Will the Affordability Care Act be a Catalyst for HCM Analytics?

PPACA_2HR leaders on the fence about investing in an analytics platform may now have the  justification needed for moving forward, courtesy of the US Federal Government and its impending Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), which goes into effect on January 1, 2014.  With complex requirements and potentially significant financial consequences, the PPACA will require many employers to move beyond standard tracking and reporting platforms to more advanced, real-time decision support tools to proactively manage the many aspects of this complex legislation.

Fundamentally, the PPACA is about reducing the number of uninsured Americans  (numbered at more than 50 million in 2010) while attempting to address the affordability and quality of that healthcare coverage overall.  State-level health insurance exchanges (HIX) are being formed to make available the minimum requirements across benefit coverage and cost-sharing standards, while employers grapple with tradeoffs in health benefit plan designs and premium costs vs. the federal tax credits and subsidies available to low- and middle-income workers.

For employers, the requirements of the PPACA quickly get complicated with look-back and ongoing calculations of hours worked and future hours, benefits eligibility vs. enrollment, premiums to wages ratios, and evidentiary reporting to government agencies.  Non-compliance with this still-being-clarified legislation can lead  to significant penalties for employers, not to mention the many downstream impacts on employee relations and employer brand.

For some organizations, calculating and paying the penalty will be the quickest route to compliance while others will want to weigh various workforce modeling scenarios to determine their best approach (provide coverage as intended, reduce worker hours for a percentage of employees, etc.).  Leading payroll and workforce management platforms such as ADP, Ceridian and Kronos are actively enhancing their software to deliver the calculations and reporting required by the ACA, often including the ability to anticipate when benefits eligibility will be triggered based on future labor schedules.

Across the many mandates of the PPACA, (employer mandates, healthcare tax credits and individual mandates), behaviors at work will change that will affect the costs – both direct and hidden – of compliance choices.  Shifting workers to part-time will result in increased unemployment claims; additional part-time staff may be hired to fill the gaps of the reduced workforce; turnover may be adversely affected; workforce tax credit eligibility can be affected and additional training and ramp-up time needs to be factored in.  As they evaluate the direct costs of their compliance alternatives such as benefits premiums, labor expenses and penalties, employers must also take into account these and other indirect or hidden costs associated with their choices.

Getting to a clear understanding of the direct and indirect costs requires complex analysis and modeling, a prime use case for an analytics platform.

One of the players in this market is Equifax,  which recently augmented its Equifax Workforce Solutions division with the acquisition of analytics technology provider eThority in 2011.  Leveraging the eThority platform, Equifax is introducing a new solution called the “Affordable Care Act Impact Analysis and Management” tool to help employers model and monitor the impacts of PPACA on their business. The tool enables employers to see costs (including labor, benefit premiums and potential fines) at group or detail levels based on different modeling scenarios. It also highlights the associated costs resulting from anticipated new hires and increased unemployment claims that can offset savings from those initial scenarios, a level of analysis that many traditional payroll and workforce software providers are not offering.  Equifax can also leverage the data reported to them by thousands of employers across the country, representing tens of millions of workers, to report on labor and payroll trends across regions, industry and other segments, further augmenting the modeling scenario evaluations.  As desired, Equifax also provides additional consulting services including evaluation of new assumptions as well as overall program management and audit support.

The modeling platform is interactive, adapting to changes in law and assumptions. Delivered via subscription or available on premises, employers can access data beyond their own workforce data to make better, more informed choices with regard to how they will achieve compliance with PPACA mandates.

Investing in an analytics platform can bring more than just workforce insight and modeling capabilities: it can be a powerful tool in managing risk and compliance across the entire enterprise.  In the case of the Affordable Care Act, it may be the only tool that will effectively support employers in their daily need to monitor and manage the complexities of this legislation.  The requirements of PPACA actually begin before January 2014, with employers needing to make decisions and communicate benefit options, costs and coverage to employees during the Fall Open Enrollment schedule. Employers should be evaluating their options now, and the availability of new tools like the Equifax ACA Impact Analysis and Management solution are timely additions to the market.


IBM Connect 2013 First Take: Will Watson be the future of HCM?

The messages at this morning’s IBM Connect keynote event were clear: The future is “Social” and the new language of business is “Analytics”. Welcome to the future.

All morning these messages were evangelized and demonstrated, from IBM executives and their demo teams, to clients like Bosch, Caterpillar and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, and even from a Hollywood star-slash-collaborative film development entrepreneur.  Each spoke on the transformational role that collaborative, social engagement is having in our business and personal lives, changing how we work, play, create, engage and in some cases even how we’re paid or rewarded for our efforts.

For me, one of the most intriguing aspects of the keynote came at the end, when Mike Rhodin, SVP IBM Software Solutions Group, spoke to the future and the intersection of social, analytics and people processes.  He spoke of cognitive systems like IBM’s Watson and its ability to filter through the terabytes of data created every day to see patterns, unlock the real truth about business, employees and customers, and to weave intelligence into every aspect of the fabric of a business.

Watson meets HCMFor example, Rhodin asked that we imagine a central “employee center” for global organizations – one which becomes a trusted career advisor from pre-hire through advanced roles in the organization through the continuous analysis of formal, informal, social and other inputs (structured and unstructured) to present a highly personalized, dynamic and guided  path for each individual. Not the static, pre-defined career paths of the past, but truly intelligent, contextual and adaptive guidance to the individual all throughout their career with a company.

Long term future vision?  Not as far off as might be imagined.  Today, Watson is being used in select healthcare use cases such as analyzing patient records and myriad information sources to surface recommended treatment protocols.  Applying similarly deep and broad analysis across the ‘big data’ of the enterprise, with a lens on employee success and value creation for the organization, makes complete sense.  Only big data analytics will be able to effectively interpret all the signals an enterprise may receive around its employees and drive meaningful insights and decision support – for managers and the employees alike.  Embedded cognitive systems are the necessary next step as we evolve our talent technologies and processes from transactional systems to systems of engagement and, ultimately, transform them to the experiential systems necessary to thrive in the future of work.

Of course – the answer isn’t just pure analytical power.  Human engagement and analysis will still be needed.  Even in the Watson-recommended healthcare protocols referenced above, the physician and other caregivers use the results to inform and guide their actions; ultimately the healthcare provider makes the final decision.  Likewise, in the career management and other employeee-oriented engagement scenarios, the cognitive system-delivered paths will serve as guides to inform individuals; Watson won’t replace the person-to-person conversations and analysis that will ultimately drive the employee’s action.  What’s transformational, however, is the richness of information that will inform those individual actions, that can make recommendations based on previously hidden patterns and connections, all because of the capabilities of real-time analysis of vast quantities of seemingly disparate information.

Many announcements are underway here at IBM Connect and the opportunities for the  HCM market are numerous; more to follow in upcoming days.  Meanwhile, let me know what you think about the idea of Watson and related systems and the opportunities for HCM.

In Anticipation of the HR Technology Conference


It’s coming.  That annual event that calls together the technology leaders and rising stars; innovators and educators; providers and users of all things HCM technology. The “gathering of the clans” (as the Scots would say) as old friends and colleagues touch base to see who’s working where this year.  A 3-day long festival of information, technology, networking and, I’ll admit it, FUN, that never fails to yield new ideas and important new connections. 

I’m going to be at the HR Technology Conference this year.  Will you?

Every year I look forward to attending the annual HR Technology Conference & Expo with great anticipation. For many of us, the event is truly like a family reunion, bringing together old friends from across the HR Tech industry to reconnect and share experiences gained since the previous year’s conference.  For some, it’s about the swag.  For everyone, it’s an awesome venue to see the latest innovations, engage with and learn from peers across the industry and to walk away with the information and connections needed to make those often career-making decisions back in the office.

With more than 25 years experience in the HCM space, I have embraced my inner HCM geek; for me, HR Tech is the ultimate geekapalooza.   I look forward to three days steeped in conversations around HCM processes and technology.

But this year will be different.  This year it gets personal.

I’m excited to be speaking for the first time this year at HR Technology, where I’ll have the opportunity to share findings from my research that point to very exciting and real opportunities for the HCM industry, and the ever evolving role of HR.

Despite its early morning start (9:00 am Wednesday morning, after the previous evening’s myriad parties)  I’ll be on hand to present the  The Social Enterprise:  New Tools Transform How Work Gets Done.  This session will be anything but ordinary.  (i.e., don’t miss out, even for an open bar the night before!)  There are many new tools on the market for supporting emerging ways of working across the enterprise: social goal and task management tools; ideation and innovation accelerators;  innovative approaches for creating and collaborating around user-generated content; expertise identification via location-based and mobile solutions; and many others.  Other tools outside the traditional “HCM” market are also emerging as important “talent” technologies, such as social sourcing and management of the ever growing contingent workforce, and workforce analytics that take their cue from lessons learned in the customer analytics arena.

Cool?  You bet.  Hyped?  Absolutely.  Generating real business value?  In some cases yes, but success depends greatly on things like your underlying strategy, implementation approach and organizational culture.

If you’re looking for a pragmatic approach to understanding the application of these technologies within your organization, please haul yourself out of bed early Wednesday morning and join me.  I’ll promise you free coffee and a great hour of discussion.

Bill Kutik tells me that hotel rooms are filling up fast, so if you’re planning to attend, register now.  And if you register with the Promo Code YVETTE12 (case sensitive)  you’ll also get $500 off the on-site rate – larger than the discount advertised in the brochure, and there is no expiration on this discount.

I hope you’ll be joining me at the HR Technology Conference this year. The surest way to find me will be to attend my session at 9am Wednesday, October 10, and I’ll see you afterward.

I hope to see you in Chicago!

Virtual Conference: Converging Workforce Intelligence with Social Analytics

Join me Thursday, March 1, at 11am eastern, as I present:People Insights 2.0: Opportunity at the Confluence of Workforce Intelligence and Social Analytics,” sponsored by HR.com and the Institute of Human Resources (IHR) Community for Social Media and Employee Communication.

Session Description:

The use of enterprise social networking platforms is on the rise as organizations look to these emerging tools to facilitate employee collaboration, knowledge sharing, increased engagement, improved productivity, and even to foster fundamental shifts in culture. As more and more employee interactions take place within these enterprise collaboration tools, new and interesting data emerges about employees, teams, projects, goals, content and other aspects of the enterprise.

This new data, gleaned through analysis of the activities within the collaboration platform, includes insights into how people work and collaborate, the type and quality of content that is contributed and leveraged in the community, the effectiveness of different communications, the degree to which individuals are perceived as leaders or followers, and much more. The emergence of this new data drives much richer insights into the workforce of the organization. It enables social intelligence infusion into traditional talent management processes, such as performance, calibration, succession and retention.

Combining social and workforce analysis enables People Insight 2.0.

In this session, we’ll look how organizations can leverage the opportunities of People Insight 2.0. We’ll cover the tools used and opportunities stemming from the analysis of network connections, community activity, sentiment analysis, employee reputation management, and others. We’ll also explore the ways by which this social data can increasingly be incorporated into workforce analytics and workforce planning platforms for a more holistic view of the workforce.

We’ll review use cases and provide practical tips for how you can immediately apply these new social workforce insights to your talent management initiatives, transforming your people processes for better business results.

Who Should Participate:

All HR Professionals; anyone responsible for internal enterprise social networking and collaboration (such as HRIT/IT leadership); anyone responsible for workforce analytics and/or workforce planning initiatives.

What You Will Learn:

  • How and why to augment your current workforce analytics with social data;
  • The tools and methodologies that are available to help you capture and understand the data in your social networking platforms;
  • Why the static employee profile is insufficient for the way we do business today; and
  • How your talent management processes must evolve to incorporate social workforce analysis.

This session is part of a Virtual Conference sponsored by HR.com and the Institute for Human Resources (IHR), the certification arm of HR.com. Register for this event to select the webcasts you’d like to attend, including the one above

(Note: You will be redirected to a login page for HR.com, a free social networking site for HR professionals. If you are not yet a member of HR.com, this link will enable you to register for free membership and then to register for this session.)

Mercer Delivers New Workforce Analytics Technology

Summary: Mercer continues to expand beyond HR consulting and outsourcing with the launch of their latest cloud-based analytics solution.

Mercer, one of the largest global human resource consulting services providers, today announced the delivery of  its new workforce metrics and analytics solution, Mercer iknow.  Combining  technology, content and services, this new offering is designed to help organizations make better, quicker decisions about its people.

Mercer iknow is a cloud-based analytical platform, designed to analyze data from a wide variety of sources and empower business leaders with actionable, data-driven decision support.  Customers control the data driving the platform, from internal sources (such as ERP, CRM, talent management, payroll, learning management, HRIS, or even internal social networking systems data), as well as external data sources (benchmarking data, regional UI rates, etc.).  Mercer delivers pre-built connectors to some of the leading HCM vendors, but the toolset allows incorporation from a wide variety of data sources.

The iknow technology platform is enriched with Mercer’s proprietary content from surveys and research.  For example, benchmarking data from Mercer’s compensation surveys enables immediate analysis of company data against benchmarking data at the industry or regional level, or at more granular levels such as job family or career level.  Pre-defined metrics are also bundled into the iknow offering, spanning areas such as workforce structure, performance and accountability, capability and sourcing, rewards and recognition, leadership, and others. This level of pre-integrated content and metrics within the technology platform can serve to  significantly accelerate the analytical efforts of an organization.

Despite a strong technology platform and data from many sources, success with workforce insight initiatives can still be elusive for an organization.  Mercer bundles consulting services throughout the workforce analytics lifecycle to address many of the obstacles that can hinder success at any stage: from the early planning stages of knowing what to measure, to understanding the business logic that should be applied to the data for talent insight, to the ongoing guidance needed to effectively interpret, communicate and act upon the results.

The result of Mercer’s iknow technology, data, proprietary content and consulting is a very data-intensive set of measures and services to help drive better decision making in the organization.

Sample images from the Mercer iknow solution:

Available in the cloud on a subscription basis, the iknow platform can be accessed through multiple devices including tablets, with smartphone access planned within the next few months.


  • Workforce metrics, analytics and planning are areas of intense interest for many organizations today, yet technology alone is not the answer.  Mercer’s approach to bundling content, ongoing services (not just implementation services) and technology together in a comprehensive offering demonstrates they understand the complexities of these initiatives and can be a strong partner in their customers’ success.
  • The iknow solution is a natural extension of Mercer’s already deep experience the area of workforce analytics consulting, closing the loop between strategy and execution, between consulting and technology enablement;  Mercer’s current consulting and technology customers should consider the iknow platform if they are seeking a workforce metrics and analytics solution.
  • HCM technology vendors often deliver a level of analytics with their solutions (learning analytics from LMS providers, talent analytics from talent management vendors), but more valuable  business insight can be derived from evaluating and correlating data from a variety of sources, both internal and external.  Mercer iknow is not unique in its ability to pull data in from multiple sources and rationalize it for analysis, but the bundled content and services bring unique value to customers as an accelerator for success.
  • The iknow technology platform is different from the technology platform of Mercer’s Human Capital Connect solution.  I do not see this as a particular challenge, however, as analytics platforms are intended to interoperate with a variety of data sources.
  • A disadvantage of pre-bundled content can be that it grows stale or requires periodic refreshes, which may impact the customer’s HRIT staff.  An assumed advantage of Mercer’s iknow offering is that its content is refreshed without disruption to customers as new data becomes available.  Additional clarity from Mercer on this aspect of the offering would be beneficial.
  • The iknow solution was quietly previewed at last year’s HR Technology Conference and customers have been utilizing the pre-GA version.  I would like to see customer success stories or testimonials from these engagements.

Need help evaluating your options in the area of workforce analytics?  Let us know.  Also let us know of your experiences with Mercer’s iknow platform and/or their consulting experiences in this area.

Getting to Workforce Planning 2.0 with Social Network Analysis (Updated 4/12/12)

WSR_Dec11Jan12(4/12/12 Update:  You can now download the full article from the bottom of this post)

Subscribers to IHRIM’s Workforce Solutions Review will find the December 2011/January 2012 issue dedicated to Strategic Workforce Planning.  Be sure to check out this article on leveraging insights derived from social network analysis (SNA) to get more from your workforce planning initiatives.  An excerpt from this article is included here.

“With the increased adoption in social networking technologies comes a concomitant increase in the amount and types of data available on individuals and teams. This includes information such as how they work and collaborate, the type and quality of information that is shared, the effectiveness of their communications or the degree to which they are perceived as leaders or followers, and much more. The emergence of these new data components – essentially the collection of the social components of an individual’s profile – should raise some important questions for HR leadership with regard to your workforce planning and intelligence strategies.

  • Are you prepared to leverage this new information and incorporate it into your planning strategies?
  • Can you have an effective workforce planning strategy without an understanding
    of the connectedness and engagement of your people?
  • Can you identify and plan for the future leaders of your organization if your focus incorporates only the formal, and not the social aspects (such as degree of real influence) of your current and future workforce?

Existing approaches to workforce planning are at a 1.0 level in a world of 2.0 processes.

Workforce planning (WFP) 2.0 would entail the incorporation of a much broader view of individuals and their networks, and as a result would require the incorporation of social network analysis (SNA) to provide the necessary insights to inform workforce planning decisions.

Incorporating the information gleaned from SNA into all  aspects of talent management processes enables HR to bolster the success of its workforce planning initiatives. A few examples include the following:

  • Use SNA to help you identify early flight risks.
    Who’s disconnected in the networking paradigm? Whose level of engagement within the network (posting, sharing feedback, etc.) has dramatically dropped from previous periods? These potential flight risks can affect assumptions in your workforce planning scenarios.
  • Bring new life to your 9-box analysis.
    Comparing performance to potential, or performance to compensation, are common practices amongst most human capital management (HCM) software solutions today. When you can look at engagement quotient, network collaboration scores and other SNA measures against performance, and use this as inputs into future potential, you have a much richer picture of the future potential of individuals and teams.
  • Ensure effective onboarding.
    The outcomes of your workforce planning scenarios will often involve the recruitment of new staff and transfers within the organization. Accelerate the success of your staff in their new roles through social collaboration, mentors,
    communities of practice and other initiatives that link people to expertise and knowledge. Use SNA to monitor and measure their activity and make course corrections as indicated by the analysis.
  • Improve retention strategies.
    Make sure that you consider the connectedness of individuals in your retention/workforce planning strategies. Think twice before downsizing so as not to decimate your best-connected networks!

Beyond Connectivity Analysis
Network connections are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to SNA. Evolve your SNA strategy by augmenting it with additional evaluation criteria for a more holistic view of the enterprise and, hence, better decision-making. For example…”


You can download the full article here:  Getting to Workforce Planning 2.0 with Social Network Analysis

Join me Dec. 8 on Episode 128 of HR Happy Hour: The Consumerization of HR

Join me this week as I join as a guest speaker on Steve Boese’s HR Happy Hour blogtalk radio show.

HR HappyHour

Sponsored by Aquire

Call in 646-378-1086
Follow the conversation on Twitter – hashtag #HRHappyHour

Listen live on the show page here, on the call in listener line above, or use the widget player embedded in the the HRHappyHour home page.

Episode Overview From Steve Boese:

It used to be that technologies were invented and popularized first in giant organizations or in large government and university research labs, before these new inventions and ideas could begin to influence and impact the private citizen. Access to information and computing power tended to be scarce, expensive, and highly protected.

Fast forward to today, where the internet, mobile access, social networks and other factors have combined to shift the flow of technological change and progress. Now, individuals have access to tools, platforms, networks, ideas, and each other in unprecedented ways, and in a manner that is changing the way we work, and the way the HR organization of the future will have to adapt and support their companies.

Joining us to tackle these questions will be Yvette Cameron from Constellation Research who will provide insights from Constellation’s latest research and their ongoing investigation of the Future of Work and its impact on people, processes and technologies. Yvette has a true passion for disruptive technologies in people processes, and doesn’t hold back when it comes to the responsibility of HR in driving transformation change across the organization. Join us for an engaging look into the future of work, and the resulting future of HR as it faces unprecedented levels of change.

It will be a fun evening and I hope you can join us!

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