Analytics in action: Why Cisco and Thales re-located bases and saved £30m using data analysis

Cisco and Thales are using HR analytics to make major decisions in the structure of their organisations.

The pair used in-house analytics teams to decide that their respective plans for two different locations were not feasible.

Instead, both companies decided to open bases in new locations, with Thales closing an existing office as part of the process.

Speaking at the People Analytics conference, Cisco Systems global head of talent acquisition and people planning operations Ian Bailie (pictured) explained how using large scale talent pool data saved the business from making a costly site strategy mistake.

Technology provider Cisco was looking to expand its presence in China with management largely set on one location as the data they had suggested there was a substantial available pool of talent.

 

Talent puddle

However, Cisco’s talent analytics team crunched the numbers on that recruitment data.

“We took the information, ran our own different searches behind the scenes and what they saw was a massive talent pool very quickly shrank to barely 10% of that,” said Bailie.

“Once we looked at language skill, multinational experience, some of the other things that are just part of the Cisco recruitment process, we suddenly turned around and said ‘you do not want to put the office in this location because you’re not going to be able to hire anybody there.”

As a result the decision was reversed and another location was selected.

Bailie noted that being able to prevent mistakes such as this could have been had several benefits.

“Being able to back out of a bad real estate decision like that is not only a great thing for the business, but it’s also great for recruitment because we’d have had five to ten years of struggling to find talent there, where we’d have been the ones getting blamed for not finding the right people,” he continued.

“So it’s about what is the problem the business is trying to solve, and how can we give them the data they need to solve that problem.”

 

Thales’ talent troubles

Thales had a similar situation where it was trying to expand one element of the business that was based in Basingstoke in the south of England.

Following a large-scale analysis of the available workforce it brought a potential talent pool within the UK of 28,000 down to just 66 people.

It also appeared that Basingstoke was not an attractive proposition to draw people from elsewhere in the country to live and work.

Former Thales director of resourcing and HR Jason West told the People Analytics conference that the problem became even more evident when put in a geographical context.

“We mapped the location compared to our competitors and were kind of in the middle of nowhere,” he said.

“So the outcome of a lot of very difficult conversations was the managing director decided to close the business in Basingstoke and move it to Bristol – that’s the power of real market intelligence.”

 

On the right track

Overall, Thales saved an estimated £30m profit as a result of its extensive investment in HR analytics which included the creation of a central resourcing and recruitment team.

In another example, the business could not fill long-term vacancies for its signalling work on the London Underground Victoria Line.

After conducting wide ranging in-depth market analysis including its competitors, the team revealed a lack of supply in the market for these skilled people.

“These people don’t exist because there’s been chronic underinvestment in the area, the industry hasn’t been training people and it’s a protected market – you have to be certified to work trackside on London Underground, so we’re really going to struggle,” West continued.

“So we came up with a solution. We have electricians working for us who are certified to work trackside – we worked with our learning and development colleagues to make a training course to turn our electricians into these short-supply testers. It was a  three month conversion course and within about four months all of those roles were filled and there’s never been a problem since.”

Thales now has a pipeline in place so that every time a tester leaves to become an independent contractor there is somebody coming in at the bottom end and being trained on the testing course.

“It’s a joined up approach to solving a problem instead of each bit of HR taking its own piece individually,” West added.

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