People analytics imperative to facilitate efficient businesses


By Samar Yahya

Saudi Gazette


The 2nd one-day “KSA People Analytics and Innovation Summit” held in Riyadh last Wednesday underscored the importance of understanding people analytics’ role in effecting transformation.

The summit hosted global speakers in the field such as Alper Kulak Founder and Managing Partner Maven Insights and Solutions, Ross Sparkman Head Of Strategic Workforce Planning in Facebook, Richard Phelps HR Analytics Expert Founder of Human Times, Altan Atabarut Founding Partner Altdata and Celal Kavuklu Head of Business Solutions SAS, in addition to HR executives from leading Saudi companies who participated in the first people analytics panel in KSA.

Speaking to Saudi Gazette, Kulak, the organizer of the summit, said “we are hosting this summit to create a platform for HR leaders in a way they could bring impact to their businesses, and also to raise the awareness of HR leaders and help them to understand what is available in the market, to train their own people and to position themselves as the drivers in this transformation. In KSA case, there are a lot of imperatives that is coming from Vision 2030 and there are lots of global shifts that create the change.”

People analytics in personal and corporate pages “helps everyone be a little more connected, in Facebook we do not use any of our platform data, because of privacy concerns. We look at what is basically happening within the workforce. In terms of internal people analytics, it helps us to understand what we need to do in our company to create an environment where employees can be more engaged and to create polices and programs for our employees to be part of.”

To Sparkman, the best way to differentiate between people analytics and surveillance is that Facebook looks at the organization as a whole in groups to make the organization better, but not at individuals.

“Marketing wise, in Facebook there are a lot of tools that marketing department uses to assess the effectiveness of using Facebook pages to advertise and that is something we are continually improving. Facebook has become so popular for advertisers, especially to small business ones as we provide real time analytics to help them understand different kinds of campaigns and their effectiveness,” Sparkman added.

Naif Alrefaie, manpower planning section manager in STC, said: “These summits are important to increase the awareness of the data analytics. There is huge transformation within the country and major organizations as well. One of the capabilities we need to build and acquire in the coming years is data analytics not only in HR but also in each business and functional units. This is what is needed to facilitate jobs of decision makers when they take decisions and how we are going to achieve our strategy and vision based on data, not only based on opinion.”

Phelps said: “People analytics in Saudi Arabia has great opportunity. Since it is quite new here, there is an opportunity to learn from the entire advances and practices from other parts of the world, and to avoid mistakes that others made. This could be very critical as foundation for KSA to deliver for 2030 Vision; the whole concept is around people analytics. The starting point is capability and selecting the right measures that will help understand whether the vision is being delivered and what could be done better in terms of the performance of those measures. In HR technology is an enabler, you we have to go back to basics first on the measures and to get the right foundation before getting into very sophisticated technology or otherwise you jump very quickly with no foundation.”

On the challenges HR departments would face, Wafa Al-Anany, HR Senior professional in Saudi Ceramics, said: “With our country vision, more and new job opportunities are there for Saudis for both males and females, in diverse fields, which would create challenges for private sector in terms of continuity in their jobs, the number of required Saudis in jobs such as in industrial sector and vocational fields, and in terms of training as well.”

Another female attendee Eman AlZoubi, Talent Acquisition Manager, KAFD – PIF, said: “During my nine years of experience in the field of HR, I have noticed major transformation one year after the other. Of course technical advances and automation were major drivers to those changes, but most importantly is the realization-of humans as capitals. Saudi Arabia has launched the human capital development program part of Vision 2030. HRH has emphasized several times that this country’s human capital is what will help build the future and achieve our goals. There are challenges ahead of us, but as long as we educate our youth and equip them with the necessary skills, I am certain that the best is yet to come.”

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