5 min read

Why I'm Excited to Join One Model - by our New Chief Product Officer, Tony Ashton

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Here at One Model, we are incredibly excited to have Tony Ashton join us from SAP SuccessFactors as our first Chief Product Officer and there is no better way to introduce the company’s first Chief Product Officer than for Tony to share his thoughts directly below.

Why One Model?

I'm incredibly excited to join the One Model team as the Chief Product Officer.  I'm writing this blog to share my enthusiasm for One Model and also a bit about my background to hopefully serve as a guide to how we drive product innovation going forward.

So why One Model?  Simply put, One Model is doing the most exciting, innovative work in the people analytics space today.  

People Analytics is one of the most complex analytical domains due to the variety and complexity of the data.  Even in systems purporting to provide a complete suite of integrated HR solutions the underlying data models for all of the different functional areas remain varied and complicated, if not impenetrable.  Just think of the underlying data models within the core HRIS or Recruiting, Performance, Succession, Payroll, Benefits, Learning et.al. Then overlay concepts like date effectiveness, position management, multiple occupancy, changing organizational structures!  I could go on. The One Model team has decades of experience in dealing with this specialized HR data domain and is the best company in the world at transforming all this data into one unified data model.

No other company is going as deep and innovating as fast as One Model on the data modelling side and this is essential for success in People Analytics.  Good clean data is critical for data science and most data scientists have to spend over 80% of their time assembling, organising and cleansing data. One Model solves this problem and provides scalability for data science.  Beyond this, One Model is also leading innovation in the areas of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in the People Analytics space. AI & ML are massively over-hyped, particularly when applied to the Human Resources domain.  In large part this is because most data science in HR is based on one-off projects and not built to scale. The One AI platform One Model has built - it isn’t a generic toolkit, it is purpose built for developing insights for People Analytics.  

The introduction of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning & Robotics are now starting to drive real change and this has an incredible impact on how work gets done in business today.  Analytics provides understanding and through the use of advanced technologies like One AI you are able to model the future, build alternate scenarios, understand the things that are driving change and take control of the future of work.

I’ll talk more about “Why One Model?” at the end of the blog, but now want to turn to how I see the world of people analytics product management.

Customer centricity and deep understanding.  When building products you always need to think from the outside-in to understand the real problems you are trying to solve for your customers and this is my philosophy.  The contemporary term for this is the "jobs-to-be-done theory", which has been around for a while and basically says you should focus on the task someone is trying to perform, or the outcome they are striving for and then design your solution to help achieve that outcome.  When you say it out loud it is incredibly obvious, but then most of the best ideas are. Here's a great quick primer for you that's also a fun read: https://hbr.org/ideacast/2016/12/the-jobs-to-be-done-theory-of-innovation.  (I have hired many donuts in my time - this will make sense when you read the article 🙂 )

I'm excited by ideas.  Big ideas and concepts are important.  I studied philosophy and history (with a focus on the history of innovation) at university and this passion nicely intersected with my business life when I read Clayton Christensen's quintessential book "The Innovator’s Dilemma".  This book was ground-breaking in 1997 and the concept of the “Innovator’s Dilemma” is now part of popular parlance, but the principles are still impacting business today, so I recommend you have a read if you haven't already been there.  Going further back, I was also influenced by Thomas Khun's seminal book "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions", where he coined the phrase "paradigm change" before it was hijacked for pop-psychology purposes.  We are in a time of revolutionary change right now and understanding this is critical for success.

Making something great.  A mantra I borrowed from my good friend Philip Haine when we would work on new product designs together was this phrase he would often use: "What would be amazing?".  You can run a detailed design thinking process and generate lots of ideas and this is a great structured way to involve people in designing a solution based on empathy, etc.  but standing back and thinking about a problem from the perspective of the person at the center and simply asking “what would be amazing” for them is an awesome way to cut through and quickly generate truly ground-breaking solutions.  Another mentor along the way was Dmitri Krakovsky, who would always ask this simple question of any project: "Is it great?".  Mid-way through a product development cycle, if you sit back and ask yourself "is it great?" and it isn't then you should seriously think about what you are working on and why.

Applied Technology & Innovation.  Building on the 'making something great' discussion above, the best technology becomes seamlessly integrated with your work/life and genuinely helps you get things done.  It should also be cool and fun to use. Have a think about what apps you like to use. Some I use everyday include Pocket, Flipboard, Slack, Evernote, Dropbox, Google Maps.  What do all these apps have in common?  They have a focus, they do what they do incredibly well and don't try to be something they aren't.  Why isn't enterprise software like this? Why are all analytics products just like using a big spreadsheet, or so complicated you need a degree in statistics?  Some products look pretty and appear simple to use, but often when you dig into it they just don’t deliver the goods. It doesn't need to be this way.

The Art & Practice of People Analytics.  When I found myself working in People Analytics I felt I found my calling.  Building my skills along the way I recall a seminal event was when I attended an HR technology conference and saw an amazing presentation by Peter Howes on multidimensional analysis in HR using what was ground-breaking technology at the time.  I then went to one of his workshops on how to measure the Return on Investment (ROI) of HR Interventions.  Not long after I met Peter's business partner Anastasia Ellerby through a public sector project measuring and benchmarking the effectiveness of the Human Resources function.  Through this project I started using their company's products as a customer. The company was Infohrm.   With the help of serendipity I started working for Infohrm and the company built the most impactful workforce analytics and workforce planning products, practice and community in the world - it was cool.  This then continued through two acquisitions, first by SuccessFactors and then by SAP.  What always keep me engaged was working on the cutting edge of innovation in the field, working with companies all over the world and working with a great team of passionate people.  We managed to build some innovative stuff, but I found myself in a 90,000+ employee company and it was becoming increasingly more difficult to deliver focused people analytics and planning innovation for customers and I wanted to get back to my passion.

Everything I have discussed above dovetails perfectly with what One Model is all about.  We are passionately creating the world’s most amazing technology specifically designed to help you deliver people analytics insights that accelerate decision making and drive positive outcomes for your business and a workforce planning capability that helps you plan, forecast and built a talent strategy for today and tomorrow.

I’ve now written a much longer blog that originally intended, but hopefully it shows how enthusiastic I am for this domain and for this new role.  The One Model team is incredible and the product is awesome. We have shared history and shared values stemming from the original Infohrm company and we do whatever it takes to make our customers successful.  I'm grateful for the opportunity and super excited by the innovations we are cooking up and can't wait to share these with you soon.

About One Model

One Model provides a data management platform and comprehensive suite of people analytics directly from various HR technology platforms to measure all aspects of the employee lifecycle. Use our out-of-the-box integrations, metrics, analytics, and dashboards, or create your own as you need to. We provide a full platform for delivering more information, measurement, and accountability from your team. Learn more at onemodel.co.

About One AI - Trailblazer

Trailblazer is One Model's newest way of helping leaders incorporate workforce analytics and distill big data into every HR decision for recommendations that are smarter, faster, and more efficient. The Trailblazer program does this by giving HR teams access to the only openly configurable, HR-focused, automated machine learning engine in the world: One AI. Introductory Offer: Try Trailblazer out for a month - $1,000

Visit onemodel.co/trailblazer-program to learn more. 

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