data integration that provides contextual intelligence throughout the Eightfold.ai platform.

Talent management’s inflection point has arrived 

Every interaction with a candidate, current associate, and high-potential employee is a learning event for the system.

AI and machine learning make it possible to shift focus away from being transactional and more on building relationships. AdRoll Group and DigitalOcean both mentioned how Eightfold.ai’s advanced analytics and machine learning helps them create and fine-tune nurturing campaigns to keep candidates in high-demand fields aware of opportunities in their companies. AdRoll Group used this technique of concentrating on insights to build relationships with potential Data Scientists and ultimately made a hire assisted by the Eightold.ai platform. DigitalOcean is also active using nurturing campaigns to recruit for their most in-demand positions. “As DigitalOcean continues to experience rapid growth, it’s critical we move fast to secure top talent, while taking time to nurture the phenomenal candidates already in our community,” said Olivia Melman, manager, recruiting operations at DigitalOcean. “Eightfold.ai’s platform helps us improve operational efficiencies so we can quickly engage with high quality candidates and match past applicants to new openings.”

In companies of all sizes, talent management reaches its full potential when accountability and collaboration are aligned to a common set of goals. Business strategies and new business models are created and the specific amount of hires by month and quarter are set. Accountability for results is shared between business and talent management organizations, as is the case at AdRoll Group and DigitalOcean, both of which are making solid contributions to the growth of their businesses. When accountability and collaboration are not aligned, there are unpredictable, less than optimal results.

AI makes it possible to scale personalized responses to specific candidates in a company’s candidate community while defining the ideal candidate for each open position. The company’s founders call this aspect of their platform personalization at scale. “Our platform takes a holistic approach to talent management by meaningfully connecting the dots between the individual and the business. At Eightfold.ai, we are going far beyond keyword and Boolean searches to help companies and employees alike make more fulfilling decisions about ‘what’s next", commented Ashutosh Garg, CEO, and Co-Founder of Eightfold.ai.

Every hiring manager knows what excellence looks like in the positions they’re hiring for. Recruiters gather hundreds of resumes and use their best judgment to find close matches to hiring manager needs. Using AI and machine learning, talent management teams save hundreds of hours screening resumes manually and calibrate job requirements to the available candidates in a company’s candidate community. This graphic below shows how the Talent Intelligence Platform (TIP) helps companies calibrate job descriptions. During my test drive, I found that it’s as straightforward as pointing to the profile of ideal candidate and asking TIP to find similar candidates.

Achieving greater equality with a data-driven approach to diversity

Eightfold.ai can quantify hiring bias and has found it occurs 35% of the time within in-person interviews and 10% during online or virtual interview sessions. They’ve also analyzed hiring data and found that women are 11% less like to make it through application reviews, 19% less likely through recruiter screens, 12% through assessments and a shocking 30% from onsite interviews. Conscious and unconscious biases of recruiters and hiring managers often play a more dominant role than a woman’s qualifications in many hiring situations. For the organizations who are enthusiastically endorsing diversity programs yet struggling to make progress, AI and machine learning are helping to accelerate them to the goals they want to accomplish.

AI and machine learning can’t make an impact in this area quickly enough. Imagine the lost brainpower from not having a way to evaluate candidates based on their innate skills and potential to excel in the role and the need for far greater inclusion across the communities companies operate in. AdRoll Group’s CEO is addressing this directly and has made attaining greater diversity and inclusion a top company objective for the year. Daniel Doody, Global Head of Talent at AdRoll Group says “We’re very deliberate in our efforts to uncover and nurture more diverse talent while also identifying individuals who have engaged with our talent brand to include them” he said. Daniel Doody continued, “Eightfold.ai has helped us gain greater precision in our nurturing campaigns designed to bring more diverse talent to Adroll Group globally.”

Kelly O. Kay, managing partner, global managing partner, software & internet practice at Heidrick & Struggles agrees. “Eightfold.ai levels the playing field for diversity hiring by using pattern matching based on human behavior, which is fascinating,” Kay said. He added, “I’m 100% supportive of using AI and machine learning to provide everyone equal footing in pursuing and attaining their career goals.” He added that the Eightfold.ai’s greatest strength is how brilliantly it takes on the challenge of removing unconscious bias from hiring decisions, further ensuring greater diversity in hiring, retention and growth decisions.

Eightfold.ai has a unique approach to presenting potential candidates to recruiters and hiring managers. They can remove any gender-specific identification of a candidate and have them evaluated purely on expertise, experiences, merit, and skills. And the platform also can create gender-neutral job descriptions in seconds too. With these advances in AI and machine learning, long-held biases of tech companies who only want to hire from Cal-Berkeley, Stanford or MIT are being challenged when they see the quality of candidates from just as prestigious Indian, Asian, and European universities as well. Daniel Doody of Adroll Group says the insights gained from the Eightfold.ai platform “are helping to make managers and recruiters more aware of their own hiring biases while at the same time assisting in nurturing potential candidates via less obvious channels.”

How to close the talent gap

Based on conversations with customers, it’s apparent that Eightfold.ai’s Talent Intelligence Platform (TIP) provides enterprises the ability to accelerate time to hire, reduce the cost to hire and increase the quality of hire. Eightfold.ai customers are also seeing how TIP enables their companies to reduce employee attrition, saving on hiring and training costs and minimizing the impact of lost productivity. Today more CEOs and CFOs than ever are making diversity and talent initiatives their highest priority. Based on conversations with Eightfold.ai customers it’s clear their TIP provides the needed insights for C-level executives to reach their goals.

Another aspect of the TIP that customers are just beginning to explore is how to identify employees who are the most likely to leave, and take proactive steps to align their jobs with their aspirations, extending the most valuable employees’ tenure at their companies. At the same time, customers already see good results from using TIP to identify top talent that fits open positions who are likely to join them and put campaigns in place to recruit and hire them before they begin an active job search. Every Eightfold.ai customer spoken with attested to the platform’s ability to help them in their strategic imperatives around talent.

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