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Organisational Intelligence

Big Data has resulted in ‘Big Analytics’ - the ability to analyse and assess organisational challenges; from employee engagement to efficiencies in global supply chains - fundamentally changing the way decisions are made and empowering the C-Suite.

3 min

Business by numbers: How big-data analytics represents the new face of HR



Business by numbers: How big-data analytics represents the new face of HR

Gone are the days of resumes and interviews. Now data mining can help you discover top talent in an instant – with lasting results.

Leaders today should be wary of placing much faith in resumes because each is just an applicant advertisement or worse, warns Expr3ss! co-founder and chairman, Dr Glyn Brokensha.

“We know that 74 per cent of resumes are misleading and 40 per cent of them frankly contain lies,” says Brokensha, whose background in medicine and psychotherapy influenced his algorithm-based recruitment software, which is designed to help employers hire the right candidate for the job.

Brokensha is also sceptical about interviews, because some candidates get stage fright. References are not bad, he says, but he anticipates them to be stymied by potential litigation, which may force referees to give reports based only on formal HR records.

In contrast, cognitive computing can help organisations nix unconscious preferences and biases, which emerge even when HR has the best intentions, Brokensha adds, casting big data analytics as part of a long-term trend.


A growing trend

It’s no secret that over the past decade, big data has transformed the way companies do business, with chief marketing officers tracking shopping patterns and preferences to predict and inform consumer behaviour. Likewise, chief financial officers use real-time, forward-looking, integrated analytics to improve their grasp of various business lines.

The HR department is next, a report published in McKinsey Quarterly says. “Human resources chiefs are starting to deploy predictive talent models that can more effectively – and more rapidly – identify, recruit, develop, and retain the right people,” the report says. “Mapping HR data helps organisations identify current pain points and prioritise future analytics investments.”

Christine Khor, managing director of recruitment company Chorus Executive and author of the HR guide Hire Love, emphasises that dispassionate scrutiny is vital. Back in the day, employers relied only on face-to-face meetings, peer reviews and gut instinct to determine if a candidate had what it took to be part of the team, Khor says.

“But when you gather the right data, beyond credentials and experience, you can get a clearer picture of who fits where and why,” she says. Gathering the right data and shaping your assessments around it yields clear cost-and-productivity benefits, she adds.

Objective data tools – predictive technology, psychometric testing and behavioural testing – in conjuction with face to face interviews and human insight are the best way to find the right person, according to Khor.


“Predictive analytics takes subjectivity and human bias out of human resources, saves time, reduces stress, and makes it more likely that the organisation will hire people who will be the best contributors and stay with the organisation for a long time.”
– Vadim Bichutskiy, data scientist


More flow, less churn

Vadim Bichutskiy, founder and chief executive officer of data science and analytics company Angel Technology Group, describes predictive analytics as “a game-changer for talent recruiting and retention”.

Hiring people is notoriously difficult, stressful and time-consuming because the hiring manager must worry about the candidate’s qualifications and how the person fits within both team and company culture.

“Predictive analytics use data and sophisticated statistical algorithms to predict which candidate is the best fit for the job, who should be retained, and who’s likely to churn. It takes subjectivity and human bias out of human resources, saves time, reduces stress, and makes it more likely that the organisation will hire people who will be the best contributors and stay with the organisation for a long time,” says Bichutskiy, who is also a data scientist with experience building individual-level HR predictive models.

Computers can easily handle the volume of applicants, adds Brokensha, stressing the ease with which the right software can help you build the perfect team. Start by addressing the negative – let your predictive hiring app weed out candidates lacking key credentials, be it a driver’s licence, a mining and minerals certificate or the requisite experience, he says.

The next step, he adds, from perhaps an original 100 applicants is to gauge each remaining applicant’s temperament. Through an checklist or survey, assess their values. Then you can narrow your remaining applicants down from 30 to about five elite candidates.

Finally comes the interview, if at all, Brokensha says. “The interview should really only occur when we understand the person as a result of having some kind of characterological assessment,” he says.

“We need to understand where they fit already, how we can engage with them intelligently and talk to them about the different sorts of scenarios they might encounter in your workplace. That way the interview does become appreciably more predictive of success in any given role.”


Idea in brief

Here’s how big data can help you build a sustainable business:

  • Analytics offer insight free from initial human bias
  • Technology smarts can eliminate unsuitable applicants in an instant
  • Zoom in on talent by screening for temperament
  • Committed HR software use benefits your bottom line

Retaining high-calibre hires and creating flexible work environments that boost productivity are high priorities for the professional services industry. Discover more.

2 min

Five things machines can do humans never thought possible



Five things machines can do humans never thought possible

Imagine living in a world where computers can see into the future, optimise business processes and even predict next year’s hottest fashion trends. Turns out we already do.

While it goes without saying that there are some things machines just cannot do, there are also many unknown and underutilised functions that are transforming the world we live in.

Here are five things machines can do that you may never have thought possible:


Caught on video

Researchers at MIT in the United States are training computers to predict human interactions before they occur. Using deep-learning algorithms and machine vision, computers can analyse video to predict what will happen next. This capability holds great potential for everything from robots and robotic technology, which will be able to develop action plans based on given scenarios, to security cameras that will automatically call emergency services if they “see” an accident.


Fashion forward

Designer Jason Grech worked with IBM’s Watson platform to come up with new ideas, patterns and materials. Watson is a technology platform that uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of unstructured data. For Grech, it “used cold code to make warm fabrics”.

Watson analysed hundreds of thousands of designs – public images posted on social media – aggregating factors such as colours and hem lengths, to predict future trends. The platform enabled Grech to deepen his creativity and come up with unique designs that were featured in Melbourne Spring Fashion Week 2016.


Retail therapy

The next hot commodity for big businesses wanting to capitalise on smart computing are data-driven organisations. For instance, IBM’s recent acquisition of The Weather Channel led to the launch of Deep Thunder – a short-term, customised forecasting model to help retailers predict consumer shopping patterns and adjust supply chains accordingly.


Clear diagnoses

Researchers at Stanford have developed an algorithm to identify tissue slides exhibiting a particular type of cancer with far greater accuracy than humans can. This points to a future where subjective aspects of medicine fall to computers that are far better at diagnosis than a human will ever be.


Power play

Drawing on insights gathered through its artificial intelligence partner DeepMind, Google is using machine learning to optimise the energy use of its data centres, saving percentage points on its power bill. The same optimisation strategies are useful for almost every aspect of business, from shipments through a port to mining resources, and even in agriculture, where machines can advise on planting times, animal movements and more.

Find out how newly emerging technologies will impact the way you communicate with staff and customers.

2 min

Australia's most sophisticated data marketing campaigns



Australia's most sophisticated data marketing campaigns

Today’s consumers demand personalisation – and that makes information the most valuable currency of all.

We live in a world where consumers have control over just about every moment in the path to purchase – a shift which has radically altered the traditional marketing model. The most successful organisations know that the future of effective marketing lies in a company’s ability to cater to specific customer needs.

Consider the way music streaming service Spotify uses data to craft a personalised experience as its Year In Music website takes people through a story about their listening behaviours in 2015. With the ability to analyse listening patterns throughout the year, Spotify can now curate customised playlists to better reflect consumer tastes.

When analysed well, data can provide insight into purchasing behaviours and trends, leaving brands with an opportunity to maximise revenue and transform customer interactions.


Connecting people to information

As online information flows have become free and many, news organisations have struggled in the fight to retain revenue and build audience base. As a solution to declining paid news subscriptions, News Corp collaborated with data and media agencies UM, Cadreon and Anomaly to find readers who were willing to pay for news in a context where it’s already available for free.

Existing subscribers were analysed using more that 200 behavioural indicators and third party data to determine the kind of people who paid for the particular news subscription. This information was then used to develop a campaign focused on non-subscribers, resulting in additional yearly revenue of $3.2 million.


Amplifying digital campaigns

In an effort to efficiently amplify a digital campaign celebrating the moment people buy their first pool, ad agency Affinity investigated first and third party data from Narellan Pools to ensure the money they spent on advertising resulted in maximum exposure and sales.

The team discovered a set of probable factors that acted as a tipping point to sales and only activated the campaign when those conditions were met. As a result of the data-driven strategy, Affinity reduced Narellan Pools’ media spend by over 30 per cent, increased sales by 23 per cent and created a record-breaking return on investment.


Engaging new and lapsed customers

In early 2016, Hawthorn Football Club realised it had 10,000 fans who had not renewed their memberships, and more than 300,000 people across its social channels that were not being engaged with. Video marketing agency Data Creative set out to transform member engagement rates by providing users with a seamless and relevant experience.

Using database and Facebook data, the team designed a personalised video that outlined winning percentage, wins, losses, draws, goals and premierships during the specific fan’s lifetime. The campaign allowed the audience to have a unique experience that emotionally connected them to the club.

The video was programmed to deduce whether a fan was a recent or seasoned member, generating a call to action if membership had lapsed. Since the campaign’s launch in March 2016, 70,000 fan videos have been created and club memberships have increased by 4.6 per cent.


In a busy market, you need new ways to grab attention, inspire a purchase and build relationships. Discover more.


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2 min

Brands get personal to stay relevant



Brands get personal to stay relevant

It’s a race to the top for brands looking to claim a stake in the fast-paced world of digital media. And it begins with the customer.

The promise of digital marketing is that it will empower marketers to use sophisticated data analysis to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time. The practical implementation has proved more challenging.

In an attempt to get ahead of competitors, some marketers are getting caught up by technologies that are shiny and new while neglecting to use what is tried and true; others are finding themselves swamped by a tidal wave of data.

The challenge for marketers, according to Melbourne-based branding expert and marketing consultant Professor Mark Ritson, is to use technology to reach out to people in more effective ways while hiding the actual mechanism. This means crafting a more personal message and delivering it when it’s relevant.

“It’s become a lot faster and easier to identify customers and segments then communicate with them,” Ritson says. “However, the customers shouldn’t know that tech has been used to create a human touch – tech works best in the background.”


The power of invisible technology

Some brands, such as cosmetics retailer Sephora, are effectively using technology to deliver highly targeted and personalised marketing, resulting in a reduced marketing spend and a lift in sales.

Opening its first store in Australia in November 2015, Sephora has challenged the local beauty sector by providing an environment in which shoppers are encouraged to “play”. With dressing room-style décor and ample testers across its entire range, Sephora stores invite customers to try before they buy then share their experience on social media.

This invitation to have fun and try out new products is also reflected by Sephora’s loyalty club, which creates recommendations and offers based on past consumption and demographic preferences using a technology called behavioural clustering.

For the consumer, the experience is highly personal: it enables them to take control of their experience in-store while responding to their preferences online and at the register.


“Customers shouldn’t know that tech has been used to create a human touch – tech works best in the background.”
– Professor Mark Ritson


People-powered technology

The challenge for marketers, however, is that consumers know exactly how targeted sophisticated marketing can be – and they are easily disappointed when it fails.

According to business innovation consultant Seth Shapiro, there is a strong onus on brands to adopt new business models rapidly, and deliver more highly personalised messaging.

“The speed of information has increased so much that the wiggle room has evaporated,” Shapiro says. “The plus side is that your audience can be so much greater because you can reach so many more people so much more quickly if the product is good.”

To be effective, according to Shapiro, personalised messaging needs to be built entirely around the customer and their requirements, rather than the product, otherwise it runs the risk of simply being an annoying interruption rather than effective communication. “More and more we want brands to tell us the truth,” Shapiro says. “We want to feel like we think we know them, and that we can listen to them and trust what they say.”

This means using technology to identify and cater to, rather than generate, needs. Moreover, according to Ritson the underlying technology doesn’t have to be particularly sophisticated, so long as it’s used well. “

Too often it’s about the consumer helping us drive sales targets,” Ritson adds. “Really it should be about technology serving personal, not personal serving technology.”


Idea in brief

  • Shiny new technologies don’t always replace what is tried and true
  • Build your message around your customer, not your product
  • Use technology to create a human touch – but keep the method in the background
  • Cosmetics retailer Sephora has deployed a strong formula, seeing a lift in sales

Ask your AE how Telstra digital media partnerships will transform customer experience.


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3 min

Improved technology for connected support



Improved technology for connected support

Mobile technology is enabling better healthcare delivery, from the smart hospital to the connected precinct.

The future of medicine may well lie in smart, integrated healthcare delivered through the cloud, says Dr Jeffrey Tobias, managing director of The Strategy Group.

“We’re living in a connected world. We’ve embraced mobility,” Tobias says, citing the typical railway platform where everyone is head-down, engrossed in their mobile device.

For Tobias, the issue is how healthcare leaders can fully embrace that pervasive mobility. “How do we breathe it?” he asks, framing the current system as staid – in need of a reboot.


Connected clients

Traditional modes of healthcare delivery are such that providers, such as GPs and hospitals, controlled the provision of services. The rise of the connected consumer, who is empowered by technology, has radically altered this chain, Tobias adds.

“Clients are now saying, ‘I am more informed than I ever was. It is my body. It is my life. It is my experience, so I want to move to a world where I am more empowered, I am connected – I feel that I can make a choice.’”

Care should therefore be proactive and broad, Tobias says. In his view, healthcare recipients spurred to dream big by modern solutions like telemedicine need a range of smart services which transcend borders: A “precinct” of sorts.


Agile providers

Enabled by improved, agile technology, the radical space he envisages is taking shape, according to Tanya Felton, national general manager of Health Industry Development at Telstra.

“In the last two years, there’s been significant disruption, rapid change across the whole sector,” says Felton, who spearheads a project called Silver Lining, run by Telstra together with healthcare provider Calvary.

By assessing integrated care across the sector, Telstra and Calvary have made some striking findings. “Some of the value that we uncovered was the ability to really link those care providers. To give them the tools that allowed them to see information in context wherever they were,” she says.

For instance, Felton cites how putting smart tools in the hands of paramedics enables them to access information about medications the patient may be using and connect with the triage nurse who can then deliver highly personalised care to a patient in the process of being transported.


“Clients are now saying, ‘I am more informed than I ever was. It is my body. It is my life. It is my experience, so I want to move to a world where I am more empowered, I am connected – I feel that I can make a choice.’”
– Dr Jeffrey Tobias, managing director, The Strategy Group


Transformed services

Over the next 12-18 months, integrated healthcare tools, which put data at caregivers’ fingertips, will be adopted much more rapidly, Felton predicts. “Mobility is not innovation. It’s expected,” she says.

Technological innovations, especially around the internet of things, will play a key role, yielding far more oversight, Felton adds. With increased monitoring of hitherto overworked clinicians, and even appliances, clients are promised another layer of transformation.

“All of that information will be collected, analytics applied to that, and outcomes derived,” Felton says. “So it will definitely change the way that healthcare’s delivered, and it will be change for the better.”



Dr Jeffrey Tobias, managing director, The Strategy Group Tanya Felton, national general manager, Health Industry Development, Telstra

Jeffrey: Innovation and entrepreneurial thinking is about the collision of ideas but also taking those ideas to execution. The challenge for us should be let’s think about some alternative models, let’s think about what connectivity can do.

Tanya: Information driving evidence based delivery of health services is the norm.

Jeffrey: Where we’ve got connectedness around medical health records, around wellness.

Tanya: The Internet of Things will really change the way that healthcare is delivered. and it will be change for the better.

Jeffrey: To enable a connected world where the individual feels much more empowered.

Tanya: We’re now seeing doctors and nurses driving the adoption of technology. They expect to use technology in the way that they deliver care. They expect information to be available and make evidence-based decisions.

Jeffrey: How do we provide an environment for the consumer given the fact that we’re now talking about empowered, connected consumers where the power has shifted from the organisation to the consumer?

Tanya: We are seeing a move from the smart hospital to the connected precinct, and that’s bringing in acute care facilities – public and private, diagnostic organisations, academic and research organisations, and creating that commercial hub where innovation is a by-product of the interactions across that whole organisation.

Jeffrey: It’s about the smart healthcare precinct providing me a sense of wellness in a proactive way that is tailored to me, to my body, to my ecosystem.


Join Tanya Felton (Health Industry Executive, Telstra) Dr Norman Swan and Terry Kearney (CEO of Springfield Health and Education) to discuss how investment in Smart, Connected Health Precincts will use advanced technologies to streamline complex health services and place the patient at the centre of service delivery.

Click here to be part of this virtual event 11-12noon, Thursday 24 November 2016.