Digital Business Continuity Planning

December 12th, 2014

In digital age, the concept of Business Continuity has gained immense popularity as there are many more points of failure than there earlier used to be. The vast array of technology that we use today and the importance of digital data have made it essential to keep your data safe and accessible.  It is no more just about backup, it’s about ensuring that information can flow again quickly. From simple Word Docs, PPTs, spreadsheets, database, to pictures and videos, all data needs to be protected, easily retrieved and shared. Therefore, it is essential to have an organization to have a well-defined Digital Continuity Plan under Business Continuity plan.

Digital continuity ensures that information is complete, available and useable by those with a need for it. In addition, it also ensures that information is not kept longer than required.

Megatrends in Digital BCP

  • Movement towards knowledge workers and people with critical skill sets
  • Transition from physical assets to digital assets
  • Movement from producer controlled to market and consumer driven economy

Best Practices in Digital BCP

  • Movement towards knowledge workers and people with critical skill sets

ü  Identify critical skill sets and leadership levels

ü  Succession planning

ü  Identify skills gaps

ü  Build competencies

ü  Periodic Review

ü  Review legal agreements with employees

  • Transition from physical assets to digital assets

ü  Deploy a mobile application management (MAM) strategy to protect enterprise apps and data

ü  Consider using two or more service providers to host your IaaS, PaaS, or SaaS.

ü  Verify and authenticate users with numerous technologies

  • Movement from producer controlled to market driven economy

ü  Own your search engine results page

ü  Limit access to business social media accounts to critical resources

ü  Develop channels of communication with customers

ü  Establish a crisis communication response team

Business continuity planning offers value to organization by developing capability to respond and recover from a disruptive scenario. Even if you are of the view that ‘’it will never happen to me’’, is it worth taking a risk? Business continuity planning should not be a time –consuming process, rather it should focus on aligning preparedness   to the strategic needs and obligations.

Business Continuity Planning Best Practices

December 9th, 2014

Zinnov recently hosted a working session with its key customer stakeholders to understand Business Continuity Best practices being used by global organizations. The discussion had participation from large technology organizations with a global footprint across multiple locations.

The Session focused first on defining BCP within the context of technology organizations. An accepted definition within the group was Business Continuity Plan (BCP) ensures that critical products or services are continually delivered to customers even if there is disruption in business due to various internal or external factors.

Most organizations agreed that Business Continuity planning includes:

1. Plans, measures, alternates, and arrangements to ensure continuous delivery of critical services and products to customers, allows an organization resume its operations, and recover its data & assets.

2. Identifying key resources including personnel, equipment, information, assets, financial allocations/resources, and infrastructure critical for continual delivery of services and products

The group focussed on the key risks faced by every organization. Some of the BCP risks highlighted by the group included

• Natural disasters such as earthquakes, fire, floods and tornadoes

• Accidents

• Malicious activities such as vandalism, theft, and fraud

• Technical failure such network and power outage

• Cyber-attacks and hacker activity

The discussions focused on addressing some of the key misconceptions prevalent in organizations on business continuity planning.

1. A major misconception within organizations is that insurance is an adequate and sufficient enough component of BCP.

2. Another misconception within organizations is the belief the most BCP risks can be managed with the support of employees.

3. Another key challenge to BCP is the belief amongst senior management that investments made towards BCP tend to exhaust company resources.

The group discussed at length and settled on some of the key best practices for Business continuity planning:

1. Define Crisis Management, Disaster Recovery, Business Continuity Planning, and educate all the employees about the same. This will make employees aware of what they are expected to do in the scenario of a business disruption in order to maintain delivery of essential operations.

2. Assess critical organizational risks through vulnerability assessment i.e.

• Business Impact Assessment

• Risk Assessment

• Vendor Assessment

• Work Force Assessment

3. Acquisition risks should be into taken into consideration will designing business continuity plan

4. Business continuity plans should be made part of contract agreements with customers and 3rd party service providers

5. Establish a BCP team focused on designing/compiling a business continuity plan which identifies actions that an organization should take to minimize the adverse effects of potential disasters.

It is essential to identify the lines of authority, succession of management, and delegation of authority. For example: A BCP manager could be appointed for each business unit with a BCP coordinator for sub-functions. All BCP coordinators can report into a regional BCP coordinator.

Ensure that communication protocols are well-established for BCP coordinators with employees and senior management.

6. Define roles and responsibilities of team members in BCP team.

For example: Role of a regional BCP coordinator should be to educate employees, draft BCP policies, conduct dry runs, perform business impact analysis, and manage down-time.

Ideally, crisis management and disaster recovery teams should report into the BCP team for better coordination.

7. Create and share distribution lists for crisis teams, BCP managers, and executive sponsors to communicate about eventualities.

8. Ensure redundancies and geographical distribution of resources with critical skill sets to effectively manage down-time in a region.

9. Synchronize data centers to create backups at different geographic locations

10. Run BCP simulations to check the readiness of the plan in place

11. Build and enable ‘work from home’ capability and maintain metrics for the difference in BI created because of this capability

12. Create demilitarized zones with differential access permissions for BYOD scenarios

13. Monitor use of open source code in product releases

14. Centers outside headquarters should align to the Global BCP strategy. In addition, they should also allocate sufficient funds for BCP in their planning cycle.

Business continuity planning has become more critical in a globalized environment. The impact of any risks on global customers and employees make it essential to implement a BCP program within any technology organization.

Insights from Zinnov- New York EDT Roundtable.

November 26th, 2014

Zinnov released its Enterprise Digital Transformation report a couple of weeks back. As part of the launch activities we hosted a series of roundtable discussions with key decision markers in Bangalore, Singapore, Mumbai and New York.

The NY roundtable discussion was hosted at the Hyatt 48 LEX, at Lexinton Avenue in NY. We had a very good group of decision makers attend the session. This included stakeholders from both traditional businesses like AIG and Bosch as well as technology & services vendors such as IBM, Mphasis etc.

Traditional organizations strongly felt that they would “Buy” than “Build” digital solutions from scratch. They felt that they just can’t keep up with the new technologies and won’t be able to attract the same talent hired by companies such as Adobe and Salesforce

Traditional organizations also mentioned that they have tonnes of data about the customers. They buy data from companies such as Acxiom who provide customer specific data. They use this data to dynamically configure the website based on user profile. Once the user opts to any kind of product or service plan and give the company permission to run background check, they get access to even more data. They current use a combination of, Adobe Marketing cloud and data source from companies such as Acxiom

Large services firms like IBM and Mphasis are using their own enterprise social networking site for knowledge sharing. Their view is that the old model of knowledge management where people access terabytes of data is moving to social models where employees use social platforms to reach out to folks who might have access to the data.

Automotive firms have a number of IOT case studies where they are able to use the telematics data from the car to build customer focused services. Digital transformation initiatives in the automotive vertical seems to be driven by the desire of OEM’s to offer digital services to their consumers.

Start-ups are also building digital transformation related products – We had one start-up that was building a learning platform to make it easy for enterprises to enable social learning. One start-up has built a platform that makes graduates employment ready by providing them real-projects from freelancing portals kind of platforms.

One of the interesting case studies that came from the session was about digitization of assessments in schools. A large number of US schools outsource the exam/assessment part to certain vendors. These vendors takes all the answer sheets from the students and digitizes them. They then split the answer sheets by certain question categories and send them to individual teachers at a back office. This is like the Ford assembly line – One teacher will only correct answers to 1 or 2 test questions across 1000s of students. They also have some technology that provides guidelines to the teachers to ensure uniformity. The assessment scores per student is then aggregated and the mark sheets are printed out. This has brought in huge efficiency gains for the vendors. This is a great example of how the overall value chain was changed through the use of digital technologies.

There was discussion on the organization structure – There were different schools of thought. One proposed approach was an incubation approach where new solutions are incubated by a separate team not connected to the IT team. Post the initial success, the incubation team transfers it to the IT team and moves to the next incubation. The incubation team’s role is to rapidly test new ideas and then transfer to once that works/proven to the IT team to scale.

The insights from the session were a validation of our findings during the course of the study and also gave some new perspectives.

“Step Up Program for Women in Middle Management ”with Regina Lee, Corporate Vice President, ADP

November 24th, 2014

Zinnov has been hosting a series of working sessions titled “Step Up Program for Middle Management Women”. The objective of these working sessions are to help women in middle management roles make the step up to become leaders.

As part of our series we hosted this session at the ADP office in Hyderabad for Middle Managers. The session was open to all companies in Hyderabad and we received participation from broad ridge, CA Technologies, ADP, Progress Software etc. This session was unique as Regina Lee the Corporate Vice President at ADP spent half day with the team of 20 odd participating women to share her experiences and thoughts on how she made the step up as a leader.

Regina Lee was truly inspiring! She shared her professional challenges with the group, and it was surprising to know that most of the women shared similar challenges in their careers. The key takeaway was how best to handle them.

Regina related questions with her own professional challenges, and discussed best ways of addressing them.

Some of the key takeaways from Regina’s session were:

  • Mentors matter! Leaders who inspire you, have worked with you, believe in your potential, are best suited for mentors
  • A good manager is a boon to growth. A bad manager is a learning to be a good manager yourself.
  • Always accept mistakes and learn from them, instead of shifting blame or looking for opportunities to escape
  • Give and take help from fellow colleagues. Invest time in building a relationship on mutual help
  • Good leaders give and receive feedback, for both successes and failures.
  • Don’t shy away from being aggressive and ambitious enough to take that promotion/role/challenge
  • You should know when you are crossing the line and being over-aggressive. When you are completely self-aware of your strengths and what you bring for the team, then you know whether you are being unreasonable in aiming for that role!
  • You can use tools like 360 degree feedback to perform a self-assessment of how your colleagues perceive you, and build upon any gaps
  • Always be prepared for any opportunity that may even come on your way unexpectedly, never undermine any of them. Think through an elevator speech for yourself
  • Public speaking gets better with practice, we should try and take up as many opportunities as possible. Always identify your audience and structure your communication
  • Identify your personal brand. It takes time and consistency in building a brand
  • People you coach, help market your brand.
  • Allow juniors to make mistakes and learn from them. Being too critical of their mistakes, hampers their true potential. Your team should understand that you should be the first to be informed of any mistakes, and they shouldn’t be hidden for later discovery
  • Learn to delegate, you cannot do everything on your own. There is a thin line between micro management and being
  • If there is a team building activity which isn’t gender neutral, then take the initiative to promote an alternate gender neutral activity
  • To counter situations where there is a unconscious tendency to associate an intangible style aspect with women colleagues (for example, she is too difficult to work with!) you should ask how the absence of the intangible would have resulted in an alternate result
  • There is always a tradeoff between time for work and time for family. Don’t believe that you are being uncompetitive by prioritizing family over work at times. Try and achieve the right balance by scheduling appropriately. For example, if women find it difficult to stretch from 6 PM to 8 PM as they need to spend time at home then they can schedule all evening calls/activities after 9 PM. Colleagues understand the dual roles that women play, and are always willing to adjust
  • If you really love what you do at work, you would find it easier to balance work and home. When you are unsatisfied at work, you are more likely to quit the battle quoting family priorities.
  • Women often need a strong support system from family to juggle work and home priorities. While some of us are lucky to have this support system, the others need to plan and work a way of provisioning this support
  • While many organizations have trainings/sessions for a wide women audience, what’s lacking is a focused approach to selected set of women middle managers’ professional growth into senior leadership

The session was extremely insightful with most of the attendees benefitting from learning from the experience of a seasoned leader.

The session was extremely insightful with most of the attendees benefitting from learning from the experience of a seasoned leader.
Step up Program for Female Middle Management

Too Fast Too Furious – The Future of Engineering

November 19th, 2014

Future of Engineering

Too Fast Too Furious

Article Based on Keynote Delivered by Pari Natarajan, CEO, Zinnov Management Consulting at Confluence2014

The MNC R&D Ecosystem in India has witnessed rapid growth in the last decade.  With over 900 R&D centres in India, approximately 50 percent of the top 500 R&D spenders have R&D presence in India. In the coming years, the number of centres is expected to grow with many new companies in medical equipment, industrial, automotive and software industry planning to setup their centres in the country. The R&D ecosystem generates over 250,000 R&D jobs and over a million indirect jobs. In 2014, R&D centres have contributed approximately USD 17 billion in efficiency savings and over USD 26 billion in global product revenue.

The tremendous growth has resulted in creation of various growth opportunities. With innovative technologies disrupting existing systems and transforming the status quo, it has become essential for R&D companies to identify the major R&D trends that would impact them. How is the ecosystem changing? What are the emerging threats? How can developing trends be leveraged to gain a competitive edge? The answers to these questions may hold the key to success for global R&D organizations.

Our focus is on the following three key trends:-

  1. Shift towards the increased usage of data to drive product design and development decisions.
  2. Growing focus on the new breed of competition
  3. New wave of hyper collaboration which is transforming the process of ideation and development.

Data Driven Product Engineering

A number of companies have started building products around the data available. The resulting products are disrupting well established industries.

Global telecom industry continues grow at a rapid pace with all indicators witnessing high growth. However in the past 2 years, SMS revenue has witnessed decline. The decline in revenue can be attributed to the rise of a start-up comprising 50 engineers based out of Mountain View California.

There is a growing list of companies that have been successful in building products for global markets without customer proximity. Ford’s Silicon Valley Lab uses data generated from over 4 million cars to improve fuel efficiency. Facebook’s development team makes trips to emerging markets to understand how the local population uses rustic mobile devices to interact with their products. Insights generated from such immersion programs are then used to improve battery and data usage of their applications.

The success of Whatsapp, the internet messaging stalwart, demonstrates that when usage data and products become platforms, co-location of engineering teams to end markets doesn’t remain a necessity. There are many more companies that have been successful in building products for global markets without customer proximity. This includes Ford’s Silicon Valley Lab which uses data generated from over 4 million cars to improve fuel efficiency. Similarly Facebook’s development team undertakes frequent trips to emerging markets for understanding how the local population uses rustic mobile devices to interact with their products. Insights generated from such immersion programs are then used to improve battery and data usage of their applications.

Indian start-ups seem to have beaten MNC R&D centres when it comes to developing for Global markets. Inmobi has all its engineering leadership and a majority of its product leadership based in India whereas their product is used across the globe competing with some of the top companies in the world. Perfint, a medical equipment company has been successful in building products for global markets. Druva, an enterprise endpoint data backup solution, has over 90percent of its R&D based out of India and over 70percent of its revenues from foreign sources. The small domestic market has made these companies think global. Many of these companies are integrating market strategies at the development stage. Focussing on Content marketing and value selling, they are able to sell products worth upto USD 100,000 without having feet on the street. A platform approach to product engineering and observational insights into customer behaviour will contribute to the rise of global ventures.

The small domestic market has made these companies think global. A majority of these companies are integrating market strategies at the development stage. With focus on Content marketing and value selling, they are able to sell products worth up to USD 100,000 without having feet on the street. A platform approach to product engineering and observational insights into customer behaviour will contribute to the rise of global ventures.

Unprecedented Competition

Breakthrough innovations and the emergence of new ecosystems are creating a new breed of competitors for MNC R&D centres in India. The competition is global and the range of players is comprehensive. From technology giants based in Silicon Valley to rapidly growing Chinese companies, MNC R&D centres are facing unprecedented competition.

Throughout history there have been occurrences when great minds have lived in close proximity to create revolutionary ideas. In the Renaissance era, Italy emerged as a hub for brilliant artists such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Michael Angelo and Rafael to spark a creative explosion. During the Second Industrial Revolution, Detroit was the backdrop for remarkable innovations in the automotive sector pioneered by Henry Ford, Charles Goodyear and William Durant. In the modern era, Silicon Valley has emerged as the place where innovators such as Steve Jobs, Larry page and Elon Musk have driven the Technology Revolution and given rise to the emergence of large technology corporations. These Tech Mafias have abundant resources at their disposal and are looking to compete across industry segments.

GoogleX, the brainchild of Sergey Brin is focusing on creation of physical products. Google’s self-driving car has already traversed over 100,000 miles and also obtained a driving license. Significant investments are being made in Google Fibre and Google Loon to compete in the Telecom industry. Google Contact Lens uses miniature sensors and a radio antenna thinner than a human hair to track glucose levels. Novartis just announced its partnership with Google Contact lens to commercialize the product. Google’s acquisition of Makani energy was undertaken to drive new innovations in wind energy using air-borne wind turbines. Apple has demonstrated significant intent to diversify into patient-centric healthcare solutions. These bold bets made by the Tech Mafia have the potential to disrupt many well-established industries.

The start-up ecosystem has evolved over the last decade. It has moved beyond software & e-commerce segments and diversified into other avenues. The new generation of start-ups operate at the intersection of hardware and software. Companies such as Nest, GoPro, Oculus, and Beats are already valued highly. Makerbot, a 3-D printer manufacturing company, was acquired for USD 400 million last year. Companies such as Makerbot will have a significant impact on the manufacturing industry in the near future. SpaceX, a start-up founded by Paypal’s co-founder Elon Musk, has carved a space for itself in just a short period. Within a decade, they have managed to develop rockets that NASA employs to send cargo to International Space Stations. Manufacturing, Automotive and Aerospace industries are fostering the emergence of new age competitors for native R&D ecosystem.

China has rapidly emerged as a hub for large companies that are competing for Global dominance. Chinese Technology behemoths are expanding globally and are beginning to threaten global market leaders. Huawei has been the largest Telecom expense management company in the recent years. Lenovo is the largest PC manufacturer in the world today. Their acquisition of the Iconic Motorola brand has heralded an emphatic entry into the Mobile Handset market. Shenzhen based Tencent is one of the largest Internet Companies in the world. Tencent’s WeChat already has significant presence in the Indian market. Lei Jun, the founder of Xiaomi, is considered the Steve Jobs of China. Founded in 2009, Xiaomi already has USD 5 billion in revenue. The company has taken agile development to the next level. It releases an update every week in order to continually integrate customer feedback to improve the product. Xiaomi just launched their phone in India. The Mi3 handset was sold out in a matter of moments on Flipkart. Increased competition calls for higher level of collaboration among industry players.

Hyper Collaboration

The way companies ideate and develop new products is undergoing a change . Recently, Tesla Motors made global headlines by making all their patents available to the general public. This development is in stark contrast to recent developments involving Intellectual Property rights. Samsung and Apple have been locked in a legal battle over patent infringement. Google acquired Motorola and clinically dissected its patent portfolio. Erstwhile, in the blog titled, ‘All our patents are belong to you’; Elon Musk the founder of Tesla Motors goes on to say, “Technology leadership is not defined by patents, but rather by the ability of a company to attract and motivate the world’s most talented engineers.” Tesla Motors hopes to enrich the ecosystem around Electric cars and enable more Original Equipment Manufacturers to flourish. This open source and hyper collaborative approach can accelerate the pace of technological growth.

Companies are overcoming organizational constraints by reaching out to the ecosystem. GE wanted to leverage data on over 25 million flights to improve flight management systems to minimize delay. The company collaborated with Kaggle after the in-house team only produced a small efficiency gain in the algorithm. By crowdsourcing ideas from Kaggle platform, GE obtained an algorithm that had a 40 percent efficiency gain over the industry standard. Safecast is an exemplary collaboration platform which created an online map of radiation. It enabled people on the ground to contribute by building   downloadable geigers counter and other useful tools. Established in the aftermath of the Japan Fukushima nuclear plant crisis three years ago, Safecast has collected over 16 million data points. This citizen-science project managed to do what governments and NGO’s had yet not accomplished.

These trends need to be leveraged by the Indian R&D Ecosystem. How do organizations imbibe a data driven product engineering culture? Can the Ecosystem take bold bets to ward off emerging competition? Will the R&D centres embrace hyper-collaborative culture to drive innovation?

The answers to the above questions will determine if Indian R&D centres can evolve into engineering hubs. Only a handful of engineering hubs exist in India today. An engineering hub would own one or more deep charters for the organization. It would also take ownership of the innovation initiatives of the organization

A hub will also lead the development of a portfolio of growth products not just mature products. In addition, the hub will have a number of centres of excellence. It could be in technology, functional areas or marketing. The hub will have a strong incubation engine that envisions and bets on future technologies. Moreover, it will be well connected to relevant ecosystems – which it not only leverages but invests in. Finally, a hub will be a melting pot for best-in-class talent.

Once engineering hubs are established, we will be witnessing some of the most exciting innovations in technology being pioneered from Indian centres. We hope that MNC R&D Ecosystem in India will help place India at the forefront of the march for game changing technological innovation.

Enterprise Digital Transformation Roundtable – Singapore Chapter

November 12th, 2014

Zinnov released its Enterprise Digital Transformation report a couple of weeks back. As part of the launch activities we hosted a series of roundtable discussions with key decision markers in Bangalore, Singapore, Mumbai and New York.

The Singapore roundtable discussion was hosted at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Marina Square. We had a very nice group of decision makers attend the session. This included stakeholders from both traditional businesses like Electrolux and DHL as well as technology & services vendors such as VM Ware, SAP, and IBM etc.

There was general agreement that IT modernization can be done parallel to Enterprise Digital transformation. A few of the traditional enterprises mentioned how they had a number of Enterprise Digital Transformation initiatives that they are currently driving within the company. However they also have a large legacy infrastructure but are driving the modernization in parallel.

Most organizations agreed that the Digital skills required is not there in their current IT organizations. The biggest skill gap area was in User experience. The demand for these skills would drive them to work with partners or look at other geographies for talent.

Most participating firms mentioned that their existing Service providers are aggressively building Digital capabilities. Amongst the six horizontal areas of digital transformation identified by Zinnov, Customer targeting and engagement was the one that had the highest level of discussion and mindshare among companies. Many of the participants felt that other areas such as supply/chain management or operational efficiency is integrated with customer targeting and engagement.

The participants felt that a key benefit of EDT is in removing middle-man. It could be distributors, resellers in case of customers or middle-management in case of people. White goods manufacturers are figuring out ways in which they can directly interact with customers using their own website or other direct-to-customer sites such as Virtual-Mall site from Alibaba.

Large enterprises said that they are working on initiatives that allows them to collect more data about their customer which in turn they can use to target and service them better. For example: A travel operator is creating a travel guide app that allows their customers to explore new areas during their travel. This allows them to track their customer behaviour.

Cost is one key parameter to consider in digital transformation initiatives. For example: though logistics companies would like to use reusable RFI Tags, the prohibitive cost of using them is a hindrance for digital transformation.

Geography also plays a key role in digital transformation – Companies are using different digital strategy for different geographies. For example: Manufacturing companies in India have workers who speak different languages and it becomes cost prohibitive to create technical user documents in different languages. They are starting to use Video/TV in the shop floor to play training videos on how to use specific machines.

The biggest takeaway of the session was that digital drives business model changes for organizations. Most traditional enterprises are being forced to change their business models to accommodate the needs of the new millennial customer.

‘Talent Triggers’ for Business Continuity Planning and Location Selection – Evolving Role of HR

April 26th, 2013

Business Continuity is a key risk mitigation strategy that enterprises adopt to respond to adverse events.   Business Continuity is considered an uncool governance activity due to its focus on infrastructure readiness centric activity i.e. planning for network redundancy, backups, RTO & RPO etc.  There is detailed framework for risk evaluation and BCP planning. This will be discussed in the next   blog.

The focus of this blog is to analyze the impact of talent on Business Continuity planning. Our experience at Talent Neuron indicates that organizations seldom think about talent risk as a key trigger point for business continuity initiatives.  Based on our extensive experience in Global Talent Planning and Management we have identified the following key parameters as the ‘Talent Triggers’ for Business Continuity planning

  1. Interviewed All – This trigger is gradual in nature.  Companies never realize when they have hit this point of saturation.  Typically in an upbeat market, about 15% to 20% of workforce is actively seeking jobs (considering an average attrition rate of 15% to 20%).  Which means within 5 to 8 years your organization would have interviewed or hired a majority of the eligible candidates in the market . However there will be a small set of passive candidates who would not have been interviewed.
  2. Hunting Ground – This is possible when a lot of new companies enter the market.  This is the downside of being in a high growth market.  When a new start-up emerges they hunt your organization for key talent.  This is not volume attrition but focused hunting for key technical brains.  Impact of such a hunt is huge and can make or break your organization’s success in the short term
  3. Big Fish in Small Pond – This is typical for companies, which become too big in a small market.  Our benchmarks indicate that if an organization’s workforce is over 8% to 10 % of the total talent in the market then there is a huge risk exposure (This number can be higher depending on the market dynamics and Government support).  Every peer company in the market would want to hire from your organization.  This risk is similar to ‘Hunting Ground’ but here the hunt is in volume across multiple levels
  4. Shunted Growth – In this scenario, the talent pool in the city is not expanding at a steady pace.  This may be due to the lack of a good university ecosystem, city losing its charm, unemployment in other verticals forcing talent to move out, rapidly increasing costs, infrastructure not keeping pace with development etc.  Lack of growth in the overall ecosystem will create either a stagnant or shrinking talent pool, which increases the talent risk profile.  This is a dangerous situation to be in.
  5. Hate the City – Deteriorating external market conditions changes the perception of the city making it unattractive for top talent.  This again is not in within an organization’s control and happens over a period of time.
  6. Expensive – Cost of talent increases year-on-year making is less viable for your company to hire talent in the city.

Now that the triggers have been identified, how do you sense them and put in place mitigation strategies?

Triggers 1, 2 and 3 are internal to your organization.   The changes will be gradual and sometimes unnoticeable.  HR groups are best positioned to identify this early.  If your HR can sense the early signals and trigger Business continuity initiative (Talent Availability Initiatives), then your organization can take control of the situation and avoid a slow death.  Sensing early signals is the role of talent planning and acquisition stakeholders.  Their role is to capture the right metrics and analyze the trend.  Talent acquisition teams are your foot soldiers and can provide great insights about talent.  Key is to have a well-defined Talent Planning Process in your organization so your HR leader is best positioned to own this initiative from the Talent Availability Initiative standpoint.

Triggers 4,5 and 6 are external to market.  Organizations do not have much control on these triggers (baring few exceptions).  The best approach is to consistently monitor the market trends.  Being abreast with market is challenging and takes lot of talent acquisition/planning effort (translates to expensive dollars).  Again this can be the role of either corporate planning teams or the HR teams.  Corporate planning teams are best placed to undertake this at global level, while HR teams can lead the initiative at country/geography level.

Talent Neuron – Right Talent | Right Location

Talent Neuron can help you with an effective solution.  Our understanding of the triggers has helped us define a solution, which can help you achieve your goals. Our data driven approach will provide ground level insights on the talent market, hiring trends, compensation, talent pool availability by skill, talent pool growth and university ecosystem (Triggers 1 to 3) which are important for talent planning and hiring.  Talent Neuron also provides holistic view of a city by capturing over 200+ location parameters, which will help you to understand the slow transitions in the market (Trigger 4 to 6).

Flexible workforce models, a winning strategy?

April 25th, 2013

Today technology companies have to compete harder to find the most relevant skills in an ever changing and dynamic business world. Hiring for niche skills is one of the top focus areas for HR leaders today.

Research and discussions by Talent Neuron with HR and Engineering leaders has brought out the consensus that retaining workplace flexibility will help companies attract and hire the most talented people in the market today. Through this work model companies can build trust and send positive signals to their employees to deliver better work results.

Advances in technology allow employees to collaborate and communicate from different places, even remote locations. It is estimated that by 2016, 40-45% of white collar workers in America will spend 30-35% of their working time outside the office. Talent will not be office/location centric in future enterprises.

A survey by Talent Neuron indicates that more than 35% of engineering leaders (Director levels and above) in companies are apprehensive of flexible work models. Key concerns indicated by them include-

  • Technology makes video conferencing possible but the time taken to ensure all people participating in the meeting are online is between 10-15 minutes. This tends to become a deterrent to flexibility
  • Employees opting for flexible workplace models are expected to develop different skills and communicate better than the rest
  • Even if one email goes unanswered, this can lead to unpleasant results such as SLAs not being met

Workplace flexibility is a strategy towards effective talent management. The model leads to building trust among employees of an organization, fosters innovation and leads to cost savings. Once an organization figures out how to deal with its limitations, workplace flexibility can be a winning strategy for a company in attracting and retaining top talent.

To read our complete report – Flexibility – A Serious Business Imperative, please follow the link below:

Talent Neuron Weekly Digest – 14th to 20th April 2013

April 25th, 2013

Recent Reports

  1. Talent Neuron released its comprehensive report on “Global Mobile Talent Landscape”.  Summary report can be downloaded here.  Members and login to and find the full report in content module.
  2. Talent Neuron article on flexible workforce models.  As part of this article we have covered our view on Benefits, Challenges, Needs and future of global mobile workforce models.  Summary article can be read here.

Zinnov Confluence 2013:

  • Our Annual Thought Leadership Summit held in Santa Clara, CA, registered a presence of over 300 delegates.  More than 35 eminent speakers from HR and Technology fraternity shared their thoughts on the future of global innovation and talent.  For a detailed list of speakers and session, please click here

Mobile Talent:

  • Globally, there are approximately 285,000 registered mobile developers. 57% of these developers have iOS skills whereas 32% have Android skills. The number of registered mobile developers is expected to grow by 13% annually till 2015.
  • Over the last two years, job postings for mobile developers have doubled. In January 2013, leading online job posting portals listed about 12,000 mobile programmer jobs as compared to 6,500 jobs in the preceding year.

Big Data Talent:

  • By 2020, there will be shortage of 200,000 Data Scientists globally. This will result in up to 50% gap between demand and supply for desired Big Data talent.
  • In US, Washington D.C. accounts for one of the largest talent pool in Big Data i.e., approximately 4500. This is attributed to various factors including the presence of several public sector offices requiring the skill set and the increased investment in Big Data analytics by the US Government.

Business Functions:

  • Niche Skill Hiring, Skill Set Assessment and HR Analytics will be the key focus areas for HR departments in 2013. According to a Talent Neuron Survey, over 50% of the organizations lack a dedicated statistical or data analytics teams across HR departments.
  • Locations such as Costa Rica and Sri Lanka are fast emerging as hubs of F&A related activities. Now companies not only offshore transaction processing functions but also high-end work such as statutory compliance to these locations.

Key Acquisitions:

  • LinkedIn acquired Pulse, a leading news reader for web and mobiles in a deal valued at USD 90 million. This acquisition aims to fulfill LinkedIn’s objective to become a content publishing and distribution platform
  • Acquisition for talent has become a mainstream strategy for technology companies. Through these acquisitions, companies aim to scale up their engineering and mobile teams. E.g.,
    • i.     Google acquired Behavio, an Android data firm, as part of its acqui-hiring strategy
    • ii.     In first quarter of 2013, Yahoo! acquired Summly,, Alike and Jybe

University Trends:

  • Over the next three years, Microsoft and Nokia plan to invest about USD 12 million each in AppCampus, a mobile app start-up accelerator program, at Aalto University in Espoo, Finland. Through this program, both the companies plan to accelerate development of mobile applications for Windows Phone, Symbian & Series 40 platforms.
  • Volvo group signed an Academic Preferred Talent Partnership with Pennsylvania State University to provide students with co- op and internship opportunities in exchange of recruitment benefits.

From Neuron Lab:

  • Talent Neuron is working on implementing a comprehensive public profile search which will prove useful in talent planning and talent acquisition.
  • In addition, a dashboard will be implemented on the job engine which will provide a comprehensive overview of the demand situation

For more information, please contact |

Zinnov Talent Outlook, 2013

March 26th, 2013

Our recently launched study titled ‘Talent Outlook 2013’ indicates a paradigm shift in HR trends this year. The survey revealed that 2013 will be a year of skill and talent reconciliation, even as new skill sets are brought to focus and HR is challenged to implement strategic planning within the organization.

The Silicon Valley will continue to be the Innovation hub, with 80% of respondents to the Zinnov survey indicating that their organizations’ headcount will increase the highest in this region. India ranked third among preferred innovation destination globally, with organizations revealing that 15% of innovation is expected out of the country, followed by EMEA at 10%. In 2013, China and India are expected to witness marginal growth due to factors like cost and talent availability. The headcount in India is expected to increase by 13 % in 2013. However, the study revealed that China would no longer be the preferred key innovation destination and hence, would not be on the priority list of most companies.

The demand for data scientists and user experience designers will remain high, while demand for mobile application developers and cloud computing experts is expected to range from moderate to high. Significantly, all these skills were non-existent till a decade ago. In addition, this year, organizations are expected to increase their focus on soft skill development across levels and functions.

Organizations believe that 25% of their current talent will become redundant in the next 3-5 years, while specialized skill sets in User Experience and Mobility will witness rise in demand. In 2013, organizations will seek  to hire talent  with skills in the areas of Engineering (50% of respondents indicated that it would be among the top 3 skills of the future), followed by Analytics skills (40%) such as Big Data, Predictive Modelling, HR Analytics, and Mobility (32%).

Niche hiring and skill set assessment are the key talent related challenges that organizations continue to face. 50% of the respondents suggested that these would be the key focus areas for the year 2013. Dedicated statistical teams within HR departments can reduce challenges around skill set assessment, large volume data analysis and workforce planning. However, most organizations lack such resources and only 20% plan to focus on it in 2013.

The following are some of the key findings of the study:

  • India is the third preferred destination for innovation after Silicon valley and other US cities
  • Organizations believe that 25% of their current talent will become redundant in the next 3-5 years
  • The demand for specialized skill sets in User Experience and Mobility is expected to rise
  • Countries such as India and China will witness growth primarily due to cost and access to talent.