John Schwarz, CEO & Founder
Year 2007: SAP acquires Business Objects for 4.8 Bn Euros. While the process of acquisition is going on, a particular talent in the Business Objects team is spotted by SAP, John Schwarz, and is made a member of SAP executive board. 3 years later, Schwarz resigns from SAP, and co-founds Visier!
John Schwarz, CEO, Visier, had it all— assurances of corporate life, an organization doubling its revenue, and a member of the SAP Executive Board. So how did it all start, and what prompted him to start a venture from scratch? “It all started on a springtime night when I met Ryan Wong, for dinner. We reflected on our shared experiences and decided that, if we could start over, we could address key pain points that their business intelligence customers had,” recalls Schwarz. “For business intelligence customers, the cost was too high, the deployment time too long, the skills required on behalf of the end user too unreasonable.”
With the aim to address imminent these questions at the fingertips of all decision makers by developing an innovative Applied Big Data solution, the idea of Visier was conceived.
The question that bugs HR leaders is how to streamline data which is usually dispersed over many disparate systems. Historically, such insight was provided—if at all—by a locally developed set of queries and reports using spreadsheets or data warehouses and Business Intelligence (BI) tools. The market for spreadsheets and BI tools has transformed over the years, but the predicament with this approach was high cost, long lead-times, and high risk of project failure due to technical complexity. “We saw an opportunity to approach the problem differently, eliminating the service cost, complexity, and business risk. We developed a solution that delivers accurate business insights and plans alternatives for the business user, virtually instantly, with no dependency on any technical skill of the user,” informs Schwarz.
Visier delivers unmatched workforce analytics and planning capabilities, novel product enhancements every quarter, and turnkey data management-delivered in the cloud, based on a patented in-memory multi-dimensional analytics technology.
Beyond Canned Reports
“Data” comes from everywhere. Stored information is growing at a 60 percent compounded annual rate. Organizations must deal continually with an increasing number of data sources. “It used to be sufficient to only store payroll data. Now we have payroll, performance, skills and learning, succession, applicant tracking, safety records, employee surveys, social networks, even tests, pictures, e-mails and other unstructured sources,” elaborates Schwarz. The challenge most organizations face is not the volume of information, but the diversity, the lack of common identifiers, and the degree of inaccuracy that creeps in while using multiple system sources.
Visier’s predictive analytics technology is up to ten times more accurate at predicting who will resign over the next three months than guesswork or intuition
With its in-memory multi-dimensional analytics, Visier automatically surfaces outliers in any calculation of averages so that any hidden issues are shown alongside the average. These figures are then simultaneously compared to benchmarks and past performance, and outliers are ranked based on parameters contributing to good or bad performance, making the HR team think beyond canned reports. This allows the user to drill down and look for common characteristics and causes of problems while also underscoring good practices that can be promoted across the organization.
Deporting the Spreadsheet Pain
Not only does Visier automatically surface outliers in any calculation of averages, it visualizes the entire HR frontier. By instantly generating a complete and accurate view of an organization’s workforce, Visier banishes the pain of handling complex spreadsheets. “Using our solution, an organization doesn’t need to make an entry manually,” adds Schwarz.
Visier ensures that up-to-date headcount and financials from an organization’s system of record are available at their fingertips, so they can plan based on an accurate picture of their workforce and its total costs. This also allows the HR team to add more detail on talent and timing requirements as the solution brings budget and forecast data from financial plans directly. “An organization is thus enabled to monitor their plan against actual headcount and account for predicted exits and internal movement so that they don’t over- or under-hire,” says Schwarz. This also allows organizations to understand the quality of their hire based on the long-term success of employees, embedding diversity into their recruiting process. “Visier connects an organization’s ATS data with talent management, core HR, and other workforce data to see what recruiting sources, programs, and decisions lead to the best employees in the long term,” adjoins Schwarz. Organizations can thus get a complete picture of the workforce costs by reducing the impact of absence, and optimizing their talent investments.
The solution also allows employees to build what-if scenarios to compare options for the future. These plans can then be easily shared with business leaders and people managers to get their feedback and buy-in—while making sure they only see what they are authorized to see, and connect workforce decisions to business results.
From Thinking to Knowing
When it comes to visualizing the entire HR frontier, talent retention is an imminent part. Since the peak of the recession in 2009, the number of unemployed employees per job opening in the U.S. has steadily declined and is now back at pre-recession levels. On top of that, the Bureau of Labor statistics data shows that it is harder for companies not only to hire, but also to retain talent.
As a result, retention is a key objective for most HR organizations. The firm applies continuous machine learning, to achieve this level of predictive accuracy, and take an organization from the state of thinking to knowing.
“Visier’s patented in-memory multi-dimensional analytics technology determines the correlation to employee resignations that have occurred during the last 18-month period by analyzing over-all employees and potentially hundreds of employee variables or attributes over that period,” informs Schwarz. A ‘risk of exit’ score is then automatically assigned which ranks all the employees from highest to lowest risk. “Visier’s predictive analytics technology is up to ten times more accurate at predicting who will resign over the next three months than guesswork or intuition,” adds Schwarz.
"With Visier Talent Acquisition we are enabling organizations to outsmart their competition by having a clear and complete understanding of how to consistently hire the best people"
Visier allows organizations to predict which critical employees are most at risk of leaving—and see what workforce factors affect resignations—such that they can design targeted retention programs. HRs can be then informed and hiring plans can be fabricated based on these accurate projections of resignations and retirements.
Taking On the Giants
Prior to establishing Visier, Schwarz was the President and COO of Symantec Corporation from December 2001 through September 2005, position many entrepreneurs dream of. But that didn’t stop him from initiating a firm that would visualize the whole HR frontier. Visier is today at the forefront of HR revolution, and plans to be the next generation leader in business intelligence by becoming the most-preferred platform for analytics application in all domains, taking on the giants.
A combination of cloud technology, coupled with in-memory and map-reduce processing, a deep knowledge of the application domain, the semantic linking of business terms and big data, and modern custom-designed graphics enable Visier to produce a 20:1 cost advantage and significantly reduced time to success over BI. “The combination of these new techniques gives us a virtually unassailable advantage,” elaborates Schwarz.
The firm recently launched a new predictive analytics solution, Visier Talent Acquisition, which accurately forecasts how long it will take to fill a specific role with a quality hire. The solution included advanced machine learning technology developed specifically to help meet the critical needs of Talent Acquisition leaders tasked with recruiting top talent in highly competitive markets. Describing the solution, Dave Weisbeck, Chief Strategy Officer, Visier says, “With Visier Talent Acquisition we are enabling organizations to outsmart their competition by having a clear and complete understanding of how to consistently hire the best people.”
Organizations leveraging Visier’s Workforce Intelligence solution will now be able to improve and predict the speed of hiring, track effectiveness of the hires, prevent talent leaks, and ensure equity around the hiring process. With new innovative solutions in its mane and a will to take on the giants of the HR industry, only sky’s the limit now for Visier.