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Exit Interview by Patrick Donegan – Newsletter #11

By: Patrick Donegan

For some time, I’ve been looking for one “source” that curates modern takes on HR Tech, perspectives from the people who build it, and its impact on enterprise — something that’s tailor-made by professionals for decision-makers.

I never found it — so I decided to build it.

Every week, I’ll be sharing fresh insights on tech platforms, design, data, and the future of work — straight to your inbox.

My Thoughts

Many of us have been following the story of Whitney Wolfe Herd — CEO of Bumble and the youngest self-made female billionaire. 🔥🙌   Bumble’s IPO has been off to a flying start. 👏📈  Herd is incredible, but as for gender equity more generally, we have a long way to go — according to Bloombergonly 3% of VC dollars go to startups founded by women. 😠⚖️  Hope this is making fund managers sit up.

Tech Innovation at Work

Nasdaq took a look at the tech trends that are driving changes in the market. 🐣😎   They’re not a surprise — 2020 has accelerated growth in these key areas:

  • Custom Chips: We’ve been seeing innovations in SoCs and FPGAs. Better chip design will help us build more efficient trading systems, deliver better performance, reduce complexity, lower the cost of end products, increase profitability and add new features that differentiate our products.
  • Edge Cloud: ☁️🔨 Edge cloud reduces our reliance on central processing. This improves performance in financial services, IoT and vehicular and drone applications, and supports customer engagement models to provide deeper insights from data.
  • Data Sharing: 🔗 Advances in cloud, federated learning, and encryption mean organizations can share data more securely. They can also share insights without sharing data — making it easy to retain control and conduct audits.
  • SaaS in the Cloud: ☁️💡 SaaS in the cloud is rapidly accelerating, and financial institutions and marketplaces are finding it easier, faster, and more cost-effective to onboard new clients, upgrade and deliver products. 

A promising development: using modular construction, the city of LA built homeless housing in just four weeks, adding about 200 units. 💪🏘️   They did it using modular steel — metal like building blocks that can be designed to be used as housing. This was really testing a prototype. The first project ended up taking longer than if it were conventionally built, but the next three could be finished in less than half the time. Mark Oberholzer from KTGY Architecture + Planning says: “I think it’s a testament to the fact that it was really an exercise in perfecting a prototype.”

Photo: KTGY Architecture + Planning

2020 saw some fascinating approaches to virtual fashion shows. In 2021, it looks like the Big Four fashion weeks — New York, Paris, Milan, and London — are all going virtual. 💃🛍️📱  Brands are switching to a fully digital experience. It could be a mini-movie, a cartoon, or a straightforward catwalk parade filmed in a largely empty space. They will all be posted to the brands’ websites and social media feeds, as well as being hosted on the home pages of the various fashion weeks. They can last anywhere from three to 20 minutes — but the sweet spot is between five and seven minutes.

The Changing Workplace

Here’s something to watch. Zerina Akers, costume designer and longtime stylist to Beyoncé and Chloe x Halle, just launched an e-commerce platform on the Black Owned Everything website. 🙌 ✊  The site first debuted on Instagram, and has more than 200,000 followers. Now, consumers can shop from established and emerging Black-owned brands from across the world. 

More companies are using AI-based hiring tools to manage applications. A Mercer survey found that the proportion of firms who said their department uses predictive analytics jumped from 10% in 2016 to 39% in 2020. 🤔🔮  Unsurprisingly, predictive analytics can produce some biased results — favoring men over women, as well as favoring certain ethnic groups. But there have been some responses to this problem. Pymetrics, for instance, paid a third party — Northeastern University — to audit its system. Until we solve the thorny challenge of ethical AI, audits will play a necessary role in ensuring technology doesn’t replicate human biases.

The gig economy is coming for full-time jobs. Last year companies such as UberLyftDoorDash, and Instacart spent a record $200 million campaigning for Prop 22 — a prop that limits drivers to sub-employee perks and prevents them from becoming full employees. The ramifications are far reaching. ✅ 🚘 🍔 Albertsons is already swapping out their food delivery employees for contracts through DoorDash. Similar changes may be in store for nursing, executive assistance, tutoring, programming, restaurant work and design. This isn’t to say that what happened in California is easily reproducible, but companies like Uber have been remarkably successful at bending laws to their needs, despite years of bad press. 

All About Data

Data literacy will be key to HR strategy in the future. Here are a couple notable stats from Tableau‘s 2020 👨‍💻 📊  data trends report

  • Businesses are turning to academia to ensure that their talent pipeline keeps up with demand. Of the $15.3 million invested in data in 2020, nearly half — 41% — was allocated to skill development. 
  • Accenture Interactive found that 87% of consumers think it’s important to purchase from brands or retailers that understand ‘the real me’.
  • According to Deloitte, inclusive organizations can deal with individual performance problems 3.6 times better than those that lack inclusive talent strategies.
  • According to a Gartner survey, 49% of CEOs believe business and technology have an equal responsibility for the performance and quality of digital products and services.

Barron’s has compiled a list of the 100 most sustainable companies. U.S. Sustainable Investments jumped to $17.1 trillion in 2020, up 42% from 2018. 🌍🌲  In their study, Calvert looked at 230 ESG performance indicators, such as workplace diversity, data security, and greenhouse-gas emissions. They assigned a score of 0 to 100 in each stakeholder category. Then, they created a weighted average of the categories for each company, based on how financially material each category was for its industry peer group. Top companies include Best BuyAgilent TechnologiesEcolabAutodesk, and Voya Financial

Despite its faults, automation can do a lot for companies — especially in recruitment. 🤔🔍 Aptitude Research found that companies are failing to improve the candidate experience, and introducing AI can help. Here are a few key insights:

  • 68% of companies state that they have not made any improvements on the candidate experience this year.
  • 22% of companies state that they have improved candidate trust.
  • Only one in four candidates are satisfied with the interview process.

Applied carefully, automation can help build trust by providing, personalize candidate feedback,  ensure transparency, improve communication, and ensure accurate data collection.🌟👏   Here are all the areas where AI can make an impact:

Graph: Aptitude Research

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Patrick Donegan Chief Strategy Officer

Patrick Donegan

Chief Strategy Officer

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