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How An AI Platform Is Matching Employees And Opportunities

How An AI Platform Is Matching Employees And Opportunities

Instead of relying on data-driven signals of past accomplishments, Eightfold.ai is using AI to discover the innate capabilities of people and matching them to new opportunities in their own companies.

Bottom Line: Eightfold.ai’s innovative approach of combining their own AI and virtual hackathons to create and launch new additions to their Project Marketplace rapidly is a model enterprises need to consider emulating.

Eightfold.ai was founded with the mission that there is a right career for everyone in the world. Since its founding in 2016, Eightfold.ai’s Talent Intelligence Platform continues to see rapid global growth, attracting customers across four continents and 25 countries, supporting 15 languages with users in 110 countries. Their Talent Intelligence Platform is built to assist enterprises with Talent Acquisition and Management holistically.

What’s noteworthy about Eightfold.ai’s approach is how they have successfully created a platform that aggregates all available data on people across an enterprise – from applicants to alumni – to create a comprehensive Talent Network. Instead of relying on data-driven signals of past accomplishments, Eightfold.ai is using AI to discover the innate capabilities of people and matching them to new opportunities in their own companies. Eightfold’s AI and machine learning algorithms are continuously learning from enterprise and individual performance to better predict role, performance and career options for employees based on capabilities.

How Eightfold Sets A Quick Pace Innovating Their Marketplace

Recently Eightfold.ai announced Project Marketplace, an AI-based solution for enterprises that align employees seeking new opportunities and companies’ need to reskill and upskill their employees with capabilities that line up well with new business imperatives. Eightfold wanted to provide employees with opportunities to gain new skills through experiential learning, network with their colleagues, join project teams and also attain the satisfaction of helping flatten the unemployment curve outside. Project Marketplace helps employers find hidden talent, improve retention strategies and gain new knowledge of who has specific capabilities and skills. The following is a screen from the Marketplace that provides employees the flexibility of browsing all projects their unique capabilities qualify them for:

How An AI Platform Is Matching Employees And Opportunities

Employees select a project of interest and are immediately shown how strong of a match they are with the open position. Eightfold provides insights into relevant skills that an employee already has, why they are a strong match and the rest of the project team members – often a carrot in itself. Keeping focused on expanding employee’s capabilities, Eightfold also provides guidance of which skills an employee will learn. The following is an example of what an open project positions looks like:

How An AI Platform Is Matching Employees And Opportunities

How An AI Platform Is Matching Employees And Opportunities

Employee applicants can also view all the projects they currently have open from the My Projects view shown below:

How An AI Platform Is Matching Employees And Opportunities

Project Marketplace is the win/win every employee has yearned for as they start to feel less challenged in their current position and start looking for a new one, often outside their companies. I recently spoke with Ashutosh Garg, CEO and Co-Founder and Kamal Ahluwalia, Eightfold’s President, to see how they successfully ran a virtual hackathon across three continents to keep the Marketplace platform fresh with new features and responsive to the market.

How to Run A Virtual Hackathon

Starting with the hackathon, Eightfold relied on its own Talent Intelligence Platform to define the teams across all three continents, based on their employees’ combined mix of capabilities. Ashutosh, Kamal and the senior management team defined three goals of the hackathon:

  1. Solve problems customers are asking about with solutions that are not on the roadmap yet.
  2. Accelerate time to value for customers with new approaches no one has thought of before.
  3. Find new features and unique strengths that further strengthen the company’s mission of finding the right career for everyone in the world.

It’s fascinating to see how AI, cybersecurity and revenue management software companies continue to innovate at a fast pace delivering complex apps with everyone being remote. I asked Ashutosh how he and his management team approached the challenge of having a hackathon spanning three continents deliver results. Here’s what I learned from our discussion and these lessons are directly applicable to any virtual hackathon today:

  1. Define the hackathon’s purpose clearly and link it to the company mission, explaining what’s at stake for customers, employees and the millions of people looking for work today – all served by the Talent Intelligence Platform broadening its base of features.
  2. Realize that what you are building during the hackathon will help set some employees free from stagnating skills allowing them to be more employable with their new capabilities.
  3. The hackathon is a chance to master new skills through experiential learning, further strengthening their capabilities as well. And often learning from some of the experts in the company by joining their teams.
  4. Reward risk-taking and new innovative ideas that initially appear to be edge cases, but can potentially be game changers for customers.

I’ve been interviewing CEOs from startups to established enterprise software companies about how they kept innovation alive during the lockdown. CEOs have mentioned agile development, extensive use of Slack channels and daily virtual stand-ups. Ashutosh Garg is the only one to mention how putting intrinsic motivation into practice, along with these core techniques, binds hackathon teams together fast. Dan Pink’s classic TED Talk, The Puzzle of Motivation, explains intrinsic motivators briefly and it’s clear they have implications on a hackathon succeeding or not.

Measuring Results Of the Hackathon

Within a weekend, Project Marketplace revealed several new rock stars amongst the Eightfold hackathon teams. Instead of doing side projects for people who had time on their hands, this Hackathon was about making Eightfold’s everyday projects better and faster. Their best Engineers and Services team members took a step back, re-looked at the current approaches and competed with each other to find better and innovative ways. And they all voted for the most popular projects and solutions – ultimate reward in gaining the respect of your peers. As well as the most “prolific coder” for those who couldn’t resist working on multiple teams.

Conclusion

Remote work is creating daunting challenges for individuals at home as well as for companies. Business models need to change and innovation cannot take a back seat while most companies have employees working from home for the foreseeable future. Running a hackathon during a global lockdown and making it deliver valuable new insights and features that benefit customers now is achievable as Eightfold’s track record shows. Project marketplace may prove to be a useful ally for employees and companies looking to stay true to their mission and help each other grow – even in a pandemic. This will create better job security, a culture of continuous learning, loyalty and more jobs. AI will change how we look at our work – and this is a great example of inspiring innovation.

 

How To Close The Talent Gap With Machine Learning

  • 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 Revolutionizing 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 back-end 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,” Mr. 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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