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The next generation of Internal Collaboration

In my various roles I have come across many innovative firms offering technology and services to the marketplace, many of which are participating in some way or another at HR Tech Europe this week. But there are some companies that haven’t yet come into the event’s fold and today I would like to take the opportunity of introducing you to a different company called ProFinda.

ProFinda is a collaboration platform powered by matching algorithms which I was introduced to by Ochre House (now Cielo Talent) 2 years ago. Today ProFinda is bringing their innovative offering to some of the world’s largest companies and communities. I personally use ProFinda via TechLondonAdvocates and find it a great way of matching people to opportunities, and offering my skills where possible. But rather than me explaining more, I decided to interview Roger Gorman, CEO of ProFinda, and this is what he said.

Q: How do you define the collaborative market place today? And how do you see it changing?

A: The word collaborative has different meanings to different people and the breadth of collaboration platforms available on the market today shows that there isn’t just one way of tackling it. There’s the social collaboration tools which offer an out-of-the-box ability to connect across an organisation and products likes SharePoint and Dropbox do the same thing but with files. But almost ten years since the inception of using social platforms to collaborate internally the social approach hasn’t achieved the bottom-line impacts we expected. However, it has helped towards factors like employee engagement. So what we are starting to see now is a convergence of these important outcomes: Impacting the bottom line at the same time as increasing engagement. And this is being achieved through the use of intelligent collaboration platforms using learning algorithms, gaming psychology and more.

Q: What activities or skills do professionals now need that they didn’t have five years ago?

A: Clearly there’s still rapid growth in the need for digital skills, throughout every aspect of business. But I think it’s important to remember that digital by itself is limited. It’s in the combining of digital skills with more traditional concepts and business areas that will unlock the productivity gains we’re all reaching for. And individually I think networking, online and offline is becoming ever more critical as, with a wealth of knowledge and contacts available to us at the touch of a finger, it’s our ability to use these networks efficiently and effectively that’s going to set us apart.

Q: Tell me about ProFinda and why it was started?

A: ProFinda came around trying to solve one key problem: “We don’t really know each other so how can we know who can help us?”. We aim to digitise the knowledge, experience and contacts of a company into a digital platform then apply it intelligently to improve performance.

Q: What business challenges are you trying to solve with ProFinda?

A: Not knowing the talent and networks your company has access to impacts everything from your hiring, on boarding, winning new bids, effective projects, succession planning, engagement and many more. And by digitising the knowledge, experience and contacts of a company we can solve the biggest problem of all which is providing the data on which to make good decisions. Putting all this together means more revenue, reduced operational costs and better quality products.

Q: Can you talk about some of the success you have had to date?

A: Some of our initial customers have seen amazing improvements in collaboration. One construction company with work with saw a 10x reduction in the time needed to find the right people internally, 4x faster responses from their colleagues and greatly improved quality of responses. They also increased their positive engagement scores by 50%. In TechLondonAdvocates for example the use of ProFinda over a LinkedIn group for the same community has seen a 20x increase in engagement.

Q: What types of organisations would be interested in ProFinda?

A: Any mid to large organisation or community fits the ProFinda model, especially if they have a dislocated workforce or are highly knowledge or project based. But in order for the adoption to be truly successful the customer has to recognise the issue is not which platform to choose, it’s how to encourage their staff to be more collaborative. This is why we ask customers to focus on the human aspect of collaboration as much as the technology itself. We’ve seen this focus pay off in our early customers which have achieved near 100% adoption in the first 4 weeks of launch.

Q: Who are your principal ‘buyers’ and then who are the ‘users’ – is there a profile?

A: The buyers tend to be the individuals who control the budget but understand the importance of an ‘employee-centric’ platform, one that makes people’s day jobs easier. We’ve been through multiple avenues such as HR Directors, CFO, Heads of Innovation and even CEO’s.

Q: How do you differentiate yourself in the market?

A: What sets us apart from the competition really lies under the hood. Our discovery engine finds and makes sense of massive data sets and our algorithms learn about each user on-the-go, meaning the profiles stay up to date. This means we can replace the “social” mechanic of finding people and replace it with intelligence and relevance, ensuring every conversation answers a business problem and does it faster than anything else on the market.

Q: How does your technology platform work and how easy is it to integrate?

A: Our platform is cloud-based so it can be deployed very quickly and through our APIs we can integrate into the majority of existing solutions whether they’re CRM, HCM or HR systems.

Q: What is your position on customisation vs. out of the box in today’s overwhelmed technology market?

A: Everyone can start out-of-the-box if they like, but when customers identify user-requirements that can really save them time, money and produce better results they often look to integrate ProFinda into existing systems for convenience. I think the market isn’t really split between customisation and out-of-the box, it’s more of a natural evolution of a product.

Q: What’s your idea of innovation?

A: Innovation is quite simply the quest to solve a problem with new or re-examined ideas. I love that innovation is less about an idea, but in fact the application of an idea or ideas.

Q: What are your plans for expansion?

A: We aim to expand internationally with offices in various parts in the world over 2016. But more importantly we are looking into expanding academically by bringing the best brains together so that we can make what we have even more powerful not only as a platform, but as a medium for conducting business and making the world a better working place.

Q: How do you know 2015 has been a success?

A: Because we are far ahead of our plans put in place in 2014. We have won and now embedded some amazingly progressive firms who are already reaping incredible levels of ROI. Revenues and investment are supporting our acceleration, we are hiring literally the best and brightest from the market and we are now being featured on high profile platforms like Davos, and beyond.

Q: Tell me a little about the team and how they work with your clients?

A: We are a very customer centric business. And this is not word-smithing. We are driven to innovate 2+ years ahead of the market. And we want to go on an adventure with our clients. We want them to be able to show off their incredible ROI as part of their brand equity.

Q: And finally, if you were talking to potential clients what do you think is key to having a successful business today?

A: Attitude. For us it’s 100% about attitude. If boards have a progressive, ambitious and hungry attitude to collaborate, and change, then these are the businesses who will win. And the key to any business is to make sure you have the right data and that it is up to date. Far too many decisions are based on reports made months ago that simply show a snapshot of their organisation. Data needs to be like your people, live and dynamic.

Thanks Roger! I would be happy to talk to anyone who wants to find out more, to give you my inside track on ProFinda and make the necessary introductions as appropriate. Find out more by completing the contact form.