The world has changed dramatically in the last three years, and product leaders face new demands from customers as they work through hybrid work experiments, tough labor markets, and potentially tight economic times.
Customers need powerful, easy-to-use analytics that can be tied to outcomes and are user-friendly for all experience levels—and embedded analytics can deliver fast results and fast revenue for product leaders.
To dive deeper into what buyers are looking for, how small and medium-sized businesses fit in, and what an embedded rollout looks like, we share insights from Stacia Garr, Co-Founder and Principal Analyst of RedThread Research; Zack Johnson, GM of Embedded Analytics at Visier, and Steve Allison, VP of Product and Design at TriNet Zenefits.
The new challenges facing HR tech leaders
With inflation, a still-tight labor market, demands for new skills, and an ongoing hybrid work experiment, organizations have a lot on their plate. And to provide products that are useful and game-changing for their customers, HR product leaders need to address this new world of work and the challenges that come with it.
“Even if the talent market remains the same, more tight economic times means that we’re going to be looking to understand the value of people better. We’re going to be looking to justify certain people in certain decisions and strategies, and I think product leaders need to be really focused on enabling their customers to do that right now,” says Stacia.
They also need to help customers better understand how hybrid work affects their workforce and their productivity, with organizations attempting to bring employees back to the office at different rates and with different levels of success.
Stacia sees a capability gap between what vendors are offering and what customers need, particularly around tying reporting and analytics to business results. Customers want to be able to play through the consequences of different actions and have insight into what to do next, and analytics need to help them do that. They also need analytics that are user-friendly for all experience levels, as analytics are rolled out to more people in the organization.
And C-suite leaders want to be able to link the metrics they’re seeing to their HR and business strategies, so product leaders need to be aware of how their solution fits in. Stacia says, “With the analytics that you’re providing, how are you going to help them answer the question of ‘Are we closer to our strategy today than we were three months ago or six months ago?’”
The unique needs of small and medium businesses (SMBs)
Small- and medium-sized businesses encounter unique constraints in their people analytics journeys. They often lack a people analytics team, so they don’t have the same support to guide their use of analytics and make it clear where it is important to focus. This is where the HR tech vendor comes in.
“A lot of the analytics is so valuable just to give them a framework. ‘These are the things you should be thinking about. If you’re not, you probably should be,’” says Steve.
Tight budgets and staffing, along with a fiercely competitive environment and challenging economy, mean that building and supporting teams are more important than ever for SMBs. “It’s not just about execution from a business or an operator perspective. It’s ‘How do I connect all of my people in the best possible way? Because the only way we’re going to survive this is if we’re all in it together,’” says Steve.
Retention, talent acquisition, and employee skills are just as critical to small businesses as large organizations, but at SMBs, they can mean the difference between lights on and lights out. “Even though the company size and scale and structure can be totally different, you’re experiencing the same problems where the pain is different,” says Zack.
How to deliver analytics: build, buy, or partner?
Vendors that want to bring analytics to their customers often struggle between wanting to offer cutting-edge and flashy features and needing to have the basics in place to be successful.
“No customer’s over the moon about enterprise role-based access—the same way no human’s really psyched about a room with air in it. You just kind of expect it,” says Zack. But that part of analytics, like so many others, is absolutely crucial to a secure, safe, and functional product.
Tackling these myriad back-end challenges massively increases the time it takes to build analytics that customers will stick with. And so it raises the question: is it better to build, buy, or partner?
“It all depends on where you’re starting from and the sophistication of your customers, crossed with your core competencies, capabilities, and other roadmap agendas as a company,” says Zack. “We always describe analytics as a cake, and the frosting is like the visualization layer. Are you prepared to do the data warehousing project? Are you prepared to vet and license ETL tools? Are you prepared to find an SME who can define all these metrics for you?”
In his role at TriNet Zenefits, a newly launched Visier partner, Steve has experienced this journey. “We’ve tried probably everything that you might imagine. We haven’t tried to buy an analytics company, but buying the tools and building ourselves—many iterations of that,” he says.
Ultimately, partnering was the best path to move beyond the basics for SMB customers who need actionable insights but don’t have time to sit and analyze. And Steve has gotten positive customer feedback about how easy it is to have everything in one place and already tied into the work they were doing to run people operations.
For other vendors considering providing analytics, Steve’s advice is to focus on the right thing. “Is this going to provide you differentiation? Is this going to provide you the value that you think it’s going to, or are there other priorities? It’s very easy to get excited and nerdy about creating pipelines and data lakes and all those kinds of things,” he says. “But at the end of the day, where are the things that you can create the most value for your customer and for the world?”
Looking ahead to 2023
Simplification will be the biggest trend to watch, says Stacia, as organizations look to tighten budgets, refocus, and regain productivity by cutting out some of the noise. “How do you help simplify the end user’s experience? How do you deliver what you need to in as simple of a way as possible so that people can do what they need to do, get the insights they need, and then move on to doing the rest of their jobs?” she asks.
Having a product that easily delivers actionable insights can make the difference when customers are streamlining their processes, so adding analytics now is essential. “One of your competitors will get there, and it’s way better if you’re there first. So build that early capability,” says Zack. “If you punt it for six months, you’re starting from scratch in six months. Just get started.”
Customers receive constant signals from the market that they need analytics, and they now expect a solution that will take them from data to decision and tie into their HR and business strategies. Whether you build, buy, or partner depends on your organization’s priorities, timeline, and budget, but what matters is you start now.
Interested in learning more? Visier’s GM of Embedded, Zack Johnson; RedThread Research’s Co-Founder and Principal Analyst, Stacia Garr; and TriNet Zenefits’ VP of Product and Design, Steve Allison, discussed what customers are looking for from analytics and how HR tech vendors can answer the call in an on-demand webinar, Fast to Build, Fast to Market: Drive Revenue with Embedded Analytics. Access the full recorded session here.
About the author: Visier Team
People-centered ideas and insights by the editorial team at Visier.
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