The market for People Analytics technology is growing quickly, as forward-thinking companies realize that understanding and supporting their employee base is good for the business at all levels. But the rapid growth can make it difficult to understand each vendor’s capabilities and filter the real differentiators from the hype, so I wanted to take a moment to explain how Cultivate fits into the market for People Analytics solutions.

I think the various PA solutions can be organized based on two major attributes; if the solution is active or passive and if its goal is empowerment versus listening or monitoring.

Active versus Passive is about how the user interacts with the technology. Active tools are ones the user has to take an action to engage with (fill out a survey, access a dashboard, read a report, etc.). This can include data gathering (for example, a pulse survey tool is active because the user must spend time answering the survey questions). On the other hand, passive tools don’t require any input from the user. They gather data in the background. Technology that analyzes emails and chat messages (either by looking at metadata or going deeper to analyze message content) is passive.

Empowerment versus Listening/Monitoring is about who the technology benefits. Empowerment tools benefit their users directly and are intended to be used by individual employees. These tend to give feedback directly to users or teams to help make them aware of their behaviors and improve in real time (or close to it). Leadership development tools fall into this category. Listening/monitoring tools gather information on users for the benefit of the organization’s leadership (or the organization as a whole). These are typically used by HR, people analytics and business leaders to help make strategic decisions – workforce planning tools are an example.

I call this category “listening/monitoring” because I believe there’s a fine line between listening to employees (which is good) and monitoring them (which is not good). Gathering input from employees is vital for organizations to make good decisions – but tools that do this are still built for organizations and leaders first and individual employees second. That’s very different from a tool designed to empower employees.

Empowerment tools also benefit the organization (in the long run I believe empowerment is much more beneficial to a business than monitoring), but that’s not what their primary design objective is. The organizational benefits are a secondary effect of improving individual employees.

How Cultivate Fits In

Cultivate falls far towards the Passive and Empowerment axes in my model. That’s because our platform analyzes the content of meeting invites, chat messages like Slack and Microsoft Teams, and email messages in the background without any extra effort required from the user. Then it provides feedback in the flow of work via chat bots and emails. By showing people the patterns in their digital communications and nudging them to improve those behaviors, Cultivate can empower employees to be better leaders. Everything about Cultivate is designed to help employees, not report on their activities to management. Our platform is GDPR-compliant; all users must opt in and data is anonymized and never leaves our customer’s servers.

One of our differentiators is how easy we make it for users to see and act on the insights we provide. It’s unobtrusive and doesn’t require any extra effort from the user to review or act on the feedback – they don’t need to read a report or look at a dashboard. They just see the message and choose to act on it. If they want to dig deeper, we have reports and dashboards available for them to do so.

Another thing that sets Cultivate apart from other People Analytics tech is how we can analyze the actual content of messages. Unlike other platforms that just analyze digital communication metadata, we use Natural Language Processing models to analyze the actual content of messages. This lets us give richer feedback to users on a wider range of behaviors – like how often they give feedback to their teams, express doubt, ask for input from their direct reports, etc. We believe this enables HR tech to be more personalized and offers better leadership development than analyzing metadata alone. It also allows us to do additional analysis on organizations as a whole, like seeing how digital behaviors contribute to company culture.

Within the landscape of People Analytics tech, our niche is helping employees be more effective, engaged and balanced at work – and helping organizations understand how digital culture drives their business. We think the best way to do this is to gather insight from the actual messages employees are sharing with one another, and make it as easy as possible for them to gain insight from the Cutivate platform. It’s an exciting time for People Analytics technology, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the market grows and evolves over the next few years – and I hope you’ll come along with us for the ride.

Lizzie Jaeger

Lizzie Jaeger

Lizzie is the Lead Product Manager at Cultivate. With a background in Human Resources, Lizzie is passionate about both people and building technology that empowers people.