NASSCOM – Arjun Pratap, Founder & CEO, EdGE Networks
Arjun Pratap is founder and Chief Executive Officer at EdGE Networks. Fueled by the vision to build innovative, future-focused HR technology solutions – which re-engineer Human Resource Management to positively impact business outcomes – Arjun leads EdGE Networks to be a disruptor in the skill development space.
“At EdGE we deliver an end-to-end AI driven solution for workforce optimization”.
Prior to EdGE Networks, Arjun worked with organizations such as SpeedERA Networks and Akamai Technologies, where he was responsible for building their India and international businesses. He also headed the sales function at Dexler Information Solutions to provide strategic direction in building the company. Arjun holds a post graduate degree in Information Systems and International Business, from The University of Sydney, Australia.
Q: In a scenario where rightly-skilled tech talent is in short supply, how do you enable organizations to resolve their hiring challenges and transform their workforce?
A: The very basis for starting up EdGE Networks was this universal problem that organizations face—to connect the right person to the right job. With this as our motto, we dug deeper to unearth the underlying issues that contributed to this corporate epidemic.
In light of this, we created HIREalchemy, our flagship product. HIREalchemy is a cutting-edge talent acquisition platform powered by Artificial Intelligence and Data Science that transforms the hiring experience. Using our comprehensive skills repository and machine learning algorithms (NLP and ANN), we create sharp job descriptions armed with pertinent keywords, resulting in accurate resume matches. The platform auto-sources the right fit by parsing and analyzing both structured and unstructured information from internal databases as well as external portals.
It eases the process of selection as the platform throws up resume matches by scoring and stack ranking them based on business rules set by the client. This exponentially enhances the speed and accuracy of job fulfillment and has the potential to save costs of the order of millions of dollars for large businesses. The intelligence built into our platform helps determine the career path of staff, assess skills gaps and bridge these gaps by recommending relevant learning paths.
Q:How will Artificial Intelligence impact the Human Resource function?
A: Artificial Intelligence is transforming the way we do business today and HR is no exception to this. AI is a force that will drive the new employment economy. From fiction in the movie Transformers, to an impressive reality (Watson and Deep Blue), AI algorithms are challenging human intelligence. With their inherent pattern recognition, self-learning and cognitive capabilities, AI powered algorithms have the ability to perform complex jobs with speed and accuracy.
AI coupled with analytics is gaining ground within the HR domain. From talent acquisition and workforce optimization to workforce transformation, AI can act as a strategic enabler for HR. In the talent acquisition space, AI is bringing about a sea change in the speed, accuracy and timeliness of delivery. Auto-sourcing, just-in-time hiring, and self-serve hiring are expected to improve utilization and drive revenue growth. AI driven applications can act as HR’s weather man helping them analyze the engagement level of employees, determine flight risk, uncover great talent in the frontline and more.
AI can help build loyalty by acting as a career guide to staff. With AI, HR managers can realize their goal of being a strategic business enabler. Companies that espouse AI-driven solutions will enjoy significant competitive advantage in the recruitment market too.
Q: What are you seeing as the key HR trends that are defining the acquisition and retention of skilled manpower within companies?
A: Just as in the consumer market, the recruitment market is rapidly evolving in its technology adoption. From eRecruiting, Personalization to Retargeting, there is a logical similarity. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Analytics will bring about the most seminal change to talent acquisition and retention.
Going forward, AI-enabled HR tech solutions will drive talent acquisition and workforce optimization with renewed efficiency. Creating job descriptions with right keywords, resume parsing, scoring and ranking resumes, job recommendations, employee skill matching, career path mapping, skills gap analysis, learning path to bridge skill gaps and more. Powered by analytics, hiring managers will be able to make fact-based hiring decisions thereby improving accuracy.
As an extension of technology influence on workforce management, mobility will be part of the HR strategy of CHROs. This will include investing in new mobile application systems, mobile optimization of existing HR systems and messaging systems, to mention a few. Social recruitment is another area that is gaining popularity. Arguably the best use of Social for recruiting is to reach the candidates directly. Since the database is large, it makes a good platform to market job vacancies as well. Owing to their people aggregator features, Social sites are nearly making job boards redundant. The other use of social sites is to screen candidates. This is especially useful in engaging with younger candidates and providing personalization.
Retargeting in the HR world is re-engaging. On the back of severe competition in the recruitment market, HR teams are constantly looking at innovative ways to build a recruitment brand and interact with prospective candidates. In light of this, re-engaging with offer drop-outs, alumni and students through communication, could be an effective way to beat competition. Personalization is another trend that is helping in the retention and engagement of staff. Personalized career paths, skill gap analysis, and learning path recommendations are expected to improve employee loyalty.
Q: What is the kind of talent that organizations are looking for today? How do you help create this talent and link it to companies?
A: In a world where change and uncertainty is a given, organizations are looking for agility in talent. A person with a high level of adaptability and willingness to take on newer and bigger challenges is preferred. The start-up culture is beginning to have its influence on large MNCs as well. A risk-taking ability and out-of-the-box thinking are characteristics that even large companies are looking for. With the proliferation of SMAC technologies, companies across industries are gradually changing their skills mix to include more SMAC experts.
EdGE Networks is in the business of bringing the right people to the right job. What sets us apart is the fact that we do this in an efficient manner by espousing innovative technologies—Natural Language Processing, Artificial Neural Networks, Machine Learning and Predictive Modelling. We help our customers solve their most pressing talent acquisition and workforce optimization problems with HIREalchemy, one of the largest skilled manpower platforms that aims to connect every potential employer with every potential employee.
Our solutions help HR specialists fight challenges such as filtering CVs, ineffective screening methods, low RoI from job portals, increased cost due to external hiring, low quality resumes, incorrect visibility of the complete workforce and limited movement of talent from one domain to another, to mention a few. We help organizations hire human capital in a smarter, faster and more accurate way with our automated search and download and scored and stack ranked resumes. EdGE’s workforce optimization solution helps organizations reskill and reassign human capital efficiently based on business needs.
Q: As a product innovation partner with the NSDC, what are your key commitments and deliverables?
A: As mentioned earlier, our forte is to match the right person with the right job. NSDC has chosen EdGE Networks to develop an eco-system of skilled manpower that provides trained candidates to employers, placement options to training partners and employment to candidates. Our platform, HIREalchemy, provides efficient recruiting and resource management and aids job seekers and employees identify and build the right skills for their careers, using Artificial Intelligence and Data Science. The platform processes both structured and unstructured data to provide analytics and insights on the workforce. HIREalchemy manages and analyzes talent in organizations based on skills, personality, career path and other characteristics of job seekers. It helps with skill-gap analysis and recommends relevant training programs thereby ensuring employers get rightly-skilled talent.
Q: Edge Networks has been advocating the use of Data Science to build a win-win eco-system for employers and employees. What exactly is the role that Data Science can play?
A: Traditionally, HR has been using Excel spread sheets and dashboards to mine data. This is really the issue–the lack of relational, contextual analysis reduces the depth of analysis derived from rich data. Using advanced analytics algorithms with predictive capabilities, we empower HR leaders with real-time data and actionable insights that accelerate business decision making and improve accuracy. Today, most organizations are grappling with ever increasing attrition rates. They spend millions of dollars in retaining existing staff and hiring new staff for vacant positions. This can be greatly minimized by predicting the attrition risk of staff and taking appropriate steps to avoid it. By co-relating reasons for attrition to employee engagement, performance and other data, HR can predict the likelihood of staff leaving the organization. This is especially helpful in case of critical and high potential staff.
Another challenge that most TA staff face is offer drop-outs. With accurate analysis, a probability score can be built for every candidate as an indicator of joining probability. This can also help identify the characteristics of candidates who are likely to renege. Demand forecasting, whether it is for manufacturing, sales or HR, can reduce revenue loss by a significant margin–a key business health metric. A robust demand forecasting model encompassing business plans, pipeline, resource pool, productivity and attrition can improve resource management.
By using sentiment analysis tools, HR can determine the impact of any major change, business or organizational, on employee behavior and performance. HR leaders can compute sentiment using NLP, machine and deep learning methods to extract, identify and characterize the sentiment of staff against a particular change or as a regular exercise either to enhance the existing tempo where positive, and taking corrective measures where it is negative. The possibilities are endless. Analytics needs to be truly integral to the HR business for organizations to stay afloat in an increasingly competitive recruitment market. Analytics, simply as a dashboard has no value. It needs to enable managers with actionable insights to make smart decisions.
Q: What is the kind of value that you would say you provide in the area of talent management?
A: An efficient workforce management approach combines demand generation, skills repository, talent acquisition, allocation, learning and analytics to deliver robust talent connect. This is what we deliver in EdGE—an end-to-end AI driven solution for workforce optimization.
We start with enhancing internal supply visibility through a robust skills repository, enabling internal fulfillment and reducing costs incurred in external hiring. We help create intelligent job descriptions with appropriate keywords, lack of which is one of the key reasons for inaccurate resume matches. Auto-sourcing and the intuitive user experience of our platform promotes self-serve recruitment by hiring managers and increases portal utilization. This enables instant resume matches, faster job fulfillments and lower hiring cycle time. Due to its inbuilt ability to parse structured and unstructured data, our platform produces more accurate matches, resulting in fewer or nil demand cancellations and allocation failures. Our predictive and prescriptive analytics algorithms help optimize resourcing through accurate demand forecasting as well as curb attrition through flight risk scoring. Completing the workforce transformation cycle is the feature of Intelligent Learning Path, that maps the career path of staff, identifies skills gaps and suggests training courses to bridge the gaps.
Q: Who are some of your clients and what are the quantifiable benefits that you have brought to these organizations?
A: We cater to a wide array of clients, from large IT conglomerates to leading staffing firm. Our clients include Wipro, TeamLease, HCL and more. Our products and solutions have a layer of analytics built into them which allow us to measure the business impact juxtaposed with data shared by the client. We have impacted both revenue and profits of companies, resulting from improved time, cost and accuracy of talent management. Some of the benefits include: a 4-time increase in supply visibility; 36 percent increase in allocation via Project Manager; 51 percent reduction in allocation failures; 33 percent improvement in fulfilling external requisitions with internal people; 30 percent reduction in Workforce Management Group; a 300 percent increase in portal utilization; 58 percent reduction in time taken to shortlist candidates; 28 percent conversion rate from recommendation to actual joinees and 100 percent resume/profile coverage.
Q: What about India in the broader sense? How can the nation leverage its demographic dividend and how is Edge Networks contributing to the government of India’s Skilling India initiative?
A: As mentioned earlier, we have been chosen by NSDC to develop an eco-system of skilled manpower that provides trained candidates to employers, placement options to training partners and employment to candidates. Skilling India is a movement with a similar objective and NSDC, through its SSCs intends to deliver industry-led skills plan in India.