How CBA drives success through predictive analytics

A key step in the Commonwealth Bank’s predictive analytics journey has been to create advocacy from within the HR function itself in order to assist the broader business, according to the bank’s EGM of group people services, Andrew Culleton.

When the bank’s exploratory and predictive analytics tool, PeopleInsights, was first launched, Culleton said the primary focus was on engaging people leaders on how to use it.

“We now spend more time up front engaging and lifting the capability of our own HR community, igniting their passion and confidence, so they use the tool to drive actions and ultimately utilise these insights in partnership with the business,” said Culleton, who explained that there are more than 1 million uses of PeopleInsights each year – half of which originate from within the HR function.

More broadly, when systems and processes are advanced and capability is lifted in the analytics space, Culleton also says there are greater expectations from the business – which then lifts the bar in other areas of HR.

Predicting problems to avoid
There are a number of areas in which HR internally has successfully shifted from operational metrics to strategic and predictive analytics within the bank, Culleton explained.

“Firstly, we recognised that operational metrics are important and always have a place in our organisation – and we did want to introduce predictive analytics – but didn’t want it to be a solution in search of a problem,” he said.

“We listened to what our people leaders were saying and really synthesised their pain points. We knew if we could deliver a platform that addressed pain points by delivering predictive analytics – our people would use it.”

The bank has been using predictive analytics for about three and a half years now, and Culleton said managers are supported through the ability analyse multiple data points in a single click, providing indicative answers to traditionally difficult questions such as “which employees are most likely to resign?” and “how are resignations and performance related?”.

“We did want to introduce predictive analytics – but didn’t want it to be a solution in search of a problem”

These questions can be answered through any demographic, core HR or talent management based lens in PeopleInsights, Culleton added.

“We have more information than we’ve ever had before at our fingertips, and that is giving us great insights, but it’s fair to say we are only just beginning to explore how to harness the predictive functionality in other ways at scale to drive some level of intervention,” he said.

“This is power of predictive analytics – to drive action today that avoids a problem tomorrow.”

Analytics in action
Another area where Commonwealth Bank has had success with predictive analytics is identifying annual leave and sick leave that was taken, but not entered into the HR system.

“We use the data we have to build a behavioural profile that we then use to predict whether an employee has forgotten to register their day in the system,” said Culleton.

“We have run this for two years and the model is 92 per cent accurate with its prediction. To date we have recovered thousands of days.”

With more than 50,000 employees, this type of intervention can deliver enormous benefit to the P&L and understanding of what true sick leave figures are, he said.

“This is power of predictive analytics – to drive action today that avoids a problem tomorrow”

Another example can be found in a trigger-based notification engine, whose sole purpose is predicting questions that haven’t been asked yet – and answering them before they are asked to someone in HR.

“We have a number of these, but one example is patterned sick leave on a Monday,” said Culleton.

“Over time this may lead to a call from a people manager asking for assistance in how to manage this; it may be something he or she has noticed for some time.

“Our notification engine identifies the statistical pattern, notifies the manager and most importantly provides them the information or how to manage that conversation,” said Culleton, who explained that the next evolution of this is an embedded video that role plays the conversation out.

For the full interview with Culleton and story on how CBA has employed analytics for business benefit, see the next issue of Inside HR magazine. Image source: Commonwealth Bank