GUEST: Vijay Sundaram, Chief Strategy Officer at Zoho
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“Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” warned management icon Peter Drucker.
Recruiting people who fit in with your corporate culture is mission critical.
What if you could use the same AI marketing techniques that find qualified leads for your sales team to find recruits who share your company’s culture?
That’s what Zoho.com is doing, according to Vijay Sundaram, Zoho’s Chief Strategy Officer.
I spoke with Sundaram on the latest B2B Revenue Executive Experience podcast about how the company is using AI to recruit the best candidates. Here are some highlights from that interview.
How to Use AI in Your Business
AI is built into Zoho’s products.
Most people have heard of Zoho CRM, the company’s signature SaaS product that competes with Salesforce at a fraction of the price. The company also offers a full suite of cloud-based products for marketing, customer support, HR, management, finance, accounting, and more.
The company’s latest offering Zoho One offers all 40+ apps in one integrated office suite.
Zoho’s 7,000 employees use the suite as do other companies across the globe. They have learned how to deploy AI to maximum advantage.
- Use AI to improve the nature of routine work. For example, mundane tasks such as entering thousands of leads into a CRM and sending out a greeting email. This is a tedious job that no one wants to do, but the AI does it without complaint.
- Allow AI to do tasks that humans do badly. For example, working with enormous amounts of data and trying to find patterns. A corollary to that is to allow people to focus on where they can actually add value, like in making decisions or applying judgment.
- Use AI’s pattern recognition to predict and propose how something should be done. Let AI give your team a warning or propose a direction to be taken. This doesn’t replace a person, just allows that person to perform better.
Set up your AI to dashboard your KPIs via color code, so that you can quickly create a task list of all the items that need your immediate attention.
How to Use AI in Recruitment
When AI is used in the recruiting process how does it identify the optimal fit?
From an AI perspective, the recruiting process parallels the sales process. Both are about looking at behavior to whittle down many potential leads and decide who is the most convertible candidate for the long term.
“A lot of the AI techniques and methods that were applied and owned in the process of customer acquisition can be applied into the process of talent acquisition.“
chief strategy officer, zoho
While the first recruitment cut is still searching resumes for keywords, leading to an interview that is always subjective, AI can look at the applicant’s behavior and weigh such factors as:
- How did they connect with you?
- Did they meet you at an event that required them to learn more about the company?
- By tying your website and social analytics to an applicant’s cookies, you can discover various engagement metrics.
- How often did they visit the company website?
- How many pages did they visit, for how long?
- Did they download any of your materials?
- Did they engage with any of your products?
- Have they tried to learn your culture?
- Did they interact with any of your social media, either as a company or as individuals?
- What are some things they’ve done outside of their work?
In this case, AI is helping to augment the existing process, not replace it. With machine learning, AI can point to odd correlations that may not show up on a resume.
For example, NASA discovered that their best engineers also loved to repair their cars. Behaviors like this can show up in social media and help give weight to a more ideal candidate.
“As these AI systems develop we will probably tease out some of these traits, being able to decipher them at the front rather than in the middle or the back end of the hiring process.“
CHIEF STRATEGY OFFICER, ZOHO
Zoho University is the Embodiment of Their Culture
The company feels that its culture is so important that it offers employees Zoho University where current employees teach new employees the coding and various other skills they can use to grow in the company. The non-degree program embodies the company’s strong anti-credentialist bent.
The company cares more about enthusiasm and cultural fit than academic degrees.
“There is a fight for talent, especially in Silicon Valley. But the talent is under your nose. You just have to find it and develop it rather than give that person’s job to somebody else.“
CHIEF STRATEGY OFFICER, ZOHO
Zoho University starts (for some) at the high school level. They build the students into people who have the skills to succeed without having a college degree.
Rather than going into ruinous debt, Zoho University students get a stipend that pays them while they are learning marketable skills.
The students are highly motivated and so is the company. The company is able to mold and train the students based on their needs, and the students know there is a job waiting for them.
If the student can’t perform at the skill level necessary for the given job, Zoho will find them a more appropriate position within the company. They believe having someone who embodies their culture is important regardless of what position they end up in.
“Do fewer things better. Multi-tasking is a really lazy way of avoiding focusing on the job we need to get done.“
chief strategy officer
This post is based on an interview with Vijay Sundaram, Chief Strategy Officer at Zoho. To hear this episode, and many more like it, subscribe to the B2B Revenue Executive Experience.
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