Our innovation partner, Talent Tech Labs (TTL), has been traveling widely across the U.S. and Europe to review talent technology startups and educate leaders about disruptive, breakthrough ideas. This effort is part of their mission as a Manhattan-based incubator focused on technological development in talent acquisition.
In the course of their travels, TTL experts have seen first-hand how new technologies evolve at different paces in different regions. Those innovations are most often developed to address conditions in the markets in which developers reside. At the same time, emerging tech in Europe has relevance to U.S. buyers of talent technology software looking to hire smarter, but many Euro startups need introductions to U.S. customers. Likewise, many U.S. multinationals have talent acquisition challenges abroad that early-stage startups here have not yet attained the scale to address. As such, there may be ready-made solutions that multinationals can deploy internationally that are already built for local conditions.
In all cases, it seemed a winning proposition for TTL to bring together Euro startups and U.S. buyers. To do this, TTL screened over 50 applicants and curated 15 startups to bring to New York for a two-day event. On day one, TTL conducted an educational program aimed at helping startups learn more about doing business in North America. Day two gave startups the opportunity to pitch their solutions to U.S. talent acquisition leaders in an Investment Demo Expo. The result was a great afternoon of learning about pioneering technologies that address some of today’s most urgent talent-related business challenges and opportunities.
Following the event, we sat down with TTL’s President, Brian Delle Donne, to gain his perspective on the state of talent tech and solutions he’s excited about as future game changers. Here’s what we learned.
Q: Where have you commonly seen U.S. solutions innovators be challenged by enterprise buyers’ requirements?
Delle Donne: Innovative startups are often great at developing best-of-class solutions, but it takes time and money to mature their solutions to address enterprise corporate needs. By corporate needs, we’re talking about capabilities not related to the primary value of the technology itself – things like IT security testing, protecting personal information to the clients’ standards, data encryption, integration with the clients’ tech stack, and even carrying ample insurance coverage. Great ideas may risk failing because of the competing pressures to meet these demands while pouring investment dollars into the solution itself. For multinationals, these requirements obviously extend to multi-language and multi-currency capabilities. So, at this international event, showcasing Euro-grown technologies may help U.S. multinationals take advantage of innovation that is already built with local standards in mind.
Q: Do you see a day when talent acquisition technology will stop being limited and siloed, and more integrated instead?
Delle Donne: Most certainly yes. We have seen a wide-scale acknowledgment that for tech to be truly adaptive, it needs to be built to open standards and have innate ease of integration. There are still builders of proprietary systems, but the torrid pace of emerging, best-of-breed point solutions coupled with clients’ willingness to embrace one-off solutions that solve problems is a clear message to all builders that open systems are the better way to go. And now, with advances in visualization layer reporting, information in disparate systems in the HR stack can be reported in a consistent look and feel that suits the business user’s needs. While we are not all the way there, these trends indicate the clear direction of the market. It’s headed toward open application program interfaces and more convenient integrations.
Q: What types of technologies are you most excited about, whether something showcased at the event or otherwise?
Delle Donne: We are most energized by the advances we’ve seen in candidate engagement, assessments, and matching. While these areas are intuitively in demand by corporate buyers when addressing hiring challenges, leading contenders with offerings in these areas are reaching maturity. The expo featured several strong contenders in these areas. For engagement systems, we had Clinch, Beamery, and Candidate.ID, and for behavioral assessments we had Arctic Shores. In the matching technologies, we had a deep showing that illustrated differing forms of matching by way of Avrio, Step, Shortlist, and Placement Feed.
Q: Who are the game changers?
Delle Donne: We see some early-stage game changers starting to emerge. Several startups are using machine learning and chatbots now. If they continue on track, we think they will be quite impactful. In the case of Avrio, its chatbots can greatly shorten the time it takes to screen down to a short list of high potential “fits.”
In the matching technologies, we see machine learning making a huge difference. Systems like HiredScore that can sort through all resumes in a company’s possession, many unopened, and surface existing matches will reduce spend on new job posts since it’s taking advantage of candidates companies already have in their ATS environment. In the case of HiringSolved’s machine learning, it’s a people aggregator that can search the entire internet and filter to find matches with Google-like search speeds.
In the analytics space, the most important changes center on the level of visibility being brought to data in disparate systems. Crunchr and Talennium are analytic tools that make it possible for a number of point solutions to pass information between each other and have the pertinent data revealed in easy-to-use dashboards.
Q: At the event, talent acquisition professionals received play money to “invest” in startups they felt show great promise. Were you surprised by the exercise’s top five winners of Avrio, Hyr, Adepto, Recroup, and Arctic Shores?
Delle Donne: We were very pleased by the top winners that garnered the greatest investment – well, more happy than surprised. I will say that investors were very perceptive in being able to identify solutions that in our view had subtle but very powerful capabilities. Recroup, the job ad retargeting solution from Canada has been a favorite of ours, but its true power can be hard to visualize. We’re glad the “investors” realized that. Arctic Shores supports our view that we are indeed in the year of assessments. Having Hyr, the app for retail and hospitality hiring, come in second place was great. We know it’s a very slick app, but the surprise was that even such a narrow industry solution garnered the second highest investment total. In all, I think it illustrates the sharp investment acumen of the talent acquisition executives who took part in this great event.