Q&A with Tom McKeownn, CEO and Steve Parta, Vice President, Global Sales of TrenData providing AI Driven Workforce and HR Predictive Analytics that allows Organizations to best plan for Recruiting, Retaining, and Promoting the Best People to obtain Optimal Business Performance
Chief Executive Officer
Vice President, Global Sales
Interview conducted by:
Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine
CEOCFO: Mr. McKeown, what is the focus for TrenData today?
Mr. McKeown: The focus for TrenData today is to tap into the overwhelming need of organizations, particularly in the HR community, to have a predictive view of the health of their workforce so that they can make the best plans for recruiting, retaining, and promoting the best people to obtain optimal business performance. We do this by taking key metrics, trending them into analytics, and then projecting that trend into the future. This perspective allows organizations to determine if they are heading in the right direction or if they need to make adjustments. And if they do need to make adjustments, we provide advanced modeling to map out different scenarios for improving the organization’s future.
CEOCFO: Is predictive analytics an area that has had much attention recently, or still a little bit new to organizations?
Mr. McKeown: Actually, it has had a lot of attention from analysts, probably going back to 2011 or 2012. They tend to be a little ahead of the customer base. In the beginning, the problem was that clients did not have access to enough data – or any data – to formulate the metrics. Data can be pretty spread out in HR through many systems such as talent, recruiting, HRIS and such. But with the openness of platforms such as ours, using integrated API feeds has made it much easier to pull that data together for advanced and predictive analytics. So at this point I would say we have arrived.
CEOCFO: Would you walk us through a somewhat typical engagement? When might a company turn to you? How do they get started? What can they do and what can you help them do?
Mr. McKeown: Usually a company comes to us when they are poised for growth, but looking to grow in a smart manner. The best way to move forward is to learn from the past, and most companies have significant historical data locked up in their HRIS or payroll system that they have not been able to understand and use to make better people decisions. So these organizations come to us and say, “We have all these years of data and yet we don’t seem to be hiring enough good people, and need to be keeping more of our better people to hit our business targets.” Once we have that data, we are able to make use of our solution and consultation to pinpoint areas of inefficiency that, once fixed, can have them sailing towards the best result. I also want to stress that we do offer consulting, but we designed the system to be easily implemented, used, and understood. Most of our clients fully function without much support from TrenData personnel, but we can be there if they want us.GET STARTED
CEOCFO: How have you simplified the process? Is it a matter of technology? Is it a matter of understanding the subject matter so you can make the technology work? Where does it come together?
Mr. McKeown: Well, software is designed to automate a process. The question is who is the user. Our solution is designed for the user to be the person who needs the information, not a consultant who then has to explain it. That’s why we designed TrenData on our three pillars of ease. TrenData is easy to implement, easy to use and easy to understand. This allows us to set up an environment where potential clients can trial TrenData for free. They input their data into the system, experience how easy the process is, and begin seeing ROI before paying us a dime. Then, we are able to move forward and get into more of the complexities of what they are pursuing.
Mr. Parta: Just to add to that a little bit: because we are focusing this tool on the HR department, we are able to take and knock out what we would call the low hanging fruit. Just about every HR leader is going to ask some basic questions such as, “What is my turnover?”, “What are my sources of hire?” or “What is the average absence rate for my employees.” We pre-built these metrics based from surveys to HR leaders who know exactly what they want. Also, we do not require a customer to have any sort of technical background to use the system. It has a simple two-step interface and we also provide natural language processing to allow navigation to metrics or to help build new ones.REQUEST DEMO
CEOCFO: How can you add in factors like changes in the economy, changes in the political atmosphere, new technology that may disrupt an industry and things of that nature, or can you?
Mr. McKeown: Basically, we do the projections from historical data, so that gives us an idea. The more data the client has, the more accurate the projections can be. But we also have the ability to incorporate industry benchmarking and events, so a client can incorporate the external environment as well. For the most extensive predictive modeling scenarios, we employee data scientists to come in and interview the clients to incorporate all factors, including macro data such as jobs reports, economic swings, and other less ready, but significant data.
CEOCFO: How do you reach out to potential clients? How would people find you if they are looking? How do you jump out in a search?
Mr. McKeown: Our messaging and content employs key industry words, such as people data, people analytics, HR analytics, workforce analytics that will bring us up in web searches. We also do a lot of mail campaigns. All efforts are designed to drive people to demonstrations and webinars. Essentially, if people see our solution, they get it. The goal from these events is to get prospects into a trial. Once they’re in and start using it with their data, they see how easy it is, and that is when we get them.
CEOCFO: You mentioned growth companies, but are there particular industries or size of companies?
Mr. McKeown: Typically, HR applications tend to be horizontal. However, where people particularly need something like this, as I mentioned earlier, is where there is a lot of employee movement. That doesn’t mean just turnover. There are the growth companies that are doing a lot of hiring, as well as those of decent size that are promoting, re-assigning, or trying to drive employee engagement. For the most part, we look for companies with over 500 employees. Once you get to over, say, 3,000 employees, then their leadership has likely studied analytics and is more targeted as to where they want to go.SEE THE SOLUTION
CEOCFO: How accurate can you be? In general, how much does the past inform the future and how much more might it do so because of the way you can look at data, either for technology or from human evaluation?
Mr. McKeown: Depending on the quality of the data the insights can be very accurate. For example, one metric we track very closely, as Steve mentioned, is source of hire. It’s one thing to be able to identify which sources are providing the most eventual hires to an organization – any applicant tracking system can do that. But to be able to tie that to performance data and see where your best performing hires are coming from, that is what companies really need.
CEOCFO: How do you know when you are drilling too deep? Is that customized for each company?
Mr. McKeown: Well, you are talking to two guys from Texas. We keep drilling until we hit rock! However as far as the solution, what we tend to find is that companies do not realize the wealth of knowledge they have in their people data. Even with the basic version of TrenData, organizations are amazed at the insights they can draw just by visualizing key metrics and analytics at the top, company-wide level. Then being able to drill down to see if negative or positive occurrences can be isolated by department or location, gets people really excited.TRY THE SOLUTION
CEOCFO: What has changed in your approach as TrenData has grown and evolved?
Mr. McKeown: We’ve found that in the past, people have been deceived into thinking that an analytics initiative is too costly and time consuming. Thus, they tend to treat it as one of those large ERP initiatives. So we have been more aggressive in pointing out the ease and speed of getting implementations in. This is where our ability to offer a free trial with their data can hammer home the point. Organizations are seeing almost instant value before making a purchase. Then once they’re up with a basic implementation, we can grow and configure the system more to encompass whatever expanded capabilities the client is looking for.
CEOCFO: How difficult or easy is it to show ROI?
Mr. McKeown: If you are going to try to sell something to someone that is not budgeted, you have to be able to show an ROI. Otherwise, you get placed on that beginning or end-of-year priority list, where you wait and hope not to get bumped off. Every aspect of our value proposition revolves around the fact that the system pays for itself – and then some. Using financial inputs, we can tie dollars to any metrics and demonstrate how optimizing your workforce is an economic winner.RISK FREE TRIAL
CEOCFO: Where does the AI actually come into play?
Mr. McKeown: The AI mostly comes into play in the predictive application of the solution. That is because we are not only able to analyze customer data, but also able to incorporate industry data that allow clients to project more intelligently into the future. Then as you feed more data into the system, it becomes more intelligent in determining which factors affect the overall trends. This feature allows clients to model and make tweaks to improve workforce performance at the right spend. Also, as Steve mentioned, the natural language search allows clients to query the system like a Google search to find the right metrics and analytics. The search feature can either sort through metrics that are already built, or if the data is available, build new ones on the fly.
CEOCFO: What is your global reach?
Mr. McKeown: We have our main headquarters in Texas, as well as offices in Europe and the Middle East. We find it is very advantageous to have both sales and development personnel globally dispersed. Although America is the leading indicator for adoption, most of the larger companies are multinational. This means they will have their own unique set of challenges due to local laws and cultures. This again points to the importance of being able to drill down on metrics and analytics to determine if a data point or trend is corporate-wide or if it just pertains to a certain segment of the company. When you look at something like turnover, you might see a corporate-wide rate of 15%. But when you drill down, the turnover rate might be 30% in Europe and 5% everywhere else. Thus the remedy needs to be more targeted.
CEOCFO: How is business these days?
Mr. McKeown: Business is good! We have got a lot of great activity to start up this year and are going to be doing some expansion in our workforce. The key with most groundbreaking technologies is getting people to see it, and then envision their organization using such a tool. We have weekly open demos that are always largely populated, and have had great success with our monthly webinar series. Once people come to those sessions, they are jumping at the chance to take advantage of the free trial.ON-DEMAND WEBINARS
CEOCFO: Why this year? Did something change either in the world or in TrenData to have that happen?
Mr. McKeown: In general, analysts have been hyping up people analytics (also dubbed workforce and HR analytics) for years, but it always takes a while for the actual users to catch up. What we have concentrated on at TrenData is to take the difficulty out of trying – and then buying – the solution. TrenData is not like your typical ERP or HRIS-type implementation. Instead, it can go in quickly and inexpensively and thus doesn’t have to go into a prioritization queue that dictates whether it will be a year or two before resources can be made available.
CEOCFO: Would you tell us about being recognized by HR Tech Outlook as one of the top ten HR analytics providers?
Mr. McKeown: We were very happy to have received the award. It was unsolicited, as they found us. As you can see from their past issues, they are very particular about who they recognize. Their readers look to them for guidance in choosing solutions and we anticipate getting a lot of traction from the recognition.
CEOCFO: Why choose TrenData?
Mr. McKeown: TrenData takes the complex subject of analytics, produces a solution with robust capabilities, while still making it extremely cost effective and user-friendly. You don’t need to be an analyst, technologist, or consultant to use and get value from the TrenData solution. We believe we have democratized people analytics for any client that needs it.SEE THE SOLUTION LIVE
Real Insights from HR Data
With over two decades of experience in the human resources landscape, the founders of TrenData were highly aware of the challenges of implementing HR initiatives across organizations. Chief among these, were the struggle to access and use data spread across multiple HR systems, and implementing intuitive solutions that would stimulate user adoption. So when they decided to develop a platform that boasted the latest in artificial intelligence and natural language technologies, they were also committed to providing a solution that was easy to implement, use, and interpret.
MEET SOME OF OUR CLIENTSTrenData’s people analytics solution acts as the hub of the organization’s employee data. “TrenData is an aggregating platform that collects data from any HR data source, with an open API as well as seamless file upload capability,” says Tom McKeown, co-founder and CEO, TrenData. “Our client executives use the solution to analyze results, reinforce decision-making, and predict future outcomes.” The highly configurable system produces a robust and easy-to-use dashboard, displaying the most important metrics of any HR organization, such as; turnover rate, professional development, performance score, source of hire, average salary versus market benchmarks, and more.
These metrics can then be trended into advanced and predictive analytics to allow organizations to not only see what happened, or why it happened, but what are the right actions that will result in the best outcomes.
In addition to having the most advanced and open integration strategy in the industry, the company also developed the TUFF (TrenData Universal File Format). Using a simple extract from an HRIS, TrenData can populate the fifteen most used HR metrics and analytics in their system and have most users on the system in no time. “We literally had clients output a report from their HRIS into TrenData who were then viewing turnover, source of hire, and performance analytics in less than a day,” says Steve Parta, VP of Global Sales at TrenData. The solution is so easy to use that most of the training is delivered through video tutorials within the system. However, TrenData also provides other support options and services with dedicated professionals.
SEE THE BENEFITSWhether the client’s focus is on retaining employees or tracking the right hiring sources, TrenData delivers the right insights with its advanced analytics capability. The company also assists HR organizations by enabling businesses leverage through predictive analytics from multiple HR software applications. Explaining the value proposition of TrenData, McKeown pointed to a manufacturing client located in Dallas. The company faced challenges in identifying and tracking their actual workforce across 30 to 40 offices in North America. They were unhappy with their turnover rate and had difficulty tracking the numbers
and composition of their workforce. By deploying TrenData, the customer got a clear view and understanding of parameters like the workforce, people hired, and turnover rate. Moreover, the customer was able to more accurately pinpoint the reasons for people leaving the company and make the appropriate adjustments in hiring quality and retention initiatives.
WHAT IT LOOKS LIKEOn the immediate roadmap, TrenData is working to expand in two key areas of its offering: Improving the natural language processing capability by integration of voice recognition, and expanding its AI capabilities to incorporate both external “Big Data” and internal data. “In order for people analytics to be effective, it has to resonate with the companies’ business leaders as well as HR. Whether typing into a laptop or verbally querying a smartphone, executives need to get critical business and workforce information when they need it. Also having smart systems that can factor external economic conditions, historical people data, and plans of action, to create the best predictive results, is critical for any company,” concludes McKeown.
TrenData Delivers Actionable People Insights To Help Companies Optimize The Performance Of Their Workforce
TrenData is a pioneer in predictive analytics software which helps companies model certain scenarios and gain insights in which path the company will go. These scenarios are derived from companies’ data and thoroughly analyzed to deliver the metrics needed to optimize a company’s workforce. Below is our recent interview with Tom McKeown, CEO and Co-Founder of TrenData:
Q: TrenData delivers actionable people insights necessary to increase revenue and reduce costs; what’s the ideal company that would benefit from your services?
A: Our solution is very scalable and can accommodate organizations of any size and scope. The metrics and analytics we provide allows them to optimize the performance of their workforce. This information would be vital to any organization wishing to succeed, but a solution like ours becomes a necessity when you can no longer track this information manually. So I’d say once you are above 300 employees you need TrenData.
Q: What is unique about your platform and how does it stand out from competition?
A: Among many of our unique capabilities is the ability to do predictive analytics. Not only can we tell you where you are today, but what is the future of your workforce if you continue on the same path. Also, if that path is not where you wish to go, then we allow predictive modeling to change that path. Imagine a company that is losing a certain percentage of their high performing employees to competitors. TrenData allows that company to model certain scenarios, such as increasing salaries, allowing flexible work conditions, or providing career training to see which one or combination best addresses the problem.
Q: What have been some major milestones over the last 12 months?
A: Among the major milestones over the past year was the acquisition of Natural Language Processing technology that we have integrated into our solution. This allows clients to not rely solely on metrics that we have created for them, but they can type in a google like search for the information and have the solution produce the answer on the fly. We plan on expanding this capability for voice recognition in 2018. Also, I was very happy to have brought on a very seasoned Vice President of Sales, Steve Parta. As you know, it’s fine to have a great product but you still need someone to sell it.
Q: What do you find most interesting and rewarding in terms of running TrenData?
A: I would cite two areas as the most interesting and rewarding for me. The first is to see the light go on in a customers eyes when they first see their data in our system and begin imagining all the problems they can solve with it. The second is mentoring and grooming all the talent we have here and watching them take on the challenges in a leading tech company. We have a great team.
Q: What are your plans?
A: My plans are to continue developing this great company and solving more problems for clients in the most effective and easiest way possible. Towards that end we are signing great partners and hiring great people, so the possibilities are endless.
DELTEK EXPANDS ITS PRODUCT PARTNER MARKETPLACE
Deltek adds several new partners to its marketplace storefront, allowing Deltek customers and prospects to easily research complementary third-party solutions and buy direct from Deltek partners
Nashville, TN – October 24, 2017 – Deltek, the leading global provider of enterprise software and solutions for project-based businesses, has added several new partners in its recently launched Product Partner Marketplace. Deltek and its Product Partner program enable Deltek customers and prospects to explore third-party solutions and to connect with a growing ecosystem of partners who add value to Deltek solutions.
Deltek’s newest Marketplace Partners include Tax Credit Co., TrenData, Valiant Solutions and WeatherBuild, Inc. Partners showcase and promote their business applications directly to Deltek customers and prospects. In addition to the many other business needs already being provided via the marketplace, the newest partners will provide Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) processing, hyper-local weather analysis, security workforce solutions and people analytics software.
“We share Deltek’s commitment to providing the highest quality products and business services. And Deltek is one of our most valuable partners,” said …SEE MORE
TrenData Raises The Bar With Analytics Solution Powered By Artificial Intelligence And Natural Language Interface
Full Interview with SuperbCrew:
TrenData offers a cloud based, predictive analytics platform focused on optimizing workforce performance. Powered by a robust AI (Artificial Intelligence) engine and using a natural language interface, the company’s solution supplies corporate leadership with the insights they need to make better people and business decisions. It ties directly into HRIS, Talent Management, and other Big Data applications to provide not only the most relevant metrics and analytics, but also powerful modeling capabilities to show how actions today, can affect and change outcomes tomorrow.
Below is our interview with Tom McKeown, CEO and Co-founder of TrenData:
Q: Could you explain the function and advantages of your cloud based, predictive analytics platform?
A: The TrenData solution bridges the gap between powerful functionality and ease of use. The user logs into a robust and intuitive dashboard of easy to understand people metrics. Items such as turnover, source of hire, average performance. Beneath each metric there are three options. The first drills down on that metric by department, location or some other subgroup. The second option trends the metric to analytics over a prescribed time period. The third continues the trend into the future to show where things would go if all remained unchanged. But also in this third option we provide modeling capabilities that show by changing one or more metrics such as pay or training, how you might affect the trend of another such as turnover. The simplicity is that you are never more than two clicks from the data you need.
Q: What advantage does TrenData have over its competitors?
A: As mentioned in the preceding answer, our advantages are power and ease. The AI engine and our data scientists can generate algorithms from a company’s historical data to provide a comprehensive predictive approach that is unmatched in the industry.
Also, in addition to the two-click user interface, our solution is by far the easiest to implement. The platform is based on an open API approach for easy integration with other systems, but we have also introduced our TUFF (TrenData Universal File Format). The TUFF allows clients to take a quick extract from their HRIS or Payroll system and upload it into the TrenData solution in minutes. Gone are the multiple month implementations. Because of this capability we offer prospects a free 90 day trial where they can use their own data. So far most who have tried are up and going in a matter of days.
Q: Can you give me an example of your predictive modeling?
A: Sure. Imagine a scenario where you would like to understand why turnover in your organization is higher than you might think it should be. TrenData would first give you the ability to see that turnover rate over the past year, or several years, and then project it into the future if things keep going at the same rate. You could then model both the cost and impact of increasing compensation or changing the work rules, to say letting more people work from home. The system would check your history and see if these factors would cause turnover reduction. You could also parse the metric and see whether the turnover is among high or average performing workers. If a large enough percentage of the people you are shedding are high performers, then the investment might be worth it. If they aren’t high performers and rather people that aren’t up to par, you might want to keep that investment for some other purpose.
Q: Who is your ideal customer and why?
A: Our ideal clients are organizations that want to clearly understand the direction their business and workforce are heading, and to possess the intelligence to know what actions can improve the results. The ability to get quick results and not pay a fortune in implementation, consulting, and training are the things companies are begging for.
Q: What can we expect from TrenData in next six months?
A: The current product is already generating a lot of client activity for us, so over the next few months, I expect we will be spending more time at shows and talking to analysts.
Our solution will always be evolving, as the client needs and technology progress. Version 3 is scheduled for a January release. It will include more robust AI capabilities and really expanding the natural language interface features. We will also be extending the graphics capabilities and enhancing the user interface.
Q: Tell me more about your natural language interface, how does that work?
A: As you know, systems are getting much smarter. The Google like ability to simply type, in your own words, what you’re looking for will be standard in every competitive application in the next few years. The TrenData innovation is that the system will not only find the metric or analytic you are looking for, but build them if they don’t exist. Again, imagine you have a question about average salary in your organization, but you want something very specific such as average salary for accountants that can read Spanish. That metric might not already be built in the system, but the intelligence would be there to construct it from the simple query. Then I perceive not much further out we’ll be able to do the same thing with voice recognition.