Mark: Welcome to PeopleTech, the podcast of the HCM Technology Report. I’m Mark Feffer. My guest today is Matt Schmidt, the founder and CEO of Peoplelogic. Their technology connects with the tools employees use in the course of work to get a sense of engagement and provide recommendations on how to improve performance where they need to. We’re going to talk about Peoplelogic’s acquisition of Plai, a people and performance management tool, and also get into the company’s future and the future of performance management all on this edition of PeopleTech.
Hi Matt. Welcome. Let’s start with the basics. Tell me about Peoplelogic, what do you do?
Matt: Yeah, so Peoplelogic is a people process and technology intelligence platform. And by that, it sounds like a mouthful, but it’s really quite simple. So we take all of the data from your organization and we help you make sense about it so that you can make better decisions.
Mark: You recently acquired another company, is it pronounced Plai?
Matt: Plai actually. I think it has some meaning in Ukrainian, I believe.
Mark: Spelled P-L-A-I. Now they call themselves a people and performance management tool. And can you tell me about the fit with Peoplelogic?
Matt: Yeah, so a lot of what Peoplelogic does today is surface these observations, insights, and recommendations about the actions that you should take according to the data that we have. And so Plai was a great fit for us for two reasons. One, it gave a best of breed platform for us to be able to surface the information that we give customers in their flow of work. So as they’re having one-on-ones, as they’re doing performance reviews, as they’re managing transparency and accountability through their OKRs.
And then second, we have a pretty voracious appetite for data. And so they have thousands and thousands and thousands of teams and companies that are users of their platform. And it helps for us to be able to understand, “okay, how are companies performing? What kind of strategic initiatives are they doing? How do they structure their teams?” And so ultimately it was a great platform for us to be able to acquire and culturally and technology wise, they were a great fit.
Mark: Could you give me a specific example of how this would all work? How a hiring manager, an executive or a line manager I should say, is going to use the data. What are they going to look for? How are they going to use it?
Matt: And so we have some products that are for teams and we have other products that are for more of the executive team level or the HR or people teams. And so if a team manager wants to come in and use some of the technology that we have, they’re very often coming in to be able to have more effective one-on-ones or to be able to manage the performance reviews of their team or to even track their goals so that they have an easier way to surface those.
If you’re looking at it more broadly, and it’s the HR team or the executive team, you’re starting to be able to use the data to understand, okay, what are our engagement trends without the need to pound people with more surveys” Or I want to see which teams have higher retention risks and what are the causes of those retention risks?”
Or where do I have bottlenecks on my team? Who are those influencers and where are the potential for us to maybe not be operating quite as effectively as we could be because we have communication bottlenecks. And then you even have some use cases of CIOs where they’re looking very specifically, what’s the engagement with my tools? And am I getting everything as cost effectively as it can by maximizing the usage? And so we have a pretty broad set of use cases depending on who is buying and what they need and where they are along the organizational maturity curve.
Mark: Do you need to, let me ask it this way. How much expertise with data do you need to really get the most out of the platform? Are you presenting information in a pretty digestible way, or do you really need to know the math?
Matt: Yeah, so that’s the beauty of it. We’re doing all the heavy lifting and shipping it to you as a SaaS product. So you don’t need to be a data analyst, you don’t need to even know how to operate spreadsheets, right? We’re going to surface everything to you early enough for be something that you on. And then we give you a natural-language interface to be able to ask questions about your business, so that as you want to explore the data more, we can surface that easily for you. So you get both the high level, “Hey, here’s something you should pay attention to”, and you get the more power user “I want to explore this data and ask particular questions about my business.”
Mark: So now you’ve got Plai, it feels like you’ve broadened your reach with the platform. What are your plans? What do you want, going to do with this combination?
Matt: Yeah, so really we start to, there’s a couple of different ways that we look at it. The first step, the plans are to make it be a seamless transition for those that are starting with Plai to step up and add the intelligence that the Peoplelogic platform is able to provide. And that’s something that we’re working on today. Once that’s there, then we’re starting to surface those insights, the scores around our state factor algorithm, the information about how your teams and your people are connected and surfacing those into making it easier and more intelligent to do things like have performance reviews. And through the power of all of the data that we’ve collected, we can dramatically cut down on the time that people have to spend going through performance reviews or deciding who to recognize for praise or deciding when the best time and what questions make the most sense for their surveys. And so using that data makes it going from a people and performance management system to the intelligent people performance management system. For companies that are specifically starting out and moving through that first step of having tools.
Mark: Are these the kind of capabilities your customers are asking for or are you sort of looking for their behavior and projecting?
Matt: So a little bit of both. What we saw, there’s two things. So one of the reasons for looking for a company like Plai as far as an acquisition was that we were hearing from our buyers and our prospective buyers that they were tired of having a large number of point solutions for all these different things that they wanted. So through the pandemic, they had purchased eight different Slack bots and some survey tools and a performance management tool and HRIS and all these different things, and they wanted that to be more consolidated. And so pair that with customers are asking to be able to combine their business data with their people data, and that’s where the Plai plus Peoplelogic combination comes in. And so yeah, some of it is looking at the trends and the market and how people are behaving and some of it is customers saying, “Hey, I’m really frustrated by the way that the surveys are being run or my performance reviews are being done and I need a better way.”
Mark: Are you finding that users of this kind of platform are getting more sophisticated? Is there less of a curve than there used to be?
Matt: I think particularly for the Plai platform, I would say yes. I mean, it’s no secret that’s a fairly crowded market where companies like Lattice and 15Five and others are setting the tone in terms of where they’re going. And so people at this point are fairly familiar. They understand that as they go from company to company, they need some certain set of tools to operate their teams and their HR organizations. And so where it is still very early is on the data side and the intelligence side. The buyers there are still very much, much particularly in the call it sub 5,000 employees, those organizations are still very, very early on the adopter curve for being able to use the data to across their business to be able to make decisions about the organization.
Mark: Now we’re talking about data, which is data. And we’re talking about data about people, which makes it a little fluffier, I guess, at least in terms of what people want to do with it. How do you make sure the whole process is personal? How do you make sure that it really reflects not just what the employee is about, but that it reflects the needs and the work habits essentially of the user?
Matt: Yeah, that’s a great question. So one of the things about us is everything is benchmarked against the organization and the people in the organization. So you’re not, when we look at the way the organization is structured or the way that engagement measures are occurring, those are not benchmarked against the other companies within our system. So it’s yours, your score, and so that is one part.
And then two, we’re not simply people data. So we are collecting information from the important signals across your work tools as well. So if you think about it, your CRM, your issue tracker, your marketing automation system, those are all pieces of data that we’re able to collect and understand about how the organization works so that we can really tailor this to the way that specifically to the organization and not to a broader stroke.
Mark: Do you think this whole combination of technology and the usability and the data, of course, have these things really changed performance management? Are employees getting more out of it? Are companies getting more out of it?
Matt: I think that there’s been a real proliferation. That’s a tough one. Of tools designed to help people, teams operate more effectively, get more out of their people. I don’t know that all of those have been particularly useful. I think that data within the organization for the organizations that are really early adopters and trying to use data to make better decisions are having an easier time getting out ahead of the challenges that they’re facing internally. Understanding where there is a potential attrition risk for your highest performers, or understanding why your high performers are really high performers versus your middle of the pack or even your low performers.
And so whether it’s around performance management, I do believe that as we move forward, we’re going to see that the companies that are using data are creating a better employee experience because they’re reducing the friction that the employees have to go through to be able to interact with the company and to get the value out of things like a performance review or to provide their feedback or to be able to interact with their employees and the teams. And so I think those that leverage automation and AI and more data are going to have an edge because they are making it easier for the employees to interact at a high level.
Mark: You were talking before about one size of company, and I’m always curious about smaller companies. Is this the kind of capability that they want to take advantage of? And I always wonder about their concern of they like the tool, but it’s going to take them so long to learn something new. How’s that whole environment look?
Matt: Yeah, so we see quite a broad array of companies, right? On the data side, we’ve gone to great pain to make it really easy to adopt. So there’s not a whole lot of adoption that occurs on the employee side, which really minimizes the change management other than communication, those sorts of things, right? On the survey and performance management and OKRs and all those sorts of things. We really try to make it as easy as possible for your team to get into the platform and to start using the platform and have the guidance and the help that you need. And so we see 30 person orgs, 50 person orgs be able to leverage the whole suite and we see 300, 500, a thousand person orgs put it into place for particular teams. And so it’s really just, again, it comes down to that what’s the maturity of the organization and whether they’re ready for different parts and if they’re ready, then the change management pieces and the transformational pieces that have to occur are usually quite easy.
Mark: Well, Matt, thanks very much for taking the time and talking with me. It’s been great, and I hope you’ll come back.
Matt: Absolutely. Thanks, Mark, for having me.
Mark: My guest today has been Matt Schmidt, the founder and CEO of Peoplelogic. And this has been PeopleTech, the podcast of the HCM Technology Report. We’re a publication of RecruitingDaily. We’re also a part of Evergreen Podcasts. To see all of their programs, visit www.evergreenpodcasts.com. 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.