Article: Algorithms to ‘screen in’, not ‘screen out’ candidates: X0PA founder

Technology

Algorithms to ‘screen in’, not ‘screen out’ candidates: X0PA founder

X0PA founder Nina Alag Suri shares her journey as an engineer and entrepreneur and talks about how AI can help retain and hire top talent, in an exclusive interaction with People Matters.
Algorithms to ‘screen in’, not ‘screen out’ candidates: X0PA founder

Headquartered in Singapore, X0PA AI is an artificial intelligence talent management platform that enables HR professionals to find and retain the best talent. Founded in 2017 by Nina Alag Suri along with Professor Jussi Keppo, X0PA AI also has an AI recruiter called Roboroy who helps remove bias and ensure that the hiring manager taps into a diverse pool of candidates.

Her journey as an entrepreneur began in 1997 when she started Nastrac in India and a few years later had expanded the business to Finland, the UK and setup the headquarters in Singapore.

Workforce troubles such as attrition, unmanaged performance expectations and lack of diversity are the challenges that Nina Alag Suri aims to solve through the use of predictive analytics and AI.

In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Nina Alag Suri talked about her inspiration behind launching an HR tech startup, how HR leaders can transform their workforces using algorithms and how crucial is removing bias from the hiring equation.

What was the inspiration behind launching X0PA AI?

I am an electronics engineer and quite a compulsive geek at heart (and entrepreneur by choice!). I have always been quite fascinated by automation and how to improve productivity. Three years back I thought wouldn’t it be great if I can create a product which would disrupt my own current business of executive search.

Please explain in layman’s terms the X0PA product and how it helps organizations with recruitment and predicting attrition?

X0PA is all about improving workplace happiness. Hence the platform has two parts: one that helps you with your current talent and workforce. We use artificial intelligence to give early warning signs of employees especially your high-performance ones, who may be at a flight risk, loss of productivity and also to identify your loyal and committed workforce who should be identified for rewards and responsibilities.

The second part of the platform is about hiring right and hiring fast. We have an AI recruiter that uses Robotic process automation that eliminates a lot of human intervention such as screening resumes, shortlisting and identifying candidates to take forward in the process right at the beginning even before the process of hiring starts, saving companies time and resources as well as improving quality of selection and removing bias. The system has a lot of smart tools to enhance productivity such as smart scheduler to schedule interviews, integrated video interview platform, smart emailing and above all a candidate dashboard which keeps the candidates updated on the status of their application, hence ensuring employer branding. The Platform aims to improve the 6 KPIs of hiring namely: time to hire (is reduced by upto 87 percent), cost of hire (reduced up to 55 percent), improves retention, quality and diversity of hire and helps to improve employer branding by keeping candidates informed of all progress on their profile.

Typical use cases are internal hiring and job rotation, restructuring and reorganization, resource allocation and management over and above external hiring.

What has been the traction like-number of users? Countries you are present in? Which organizations are your customers?

Our system went live on September 1, 2018 after six months of rigorous Beta testing. In just one month we have had 132 clients sign up.

Our global headquarters are in Singapore, our European headquarters in London and we have our engineering and customer support in India in Hyderabad.

Still early days but we already have Microsoft and HP Enterprises as our partners for both product integration as well as go-to-market, Sinarmas, Business Finland (Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland), Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Tech Mahindra and Republic Polytechnic are some of our clients.

How is the product priced? How do you monetize your business model?

Pricing is super competitive. We have both pay as you go plans where you can pay per resume or per job, or for more regular users there is a monthly subscription plan. A lite product starts at $250 per month on a 12 month subscription and the full platform prices start from $2500 per month. We also have a google chrome extension available on Google marketplace.

With a number of players in the AI recruitment and engagement space, what are the two-three differentiating factors of X0PA over its competitors?

The platform has an emphasis on pre-screening and sourcing-right, through predictive analytics and AI, even before the recruitment process commences, the recruiters are able to address all the important factors upfront rather than during or after the process is underway.

Uses RPA (Robotic process automation) which is not seen in any other competitor landscape. Most of the pre-screening and stage upto video Interviews is without human intervention.

Addresses 6 KPIs of hiring – Time to hire (benchmarked to reduce this by 87.5% compared to conventional hiring, Cost of hire (55% reduction), quality of hire (through predictive algorithms based purely on candidates’ resume), retention of hire, diversity of hire and candidate experience of hiring (has again a unique feature of candidate dashboard which keeps the candidates informed of every stage of the hiring process which is a great feature for employer branding).

AI and models or algorithms deliver CV relevance scoring, loyalty scoring of prospective hire, and performance prediction. Hence a lot happens in the pre-screening and sourcing stage to measure a person in a holistic manner. Another key differentiator is to do all these predictions based on CV and using big data analysis. It’s quite unique that we are able to do these predictions mostly from CV and that value proposition is pretty powerful.

With AI at the forefront in recruiting and engagement, do you think it is good for diversity hiring? Can AI fully remove the bias in hiring?

AI if used correctly can certainly remove human bias and subjectivity. Machines will do what humans ask them to do hence the algorithms need to be validated, like we have done, to ensure there is no bias.

AI can be a very powerful tool to remove bias, improve diversity as well as help ‘screen in’ candidates rather than ‘screen out.’

What has been your greatest struggle till date? What was your highest high during your journey till now?

As a startup there are multiple challenges as you move from the ideation stage to becoming commercial. Funding is always crucial and I think that’s been a key challenge.

For me the biggest high so far has been when we launched our product to public at a recent event where the Senior Minister of State of Singapore and Minister of State of France visited our stand, saw the demo and unanimously loved what the product can do!

How do you see the AI tech market in the workplace growing in APAC? What is the scope of it in the coming years?

APAC is a highly tech savvy place and market potential is huge with large consumptions from India, China, Japan, Indonesia and others. We are very bullish about this market. This will be our first region to commercialize before we then focus on the UK, Europe and then USA and Africa.

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Topics: Technology, #FutureofJobs

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