HR Tech Interview with Brent Weiss, Senior Director of Product Management at ADP

Journey into Tech

Please tell us about your role and how you arrived at ADP.

I am the Senior Director of Product Management for ADP DataCloud. Prior to working in product management, I was an HR professional for over 10 years, with experience in people analytics, workforce planning, and talent management.  Coming into my position at ADP was fulfilling a dream job for me, because it’s such a data-driven organization that’s centered around building a better world of work, which resonated with my background as an HR professional.

What is ADP DataCloud and how does it influence the adoption of HR technology suites across various industries?

ADP DataCloud is a business intelligence tool that streams and aggregates data from across various HR systems to help clients improve HR processes and business outcomes such as reducing turnover, managing costs, improving diversity, and other core HCM considerations.

We complement client analytics with an industry-leading benchmark database that allows clients to compare how well they are performing relative to their industry on a number of dimensions, such as turnover, absence, and job compensation for an example.

We augment our business intelligence capabilities with machine learning to make predictions (e.g., predicting turnover risk). We also use machine learning to identify anomalies in client data to enable insights to flow to the user (e.g., identifying employees with tendencies to clock-in late or clock-out early), instead of requiring the user to dig for insights.

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Tell us about your HR tech stack and how you market it.

We are in the process of moving our entire tech stack to the cloud, leveraging the best hardware and software available to:

  • improve performance speed;
  • create a single code base that can localize UI changes for clients using a policy engine;
  • ensure all features are API-driven so that it is easy to re-distribute and re-use code; and
  • easily extend our data model so it is easier for clients to add new data sources and create custom metrics / analytics

All of this work on the tech stack is focused on offering a more customized experience for users that is fast, flexible, and portable.

Which industries and regions do you think are leading in the adoption of HR tech software? Why do you think there is such a huge gap between leaders and laggards in HR tech adoption?

This is a tough question. I don’t want to overgeneralize across industries or geographics here, as I think that culture plays a very big role in specific adoption of data tools.  While many HR practitioners say that they want to democratize data, at the same time, there’s often a hesitancy there in how they share and apply their people data across the organization, given the nature of the function.  Interestingly though, sales departments are often very different.  If you’ve ever been on a sales call, there’s an openness to share revenue data with colleagues and a tendency toward full transparency.  Sales leaders use data to hold people accountable, stimulate internal competition, and drive performance.  I believe that companies who can push through this ‘data protectionism’ barrier across functions will empower managers with data and achieve better outcomes.  HR’s role will evolve from ‘data provider’ to ‘advisor’. It’s a ‘win-win.’

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Tell us a bit about ADP’s DEI Dashboard and how ADP DataCloud makes it effective in DEI programs?

ADP’s DEI Dashboard is an easy to navigate tool that uses a question and answer format to enable companies to see the make-up of their organization and  identify if there are employee groups that may be underrepresented within their organization, leadership levels, or certain  jobs.  The DEI Dashboard also helps companies get a sense of their hiring and termination practices as it relates to diversity. The solution offers more than metrics. When an organization knows where they stand in terms of DEI, they can begin to establish targeted initiatives that will be impactful to creating inclusive cultures that help employees have a sense of belonging, which can drive better business outcomes.  ADP’s DEI Dashboard provides a foundational step for any organization that is wanting to understand and improve upon their DEI programs.

How important is an HR analytics tool for modern HR managers?

Data is the new oil: it fuels evidence-based decision-making. HR managers with good, insightful data are extremely useful to managers.  HR managers who can interpret the data, make recommendations and help execute are even more useful.

In most companies, labor expenses represent about 70-80% of a company’s total expense structure. If you can’t effectively manage your people costs, it will affect the money you make.  A good analytics tool will help you keep a pulse on spend and how it is adding up.

In addition, people managers will often tell you that things like turnover or dealing with low performers significantly hampers performance, so any insights an HR manager can provide to help drive engagement, retain talent, improve performance, and improve hiring decisions will get the attention of management.

How does ADP make it easy for HR managers to adapt HR analytics tools?

  • There are multiple ways HR managers can adapt HR analytics tools. For example, setting up ADP DataCloud is super easy.  With our automated set-up, client’s data can be replicated from the HR transactional systems and enabled for ADP DataCloud customers within minutes.
  • Security profiles control who can see specific data (e,g., the entire company vs. a specific department), data fields (e.g. gender, ethnicity), and even features (e.g., Compensation Explorer), so clients can be assured that users only see data that is critical to their jobs.
  • HR managers can also create custom dashboards and share them with managers, if they want to curate specific analytics views for their managers.
  • All of this functionality is enabled with a few clicks, making it easy for HR managers to dive in.
  • Moving forward, we are focused on allowing clients to more easily add third party data sources for custom analytics as well.

Tell us about your most powerful HR tech research and how it impacts modern workforce management.

An MIT article on “How HR Leaders Are Preparing for the AI-Enabled Workforce” points out a common issue: companies are having difficulty forming an approach. I think this puts a burden on AI providers and solutions like ADP DataCloud to make the AI very intuitive to use, easy to explain, and easy to monitor in terms of how well it is working for our clients. HR professionals need easily accessible and digestible data to action against.

Analytics / AI that benefits employees is also a key takeaway here. Career paths and employee sentiment over time (e.g., engagement, inclusion, resilience), can be inform employees’ journeys and foster self-learning and career growth.

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How are AI and automation influencing HR tech adoption? Which HR AI tool are you most keenly following?

  • Automation makes it easier to gain value from technology. It can save HR professionals valuable time by replicating what a person would do but only faster (e.g., calculate turnover by department in seconds, instead of days).  This frees up their time to focus on strategy and supporting their workforce.
  • AI also begins to offer the user insights and analytics that would otherwise be unattainable to users (e.g., AI can use observed data and the underlying patterns to produce compensation benchmarks for jobs, industries, and locations where data is otherwise unavailable).
  • Automation makes it easy; AI makes it insightful and useful.

Tools I am keen on:

  • AI tools focused on communication, collaboration, and productivity via streaming chat, email, and calendars are very interesting. It’s work in action. This data has the potential to transform a company – but it has its’ challenges.
  • Technology that can capture employee sentiment via surveys is a critical new source of employee insight as well. Integrating it with other data sources and using it to improve predictive models and recommendation engines will be very powerful in advancing data science in HR.

Thank you, Brent! That was fun and hope to see you back on HR Tech Series soon.

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Over the last several years, I’ve been a consultant, analytics manager, strategic workforce planning director, and product developer.

My goals are to be a student of all things related to talent, data science, workforce planning, and business strategy. I leverage these insights to help ADP build products that help clients manage their talent more effectively and strengthen the overall business (strategically, financially, and operationally).

Specialties: Talent Management, Workforce Planning, Consulting/Facilitation, Advanced Analytics, Predictive Modeling, Futuring, Talent Assessment, Competencies, Selection, and Performance Management

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