Susan Vital from iCIMS discusses the transformation of iCIMS to Talent Cloud along with an envisioned HRTech journey and what the upcoming Inspire 2020 entails.
1) Can you tell us a little bit about your role at iCIMS? Why did HR tech make a special appeal to you?
I’ve been with iCIMS for a little over 15 years now, and the company’s been in business for about 20 years. We celebrated our 20th anniversary back in February. In my role, I’m ultimately responsible for our brand and our growth strategy, meaning how do we continue to grow the business with new accounts that we bring into the iCIMS community and grow the customer base and how they’re using our software and services to be successful in their own talent transformations. And, of course, getting the iCIMS story out. I think we have a phenomenal story to tell, a wonderful community of customers, partners, employees, and we want to ensure everybody knows our story and can get behind some great brand evangelists.
2) We recently covered the news about the latest power transformation that iCIMS as a talent cloud is bringing to the table. How do you think that iCIMS empowers the entire talent power transformation?
Well, there are a couple of elements to this ‘how’ and I think it’s really important for us to break down what we think of as this talent continuum, so to speak, which is attracting, engaging, hiring and advancing the right talent that builds a diverse winning workforce. And when we think about how iCIMS does that, it really comes into three buckets.
The first is for the technology itself. We believe we catalyze transformation through this really innovative, powerful, scalable technology that ultimately helps our customers get to the future faster. We’ve really made a lot of investment here, both directly, organically, as well as inorganically. And I think our technology is better than anything else out there to help our customers in their own transformations.
The second is around creating connections. We really have this unbelievable community of talent innovators from customers, employees to partners, and service providers that we can bring together virtually or hopefully at some point live, to learn from one another and really be inspired by one another and what that transformation looks like so they can learn from others’ experiences.
And the third and final is around this concept of caring more. This is not just about saying, hey, we have a great service experience. Candidly, I think almost any vendor is going to say that. But it’s about staying ahead of what’s next for our customers, proactively getting them there and serving as critical partners to their success.
3) And how do you think that iCIMS’ transformative Cloud solutions also includes the more humanizing elements of the entire employment process like that of diversity and inclusion?
I’m glad you brought that up. So when we went through this recent brand refresh, a lot of those anchored on this intersection of digital transformation and the future of work. The future of work means lots of different things to different people. But an important element to it in our definition, so to speak, is how do you balance A.I. and technology overall with these still critical human elements that only people bring to the table – areas like creativity and imagination, etc. And so that’s an important balance for us to strike. There are really important and innovative ways that technology can help organizations in areas like diversity and inclusion. But of course, it still comes back to people. And I think this year more than ever, that’s what we continue to see. Everyone’s gone virtual, digital is more prevalent than ever before, but people remain the core of what makes digital transformation successful or not. And that balance has been really important in our definition here.
4) Since the pandemic now is turning everything virtual, so is the onboarding that has become totally virtual. How do you think that HR tech or an enhanced cloud solution, in general, can help in shaping up and enhancing the entire onboarding process to make it into a more of a creative onboarding?
I think there are probably areas of virtual onboarding that need to happen, and then there are sort of the cultural and creative areas of all onboarding virtually that some might see as nice to have. We’re seeing organizations recognize that getting onboarding right is critical to new higher retention and productivity.
There are studies that show if onboarding is done poorly, those new hires are less successful and are less likely to stay within the organization.
So. there are some areas of blocking and tackling within virtual onboarding – things like getting new higher paperwork and tasks completed through digital means, electronic signatures, etc. In addition, there are sort of the more fun or cultural elements to onboarding. As an example, within our own organization, we have a phenomenal onboarding program. My hat is off to our talent team there. And they flipped everything virtually in a matter of 48 hours for our new hire classes, doing a lot of virtual training on Zoom, Microsoft Teams and the like. In addition, we’ve done some fun things in the past where it would be like a new hire scavenger hunt to better understand our building, learn people, and meet people, and we are doing that virtually. So now instead of maybe physically taking pictures of things and people they find across our building, they’re tagging people on Microsoft Teams and other technologies to virtually introduce themselves. And a really important piece of this is that it doesn’t drop off a cliff after, say, 14 or 30 days. We have these cohorts that continue to regroup and remain connected.
5) We have seen that while many companies take major efforts in changing the entire onboarding and talent acquisition process, we still see that there is something missing in the entire talent advancement arena. Why do you think that is and how do you think or how would you suggest that we can help the companies in overcoming this gap through HR Tech or through talent cloud or through other such enhancements in the HR tech arena?
Really important, I think, for sort of the warm and fuzzy, but also the business elements of getting town advancement and mobility right. For one thing, as we’ve seen over the years, there’s a worker shortage out there. And so organizations need to develop and advance their own workforce in order to do the job. Quite frankly, there aren’t enough people out there to do some of these roles. So it’s important from a business perspective. And then, of course, of just this is the right thing to do to take care of our employees and ensure they have successful careers with us that extend beyond maybe the initial role they were hired into. I think there have been a couple of things that organizations haven’t necessarily gotten right over the years, that we see an opportunity to step in and help them get right moving forward. First and foremost, organizations have relegated areas like talent, advancement, and mobility to this back office function without thinking of it truly as an extension of recruiting. Businesses have done such a great job for years to really look at recruiting as more of a marketing front office function, but they haven’t necessarily pulled a thread through on the advancement side. There’s still a lot of bureaucracy, there’s a lot of red tape. It’s a really heavy process. There aren’t dynamic elements to say, candidate or talent profiles that HR organizations and hiring managers are leveraging to figure out where employees might be able to tap in and try a new project or gig. It’s a bit of an antiquated way of looking at things. They’re looking at profiles that are managing this back-office HR system, and candidates and employees haven’t updated in eons; they’re not using cool, innovative tech like text and integrated teams updates and things like that to alert employees of new opportunities within the business. There’s just a whole host of ways that we could do this better by taking a page from the recruiting playbook. And so we’re excited to bring that to market.
6) We think each one overall as a function can do so much better, phenomenally, instead of just focusing more on the admin side of things through tech. Thoughts?
Oh, absolutely, there’s a lot that can be automated through text that HR leaders and practitioners can be more strategic and more human and then tech can help pull the HR leaders and practitioners forward in some ways of saying, man, I never really thought this could be successful. Using digital assistants or text to alert our employees of new opportunities, for example.
But sometimes the tech pulls us forward. It’s not meant to replace us, it’s meant to replace the monotonous elements of our jobs. But I think it can also push us, which is important.
7) We’ve been meaning to ask this from the time we covered the news on our site, iCIMS a brand in HR tech and tech overall, it’s one of the topmost players that’s having innovations. It’s probably the only company that has an exquisite talent cloud. So why did such a big brand think of a brand refresh? What do you think was the main aspect, the main decision-making element behind the refresh? And what would it mean primarily for your customers? What would be the one way in which you define the entire brand refresh providing value to the customers?
Yes, I think that the reality is the world around us has changed – it had already been changing and of course, 2020 accelerated a ton of those conversations that brands like iCIMS, as well as our customers, were having within their virtual boardrooms and conference roomsabout what digital transformation means to our business and how quickly are we going to get there, so to speak. And again, future of work can mean a lot of different things to different people, but it could be combinations of internal mobility and how we’re setting up a career path for employees given the supply and demand issues in the market, it could include how to use AI in the right balanced way. It’s about projecting big work and looking at an expanding marketplace of talent to include contingent gig, flex, project-based work, etc. So all of these things coming together this year and this accelerated timeframe just made it incredibly clear that this was the right time for us to pivot the brand, to really help lead from the front, and get people to where they need to go for their own talent transformations. And it’s our firm belief that when these concepts of future of work and digital transformation intersect, talent transformation is in the middle. And none of these things can be successful without talent transformation. So that was really the background in the brand refresh and the story of the talent cloud. And as it relates to the talent cloud, in particular, we see this is just a far more modern, appropriate way of classifying and organizing and representing our product set. It reconciles some of the acquisitions we’ve made over the years. It allows us to present a unified, scalable, innovative, robust platform to market and allows organizations to really not worry about the mess that is integration through our integration layers. So it’s an important change for us and our customers should absolutely feel those benefits.
8) How are your solutions enabling the talent advancement process? Also, if there are new customer-specific customer stories that you would want to share with us regarding talent advancement, but that would be really great.
While there are many that we would like to share, you can check some of our recent case studies here. I think organizations have been working with iCIMS on some of their talent advancement initiatives for years. And now we’re really trying to put more investment from both people and R&D spend. I think there are ways to do this that organizations may have been a bit slower to embrace. So we should be looking at different elements of the talent marketplace, for example, and that is not a job board or an internal career site only. It can’t just be about full-time jobs where organizations are looking at this as an old model. We need to think about more flexible projects that can be up for bid, so to speak, for employees to consider and be made available or be served. The employees need to be able to learn about these in ways that they want to work. So this isn’t just about going to a career site when somebody thinks about it, it’s about using AI to match these opportunities to existing talent and serving that up through text and chat and Microsoft Teams, etc. It’s about using AI to also notify internal recruiters and HR business partners, talent management organizations, or people who are within the organization who embrace it and maybe people don’t know about. These are ways that I think that AI can be used in a really powerful way and make the process better for all involved.
9) If we use it to appropriate amount into a proper hypothesis, then we can build up a powerful and mobilized internal learning and development team that we might not have. We can really do that with a good talent go solution. Your thoughts?
Yeah, absolutely. I think, again, recruiting has done a lot. And it’s certainly not, say, talent management talent development, but there are so many things we should be extending that we’ve learned in recruiting that are more consumer-facing, et cetera, that should absolutely be applied to our own employees. I think in some organizations employees have a really poor experience as compared with external candidates, and that’s just not right. It just doesn’t make sense.
10) Do you think that a lot of data and touchpoints through which we can utilize AI for advanced internal mobility is quite undervalued in the current way in which we are functioning as organizations?
I do. I think there are there are two conversations that are happening oftentimes on the same day where organizations are looking to invest in areas like AI and then after they implement it, they go back to their old way of working. And so a lot of this is sort of a tried and true way of thinking in that it’s like change management is what makes all of this work. And tech alone is not the solution.
Organizations really need to say as part of digital transformation, it’s not just about installing or implementing software, it’s about changing the way we do business.
11) Can you give us some exciting sneak peek or some teasers on to Inspire 2020? We would really want to know what as a viewer/attendee what do what does Inspire 2020 have in store for us?
Well, we’re so delighted to bring INSPIRE to the HR tech community. It’s the first ever conference of this size that iCIMS is hosting. It’s going to be incredible. We have unbelievable speakers from within the HR community, great customer stories about anything from how organizations are responding to the pandemic, to new ways of thinking about candidate experience, as well as organizations who have really been on the front line, so to speak, this year and what they’re doing to pivot their talent strategies. We also have some incredible speakers from the outside, those who are really experts in generational hiring, like Jason Dorsey, Jeanette Bronee, who are going to help us all try and learn a little bit about self-care, which I’m sure we all need right now, as well as some incredible speakers like Erica Volini from Deloitte, who just has an awesome way of thinking about what she calls and we call super teams, which fits in beautifully to the iCIMS brand refresh. And then we also have Moira Forbes, Jason Averbook, and of course, Mindy Kaling and Trevor Noah, who are headlining for us. We’re so proud to bring all these people together virtually to share some incredible stories, best practices, as well as introduce some entertainment throughout as well. And of course, we’ll be sharing more about the products and the talent cloud itself.
12) Can you give us some exciting sneak peek or some teasers on to Inspire 2020? We would really want to know what as a viewer/attendee what do what does Inspire 2020 have in store for us?
Well, we’re so delighted to bring Inspire to the hrtech community. It’s the first ever conference of this size that iCIMS’s is hosting. It’s going to be incredible. We have unbelievable speakers from within the hr community, great customer stories about anything from how organizations are responding to the pandemic, to new ways of thinking about candidate experience, as well as organizations who have really been on the front line, so to speak, this year and what they’re doing to pivot their talent strategies. We also have some incredible speakers from the outside, those who are really experts in generational hiring, like Jason Dorsey, Jeanette Bronee, who is going to help us all try and learn a little bit about self-care, which I’m sure we all need right now, as well as some incredible speakers like Erica Volini from Deloitte, who just has an awesome way of thinking about what she calls and we call super teams, which fits in beautifully to the iCIMS brand refresh. And then we also have Moira Forbes, Jason Averbook, and of course, Mindy Kaling and Trevor Noah, who are headlining for us. So just an incredible lineup. We’re so proud to bring all these people together virtually to share some incredible stories, best practices, as well as introduce some entertainment throughout as well. And of course, we’ll be sharing more about the products and the talent cloud itself.
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