We are all fans of brands that go out of their way to give us a personalized, curated experience. In fact, 70% of people would rather have brands ‘serve their needs by understanding what they care about’. And many companies do this well by celebrating our special days and milestones, by remembering what matters most to us, by genuinely asking for our feedback.
The way Spotify curates playlists for us. The way Amazon auto-suggests products we would like to buy. The way Netflix knows what we would want to watch before we do.
The more we interact with these brands, our experiences with them get better and better. So much so, when we don’t get a personalized experience from a brand we’ve interacted with multiple times, we get annoyed.
But how do customer experience teams at these companies keep all their customers happy and make such hyper-personalization possible at scale?
Most likely, they are using a Customer Data Platform (CDP), like Segment or ActionIQ. A CDP connects all the various parts of the customer experience to create a unified view of every single customer. Using that unified view, they then enable hyper-personalization flows that give each of us that unique “wow” experience.
However, when we flip the coin and look internally within organizations - at employee experience - the same “wow” factor is largely missing.
If delivering a great employee experience has been big on your agenda, as it has been for people teams for a while now, you’ve probably wished for something that could show you what the experience looks like, something you can zoom into for more details or zoom out of for the bigger picture - something like an Employee Data Platform.
A data platform designed to enable you to understand, design, create, analyze, and deliver a personalized employee experience at scale, and with precision.
What is an Employee Data Platform (EDP)?
An EDP is the unified architecture that combines employee data from multiple sources across HR, IT, Operations, Finance and functional systems to create a unified profile of every single employee. This can then be segmented nearly any way you want to create employee personas and personalized employee journeys.
It brings the entire employee experience ecosystem together - people, processes and systems. With multiple teams involved in driving employee experience, and more and more tools, apps and systems being added to the mix, a powerful EDP is that single personalization engine that connects everything seamlessly and without friction.
How does an EDP work?
Here’s an example. If you want to personalize your employee onboarding journey, you’ll use an EDP to access data from multiple sources - PII data that’s collected directly from employees, hiring-related information gathered from your Applicant Tracking System, and a new hire’s feedback on their hiring experience collected from a survey tool. An EDP will combine all of this seemingly “different-looking” data coming from different sources to create a unified profile of each employee which can then be used to create personalized onboarding journeys. For instance, the onboarding journey of a new hire in London joining the Product team will look very different than that of a senior marketer joining the Singapore office.
An EDP will also make the right permutation of this data available to different teams and systems to automate the busy work in the onboarding process. Such as eliminating all manual intervention in IT processes and syncing with your external background check vendor to complete the entire verification process, without having to pull out any employee information out of the EDP itself - securing your employee data!
In this way, an EDP allows you to quickly create multiple personalized journeys for different moments across the entire employee lifecycle - from onboarding to offboarding.
An EDP makes all this happen in three steps:
Capture & manage employee data
First and foremost, the EDP captures employee data from different sources. Sources of data can include direct inputs from an employee, API integrations from systems, and even third party vendors. The types of data can include demographic, event, performance, and behavioral data. Once all of this data is captured, the data is then prepped to form a single unified profile of each employee.
Segment and target
The unified employee profile then becomes the foundation to drive any kind of personalization. Employee data can be segmented in multiple ways to create personas. These personas can be used to personalize any experience right from onboarding up until it’s time to offboard. Identify your most important cohorts and segments and optimize targeting for the best channel, time, frequency and message for every single employee.
Faster decisions + personalized ex
An EDP helps drive these personalized journeys with in-built tools to deliver the right message, design multi-step interactions, automate actions, and orchestrate the outcomes you want. Reminders and escalations help build collaboration and accountability between teams. What’s more, the right EDP will also drive insights, analysis and early warning signals to help with better workforce planning and for quicker and smarter decision making.
The benefits of an EDP
An Employee Data Platform is the foundation on which a great employee experience is built. It comes with a number of benefits.
- → Win the “talent” competition
The competition for talent is getting fiercer and it doesn’t look like it is going to get easier any time soon. The only way to get ahead of the competition is by delivering a great employee experience right from the start. In other words, as soon as your candidate has accepted your offer, you need to start rolling out the red carpet.An EDP makes this possible by serving as the control center for all things EX. Personalization has helped your company win loyal customers, now it can help you hire and retain the best talent.
- → Integrate the entire Employee Experience tech stack
Most organizations today have more than a dozen HR systems and they continue to add more. Research has found that as many as 250 apps exist within an average sized enterprise. As a result, systems are getting complex and administration so convoluted that making a decision means you’ll probably get lost searching through different systems and coordinating with different departments and teams.
EDPs integrate and unify the employee experience universe. It connects all apps and systems, brings every team responsible for EX onto one platform and then orchestrates workflows, so that smart decisions can be made on the go.
- → Make faster decisions
More often than not, with a growing number of apps, tools and systems, data sits siloed and inaccessible in different platforms.
An EDP makes this data accessible and usable on one secure platform. A single unified profile to see all the relevant information about an employee - process information, behavior information, event data, completion data and so much more.
- → Improved data security
Protecting your employee data is more important than ever before. Employee data is often shared across departments and to external vendors over emails and other non-secure channels, making it susceptible to cybercrimes and breaches.
An Employee Data Platform limits access to data with multi-level access configuration for users. For example, your swag / merchandise vendor can only access employee contact information and shirt size information. This among other enterprise-grade security practices makes an EDP a secure source to manage your employee data.
- → Scalable employee experience strategy
Personalization can pretty much be manual in a small organization. But as organizations get larger and the employee experience universe expands, the need for something that holds this world together arises. Experiences need to be standardized across every branch, department or location, while also being personalized for the individual employee.
An EDP makes scalable hyper-personalization possible. With automation, integration and collaboration capabilities, an EDP is the place where your employee experience strategy begins.
- → Insights and analysis that was not possible before
Because the EDP collates and unifies all employee data (demographic, behavior, event, process) people teams have access to AI-enabled insights and early warning signals.
This gives business users a unique perspective on workforce planning that just wasn’t possible before. That too, without spending hundreds of hours on excel sheet downloads and data collation from multiple systems and teams.
So, who needs an EDP platform?
An EDP platform is a great addition to the organizational tech stack of both large enterprises and small and medium sized businesses, but for different reasons.
Large enterprises have complex HR operations with a large number of teams and systems working in silos.
The payroll team has its own systems. Learning and Development team with their systems. So on and so forth. For a large enterprise, an EDP can simplify operations by integrating all systems, enabling collaboration between disparate teams, and becoming the scalable, automated and centralized personalization engine.
In small and medium sized businesses, HR is often overloaded by day-to-day administrative work.
And most processes are manual, time-consuming and cumbersome. An EDP implemented in time can set the right direction for HR practices. It will free up time for more strategic work, while also ensuring that data is centralized and busy work is automated - all while personalizing and delivering the best possible EX without the need for manual overload.
Often, employee experience is thought to be the sole responsibility of HR. But if you look at the representation above, you’ll notice that designing and delivering good EX needs the involvement of multiple teams. And that’s why an EDP is fast becoming a CXO level requirement that encompasses the entire organization.
For HR teams
Managing employee experience at scale is not easy. HR teams are the primary caretakers of the employee experience, responsible for creating a standardized process that is in line with the company's requirements, culture and values, along with providing individualized benefits and support to each employee. An EDP preps the data for easy access, creates multiple employee journeys based on personas and also generates insights and analysis that was never possible before.
For Operations teams
Most things around employee experience that are manual falls on the shoulders of the Ops teams. Data capture, document digitalization, employee segmentation, and report generation is automated by the EDP and eliminates all of the busy work.
From things like smart forms to automated actions, reminders and escalations, and no-code workflows, an EDP makes operations faster and more efficient.
For IT teams
Data management, data orchestration and its flow between different systems combined with secure accessibility are responsibilities that IT teams navigate on a day-to-day basis. An EDP makes all this happen with ease.
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EDP vs HRMS/HRIS: What’s the difference?
Let’s be very clear: An Employee Data Platform is not meant to replace an HRMS or HRIS.
An EDP connects data across every system that is already there in your tech stack, making data more actionable.
An HRMS and HRIS, even though the names are used interchangeably, are very different in their functionalities. A Human Resources Management System or an HRMS, for short, refers to a software solution that manages employee information that includes payroll, benefits, recruitment, and more. An HRIS (Human Resources Information System) is mainly a database system that tracks employee data.
It is the unified architecture that combines employee data from multiple sources across HR, IT, Operations, Finance and functional systems to create a unified profile of every single employee. This can then be segmented nearly any way you want to create employee personas and personalized employee journeys.
An EDP brings the entire employee experience ecosystem together - people, processes and systems. With multiple teams involved in driving employee experience, and more and more tools, apps and systems being added to the mix, a powerful EDP is that single personalization engine that connects everything seamlessly and without friction.
Unlike the two, an Employee Data Platform (EDP) combines multiple types of data - employee data from an HRMS, behavior data across processes, event data across systems, and performance data to serve as a single source of truth for the employee.
Data can then be integrated with HRMS or HRIS and every other system or tool to enhance their functionality by:
- Unifying personal data, behavior data, performance data and event-based data in one place for a full view of the employee profile
- Making data from multiple sources accessible to the right people at the right time in a secure environment
- Making data segmentation and targeting available for personalized and tailored employee journeys
- Making data actionable to personalize andby automateing workflows and processes across systems
- Delivering real-time or quick insights for faster and better decision making
When should you invest in an EDP?
If you’re still not sure whether you should invest in an Employee Data Platform or not, here are a few signs that your company will benefit from using one:
- You want to consolidate all your employee data in one place. And the reasons for this could vary.
a. To ensure security and privacy of your employee data
b. To ensure siloed data can be brought together to derive the most value from it
c. To integrate all platforms so that the manual work associated with managing multiple systems can be eliminated
d. To automate busy work like capturing the correct and validated employee data during onboarding
e. To digitize all your employee data by eliminating paperwork completely
- You want to understand your employees better by having a unified profile that will let you access all the data about each employee in one place.
- You want to take your employee experience to the next level with multiple personalized journeys.
- You want to improve the efficiency of your HR team by reducing busy work and focus on strategic responsibilities.
How to choose an EDP?
6 critical capabilities to look for.
EDPs come with multiple capabilities and add-ons. While evaluating an EDP, careful consideration of the below five capabilities is important.
Your Employee Data Platform should, first and foremost, be able to collect data from all systems, teams and even directly. This includes legacy systems and 3rd party apps like HRMS, HRIS, Application Tracking Systems, Payroll, IT Helpdesk and Learning & Development platforms.
Check the integration catalog of your Employee Data Platform. Does it have an extensive list of systems, tools and apps it can integrate with? Seamless integration is necessary to ensure data is available to different teams at the right times.
A single view of each employee should be a key feature of your Employee Data Platform. These unified profiles should be agile enough to segment that data to create personalized employee journeys. Without a unified profile view of every employee - you will be flying blind when trying to address issues like attrition, growth, engagement, etc.
The ability to dissect and combine data to create employee personas is critical. Your EDP should allow you to segment your employee data to create personas in order to drive targeted personalized experiences.
Employee experience isn’t the responsibility of HR alone. To drive a successful EX, facilitating cross-functional operation is very important. Your Employee Data Platform should enable IT, HR, Operations, managers, leadership and more to collaborate, while also ensuring transparency and accountability across teams.
And it’s not just about the foundational work. An EDP must bring together the right set of tools to create omnichannel messages, notifications, escalations, collect data and understand data to deliver the right insights. A comprehensive set of tools that make an EDP should be critical in your decision making process.
An Employee Data Platform is the foundation on which a great employee experience is built.
Employee experience is not just a “good-to-have” anymore. It is at the heart of being an employer of choice.
And to drive great employee experience at scale, you need to drive the same level of EX personalization that you drive for your customers. An EDP can give you insights into your employees and create personalized employee experience journeys like no other platform ever can.
If you’re ready to take your EX to the next level, then an EDP might be the right tool for you.