Insight Generation: Humans and Machines Turning on “Lightbulbs” Together (VIDEO!)

WATCH THE VIDEO! Conversation with our Chief Product Officer, Tony Ashton, on the topic of insight generation and he shows how One Model’s new insight function works.


Insight Generation
I believe that a key element of People Analytics should be on insight generation, reducing the time and cognitive load for HR and business leaders to generate insights that lead to actions. Many people analytics teams have made this a priority from a service offering, some of them even including "insights" in the naming of their team. With artificial intelligence, higher quality and faster insight generation can be driven across an organization. An organization with a mature people analytics capability should be judged on the frequency and quality of insight generation away from the center. 

Why I Stopped Liking Maturity Models
Humor me for a moment while I share a very short rant and a confession. I have grown to despise the “maturity curves” that have been circulating through people analytics for over a decade. My confession is that I have not (yet!) been able to come up with a compelling replacement.

Two frequently referenced analytics maturity models from Gartner and Bersin:


My main issues? The focus is on data & technology deliverables, not on actions and outcomes. They are vague and imply that you proceed from one stage to the next, when in reality all of them can (and should) be constantly maturing and evolving without any of them ever being “done” or “perfect.” Too many times I have heard (mostly newer) people analytics leaders saying that they need to get their data and basic reporting right before they can consider any analytics. I personally don’t believe that to be true -- things will get easier, faster, and better with your analytics but you do not have to wait to make progress at any of the stages. 

Action Orientation
For example, getting to “predictive” -- being able to foresee what is likely to happen -- is shown in many maturity models. It is easy to imagine, and you may have examples, where very mature predictive analytics deliverables have had little or no impact on the business. In my opinion, true maturity is not about the deliverable, but about the insights generated and the corresponding actions that are taken to drive business outcomes.

Going further, getting to “prescriptive” means you have a level of embedded, artificial intelligence that is producing common language actions that should be considered. This would assume the “insight” component is completely handled by the AI which then proceeds into selecting or creating a recommended action. This is still quite aspirational for nearly all organizations, yet it is repeated often.

Focus on Designing for Insight Generation at the “Edges”
People analytics teams are typically centralized in a COE model, where expertise on workforce data, analytics, dashboard design, data science, insight generation, and data storytelling can be concentrated and developed. The COE is capable of generating insights for the CHRO and HR leadership team, but what about the rest of the organization? What about the HR leaders and managers farther out at the edges of the org chart? 

The COE needs to design and deliver content to the edges of the organization that enable them to generate insights without needing to directly engage the COE in the process. A storyboard or dashboard needs to be designed with specific intention to shorten the time between a user seeing the content and them having an accurate insight. A good design will increase the likelihood of a “lightbulb" moment. 

Humans and Machines Turning on “Lightbulbs” Together 
We need to ensure that the HR leaders and line managers are capable of generating insights from the people analytics deliverables (reports, dashboards, storyboards, etc). This will require some upskilling in data interpretation and data storytelling. With well-designed content, they will generate insights faster and with less effort.

Human-generated insights will never be fully replaced. Instead, they will be augmented with machines in the form of AI and machine learning. With the augmentation of AI, the humans will get a boost and together the human-machine combination is a powerful force for insights and then actions.

When we have augmentation of AI, we can stop trying to teach everyone statistical regression techniques which they will never use. The central PA team can manage the AI toolset and ensure it is delivering valid interpretations and then focus on enabling insight generation and storytelling by the humans, the HR leaders and line managers.

One Model Lights Up Our Customers’ Data Visualizations
One Model has just introduced a “lightbulb” feature that is automatically enabled on storyboard tiles that contain metrics that would benefit from forecasting or statistical significance tests.  This is not just limited to the content our team creates, it is also automatically scanning the data within storyboards created by our customers. 

This is far more than basic language attached to a simple regression model. By integrating features of our One AI machine learning module into the user interface we are automatically interpreting the type & structure of the data in the visual and then selecting the appropriate statistical model for determining if there is a meaningful relationship which is described in easy-to-interpret language.  Where a forecast is available it is based on an ARIMA model and all the relevant supporting data is just a click away. 

With this functionality built directly into the user interface, each time you navigate into the data, filtering or drilling into an organization structure, the calculations will automatically reassess the data and generate the interpretations for you.

With automated insights generated through AI, One Model accelerates your people analytics journey, moving you from data to insights to actions. 

About One Model

One Model’s industry-leading, enterprise-scale people analytics platform is a comprehensive solution for business and HR leaders that integrates data from HR systems with financial and operational data to deliver metrics, storyboard visuals, and predictive analytics through a proprietary AI and machine learning model builder. People data presents unique and complex challenges which One Model simplifies to enable faster, better, evidence-based workforce decisions. Learn more at

One Model’s new Labor Market Intel product delivers external supply & demand data at an unmatched level of granularity and flexibility. The views in LMI help you to answer the questions you and your leaders need answers to with the added flexibility to create your own customized views. Learn more at

Written By

Nicholas was the Vice President of People Analytics Strategy at One Model from 2020 to 2022, bringing 15+ years of experience in people analytics & workforce planning to help One Model's customers to establish their analytics and planning strategies. Nicholas also contributes to product innovations based on his experience with customers and his previous roles building and leading people analytics teams. Nicholas also contributes to thought leadership through content and presentations, such as his recent eBook " Explore the Power of People Analytics"

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