The RPO activities of IBM are a derivative of the core strategy of the company. The basic premise of that strategy is that ultimately all organisations will move their IT operations and data to the cloud. This has profound benefits for businesses, Mason explains. “When organisations move to the cloud, they get a much broader capability to analyse it, utilise and transform their organisations. The IBM Talent Platform enables what we call intelligent workflows that can drive significant improvement in experience and outcomes.”
Flag problems early
IBM has the capability to build these workflows for any business process, including the talent acquisition process. The company helps organisations construct the most appropriate workflows depending on the type of roles that need to be filled. Mason: “That gives you the ability to spot roadblocks, become more predictive in your hiring behaviour, and understand a lot more about your capability.”
“When the workflow is not going according to plan”, Mason continues, “for instance because you are not hiring enough people or not getting enough interest, the technology will flag to a manager or intervene. We also support the administrative and repeatable tasks with digital workers, or bots giving time back to the TA teams to provide more value and engagement.”
“Typically, the types of applicants for those jobs want to adopt technology. They want to self-serve their hiring process. We facilitate all of that with the utilisation of automation and AI.”
This doesn’t mean the process or workflow itself has to be automated, he adds. Some skillsets are so difficult to find that specialist human interaction is required. An example is selling a role to a prospective candidate. “At the same time there are skillsets which are hired in volume. Typically, the types of applicants for those jobs want to adopt technology. They want to self-serve their hiring process. We facilitate all of that with the utilisation of automation and AI.”
Transformation can be gradual
Mason thinks IBM serves three different types of clients with its RPO offering. There are those organisations that choose RPO for the traditional reasons, like achieving cost savings. A second group, a large part of the market, consists of organisations that are looking to increase efficiency in their processes. “They will want to see efficiencies in time to hire, and cost per hire and better utilise the talent acquisition team. However, they do want to evolve as well and embed some form of technology to help them get there.”
“The truly transformative client will say ‘okay, we know the world is changing, we are changing as well, we need to really look at how we can transform our experiences and our outcomes’.”
And then there is a third group of frontrunners or transformative clients, as Mason calls them. “The truly transformative client will say ‘okay, we know the world is changing, we are changing as well, we need to really look at how we can transform our experiences and our outcomes’. They will look how to embed processes that enable them to better capture data, become more predictive, and how to transform candidate and line manager satisfaction.”
Will companies also be able to do these things themselves, or will they ultimately have to team up with a partner like IBM to accomplish it? “If I’m honest, what I’m seeing with the examples that we work with, it’s a mixture of everything”, answers Mason. “Some organisations have taken RPO back in-house. It’s not very many, but I’ve seen it happen. Other organisations are looking to have more of a hybrid approach where they outsource part of the process. Some organisations outsource eighty percent of it, but still they want to retain the hiring manager interface, and obviously we are seeing other organisations where they’re just maintaining a hundred percent outsourcing, but all of these involve true partnership.”
“In the larger part clients outsource part or all the process to IBM to leverage scale, flexibility and technology embedded in our intelligent workflows.”
Talent acquisition optimisation is one of many services organisations can buy from a partner like IBM, Mason states. “We support clients with a wide range of services in HR, Finance and Procurement. These include consultative approaches to optimising experience, technology and re-designing the operating model to support workflows with embedded AI and integrated automation. In the larger part clients outsource part or all the process to IBM to leverage scale, flexibility and technology embedded in our intelligent workflows.”
Bio: Tom Mason – Executive Partner Talent & Transformation at IBM
Tom Mason is an Executive Partner at IBM focused on leading the Global Talent Acquisition Offering. He has been involved in staffing for 23 years and has experienced a significant shift in the approach to identifying and selecting talent across the global market and all industry sectors.
This interview is part of a series of interviews our reporter Djaja Ottenhof has recently conducted about the value of the RPO market in Europe in 2021. Sign up for the ToTalent Newsletter to receive the full white paper The Value of RPO in Europe 2021: How RPO expands in an emerging market upon release.