The age of disruption is the age of the unknown. The global market faces multifaceted changes, which bring about uncertainties to businesses worldwide. This era drives organizations to be agile, innovative and to be courageous enough to embrace the status quo disruption. Human Resources is one industry that is affected greatly by technological changes, making their modern-day processes virtually unrecognizable. For Gustavo Canton, VP People Analytics and Metrics – Schneider Electric, USA, the key is to be responsive to these changes, and be life-long learners to themselves, and mentors to other people. “HR professionals need to be self-aware, adaptable, data driven decision makers with a passion for people,” he says.
A Quick Rewind: The Pre-Disruption Era
Gustavo Canton’s career in People Analytics and Metrics started when digitalization was still a young and ambitious trend. As a matter of fact, he started his journey back in 2004 where he worked as a Research Assistant in the University of Arkansas. “While I was working on my graduate degree I had a chance to become an expert in statistics, optimization theory, simulation and other technical fields,” he shares. In 2005, he was recruited as an intern in Sam’s Club to support Marketing and Strategy, where its big and very comprehensive database kick-started his passion in Analytics. “I truly fell in love with Analytics field and as they say, the rest is history. Since then, I have taken several roles in Analytics such as: Marketing Insights, Global Security, HR Analytics and HR Strategy in US and Global HR roles.” Because of this competitive jump-start, he was able to get exposure to several business units with very sophisticated analytics methodologies and technologies, and share best practices in conferences and summits, and learn from the industry experts. It was in 2017 when he joined the Schneider Electric as VP of People Analytics.
In his 14 years of experience, he witnessed how technologies grew and industries disrupt. In comparing the differences of the pre-digital era to today’s age of disruption, he noticed 3 particular changes that leaders should keep an eye on:
1) Average time of disruption for organizations,
2) The power of the individual and
3) The rise of AI tools.
3 Noteworthy Changes in the Age of Disruption
- Average time of disruption: Digital transformation has become a priority for many companies. Just look at the S&P 500. According to the American Enterprise Foundation, in 1958 U.S. corporations remained on that index for an average of 61 years. By 2011, it was 18 years. Today, companies are being replaced on the S&P approximately every two weeks. Technology has driven this shift, and companies that want to succeed must understand how to merge technology with strategy.
- The power of the individual: In today’s world, an individual could build a social media following and share ideas on a scale that was not just possible before the digital era. More importantly, the new generation of employees are very purpose-driven so they are no longer satisfied to follow the “pre-digital” corporate template in terms of work and career paths. They want to work for organizations that value their entrepreneurial spirit, give them opportunities for accelerated growth and invest to maximize their talent.
- The rise of AI: The application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in every day functions at work are creating opportunities to free up time for employees on a massive scale. Also, it allows organizations to assign repetitive tasks to bots or algorithms so that employees could spend more time connecting the dots, learning and innovating.
People Analytics: Overcome Disruption Through Innovation
To innovate means to prepare yourself and your organization with tools and ideas as weapons for disruption. That being said, it is then necessary to invest on the vital sources of innovation. For Canton, from the truest HR perspective, the people is the root of innovation. “Our employees are our number one source of innovation, so HR needs to hire and create an environment where employees have readily access to data so that they can see business opportunities and feel empowered to act on them,” he says. “People analytics enables employees to identify and act with speed on high value opportunities so that the organization keeps evolving and stay relevant.”
Why Invest in People Analytics?
Being the best in class analytics is his team’s greatest ambition in Schneider Electric. With that target in mind, the first challenge is to convince the organization to buy into the idea of why invest in People Analytics. For them to invest in People Analytics, Canton needs to sell this to the entire organization, and share his vision that this idea will greatly benefit both employee and customer relationships in the future.
“Based on the need to put our customer’s first, I believe that there is a high probability that Analytics roles will be closer to the Corporate Strategy and Business Operations so that we can create more purposeful collaboration across functions (Marketing, Finance, HR, etc.), enable data democratization and unlock greater value for employees but more importantly for the end customer.”
Many of these benefits include task automation, which will liberate employees from mundane and repetitive tasks; a better employee experience, by being able to analyze the ways on how to improve on the company’s culture; and being able to re-evaluate employee feedback, by measuring the engagement and satisfaction of employees.
Strengthening your organization’s people will eventually strengthen your culture of innovation. Employees will be more comfortable throwing ideas and ways to embrace disruption. Ultimately, it will no longer be just a job for them to be proactive. An increased morale will make their sense of innovation innate and effortless.
Bottomline: How Can HR Professionals Thrive in the Age of Disruption?
Canton shares two valuable pieces of advice in order for HR professionals to succeed in the age of disruption:
1) To repeatedly ask your internal clients – what are you solving for? and;
2) To create the habit to estimate the value that their HR products during the design phase (early stage) to ensure that you are working on high value priorities.
“My advice is to spend a lot of time understanding the new industry landscape, study how other companies are dealing with the digital disruption,” he concludes. “Learn so that we can change the way we work.”
Learn more about Gustavo Canton and his thoughts on the importance of People Analytics in our Digital HR and Analytics event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on the 27th February – 1st March 2019.
“My presentation called What Happened? is inspired by a recent personal experience that allowed me to realize how far we have come in the People Analytics field while at the same time giving me first hand perspective on the climb ahead. I would like to cover some of the challenges that we face to align People Analytics and the HR Community on high value initiatives. During the session, I will share best practices on Advance Analytics Use Cases that allowed me to quickly unlock value for our organization.”