Seven years later - an update on HR Analytics pioneer Visier

Profile picture for user brianssommer By Brian Sommer August 2, 2019
Summary:
Visier is a pioneer in HR analytics and remains its senior statesman provider. Here’s an update on the company, its newest additions to the product line and its competitive standing.

HR

Seven years ago, I wrote about Visier.  The company was very new then and I liked the way they did original/primary research to understand the kinds of questions businesses had re: people and how companies were trying to solve them then. It’s from that research that Visier defined the kinds of data needed to answer those questions.

That approach was (and still is) a very good one. Many ERP/HR vendors (incorrectly) assume that you can get great analytic results from a simple parsing of transaction data within an HR system. That’s like trying to understand your competitor’s business strategy from analyzing your internal accounting transaction data. Like a blind pig, you might find the odd acorn. However, some of the best sources for insights might come from external data sources or combinations of internal and external data stores. That was Visier’s initial insight.

Now, Visier is the big dog in HR analytics.

Visier’s growth

According to Visier, the company:

  • “achieved a compound annual growth rate of 120 percent and increasing customer subscriptions to surpass $125 million in sales.”
  • “surpassed $125M USD in subscription sales (2018)”
  • grew “headcount twofold in 2018 and now stands around 420 employee equivalents”
  • experienced “679 percent in revenue growth from 2014 to 2017.”

The company’s last capital raise was in 2017. To date, the company has raised $94.5 million in four rounds. It would appear that the company is in that rare cloud space where it is close to meeting Rule of 40 requirements (i.e., CAGR plus net margin = 40 points total). It’s organically growing AND close to throwing off enough cash flow to fund on-going operations/new sales efforts.

Visier People

Visier People is the name of Visier’s product line.  The solution is in use at over 150 enterprises and has some 50,000 users (an average of approx. 400 users per customer).

Visier has expended a lot of energy over the years to make implementations faster and faster. The value customers get from advanced HR analytics comes from timely workforce insights not from inordinately long and costly implementations.

Visier can actually deliver insights to more than just giant-sized companies as they’ve already anticipated many of the needed metrics and likely integrations that are required. Pre-built integrations, dashboards, etc. also shorten implementation times. Likewise, providing tools that scrub/clean a customer’s data also speed up implementations and value delivery.

Connecting insights to actions is the current frontier for many analytic solutions. Often these involve connecting workflow and exception handling technology to the machine learning/AI analytic technology. The best solutions are integrated with core HR software products, enterprise collaboration tools and other technologies.

Visier People is focused on five main analysis areas: Planning, Talent, Talent Acquisition, Learning and ad-hoc analytics.  Visier’s integration technology connects HR data to other internal non-HR data sources (e.g., internal systems like Financials, Operations/Manufacturing, Sales/Marketing, etc.) and to external data stores.

Users can only see data they are permitted to view. If the core HR system has field level security, Visier maintains this.

Visier People is a multi-tenant cloud product. Data is maintained in a multi-dimensional, in-memory database. Visier graphics/analytics are also available on mobile devices.

Visier now has new what-if capabilities to supplement its analytics. It can also run a variety of analytics involving labor costs. Visier has also developed a number of benchmarks that are drawn from the aggregated (but anonymized) data across its installed base. That database includes data from over 7 million workers.

Visier’s new Diversity & Inclusions solution

In the last few weeks, Visier has announced its new Diversity and Inclusion analytics offering. According to Visier, this solution enables leaders to identify opportunities and risks and make informed decisions toward achieving their organization’s D&I goals.” Inclusion and diversity initiatives are a big deal today as too many companies aren’t winning their war for talent and boards of directors aren’t tolerating executives that are (needlessly) discriminating against women, older people, people of color, etc.   

Visier says its solution:

  • provides stats and data regarding hiring trends, workforce composition, turnover and more
  • compares the organization’s D&I performance to industry benchmarks

Visier’s solution may be utilizing some of TrustSphere’s ONA (organizational network analysis) data. For more on this, click here.

Visier and Insperity

Visier also cut a deal with Insperity, a full-service HR provider (and a firm headquartered just a couple of miles from my home). Visier’s analytics will be available on Insperity’s HR platform. According to Visier CEO John Schwarz:  

Visier has long delivered the leading people analytics solution for the Global 2000 enterprise class. With this partnership with Insperity, we have extended the value of people analytics to mid-market organizations.

This deal opens up Visier to the mid-market – a space that many analytic providers have avoided as many mid-market firms have champagne tastes but beer budgets. Many analytic solutions have been too costly for many mid-market buyers to consider. Visier’s focus on making solutions more cost-effective and faster to implement should serve them (and Insperity) well in this market demographic.

The full rollout of this relationship is scheduled for later in the year.

Visier’s value proposition

Just last week, Visier announced some findings from a recent research initiative.  The research looked at the effect customers were seeing after using Visier’s analytics. The research focused on a number of large employers. One key finding stated:

Not only have Visier customers beat the market in retaining talent overall by 3.5%, but they had experienced a reduction in manager turnover by a combined 17%, resulting in millions of dollars of cost savings.

The full report can be found here.

My take

I like what Visier has been doing these years. Their employees appear jazzed about the company and what they offer to customers. Customer retention also seems strong. If there are headwinds, they’ll principally come from HRMS/HCM competitors.

Competition in the HR analytics space is only going to intensify. Most every HRMS/HCM vendor has something analytic to show potential buyers these days. However, many of these newer analytic apps:

  • are not fully available yet;
  • have a limited useful range;
  • require a lot of work to implement;
  • take vendors a very long time to develop; and/or,
  • are heavily dependent on the data within the HCM suite

Where some HRMS/HCM vendors are taking their (nascent) HR analytics is to add workflow and exception handing. This makes the analytics “actionable”. Additionally, other innovative technologies (e.g., machine learning, AI, bots, etc.) are being married to these analytics.

Visier’s early mover advantage has served them well but it will need to continue to out-innovate its large HRMS peers to remain relevant.

I’ve also noticed how ERP firms want into this space. SAP’s acquisition of Qualtrics in late 2018/early 2019 has one interesting component around the employee experience. Medium reports that one part of Qualtrics is clearly targeting HR analytics:

Employee Experience (EX): Allows managers and employees to identify gaps in the employee experience from recruiting and onboarding to performance management in order to improve employee engagement, raise productivity, and limit attrition.

Competition is definitely there for Visier.

So, the longer-term strategic question for Visier is this: Does Visier get rolled into a major HRMS/HCM product line or does Visier extend its organizational and product line reach into more operational areas? If it chooses the former, it may lose some of its entrepreneurial spunk inside a larger firm. If it chooses the latter, it will be up against a new crop of competitors like Aera and Uptake.

For now, Visier can enjoy its leadership role. And while it does, it should grab all the mid-market and large enterprise market share it can. We can then watch its competitors try to catch them. That should be interesting to watch….