Mark: Welcome to People Tech, the podcast of the HCM Technology Report. I’m Mark Feffer.
My guest today is Alexander Kvamme. He’s the founder and CEO of Pathlight, a platform that helps manage team performance by combining metrics with coaching and communications tools. We’ll talk about the product, who uses it, and the impact of COVID-19, all this edition of People Tech, brought to you by NetSuite.
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And now, Alexander Kvamme, welcome. Tell me about Pathlight. What does it do?
Alexander: So we’re trying to do something different with Pathlight. We are building a platform for managing people every day. It’s funny. The last couple of years, we’ve seen an explosion in software. Every job has beautiful software, but this really important role of managing people, especially people in data-driven roles, especially large teams, on a daily basis, making sure that they’re successful and pointing them in the right direction, that job is still completely manual.
I think if you were to look at any manager or leader, and I’m sure a lot of the folks listening here, look at their browser, it’s probably 40 tabs of reports and spreadsheets and docs, just to keep track of everything. So we felt like there was an interesting opportunity, a really exciting opportunity. Finally, the conditions exist for a new platform to be built, to streamline and automate management, and just make managers’ lives easier so that they can focus on the human side of their job. The weather app for their career and for performance, just like you can see it’s going to rain without having to analyze the barometer readings. Technology should be able to help you as a manager, understand how your team is doing without you having to interpret reports, or port them into spreadsheets and run formula.
So a manager is going to log into Pathlight in the morning and Pathlight is going to tell them very simply, very clearly, “Hey, Mark, happy Tuesday. Your team is doing great this week, but you should keep an eye on KPI, ABC. Let’s call it C-SAT, because Ignacio is trending down. And so maybe you should chat with them about that today.” And so just pointing them in the right direction, helping them understand what they need to work on and then providing one click actions for them to do those things. And so from that prompt, they could kick off a coaching message to Ignacio. They could add it as a note on their one-on-one agenda in Pathlight. And then throughout the day, they’re checking in. They’re communicating with their team.
Pathlight also allows them to do really quick announcements and operational discussions, but most importantly, just making sure that their team is on track, having one-on-ones through the platform, all the data and communications in one place. And then at the end of the day, or the end of the week or the end of the month, having longer-term conversations or more holistic conversations where they’re looking back at that period. And Pathlight brings in all that information automatically, so that again, we can spend 90% of that meeting on the high value activities, high value coaching. And not just status updates and, “Hey, what happened?”
Mark: Now, does this replace other software that managers might be using and other software their team members might be using? Or is it a new product that fits into their existing suite?
Alexander: The reason Pathlight exists is that there was no software to replace. And we’ve replaced more a workflow than a tool. So when our users are on Pathlight, they’re using their dashboards and reports significantly less. They’re using spreadsheets significantly less. They’re even using email and docs significantly less.
And so we really replaced this strung together manual workflow with software. And of course, some of those parts of the workflow happened in tools, but that entire workflow is completely manual, which is why Pathlight exists.
Mark: Now, how does it work in the sense of if it’s alerting you that Ignacio needs some coaching this week? How does it know that?
Alexander: So one of the key parts of Pathlight is we connect in to the core data systems and software platforms that many companies use. We have dozens of integrations. And the idea is that Pathlight should be doing the integrations and the syncing and meshing all of that data. Not the manager, not the employee. We want to do that for them.
So we are integrated into let’s say, Zendesk and Salesforce and Stella, and then maybe even the company’s internal data warehouse or custom in-house CRM or something like that. So we are connected into those core data systems and pulling in that data into one place.
Mark: Let’s take a quick break. You’re listening to People Tech from the HCM Technology Report. This edition is brought to you by NetSuite. Stop paying for multiple systems that don’t give you the information you need, when you need it. Let NetSuite show you how it’ll benefit your business with a free product tour at netsuite.com/hcm.
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Now, back to my conversation with Alexander Kvamme, the CEO of Pathlight. Is Pathlight tailored for particular industries or particular types of businesses?
Alexander: Yeah. Great question. Our initial focus is on data-driven teams, the teams that manage against data and KPIs every day. So understandably, Pathlight right now, is really focused on customer-facing teams, customer service, sales, field organizations, trust and safety, those types of organizations. But our long-term view is that sales and customer service are just ahead, a few years ahead of every other role.
I’m sure as you see in your day-to-day job, work is digitizing everywhere we look, and every role is getting digital, just like sales and CS has. And so in a few years, even roles like truck driving and nursing are going to be in the same position. And so we are definitely keeping our eye on the horizon. We’re starting with sales and customer support today, but very soon, we will be branching out into other use cases.
Mark: What’s it look like from the employees? And is it an app? Is it something that sits in their desktop or laptop? Both?
Alexander: Yeah, it’s both. We’re on the web and we’re on iOS and Android. And that’s actually incredibly valuable, especially if you think back to that weather app analogy. To be able to take out your phone and see how you’re doing at work, this new generation of workers expects that because they can take out their phone and do everything else. And they can’t do this.
There’s a lot of excitement around the mobile side of Pathlight. A manager or a leader is probably on a laptop or a desktop, using the Pathfinder web app. And then when they’re on the go or popping into a meeting in pre COVID days, they can pull out their phone. And then the frontline employees are using whatever device they use on a daily basis. Sometimes that’s a desktop, but also, we have folks in the field, customers who have users in the field who only have a phone.
And before they had Pathlight, they were running off of printouts. That was kind of the dark ages. And so now, they’re able to pull up their phone and see exactly how they’re doing and then communicate with those around them on how to get better, which has been pretty exciting.
Mark: Let me shift gears a little bit, step back and talk about the business, the business being HR and HR software. We’re recording this in January of 2021. We have a new administration coming in, in Washington, still in the middle of a pandemic that’s been with us for almost a year. What are you expecting this year to look like in terms of adoption of your product, in terms of employers being willing to take on new products and invest in new products? What are you gearing up for?
Alexander: So I would say with any new product, regardless of the macro conditions, you’re first looking for the early adopters and the believers, especially when you’re doing something new and innovative. You’re looking for the folks who understand that and see the potential well ahead of the market. And that of course, is the playbook for any new technology company.
I would say what the pandemic has done is really shaken off the status quo for the companies that would have been later adopters, enterprise strategic companies, fortune 500 companies. They’ve had to, as we all know, just like everyone else, totally rethink their playbook from obviously, all things HR. The HR playbook is probably the one that’s been the most ripped up in the last year as everything has changed. And part of that is how you manage.
Managing people is hard when you are six feet apart, and it’s much harder when you’re 60 miles apart. What we have seen is we’ve seen an interesting acceleration and interest at the enterprise side when normally those companies are more conservative, and they basically take more convincing and more time. They are interested in actively pursuing novel technologies, just to make sure that they can make the new normal work for them and continue to run successful businesses.
That’s an interesting thing that we’ve seen on the enterprise side. And of course, these are the folks who are now managing 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 people. And so the problems are big, and the pain is acute. And potential impact, and the amount of people we can help is significantly greater. So we’re excited about that.
Mark: Well, Alexander, thanks very much for taking the time to talk today.
Alexander: Really appreciate it, Mark. Thank you.
Mark: My guest today has been Pathlight CEO, Alexander Kvamme, here on People Tech, the podcast of the HCM Technology Report. This edition was brought to you by NetSuite.
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People Tech as a member of Evergreen Podcasts. You can check out other shows at 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.