HR Tech: Driving the Marketing Playbook into the People Function

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Dialling from a very crackly line, I spoke with Patrick Coolen from ABN Amro about some of the challenges facing HR professionals.  Also, the company’s approach to Employee Experience, which is stealing from the Marketing department playbook. 

We started on the topic of understanding what technology helps to enable the HR professional of today. Patrick was the first to admit he’s not a technical HR person. But as the focus of his work is people and analytics, he sees the importance of these areas. And why they are digital support necessary to create a more effective HR function.

He says “The focus of technologies over the past ten years has been to help practitioners to do more stuff. Organisations originally had on-premise setups. These were resource-intensive, but the move to cloud-based solutions means you try out more, affordably, and if you don’t like the outcome, it’s easier to stop doing the action.”

Patrick discusses the overwhelming choice of vendors that exist now and how the products and services cover a full degree of elements within the HR space, such as recruitment or chatbots. When asked about how to choose, he says “Best in class today is likely to be number 2, or 3 tomorrow. Ideally, you’ll select a developer you can work with to co-develop for your need and to improve their offering for the market. 

We talk about why he thinks these changes are coming along now “HR is in the driving seat for the digital landscape. It needs to align with IT, but there’s a different relationship now, which is interesting”. At ABN Amro, Patrick sees this as being driven by their move to implement Customer Experience thinking into the Employee Experience arena. This move is a strategic imperative. Put in place by the leadership team and board and is now a stated objective in the annual plan.

The organisation is now in a continuous dialogue with staff asking a monthly net promoter score (NPS) question.  For those not in the know, NPS is a recommended rating of an organisation. The score is worked out by subtracting your detractors (people scoring six or less) from your promoters (scoring nine or ten). You then seek context to why people answered the way they did. It’s an approach driving the marketing divisions of companies for a long time but is moving to guide employee experience. It allows the organisation to align across each department that has an impact on the worker, whether Facilities, IT, Finance, or Communications.  

From Patrick’s experience though this approach is what drives the need for a more continuous engagement with data. While ABN Amro has always reviewed analytics and data monthly, the organisation now looks to supplement this with an approach that pulls in more models and trigger points, such as particular events within the calendar. 

The change is now why they need a more flexible way of integrating. So, in Patrick's view, a blended approach to data in terms of on and off system management. One example of this approach is where the data is stored on-site. Directly within the control of the organisation and ensuring it meets its responsibility for managing the dataset. But the actual analysis and examination are conducted by remote systems to supply insights and reduce the onsite need for processing power.

It’s this approach that Patrick will be focusing on in his talk at UNLEASH World in Paris this October.


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