This content is part of the Essential Guide: A guide to talent management tools and trends

Analytics tools model future for hiring managers, HR software

Infor, Cornerstone and Workday are among HR software firms buying smaller companies to gain a foothold in predictive analytics.

At Sage Hospitality, managers are using Infor human capital management (HCM) software to help predict the best candidates for jobs such as cooks, room attendants, restaurant managers, front desk agents and general managers.

Sage, a Denver-based hotel investment, management and development company, is part of a growing trend of using predictive analytics tools in human resources. Sage implemented cloud-based Infor Talent Science software last year and began using it in June.

When applying for jobs, candidates are assessed and compared against a custom performance profile to create a "fit index" for the potential hire, scoring the applicant on a scale of 1 to 100. The questions on the assessments measure a candidate's "behavioral DNA," or unique pattern of behavioral, organizational, cultural and cognitive characteristics. If Sage is looking for a restaurant manager, for example, the assessment screens for people who prefer a more fast-paced environment.

Carmen Lo Turco, vice president of talent at Sage, said Infor's software as a service, or SaaS, is a predictive analytics tool that is being embraced by hiring managers.

"It helps us make more informed decisions on who we hire," Lo Turco said. "If the stars are all aligned, it would be able to predict for us the likelihood of success with any given candidate."

Sage uses a predictive analytics tool developed by PeopleAnswers, a company bought by Infor in 2014. Infor was among several large software companies that bought smaller companies to gain footholds in the hot field of predictive analytics in human resources.

Workday, for example, took over Identified, and Cornerstone OnDemand purchased Evolv. SAP's SuccessFactors includes Workforce Analytics for HR, created by an Australian company acquired by SuccessFactors in 2010, which itself was purchased by SAP the following year.

LinkedIn last year also paid $120 million for, which has analytics software that connects resumes to job openings.

HR companies scooping up talent in predictive analytics

Typically, scientists and engineers come along with these company purchases and give the acquirers new talent in big data analytics, behavioral science and algorithms.

Josh Bersin, principal and founder of Bersin by Deloitte, a research company based in Oakland, Calif., said most big software vendors are involved in predictive analytics and building analytics tools.

Talent analytics in HR is "a vital, competitive advantage" for companies, he said. "The companies that are doing it -- it takes two to three years to get good at it -- will be better at recruiting and managing people than those that aren't," Bersin said.

Lo Turco said the goals at Sage are to reduce turnover among its 6,000 employees, as well as improve performance and hiring. Sage has about 7,200 job applicants in an average year. By the end of the first full year, approximately 70% of those are expected to take the assessments, which are not administered to applicants for all positions.

Behavioral scientists at Infor created Sage's job-specific performance profiles by collecting performance data on existing employees and comparing it to the employees' behavioral DNA to determine those characteristics most predictive of success in the job. "That is a lot of the secret sauce behind [predictive analytics] and Infor," Lo Turco said.

Sage plans to study the results after using the talent science software for a year. Lo Turco cited strong anecdotal evidence that the new tool is working.

Right now, all of the company's 65 hotels and restaurants use custom performance profiles for candidate selections. The program might expand to the corporate office.

Candidates are assessed and compared to profiles for Sage's "core jobs," such as room attendants and cooks, or those who deal most with guests, such as front desk agents.

"We are very pleased," Lo Turco said. "The beauty of this software is that it gives you more insight above and beyond just the selection process. It helps hiring managers understand the candidate better and how to motivate them, and it helps [managers] understand how to even develop them.

"It almost becomes a full talent-cycle tool. It gives you tips on how to onboard someone for success based on their characteristics and attributes. It is bigger than just selection, which we love."

Millions of job hopefuls a year assessed with Infor software

The Infor talent science software is used by more than 200 companies ranging from small property management companies to giant retailers, said Jill Strange, director of human capital management and behavioral science at Infor.

In all, 14 million people a year take the assessments when they apply for jobs, according to Infor figures. Then they're scored based on how they compare to an ideal profile for the job.

"The analytics process is the same, no matter what type of role we are looking at," said Strange, who came to Infor from PeopleAnswers. "It always hinges on collecting assessment data and performance data. If we have those two pieces, we can build a profile for any role in the workforce."

Predictive analytics in HR will gain even more traction when a prediction is more often tied to a suggestion for action, said Jason Averbook, CEO of the Marcus Buckingham Co., which sells software for team leaders to measure the engagement and performance of employees.

Averbook said Cornerstone OnDemand, for example, is doing a good job of using analytics to recommend training and learning for employees based on their current backgrounds.

As predictive analytics becomes more popular, buyers also need to make sure that the software is embedded in tools already in use, said Averbook.

"While you are trying to make decisions based on data, if you have to go to 10 to 15 places to be able to see that data and then take action on that data, chances are you are never going to do it," Averbook said.

Next Steps

Learn about the Sierra-Cedar roadmap for HR analytics

See analytics news from the HR Technology Conference

Read the essential guide to HR analytics

Dig Deeper on People analytics software