hkp// group regularly conducts selection processes for HR IT suites and other HR software solutions. hkp.com spoke with Symanto manager Nikolina Lazarević and hkp// group Partner Holger Jungk about an AI-based approach to compare the strengths and weaknesses of applications, with specific reference to the example of user feedback on SuccessFactors and Workday.
Ms. Lazarević, how can Symanto support companies in their software selection process?
Nikolina Lazarević: Symanto is a leading company in artificial intelligence, which provides an in-depth understanding of human motivation, perceptions and emotions via text analytics. We analyze text data in real time using algorithms that draw from psychology and the latest technologies, such as natural language processing or deep learning for text mining. This functionality is by no means limited to software selection. In fact, that’s more of a special-purpose application...
But it demonstrates how versatile your tools are.
Nikolina Lazarević: Exactly. We've been supporting customers with AI-based text analytics across a whole range of business areas for eleven years now; from corporate strategy and evaluation to product development, marketing and communications to customer satisfaction. In this example, we used our technology to compare SuccessFactors with Workday.
Mr. Jungk, why did hkp/// group opt for an AI-based comparison of the two leading HR IT software providers?
Holger Jungk: hkp// group has supported a number of software selection processes, especially in the area of HR management. During the course of such a selection process, companies usually use various sources to come to a viable decision. By incorporating Symanto’s functionalities, we can include another facet in this decision-making process, namely user feedback.
And an artificial intelligence was required for this?
Holger Jungk: Users who come into contact with a system on a daily basis have a very clear picture of the strengths and weaknesses of that particular application. But as it was impossible to conduct 2,500 interviews ourselves, we brought Symanto on board, who are able to capture this customer feedback in a structured way based on their algorithms. This wasn’t, by the way, about deriving a blanket system recommendation as every company uses different criteria for their selection process and also weights them to suit their needs.
Holger Jungk: So if, for example, commercial aspects are rated the same or higher than technical coverage, a completely different picture emerges in terms of how the manufacturers are rated. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all recommendation for an IT system. In fact, over the course of 15 previous hkp/// group-supported selection processes, four different manufacturers came to light with suitable solutions.
How did you go about analyzing the user feedback?
Nikolina Lazarević: In a specific use scenario, Symanto’s AI-based text analysis was used to analyze user feedback on websites relevant to the business case, such as Capterra, g2.com, gartner.com, or technologyadvice.com. A total of 2,694 public comments were collected from users of the defined applications, working in HR and IT departments of various companies, and then analyzed for statistical patterns.
But this required a matrix, a model for classification...
Nikolina Lazarević: Exactly. To start with, key themes are identified via an AI-supported text analysis, where terms or phrases are recognized. These are then organized into superordinate categories, and then sorted again into more detailed subcategories.
That sounds like a complex process!
Holger Jungk: True, it requires forethought and input. But the actual effort involved was relatively manageable, especially since the data is then immediately available – a major advantage over conventional market research. The results enable us to derive a picture of where the manufacturers differ and, which dimensions have been rated positively or negatively according to user comments. Let’s briefly take a closer look at the dimensions.
What were they for this Workday versus SuccessFactors comparison?
Nikolina Lazarević: Eight dimensions were specifically defined or collected for analysis as part of the comparison. These were: Product Attributes, Service Experience, Features, Interfaces, Digital Experience, Process, Safety & Security, Interfaces and Overall Perception.
And who scored better where?
Nikolina Lazarević: It would be too much to go into the details of the dimensions here. However, in the relevant specialized portals, Workday performs better than SuccessFactors on the whole. The latter system scores better in individual categories but Workday comes out top in terms of points.
Holger Jungk: To understand this result correctly, it should be noted that the portals used for the analysis include many comments from U.S. companies, where Workday is also used more frequently as a straight payroll solution; a functional area that SuccessFactors has not offered in the past. Similarly, the variation of portal usage within regions also influences the comments to be found there. And it's also worth mentioning that users tend to leave negative rather than positive feedback on specific issues in relevant portals. Nobody writes, “Everything worked well today – the system didn’t crash.”
How were the results used?
Nikolina Lazarević: The results obtained from the analysis certainly proved useful for the software decision-making process. But, on the whole, the evaluation shared here shouldn't be taken as the basis for a generalized conclusion. From our point of view, companies should consider evaluating other providers via a comparable analysis as part of their decision-making process for finding the right HR IT suite.
Holger Jungk: As mentioned at the beginning, we at hkp/// group provide an advisory service in the field of software selection processes; this is independent of manufacturers and implementation partners and also factors in alternative solutions. While Workday and SuccessFactors have long been considered the leading providers in Germany, Cornerstone and Oracle are now also emerging as strong competitors. The market is currently proving very dynamic in this respect.
Ms. Lazarević, Mr. Jungk, thank you for your time.
Symanto is a leading company in artificial intelligence, which provides an in-depth understanding of human motivation, perceptions and emotions via text analytics. Through unique, in-house algorithms, which combine psychology and the latest technology (natural language processing & deep learning for text mining), Symanto analyzes text data in real time and provides valuable insights that are already being used by more than 50 customers in various business areas (corporate strategy & evaluation, product development, marketing & communication, customer satisfaction etc.). Symanto Research GmbH was founded in 2010 by Khaleeq Aziz and Michael Klieber in Nuremberg.