October 29, 2012 Issue
The Most Powerful Name In Corporate News and Information
As the Fastest-Growing Outplacement Solutions Provider in the United States, RiseSmart is helping to put America Back to Work
That approach is showing
astounding results. RiseSmart is successfully placing individuals in new
jobs 59% faster than the national average as reported by the federal Bureau
of Labor Statistics. Because of these outcomes, the company achieves some of
the highest customer satisfaction figures in the industry, and has a 100%
customer retention rate.
Interview conducted by: Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – October 29, 2012
Mr. Sathe: The vision has always been to help people get to their next jobs fast. I got into this because I found the challenge rather frustrating when I was looking for a change myself. That prompted me to try to solve this problem. Today we help put America back to work with next-gen outplacement solutions, and in doing so we’ve been able to disrupt the old-school business models in outplacement.
CEOCFO: How does your technology improve the outplacement and transitioning of talent? What have you figured out that people never knew, or did not realize before?
Mr. Sathe: What we have, for the first time ever, is a sophisticated job CRM platform that is unique. It includes a semantic search and matching technology that matches jobs to jobseekers. It is something akin to eHarmony in the job space. From the transitioning employee’s standpoint, it is about matching them to the right open opportunities. After we identify the right job based on your profile, we leverage more than 300 social networks to show you who in your network works for a particular company so you can network. I’m told that 71% of the jobs people get are obtained through networking. A lot of that is through the power of social networks, and we are leveraging that to the hilt. Another thing we have as a part of this platform is a recommendations engine, which pushes relevant articles, blog posts and events to you based on your profile and where you are located. Last but not least, the entire solution is available on mobile platforms. When you look at this powerful solution, it’s no wonder it’s helping us be 59% faster than the national average in getting people back to work.
CEOCFO: What was the most difficult feature to develop and put together?
Mr. Sathe: I think the most complex feature is the core feature: the semantic job search and matching technology platform. The degree of difficulty is high because we do contextual matching, unlike Google, which is a keyword-based match. What I mean by contextual is that we have built an ontology or taxonomy of data, basically driving a relationship between data sets. This is sophisticated technology, and many complex algorithms have gone into it. The other good news is that the system is constantly learning. There is a feedback loop where the customer can give us feedback on what they like or don’t like, and that feedback goes to make the technology smarter on a constant basis.
CEOCFO: Are there potentially other applications for that technology that you might pursue someday?
Mr. Sathe: There could be a variety of applications to this technology and approach we have taken. If you look at it conceptually, matching is a fundamental challenge across everything. I remember talking to someone who said that the two most difficult things in the world are “finding a job” and “finding the right match.” The same technology can be applied to things like finding the right house or even planning an elaborate vacation. Wherever there are a lot of variables these sorts of technology platforms can have a place.
CEOCFO: Who is using your services today and who should be?
Mr. Sathe: Fortune 1000 companies and others in corporate America use our solution. Unlike the traditional model of outplacement, which was brick-and-mortar, our solution is so easy to access and use, we have both large corporations and even small and medium enterprise segment customers using our solution. They’re doing that because under the traditional model it probably took a week or 10 days for an individual to figure out at which office to register and get things going. We can get somebody up and running within the hour. The traditional model of outplacement was all about teaching you how to become a job seeker, whereas we are all about actually getting you a job. Corporations find us very cost-effective as well as impactful.
CEOCFO: I know you have “one-on-one” support as well. How does that work for your clients?
Mr. Sathe: We offer one-on-one support because everyone needs that dialogue at some point. However, unlike the traditional players, such as Right Managements and Lee Hecht Harrison, we do not charge corporations for expensive office space. Instead, we’ve built a large network of Transition Specialists who guide people using the phone or video Skype, and focus on areas where they can improve these individuals’ chances of landing a job fast. We typically assign a Transition Specialist to a participant the minute they sign up for a solution. We start with an intake call to really understand the needs and strengths of that individual and how they want to re-position themselves. We go from there to focus on areas they would like to improve: interview techniques, how to better leverage social networks, and so on. Then our plethora of courses and webinars helps each participant hone their job-search skills or update their social media profiles or conduct mock interviews and so on. I should mention that unlike in the traditional models, where they limit participants to, say, 10 hours of service, our one-on-one support is unlimited.
CEOCFO: Do your potential customers understand easily when they look at your system and you explain the concept? Do they understand how technology can do all the things that you have accomplished or do they really have to be convinced that it can replace traditional models?
Mr. Sathe: The beauty of our solution is that we have a very powerful combination of high-tech and high-touch. The high-tech is the JobCRM tool, which presents relevant job openings, articles, blogs, etc., to the individuals; and the high-touch, which is the one-on-one support. The combination helps to get people back to work faster. What companies appreciate is that by getting people into jobs faster, unemployment claims are reduced along with the corporate tax rate. So we really drive a significant ROI for corporations. They also appreciate that we provide reporting and analytics that help them better manage their businesses, because they know how their money is being spent. Most organizations want to do the right thing but at the right price. We are very cost effective. It might sound cliché, but this is double the value at half the price.
CEOCFO: How has the current economic situation played into your model?
Mr. Sathe: Some people assume that this is a feast or famine business -- that if the economy booms outplacement will come to a grinding halt. But that is not true. Over the last 16 years there have been more than a million layoffs each year, both in boom times and bust times. Of course the current economy can benefit us because we have more opportunity how to help people get to the next job, but it is not a feast or famine sort of thing.
CEOCFO: RiseSmart has won a number of industry awards. Are these a factor when you are talking with potential customers?
Mr. Sathe: We have won a variety of awards for technology disruption, such as the Red Herring Global 100 companies; for Innovation, the Golden Bridge and Stevie Awards; HR Industry recognition, the Gartner Cool vendor for HCM for 2012, HR awards, the Best Places to Work in the Bay area; and the national diversity award. I feel that these awards help us to attract new customers and help us to further validate that this model is the model of the future. Awards also help us attract the best talent in the marketplace.
CEOCFO: How is business these days?
Mr. Sathe: Business is great, and our outlook for the future is very positive. We have many opportunities to put people back to work and we are doing it the right way. The biggest issue in America today is the economy, and the key to economic growth is jobs. We are center stage in helping put America back to work, and today we are the fastest-growing outplacement solutions provider in the United States.
CEOCFO: What surprised you most as you developed the business and the concept?
Mr. Sathe: What surprised me was the enormous need for a solution like this. There was a clear gap between what companies and individuals in transition really wanted and what the traditional players were offering. I believe the need exists within organizations and, of course, for transitioning employees. We have been able to find an effective and affordable solution that addresses both these needs.
CEOCFO: Why should investors and people in the business community be paying attention to RiseSmart?
Investments in HR
Technology over the past 10 years have been more focused on onboarding
(bringing a new individual on board) and what I’d call through-boarding
(managing his or her experience in an organization). However, very little
focus has been given to off-boarding. With our solution, we have been able
to drive an ROI to corporations as we get people back to work faster. We
know that clients are seeking a personalized, convenient, affordable and
technology-driven solution; and RiseSmart offers that. What makes it even
more attractive for investors and large corporations is that apart from
helping corporations from an outplacement standpoint, we also have a
redeployment tool, which also saves corporations money. We leverage
technology again to redeploy talent within an organization, thereby saving
them on recruiting expenses, training expenses and outplacement expenses.
Outplacement is a billion-dollar business and we have disrupted the
traditional model with a next-gen solution. Further, with our redeployment
solution we have been able to offer very powerful internal mobility within
corporations again saving corporations a significant amount of money. We
will continue to innovate in this space.
The biggest issue in America today is the economy, and the key to economic growth is jobs. We are center stage in helping put America back to work, and today we are the fastest-growing outplacement solutions provider in the United States. - Sanjay Sathe
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