Category Archives: Press

Will it be a good year for HR Tech and Startups in 2019?

How will the year 2019 be for startups in the HR tech space in India when it comes to adoption and expectations? Read on to find out.

“It was a good year.” That’s what most of the HR Tech startups we spoke to opined when they looked back at 2018. From the degree of adoption to the amount of funds flowing in, the startup space generally saw an increased awareness around technology in HR. With the talks of AI, automation, technology dominating the whole year around, HR Tech saw a definite uptake both in India and globally.

On this note, what does the year 2019 bode for HR Tech? What are some of the trends that will shape this space in the coming year? We talked to a number of startups in the HR Tech space such as game-based learning platform Quodeck, employee engagement startup Hush, sustainable credit provider SalaryFits, HRMS provider Zimyo, talent discovery platform Vyre, on-demand video platform Monjin, and Zeta which digitizes employee benefits, HR talent marketplace Noble House, among others to understand which way the wind will blow.

Here’s what they had to say.

HR tech to move up the value chain

Continuing from the momentum of 2018, in 2019, HR tech is predicted to move up the value chain to help improve Productivity, Team and Work management from the current state of Integration and Engagement.

Quodeck’s co-founder Kamalika Bhattacharya says that the major thrust among businesses will be towards driving adoption of corporate learning through technology among their employees and partners.

“Early adopters of HR Tech now have large data sets about their employees and will leverage on analytics to drive productivity and improve employee engagement,” she says.

There will be an increase in the use of AI and Technology enabled methods of screening, assessing and hiring talent and emphasis on developing personalized career paths for their employees using tech to reduce attrition while improving employee wellness and output.

Employee engagement and productivity still the focus area for employers

Further 2019 will continue to see employers everywhere focusing on employee engagement and productivity. 

Guilherme Mota, Head of Operations, India, SalaryFits says, “With the innovative HRTech solutions available across borders, HR Heads have a big portfolio of different tools to keep their talent happy and engaged. In this sense, employee’s wellbeing, ranging from focus on health and wellness to focus on productivity, purpose, and financial health, will play a big part as an engagement and retention tool. HRs cannot afford to neglect the effects that financial worries can cause on their employees and their productivity.”

From employer first to employee first

Right now all HR Tech is built employer first. However Ashutosh Dabral, Co-founder & CEO, Hush believes that eventually, the trend will move to employee first as the millennial employee doesn’t stay in a company for a very long time. 

Employee first Tech platforms that can provide value to employees even when they switch companies will have more value.

He adds that when you add the new gig economy workforce then employers will have to engage workers who are not really “employees”. So new kind of platforms will come up that cater to these users also.

More experiments, more AI, more Blockchain

That 2019 will be an interesting year and will present a greater opportunity for HR Tech Startups as organizations grow and more investments come in startups and growth companies, is also reiterated by Sudev Das, co-founder, Vyre. He adds that organizations will be open to experimenting and experiencing new HR Tech products, to enable quick and efficient growth. 

AI & Analytics enriched products would be very attractive to cut on processing time. But it will also lead to expectation mismatches as there are no quick fixes with AI till it matures

The year will also see growth in the adoption of video for hiring, learning, and engagement. Similarly, the use of  Blockchain in assessments, skill certification, and educational qualifications will start appearing in some HR Tech products,  which will be very useful in verification and validation of candidate details. Also, predictive analytics with respect to culture, engagement, skills will see significant uptake. 

The same is seconded by Kumar Mayank, co-founder of Zimyo who believes that 2019 will see the adoption of cloud/ SaaS not only by corporates but SMEs, along with increased adoption of AI-based HR Applications.

Kunal Kapoor CTO, Monjin adds that intelligent process automation is coming into play, which includes AI and related new technology advances, which can help deliver consistent people processes – something that has eluded many HR ops teams given the dynamic nature of the requests they receive. Cost savings also materialize through deploying such technologies as robotic process automation, machine learning, deep learning, and cognitive agents. 

 “The year 2019 will also witness the development of quality-based talent pipelines which will further improve hiring accuracy,” he adds.

The use of AI and predictive analysis can further simplify the hiring process, by picking candidates with skillsets and achievements that match the given requirement.

HR Tech will need to continuously create value

While it is a given that most of the transactional interactions involving HR will slowly and gradually move to technology and companies have already started working on moving some of the regular queries on to chatbots, HR tech companies will continuously need to work on creating value for the user through their platforms, says Sanjay Lakhotia, Co-Founder, Noble House Consulting Pte.

The next year will also see some consolidation in the HR tech market due to a sudden spurt in the number of tools out in the market, he adds. The tools will either get merged or there would be models of collaboration that will emerge between different tools.

From generalization to specialization

2019 may also see a spurt in more specialized HR Tech as per Bhavin Turakhia, co-founder of Zeta. He says, “Right now a large number of HR Tech companies in India are core HR Tech. But very soon we will start seeing specialized companies-some will focus just on planning, some will focus only on performance review and appraisals. If you think about it, talent acquisition is already segregated out. There will a plethora of segregated tools which will fulfill a specific function.”

However, he still feels that the real growth spurt in HR Tech is still a few years away. Larger enterprises are paying more attention to people but smaller companies in non-tech industries will take longer, he opines. Bhavin aptly sums up succinctly the state of HR Tech in 2019 when he says,

“There is a certain level of maturity that organizations have to go through in India before you get to a point where HR Tech becomes a priority.”

By Shweta Modgil, Feature Writer with People Matters

This article was first published on People Matters

2019 – HR Trends In The Workplace

Employees today, are not just looking for companies that provide salaries and perks. They want organizations that provide engagement and promote general wellness. They are looking for jobs that help them strike a good work-life balance. As a result, HR fast needs to become an employee’s friend rather than a guardian, as it has traditionally been. This transition is not going to be easy.

Employers today already face the daunting task of transition towards a digital economy that is transforming businesses as well as their traditional HR functions. Adapting to new technologies is one of the major trends that will be visible across HR in the workplace during 2019.

A recent survey of 1200 global executives conducted by KPMG International highlights the inertia that a segment of HR managers display. On the one hand, there are forward-looking managers who are constantly harnessing resources to redefine contribution of the HR model to any enterprise. They are implementing technologies such as Digital Labour, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Business Analytics. On the other hand, a larger segment of less confident HR managers are playing the waiting game, or are simply remaining quiet about this change in the digital landscape.

Some of the expected HR trends for 2019 and the foreseeable future, that HR professionals need to be aware of, are listed here-

Employee performance managed by managers

The organization will benefit from performance management lying in the hands of managers, as opposed to HR stepping into the workflow. The role of providing feedback will belong to the manager, and as a result of this, even poor performance will be addressed quickly and turned around faster. HR needs to be a department of productivity enablers and this change will allow the function to concentrate on becoming that.

Higher access to analytics for employees

Members of the C-Suite will have greater access to people insights and analytics than in previous years. Organizations will look to implement robust HR platforms that are user-friendly and can provide strong people analytics trends that will assist in decision-making. The C-Suite will naturally make better decisions with the help of key people analytics and hiring statistics.

Rise of the ‘remote’ workforce

A rising segment of employees today prefer to work out of remote locations instead of the office. This has entirely been made possible through recent development in technology. About half of the US workforce is expected to be freelancing, in some capacity, by 2020.  HR departments will be able to use this trend to their advantage. Instead of hiring full-time employees, they should explore teams of talented freelancers and independent contractors, thereby building trust on a project-to-project basis.

Rise of micro-learning

Most adults start losing attention within as little as ten minutes and is likely to go down further. To meaningfully engage and train learners with such low attention spans, HR departments need to design training sessions that are short and impact-based, rather than long ones. More frequent and shorter training sessions will be more beneficial at workplaces. Micro-learning, as a result, will rise further as the industry norm.

Extensive use of VR, AR, game, and video

Both AR and VR are helpful during training and recruitment. A gamified application experience can be created for the recruitment of candidates, as is done by Jaguar and Land Rover. Collaborating with the band Gorillaz, they create a real setting, allowing candidates to see and experience iconic cars from these manufacturers. This is followed up with a series of puzzles that enable candidates to move forward.

In 2019, HR managers will need to plan systematically, instead of moving rapidly. This will help prevent badly created applications which may frustrate users. AI and Analytics will be able to touch every sphere they operate in, from employee engagement to recruitment and performance management. The year 2019 is likely to be the one when people analytics will finally be able to demonstrate its true potential.

By Kamalika Bhattacharya, CEO & Co-Founder at QuoDeck

This article was first published on stoodnt

QuoDeck launches mobile learning app builder

The app focuses on making things simple, so companies that have never done learning before this can also get started in no time. 

Game-based learning platform QuoDeck has announced the launch of learning app builder QuoDeck Express. 

Targeted at small and growing businesses, including startups, QuoDeck Express allows these businesses to participate in the mobile learning revolution that the industry has witnessed over the past few years. The company aims to sign up over a million users within the next 12 months. 

“We observed a significant increase in demand from small and growing businesses, as training has become a critical function for business growth,” said Kamalika Bhattacharya, co-founder of QuoDeck. “These companies need to leverage technology to impart training and connect with their employees,” she added. 

‘Express’ was conceived as a product to help companies become better places to work. “Learning is often cited as one of the reasons people move between organizations, so there is a tangible benefit that products like Express can drive for small and growing businesses -from higher productivity and revenues to lower attrition and faster onboarding,” she said 

The app focuses on making things simple, so companies that have never done learning before this can also get started in no time. Not only can they add their existing content through presentations and videos, but can also use games and themes to make them interesting. 

QuoDeck is currently supporting learning at over 35 global companies including Unilever, Star India, eBay, SBI Life, Aditya Birla Group and Axis Bank, and has close to half a million learners on its platforms. The Express platform offers nearly all the major functionalities of a full-fledged LMS – Design customization, story creation system, learning games library, quizzes, and surveys and reports. 

The global e-learning market, valued at over $200 billion, has seen a couple of large shifts that have led rapid growth, – a shift in device to mobile and a growing proportion of millennials and generation Z in the workforce. In India alone, this trend is evident with over 45% of the workforce being between 25-39 years of age, providing a huge opportunity for the right training product. 

By Rica Bhattacharyya, ET Bureau

This article was first published in The Economic Times

Reaching Data Saturation

Data saturation is everywhere. We’ve often had the belief that more is better; however, that actually isn’t true in the case of data.

Why do hypermarkets keep chewing gums and candies at the cash counter? How do coffee chains manage to have two cafes on the same lane and still be profitable? How do online searches draw advertisements of the same products on your devices? Most of this is not conventional wisdom, it’s use of data, which companies across the world are obsessing about. Data analytics, for many, is the holy grail to drive user demand and revenue. 

To put the data deluge in perspective, Google processes 3.5 billion searches per day, Snapchat users share 527,760 photos, 41.46 million people watch YouTube videos, Instagram users post 46,740 photos, and 456,000 tweets uploaded on Twitter. India generates a subset of this consumption, but the numbers are bound to be massive.

India is the second largest internet nation with close to 400 million internet users, many of them on smartphones, only second to China. Access to social media, Google search, entertainment, among other things, on the palm generates data that is dissected to get desired outcome. 

Add to that, hyper-focused targeting and segmentation to define niche audience segments. But is the entire stack of data important and efficient? 

Data mining became an important aspect in the late 1990s,  but as new concepts like big data, and technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning surfaced, it opened-up the Pandora’s box. “There isn’t a thing as too much or too less,” says Pranay Agrawal, CEO of Fractal Analytics, a Mumbai- headquartered analytics service provider. Citing the example of a leading diagnostics chain for medical data, he says, “If the prediction accuracy improves by even 0.5 per cent, millions of additional data is worth it.” Size doesn’t equate usefulness. Many believe that data isn’t about size but relevant attributions and metrics  — so, more the merrier. But there are different approaches. 

Abhishek Ganguly, Managing Director of multi-channel sportswear brand Puma, believes in a “business objective first” approach. “Instead of looking at ways to collect and mine data, we start with business objectives. Then we create platforms to collect data,” he says. There are many, like Ganguly, who believe in the business- first strategy. “Business-first framework should take into account use cases, data sets, data collection, data preparation, learning and intelligent actions,” says Pramad Jandhyala, Director of Finance and Human Capital at digital analytics firm LatentView. 

But there are segmentations to this approach, one them being the size of the organisation. “For large, established enterprises, data-first strategy drives innovation. But for start-ups and SMEs, setting up and aligning business objectives first should be the priority,” says Arijit Lahiri who runs QuoDeck’s, a game-based mobile learning management system.

Hero MotoCorp, Mahindra Group, Reliance Industries, and Baja Auto are spending millions to build data-driven enterprises. Others like Amazon, which has the customer at the center of its business model, has constituted a team of data scientist, A1 experts, and data analytics models. For them India is no different.

Amazon uses AI and ML to analyse huge chunks of data in various fields — from improving address quality to ranking of deals, and from improving catalogue quality by finding missing descriptions in titles to weeding out inappropriate images. The good part is that Amazon has a lot of user-generated content from product searches, buying patterns, and search. All this data is analysed to figure out what customers want. It doesn’t stop there, Amazon takes its findings forward to its entertainment platforms: Prime Videos and Music.  It has been at it for ages. But every firm is not Amazon and every CEO is not Jeff Bezos. Even with the right approach, money-inflow and business alignments,  a digital-data strategy can fail. Making sense of data is the biggest challenge. With colossal amounts of data being generated every day — 2.5 quintillion bytes — we are bound to get lost in the web jungle. 

QuoDeck’s Lahiri says that data without a hypothesis is pointless. “Before collecting data, one needs to have a hypothesis in place. You might know the answer but if you don’t know the question, it won’t make sense,” he says, alluding to the bottleneck in the analytics industry. 

“Forward-looking approach that relies on data-based intelligence, trend analysis, forecast modelling, and predictive analysis is what people need to obtain success in today’s dynamic market. And only accurately collated, actionable insights can give them that, not massive amounts of raw, unfiltered information,” says James Giancotti, Co-founder and CEO, Oddup, a data-driven research and insights provider. 

Oddup’s chief operating officer and Co-founder, Jackie Lam says that just analysing past trends alone won’t help, because the market is constantly evolving. But all of this cannot happen without making data-analysis any company’s culture, like in the case of Amazon. 

“Creating an organizational cultural can solve the issue of failure. And the culture should follow the top-down approach,” says analytics academician Dakshinamurthy Kolloru, Founder President & Chief Mentor of International School of Engineering. 

This story has been written by Nishita Chandak from Times Group

This article was first published in, The Times of India

QuoDeck reports 300% growth in revenue

The company aims to double its current user base of 4,20,000 over the course of this year. 

Gaming-based learning platform QuoDeck said that the company has grown revenues by 300% in the past year, on the back of a 5x growth in user base. QuoDeck is a global SaaS product catering to the enterprise mobile learning market using gaming and interactivity, and has global customers like Unilever, Star India, SBI Life, Reliance Life, Kohler, Kelloggs and CavinKare. 

“Our vision is to make the world a smarter place by developing robust and user-friendly learning platforms. We will continue in our endeavour to create technology that help companies build a smarter and more knowledgeable workforce. In the next financial year, we hope to achieve a 400% increase in revenue,” said Kamalika Bhattacharya, co-founder of QuoDeck. The company aims to double its current user base of 4,20,000 over the course of this year 

“The role of people capital in Indian industry has grown many fold, with companies focused on developing skills for their staff and ecosystems to enhance productivity. We currently serve the needs of 420,000+ users across enterprises, who are not all employees, but also sales & vendor networks and agents for our clients. The explosive business growth we have seen over the years is a testimony to the fact that as a methodology, game-based learning proves to be more effective in today’s context than other forms of digital learning. It is fast gaining popularity among smart organizations, and is replacing traditional learning mechanisms,” she said. 

By Priyanka Sangani, Editor- The Economic Times

This article was first published in The Economic Times

4 Essential Apps for Onboarding your New Employees

As we are stepping towards the future, the trend of paperwork is becoming a thing of the past and onboarding apps are getting popular for each step

Recruitment is the most important process for any business as it brings in people who shape the future of a company. Human Resource employees are responsible to help onboard the new employees, which is a crucial step for a new employee’s growth in the company.

So, the onboarding process should be taken seriously and most importantly, it should be efficient. The paperwork and formalities before an employee is inducted should be done in a timely fashion. There are multiple steps in the onboarding process.

And as we are stepping towards the future, the trend of paperwork is becoming a thing of the past and onboarding apps are getting popular for each step of onboarding.

So, here are 4 apps for onboarding your employees:

WorkBright: For the administrative processing

WorkBright offers a platform where a human resource personnel can speed up the process of documentation. It allows the new joinees to upload their documents directly to the app even before their first day at work. It also checks whether the uploaded documents are clear enough or not, and helps you send a prompt to the employee if it’s not clear. This can help an organization save a lot of money as they don’t need to hire a dedicated person for this job.

WorkStyle: For profiling

WorkStyle helps all employees to create a work profile, which can help other teammates to get to know each other professionally. With the details filled in the WorkStyle profile, employees can understand each other’s working preferences, timings and approach. This can easily smoothen the process of new employees blending with their new teammates and understand the work culture beforehand.

QuoDeck: For onboard training

Once the paperwork is done and you have created profiles for your new employees to help them understand the work culture, it’s time for onboard training. QuoDeck helps to create gamified training modules for your new employees. This method can be used to train your employees for their specific role or a general overview, which totally depends on your training principles. As most of the company trainings and onboarding is somewhat forced, so it directly affects the impact and effectiveness of it. This is where QuoDeck makes it more efficient. The gaming experience when transposed in the onboarding process attracts the employees and increases their retention. So, employees are able to gain much more out of the experience than a normal boring training session.

iAppreciate: For recognition drive

The last step for onboarding an employee completely is to have them feel they are recognised for the work they are putting in. This is where iAppreciate is a powerful tool to utilize. Statistics show that recognizing an employee’s endeavors will result in increased productivity. iAppreciate allows you to create a platform where employees can be congratulated for their efforts and goals. As everybody will be on this platform, it is easy to boost the confidence of the new employees and reap better results from them.

The above-mentioned apps are a great way to onboard an employee as they cover each and every aspect of onboarding an employee. As the modern technology is advancing with each passing year, it can very well be understood that the era of paper and slow onboarding process is gone and more HR professionals are relying on such applications to make the process faster and more efficient than ever.

By DQIndia Online

This article was first released on DataQuest

How QuoDeck enables enterprises to deliver game-based learning

QuoDeck relies on using gaming as a natural behavior of the learner to drive enterprise learning.

Experience indeed is the best teacher. Having experienced their share of boring mandatory trainings in their 15-year-old careers, Kamalika Bhattacharya & Arijit Lahiri thought something needed to be done about the kind of training which was literally being forced down the throat of employees. While a lot of this learning is needed as it a functional understanding, but the way in which it is delivered does not evoke any sense of excitement or feeling from the employees that it is being done for their betterment.

But over the last few years, people have picked up mobile as the primary device through which they consume content. So while people were clamoring for more content through new age formats on Google or Wikipedia, but somehow enterprises could not get into that mind shift. Enterprise learning remained very boring, stale, and desktop oriented. Says Kamalika, 

“That is when we thought that there was a need for enterprises to adjust to the new millennial generation used to consuming on mobile, in interesting and interactive formats.”

When the duo started looking at millennials, they realized that apart from browsing on social media, a large chunk of their time is spent on online gaming. A lot of these games were simple games like Candy Crush, Angry Birds which fall in the category of hyper-casual gaming. The duo started looking at how to marry these thoughts together and that’s when QuoDeck was born in 2010. 

QuoDeck is a SaaS product catering to the enterprise learning market, using interactivity and games to engage enterprise learners and use that to capture data, which in turn gets used to improve the learner experience and effectiveness. The product relies on how to use gaming as a natural behavior of the learner to drive enterprise learning. 

When the duo started looking at millennials, they realized that apart from browsing on social media, a large chunk of their time is spent on online gaming. A lot of these games were simple games like Candy Crush, Angry Birds which fall in the category of hyper-casual gaming. The duo started looking at how to marry these thoughts together and that’s when QuoDeck was born in 2010. 

QuoDeck is a SaaS product catering to the enterprise learning market, using interactivity and games to engage enterprise learners and use that to capture data, which in turn gets used to improve the learner experience and effectiveness. The product relies on how to use gaming as a natural behavior of the learner to drive enterprise learning. 

How does Quodeck enable enterprises to deliver learning

Kamalika believes that the thing with LMS is that they tend to think of themselves as just a delivery vehicle. They don’t give much thought to what content they put in it. But QuoDeck cares as much about the content as much as the format in which it is delivered to the learner. The platform has a delivery app along with multiple products under the same room-such as an authoring tool, an entire game library-so all the tools are embedded in this platform. 

Organizations can easily upload their content in predefined templates and create content in a simple way on the platform. All enterprises have to do is enter content in text and the product platform renders it in beautiful formats for the mobile app. The DIY platform is also enabled with big data tracking. 

The platform allows enterprises to create a pull-based learning.

So from gamification to game-based learning to storyline based games which can be used to create an entire course, the platform goes on to offer simple hyper-casual games; documentation simulation which teaches people how to do documentation- a big requirement in insurance, banking, pharma, and retail; conversation simulations which teach people how to talk by simulating a chat with a customer, which is used a lot for sales training as well as customer service training. Moreover, the full-featured platform can address a small company of 30 people to a large company with thousands of people with a complex environment. 

35 companies, half a million learners

The product which was released in 2014, has seen steady adoption in the four years hence. Today, the platform boasts of almost half a million users on the platform across more than 35 companies including global clients as well. This number is expected to grow to 600000 over the next 3 months on the back of the current deployments in progress.  Unilever, Star India, eBay, SBI Life, Aditya Birla Group, Axis Bank, are some of the companies which are big clients of the subscription-based SaaS platform. 

Kamalika attributed this growth to the fact that the product spans an entire gamut of what you could do with gamification to simple gaming complex gaming to create a pull for learning. Companies like Reliance, Unilever, Aditya Birla use the platform to train their ecosystem advisors such as advisor network, distributor network as well as their salespeople. Thus the platform is being used to deliver a level of impact which actually drives business for them and not just for training them. So effectively, she believes that QuoDeck counts with pretty much every LMS out there. 

The future of game-based learning

A report by US-based learning technology market research firm Metaari states that the worldwide five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for Game-based Learning products and services is a robust 37.1% and revenues will more than quadruple to reach well over $17 Bn by 2023. While revenues will more than triple in all eight global buying segments surveyed in the report, over the forecast period, the corporate segment will see the maximum rise in demand, driven by the booming demand for pre-employment assessment and evaluation games.

Kamalika avers with this trend of the corporate segment poised to post the highest growth rate out of all eight segments. She adds that upwards of 50% of companies in the world are looking to change their existing learning systems. One of the main reasons they look to switch is because of the lack of interactivity and mobile capability in these systems. So gaming, mobile learning, social learning are the new trends which no enterprise can afford to stay away from given their audience has changed completely. Added to the fact that they are no more dealing with traditional learning problems anymore. With a globally scattered employee base, companies can no longer get their employees to sit in a classroom for learning. 

More so as the audience demographics changes to millennials, who live in a digital world, enterprises are starting to realize that very strongly that they will start to fall behind if they are not using digital means for disseminating learning. So they are moving from traditional learning to digital learning. This change is very much essayed by the fact that compared to 2010, when QuoDeck would have a hard time convincing companies of game-based learning, today it is no more a challenge.

Kamalika aptly concludes, “Moving away from traditional learning is more a question of companies coming out of their comfort zones. Gaming is no more as bad a word as it used to be anymore!”

By Shweta Modgil, Feature Writer with People Matters

This article was first published on People Matters

HR Tech and Startups in 2018: The year that was

How was the year 2018 for startups in the HR tech space in India when it comes to adoption and talent? Read on to find out.

December is a time to look back and take stock-where did we start from and where have we reached after 12 long months. And when the startups in the HR Tech space look back, they will mostly say it has been a good year. From the degree of adoption to the amount of funds flowing in, the startup space has generally seen an increased awareness around technology in HR. With the talks of AI, automation, technology dominating the whole year around, HR Tech saw a definite uptake both in India and globally.

So if in the first quarter, Degreed, a global platform for discovery, learning & certification of skills, made news by raising $42 Mn in a funding round, back home, in the second quarter, Indian corporate social responsibility and sustainability management technology platform, Goodera brought raised around $12 Mn. Similarly, employee focused HR tech app Hush also saw itself raising three funding rounds in the year, a major thumbs up for employee engagement apps. 

The space also saw major consolidations taking place in the HR Tech space this year. Globally, US-based job review and job hunting website Glassdoor was acquired by a Japanese human-resources and consumer-information provider, Recruit Holdings Co. Similarly, global consulting firm Mercer acquired India based HR tech startup Mettl.


Which brings us to the first trend in the space-awareness, fund flow, and consolidation.

A good year for HR Tech- more awareness, more funds

We talked to a number of startups in the HR Tech space such as game-based learning platform Quodeck, employee engagement startup Hush, sustainable credit provider SalaryFits, HRMS provider Zimyo, talent discovery platform Vyre, on-demand video platform Monjin, and Zeta which digitizes employee benefits, HR talent marketplace Noble House, among others.

Majority of the startups agreed that globally as well as in India, there has been a huge spike in interest and fund flow into the HR Tech space. 

Quodeck’s co-founder Kamalika Bhattacharya says, “There has been a marked increase in awareness for the need for technology-enabled employee engagement amongst the HR community and companies. For the HR tech startups that have kept up with the evolving needs of our clients, this year has been good, steadily moving up the value chain of the requirements for our clients.”

Most of the startups believe that the major acquisitions in India and globally point towards interest as well as consolidation in the space.

Kumar Mayank, co-founder of Zimyo believes that HR Tech startups had a great year in 2018. “From Recruit’s $1.2 Bn acquisition of Glassdoor to Mercer’s $40.5 Mn acquisition of Mettl in the Indian subcontinent, HR Tech is now drawing the long due attention it deserved. Incidentally, Mettl’s acquisition is not only one of the biggest HR tech acquisitions from the country but also one of the biggest SaaS acquisitions too thus making it the joker in the pack for drawing international investors’ attention to Indian SaaS startups.”

Ashutosh Dabral, Co-founder & CEO, Hush reiterated the same belief that it was a good year with multiple startups in the space raising one or multiple rounds of funding.

“This industry is poised to be a $400 Bn dollar industry so the funding activity reflects this assumption.”

Aye for adoption, aye for technology

The startups agreed that early-stage startups too have quite been successful in making inroads to mainstream HR with many of them raking in early customers and investments. 

Sudev das, co-founder, Vyre shared, “From an adoption perspective more organizations specifically the ones which are growing have a larger appetite to try out newer HR Tech solutions to support rapid business growth and efficiencies.”

This was reiterated by Kunal Kapoor CTO, Monjin who believes that HR tech is gaining importance in the era of skilling and tech-based recruitment and employee management services. 

Another major trend was that hiring has seen a big surge in adopting technology to screen and assess candidates. There has been an increase in off-premise interviews assisted by use of tech to shortlist resumes, online assessments, and video interviews. Similarly, there has been a significant uptick in interest shown by teams within large organizations and SMEs including startups for simple, attractively priced and quick to deploy Learning Management Systems. 

“More than hiring, we believe that companies are taking definitive steps to enhance engagement and productivity in the workplace as a retention tool,” says Guilherme Mota, Head of Operations, India, SalaryFits. 

Referral hiring has also become a preferred route but companies don’t find it easy to run effective referral programs, avers Ashutosh.

Then again, adoption of video in hiring, learning and engagement has significantly increased and will increase significantly in the next couple of years. This would be largely driven by Gen Z as we go forward. In fact, organizations from a hiring perspective will have to focus on Gen Z as they would significantly change the landscape of a workplace and drive change significantly as they become a part of the workforce. 

Hiring talent in the non-tech world will become a major focus for organizations across the board, adds Sudev. Consumer-facing roles will be in demand but the supply will always be shorter. The current way of hiring this talent will go through significant change. 

Moreover, recruiters will have to move beyond the traditional job board and platform sourcing to actually embed themselves in the real-life contexts of the candidates and attract them. 

This leveraging of technology will only ramp up as the volume and quality of data increases and AI improves. While awareness of AI and acceptance of AI in the HR Tech has increased, however, it would take a couple more years for us to see the real benefits of AI as systems and tech matures in the AI world

Challenges ahead: A dearth of talent, funds and market access

Notwithstanding how highly hopeful and happening the year 2018 was for startups and HR Tech, there are still many significant barriers they have to cross before they can scale greater heights of success.

For instance, hiring talent itself in the space is a problem. Mayank of Zimyo shares that it is becoming difficult day by day to hire quality talent. He revealed,

“We floated over 20 openings during the year, each carrying a 40%+ hike & ESOPs and yet we failed to generate good interest among potential candidates. Many of our partner HR Tech startups (from our HR marketplace) complained of the dearth of quality talent too; especially, at senior levels.”

The same thoughts are shared by Sanjay Lakhotia, Co-Founder, Noble House Consulting Pte who reiterated that a significant challenge for HR tech startups is a scarcity of talent in the market, across all functions, technology, sales, operations etc. He also added that price realization continues to be a big challenge for most HR tech startups.

Bhavin Turakhia, co-founder of Zeta feels that a major challenge with HR Tech companies is that the user interface has mostly not been built from the standpoint of easy adoption, which is what makes ready adoption difficult. The real challenge he feels is creating that HR tech mindset among companies where the goal of HR Tech is beyond managing operations all the way to empowering and enabling people to be their best. With that as an objective, the scope expands 10X for HR Tech. 

Unavailability of a ready-market they can sell their business to is another challenge, adds Mayank. For SaaS based HR Tech startups like Payroll or AI Chatbots, it is the lack of cloud adoption in the Indian subcontinent; for Niche HR Tech startups like Compensation and Benefits it is the lack of domain knowledge. Being enterprise solutions, HR Tech startups have to undertake a lot of shoe and leather cost to make every sale happen.

“While the market is there for the taking, quite a few of us in the HR Tech space find it difficult to get across to potential customers. We are not great at selling the product or even marketing or engaging customers. Even platforms which could help us do that are limited and very costly, adds Sudev.

The same is reiterated by Kamalika who shares that HR departments in companies face hurdles in getting business buy-in for tech products. A significant percentage of product/service acquisitions are led by the business teams rather than the HR team. Moreover, companies in India, view HR tech as a service rather than a product. This leads to delays in deployment due to discussions on feature additions and customizations. Ironically, companies still adopt an extrinsic motivation approach (reward vs punishment) as against intrinsic motivation approach (micro-learning, immersive experience, casual game-based learning), which hopefully should shift majorly in 2019.     

Then there are global big incumbents in this space and for startups, it’s difficult to build a competitor. So most startups are looking at working on niche areas that can make them an acquisition target for the behemoths, shares Ashutosh.

Interestingly, though the year 2018 saw a lot of funds pour in, yet the number of VCs interested in investing in HR Tech startups are still far and few.  Hopefully, the startups believe that in the next 1-2 years, HR Tech will hit the tipping point where investors users and businesses will invest significantly in HR Tech. 

For now, some feel there need to be more cost-effective platforms where Tech HR startups can come together meet learn and share experiences, where seasoned HR leaders, tech leaders, and founders come together on a regular basis. An ecosystem that supports startups at a fledgling stage would be more than helpful in the current scenario. A little guidance in sales and early client acquisition would go a long way for the startups. 

While technology (AI, video, automation) will definitely push up adoption and increased interest from both buyers and investors up the ante for HR Tech startups, we will have to wait till 2019 to see if the dreams and hopes of HR tech startups will materialize. 

By Shweta Modgil, Feature Writer with People Matters

This article was first published on People Matters

Enterprise Gaming – Once an Opportunity, now a Trend

Having spent a large part of my career in the financial services space driving traditional business growth, using gaming to achieve business goals was not a cause I expected to be championing. Gaming was always a personal interest, but the business parallels only became apparent after we started experimenting with service engagements for enterprises. Given the planet anyway spends 3 billion hours a week playing games, the challenge was really to figure out how learning could fit in that construct.

We formed QuoDeck in 2010 to bring gaming into learning for enterprises. Having started with some elementary game engines and simulations, QuoDeck quickly moved on to make an omnipotent system built with the changing business environment in mind. QuoDeck’s platform today is one of the most powerful and engaging learning platforms in the world, catering to enterprise requirements for mobile learning. And as a leading player in this category, our advice to new entrants is to stay true to course, understand that the market is huge and that innovation is the key.

Mobility is here to stay

Mobile learning was just about appearing on the horizon in India when we entered the market. In fact, it was still at a nascent stage globally as well. While enterprises saw the demographic shift coming, the speed at which the device shift happened took everyone by surprise. Within a period of 3-4 years, millennial users had junked tablets and wouldn’t access their desktops or laptops for anything but sit-down work. They wanted everything on their mobile – on-demand, anytime, anywhere. Being a generation bred on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, they also wanted content and technology that was easy-to-use, visually appealing and in bite-sized pieces. The learning evolution that needed to happen in enterprises was phenomenal and existing products just weren’t prepared for this. Mobility as a trend forced a change in behavior, technology, content creation and consumption patterns across all strata of business.

There is always an element of luck in startup success and we were no different. Perhaps being at the right place at the right time with the right thought process is what its all about. QuoDeck has been at the forefront of this shift, shoulder-to-shoulder with enterprises looking to stay ahead of the curve.

EnterpriseGaming_MobileLearning_CEO_QuoDeck_2018.jpg

Gamifying the world

Our personal insight of gaming being habit-creating and creating long-term associative memories, was the inspiration behind the approach we took. Countless times, behaviors and constructs learnt in gaming had been translated by us to address real-world problems with excellent results.

We had a learning curve here as well. Having played on consoles such as PlayStation and Xbox, we assumed the world was ready to deal with highly complex games and constructs. However, working closely with business heads, HR teams and the Learning & Development function, we learnt that hyper-casual games create the best impact from a learning perspective. This is because they are somewhat repetitive in nature, with a greater level of participation & addiction to ‘scoring’.

While we initially worked on gamification applications on functions such as marketing, research, and learning, we chose to go with learning as a primary focus. Having started in this category long before games became the buzzword of today, we were fortunate to be able to take a pole position and we hope to actually drive the future of gamification for learning in the enterprise. But there are still a lot of white spaces to go after in enterprise gamification.

For New Players

Gaming as a learning solution is so vast in its scope, that it can’t be characterized or identified with any particular industry or even a clutch of industries. Wherever there is widespread staff or skilling required, gaming solutions can take charge and lead the change. So, when new players come in, they must remember that competition comes in various guises and is very rarely with another player. You will end up competing for mindshare against the likes of video-on-demand platforms or search engines where users can find information and content at their fingertips. Knowing what creates pull is perhaps the only challenge you should worry about.

Look out for learning opportunities

Gamification as an industry has a widespread application with learning being only one of them. A space was created for us because existing products failed to keep pace with what was required – large entrenched players became irrelevant in a matter of months. Overnight, enterprises recognized that resistance against this changing paradigm was futile, and mindsets started changing. Gaming and mobility were no longer bad words.

It would be foolish of us to think that we cannot be on the other side of such a trend. Keeping your offering relevant and at the cutting-edge requires you to have an innovation engine, which stops for no one. This requires tremendous willpower and a staunch refusal to settle into a comfortable spot.

 

This article was first published at YourStory

By Kamalika Bhattacharya CEO & Co-Founder at QuoDeck Technologies

What do Indian women want freedom from?

As India celebrates its 72nd Independence Day, Yahoo Lifestyle reached out to seven women to ask them what freedoms Indian women are still fighting for today.

Kamalika Bhattacharya, the CEO of QuoDeck believes women are more than a single dimension. She recently talked to Yahoo about why Indian women need freedom from being stereotyped