Podcast: Oracle’s Yvette Cameron on Dynamic Skills

Oracle Skills


Mark Feffer: Welcome to PeopleTech, the podcast of the HCM Technology Report. I’m Mark Feffer.

My guest today is Yvette Cameron, senior vice president of global HCM product strategy at Oracle. We’re going to talk about Oracle Dynamic Skills, a new solution that helps organizations understand, manage and grow their workforce’s skill set. What makes it different? That’s what we’ll talk about, on this edition of PeopleTech.

Before we start, remember that PeopleTech is part of Evergreen Podcasts. To see all of their programs, visit www.evergreenpodcasts.com.

And now… Yvette Cameron. Thanks for being here.

Podcast: @Oracle's Yvette Cameron talks about the Dynamic Skills solution and how it helps organizations understand, manage and grow their workforce’s skill set. #HR #HRTech Click To Tweet

So Dynamic Skills, could you tell me about Dynamic Skills? What is it? How is it used? What’s your vision for it?

Yvette Cameron: Absolutely. So we’re super proud to have introduced Dynamic Skills as part of the Oracle Cloud HCM product suite. Fundamentally Oracle Dynamic Skills helps organizations maintain an always accurate record of skills data within their organization to have a better view of the capabilities of their organization, help business leaders understand the skills of their workforce, where gaps exists and what skills need to be developed or acquired, and helps individuals grow their skills so that they can guide their careers in ways that are meaningful to them. So at the highest level, that’s what Dynamic Skills is all about. It’s using artificial intelligence, deep learning engines to automate and make that process of managing and understanding skills, an intelligent, automated process to the benefit of organizations and individuals.

Mark: The big question in my mind is, how is it used? I know it has a module or an approach for employees, but how do you first see HR using it? And then how do you see the employees using it?

Yvette: Yeah. Mark, before the pandemic hit, organizations had been already struggling with, how do they understand and manage and grow the skills of their organization? I think a lot of the challenge of that is because skills change, because employees don’t keep their profiles up to date. They’re oftentimes out using LinkedIn or other social media channels to identify their past history and skills and experiences and so forth. So when we thought about, how do we help address this challenge, which is growing, this challenge is growing exponentially. COVID has really accelerated the need for organizations to understand their talent to be more agile in response to new skills requirements in our organization. So when we thought about this at Oracle, we knew that we had to take a very intuitive, intelligent approach, and one that would be pervasive in all the things that HR leaders and managers engage with around managing their talent.

So you’ve asked the question, how do you engage with Oracle’s Dynamics Skills? So very fundamentally, intelligent engine, the Skills Nexus, is embedded in our application and used to drive recommendations to individuals where they are describing and where they are engaging with opportunities across the organization. So whether I am managing my profile, whether I’m engaging in taking a course or looking at gigs and opportunities, jobs within my organization, the recommendation engine that is understanding the skills of the global marketplace, as well as the skills language and use of my organization is just intuitively and natively there. Now, we do bring all of this together in a nice skill center, a consolidated place for individuals to engage and manage all of their various talent management activities focused on skills.

We’ll be providing this for managers and HR leaders, as well as centralized consoles for managers and HR leaders to manage skills and activities but we also bring it to individuals in the course of just engaging with their employer. Whether I’m a candidate applying for a job, I’m presented with the opportunity to enrich my skills profiles that I’m at better fit for opportunities. When I’m an individual taking learning, I’m presented with the skills and the ability to drill in and see that by taking this particular learning course, new gigs, new opportunities will be available to me. I can be easily matched with career ambassadors, mentors, coaches to help me grow in these skills. So there are many different ways that individuals, whether you’re a manager or an individual employee, will inter-operate with Oracle’s Dynamic Skills because it’s pervasive and we’ve taken this suite wide approach to make it just a very intuitive experience for all the users.

Mark: Can you give me an idea of how it works? I don’t want to get too technical or dry, but it seems like from reading the materials, it’s doing an awful lot of things with an awful lot of data. How does it do it?

Yvette: Yeah, great question. So at the heart of our Dynamic Skills offering is our Skills Nexus, and this is a deep learning engine that has the intelligence that is pulling information from across the global labor market fed by millions and millions of records that we’re pulling from public sources, from some private sources, from job titles, job descriptions, postings, standards, bodies, et cetera, to understand and relate skills and job titles and job information, map the relationships between those pieces, understand the adjacencies to essentially curate a global data model around skills and job and job title information as a starting point. This global engine, the Skills Nexus is one that is constantly growing and evolving as our data scientists continue to feed and feed additional information and work with the understanding of those relationships.

But this is where we actually take it to the next level, right? There are skills, ontologies, global skills ontologies in the marketplace today that stopped there. But in our case at Oracle, one of our greatest differentiators is that we take that global skills model, and then we tailor it to the unique skills DNA of each of the customers who are deploying it because we recognize that while it’s important to have hundreds of thousands of skills and job titles and understand the mapping, that it needs to also be reflective of the requirements for my particular organization, my industry, the way that we choose to describe skills, what’s important for us. We want the recommendations for matching people to opportunities based on skills. We’re enriching profiles based on skills information to be relevant for our organization. They’re going to differ, Mark, whether you’re a healthcare organization or a professional services or IT firm or something else.

So we take that global skills ontology, that deep learning engine train it very quickly to the unique language of each customer based on data that they have in their job profiles and resumes and performance data, et cetera, and then organizations are able to start taking advantage of those recommendations. Deep within the technology, lots of different algorithms, natural language processing and understanding of the different relationships on the different ways that skills are described and spelled and misspellings, all of that is normalized and cleansed and understood by the Skills Nexus. That’s the heart. Then other components around our Skills Advisor, a series of intelligent matching algorithms, and again, with natural language processing that brings together all that skills knowledge, and the opportunities in the organization, the opportunities of connecting me with people who could help me grow my skills, connecting me with gigs and jobs that will help me leverage those skills and so forth to make those recommendations at the time that I need them, where it’s natural and where I can take action on to grow my career.

Mark: Okay. Now, the whole market, if you will, for skill solutions has become pretty crowded over the last 18 months, say. So first, how does Dynamic Skills stand out? And how is Oracle going to make it stand out, rise above the buzz?

Yvette: Yeah. So you’re right. The market is becoming quite crowded with skills type of solutions, and for a good reason because a, we know that moving our talent to be focused on skills, as opposed to a focus on degrees or other potentially biased inducing things, that skills focus removes bias from our talent management processes. And as I said, this is an area that the market has been struggling with for many years, is trying to really make sense of who has what? Where are the gaps? How do we fill them and so forth? So we, as I said, we do have a very intelligent AI driven process. What makes us unique are probably three major areas I’ll focus on.

Yvette: One is that we have taken a suite wide perspective to our solution, right? We haven’t just said, “We’re going to improve and present skills in the process of applying for a job and for candidates”. We haven’t just stopped at applying skills intelligence and matching capabilities to learning, but we do this across every talent process. Our vision for this is to do it across anywhere across the enterprise where skills and people come together. So our suite wide approach brings the matching recommendations, the skills enrichment for your profile, the connections to people and jobs and learning opportunities altogether in a centralized place, but also through mobile and digital assistant anywhere that you choose to work. It’s a suite wide approach, not product specific. You’ll see some talent management or talent marketplace solutions in the market, and those are strong. That’s just one of many different ways that we’ve deployed Dynamic Skills in our suite.

Another thing that sets us apart is, as I said, the fact that we tailor our global skills engine to the unique language, the unique point of view of each one of our customers. And again, we think this is significantly differentiating and incredibly important for our customers because we’re understanding that getting to very personalized recommendations, ones that are appropriate for your business’s requirements can take six months to a year for those learning engines to understand and learn over time, the selections that users are making and to make better and better recommendations because we tailor our engine. We tune it prior to deployment, and it takes maybe five to seven days because we tune it to each customer. Out of the gate, from day one and deployment, the recommendations are highly relevant for the industry, for the language that each customer uses. And again, this is something that I think customers are just waking up to. The idea that these engines learn is fantastic, but they’re not learning fast enough for relevance right out of the box. Oracle, in our approach, that’s not a consideration. Day one relevance is right there as delivered.

I guess, Mark, the final piece I’ll say is we do recognize from a, again, from a differentiation perspective, we recognize how hard it is to get employees to keep their profiles up to date. Ultimately, if we don’t have a comprehensive view of the skills and capabilities and skills interests of our workforce, how can we better match them to opportunities and leverage them to help grow our own business success? So we know that a lot of individuals keep their profiles, for example, in LinkedIn, so much more current than anything that they’ll do within their company’s HR application. So we have a unique partnership with LinkedIn. Only Oracle has this partnership where their profile can be fully brought in to the Oracle’s Cloud HCM application. And I’m not talking about just at the apply process.

Of course, we support that for candidates too, to bring in and apply with LinkedIn. But at any time, at any number of times, employees can bring their profiles into Oracle Cloud HCM and immediately, our Dynamic Skills and Skills Nexus will work with the information that’s brought in, adjust it, understand it and continue to make recommendations immediately on the skills and information brought in from LinkedIn, but then further enriched by our capability. This is really important because so many organizations recognize that those employees are keeping their information more current outside. They’re able to monitor and watch how frequently employees are making updates and make suggestions, “Hey, would you like to augment this with our Skills Nexus?”. But even if they’re not monitoring, and most will not, the fact that individuals have that control to bring it in again and again, through at different times, and they can be nudged and suggested to bring their profiles in from LinkedIn, it’s a huge differentiator to ensure that we truly have the fullest point of view on the workers in our organization.

Mark: Now, last question. It seems like skills are sort of a common ground between employees and employers because both sides care about them, both sides want them developed. Do you think that this solution is the kind of thing that can impact the relationship between employers and employees?

Yvette: Yeah, that’s a fantastic question. Fundamentally, we all want to grow and bring our best selves to the work that we’re doing as employers. We want to get the best out of our workforce, develop and engage them and drive that symbiotic relationship. The challenge today is that the words that we use to describe skills are a mismatch, and not through any intentional purpose, but the way individuals describe themselves coming from previous employers and from educational institutions may not immediately match with the language used in the organization. If we are going to retain and develop talent in our workforce, we need to ensure that we understand the skills of the workforce and that individuals are also benefiting from a common point of view on skills.

So we do believe that this approach, this Dynamic Skills approach, this idea of leveraging artificial intelligence to normalize and help us better communicate, and to eliminate some of that mismatch fosters greater trust. It makes our processes more transparent. It puts opportunities in front of individuals on a regular basis that helps motivate them. It really creates an important motivation loop for individuals, and it removes a lot of the pain points that are inherent to the talent processes in our organizations and the inherent challenges of understanding and managing skills. So we absolutely think that this approach not only is beneficial for each of the parties as far as growing and developing a workforce and capabilities, but it’s beneficial in removing bias, in building trust and developing stronger bonds and engagement between individual employees, their managers and their HR organization. That’s a great question.

Mark: Well, Yvette, thanks for taking the time to join me today, and thanks for teaching me more about the product.

Yvette: Well, I appreciate the conversation, Mark.

Mark Feffer: I’ve been talking with Yvette Cameron, senior vice president of global HCM product strategy at Oracle.

And this has been PeopleTech, the podcast of the HCM Technology Report. We’re a publication of RecruitingDaily.

And to keep up with HR technology, visit the HCM Technology Report every day. We’re the most trusted source of news in the HR tech industry. Find us at www.hcmtechnologyreport.com. I’m Mark Feffer.

Image: iStock

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