Macromicro’s CTO SAP interview on the future of HR Analytics and Macromicro’s SAP ICC-certified application


Below is an interview of Macromicro’s Chief Technology Officer, Harri Nieminen, entitled “Macromicro: Creating Transparency in the Workplace” that was conducted by the SAP’s StartUp Focus Program and appeared on their blog. It is a good read if you are interested in learning about HR Analytics and OrgInsight:
Why Macromicro choose SAP HANA as our technology platform
Why SAP is excited about promoting Macromicro as Enterprise-class, HR Analytic sand Workforce Data-discovery application
How OrgInsight’s represents the one of FIRST HR domain specific SAP HANA application that is complementary to their existing Workforce Analytics (such as SuccessFactors Workforce Analytics).
As told by SAP’s Emily Breslin:
We spoke with Harri Nieminen, Director of Big Data at Macromicro this week to talk about the company’s solution, it’s recent successes, and what’s on the roadmap for 2016.

When was your company founded and where are you headquartered?

2013 in Boston and Helsinki, our headquarters are in Boston.

What were you witnessing in the target industry during the time you commenced the development of the technology?

We are addressing better insight into HR data through highly visual and intuitive representations of the organization and it´s workforce. We are empowering HR and business users with Self-service discovery into workforce data through point and click visual UI. Macro and micro in the same tool with easy identification of patterns and trends that only become apparent in an organizational context. We like to call it Visual HR Analytics.

The move to cloud has enabled better access to centralized data from multiple sources and with shorter time to value. Computing power to extract and process big data necessary for good visual analytics and to provide better insight. Wide adoption of new lighter implementation techniques like visual javascript libraries such as D3.js. Smaller projects with more limited timespans and number of resources but at the same time achieving much more with improved ways of working, virtual machines and using refined data services.

Customer description: headquartered, industry, revenue.

Rackspace is based in San Antonio, TX and has about $2B revenue.

During initial conversations with the customer, what were their main business needs/business problems?

Their needs required better access and interpretation of HR data and there was a need for more intuitive workforce analytic tools. HR people have the problem that only analysts have the knowledge how, and access to, use the corporate tools. Many companies are for the first time getting all of their relevant HR data into one accessible place and are still in the process of understanding what they would like to use it for. The next logical step will then be moving on to advanced and predictive HR analytics.

Please provide an overview of your technology in the context of your customer: the scope of the POC, time to implementation, the technology deployment, measurable ROI?

We are utilizing the most fundamental areas of the modern SAP HANA – the cloud, in-memory data processing, single platform, proven corporate level security, integrated user/role/access management, scalable webserver and integration capabilities. We are on the brink of something completely new as now one virtual system checks all the boxes which previously required numerous servers, an army of administration and multiple specific coding languages. We can setup a POC in a matter of days, the full deployment depends more on the ability of the existing systems used by a corporation to feed their data. Now this can be very cost-efficiently utilizing a single scalable platform in the cloud. On the cost side one could compare one FTE in data analytics to an entire analytical tool however measuring ROI is a more complex calculation depending quite a lot on the business model and existing analytical capabilities and expenditure of the customer corporation.

Customer Testimonial

“Generating insight out of the data should not require a data scientist. OrgInsight complements our existing analytic capabilities by offering a curated experience that allows my team to study employee attribute data in the organizational context.”

– Robert Lanning, senior dapifer of HR Research, Insights, and Analytics at Rackspace.”

How does the Macromicro solution integrate with HANA?

Macromicro solution can be deployed onto SAP HANA Cloud by Macromicro as SaaS or installed into an existing corporate SAP HANA system. Macromicro is using SAP HANA because it is not only proven as the top-notch player security wise in the corporate IT world but also the most utilizable and versatile in-memory cloud platform on the market.

Where do you see the industry going in the next 5 years (based on your experience)?

On HR Analytics:
An ever-increasing movement from descriptive to predictive analytics.
People start asking “Why” instead of “What”.
Extended usage of benchmarking data from 3rd parties and combining historical & behavioural models to business data.
On HR IT overall:
Utilizing analytical data in transactional system and not only vice versa.
Moving onto real-time software and applying it in completely new areas and thus disrupting traditional ways of doing things. As an example for HR could be compensation on actual sets of results or quality measured on a daily basis instead of hours done.
The management and planning the usage of external workforce will get much more flexible which will require new types of HR software.
On technical high-level aspect:
More and more Clouds.
A wider adoption of open source as opposed to corporate specific coding and configuration, global standard API structures and methods combining sets of Networking Clouds.
Better intuitive user interfaces, extended usage of visualisation techniques and open-source and robust community development.
Why did your startup choose to adopt SAP HANA? Can you talk about the involvement in the SAP Startup Focus Program: how and why you joined, what benefits you have gained, and any customer traction with SAP customers?

I had already in my previous corporate role been analysing the development of SAP HANA and noticed that soon the fruits will be ripe for picking.

We started with our visualisation frontend development and as that reached a sterling level it was time to move into looking for the most potential platforms. Initially our thought was running directly on top of HR IT systems, but it soon became obvious that as we need to process very large sets of data to visualise the entire workforce of a corporation the performance would not be fast enough for a seamless user experience on traditional database systems. By that time SAP HANA was already the top-notch in-memory calculation platform but the newest versions started also having support for the most usable frontend technologies and data services to combine the bones around the numbers.

The SAP Startup Focus Program gave us a great opportunity to get started on SAP HANA development with the necessary assistance on the fundamental training, initial setup of the cloud system and the availability of technical advice. We also got the $1000 credit on AWS. All of these are a great start small startups and I highly recommend participating SFP. After moving onto SAP HANA Cloud Platform as the new SAP HANA 09 version became available we were on the phase of utilizing the free SAP certification as part of SFP which we just passed as the first HR domain specific SAP HANA application.

Currently we are in the next phase of SFP, Go to market in the US.