As contingent workforce managers look for ways to use all the data they collect to their advantage, they will find a number of technological solutions that can help. However, it’s critical to start with valid data containing similar enough characteristics to warrant comparison.
That’s where Talent Data Exchange (TDX) comes in. Jason Ezratty is president of Brightfield Strategies and the force behind TDX, a membership-based human capital data aggregation and analytics platform. In Part 2 of our two-part series, Ezratty answers common questions potential users have about how TDX works and what its advantages are.
Why would a company need TDX if it has a Vendor Management System (VMS) that offers data analytics?
Analytics is a very broad, heterogeneous subject. Just because there are certain areas of overlap doesn’t mean all analytics offerings are the same.
The vendor management system is the transactional system — that’s where the data itself is being created. Any intelligence from a VMS — how many contingent workers do I have, where, for how long, who are their employers? — is absolutely the kind of tallying, slicing and dicing that will likely always come out of a transactional system like a VMS.
In contrast, you look to TDX to represent market-level data, the sum total of all transactions across all participating companies. A VMS is primarily charged with executing a talent sourcing transaction; whereas TDX is responsible for combining, validating, conforming, and inferring patterns and trends from the overall data … from across all VMSs.
One reason TDX is capable of such an intelligent aggregation and collation function is because of its natural language processing (NLP) technology, our self-learning models that decipher the unstructured text of job descriptions into sub-job title granularity — there’s no VMS that currently does that. And, why would they when we are able to solve for such a foundational problem with ever-increasing accuracy as we continue to combine data from all VMSs.
Making sense of master data and serving it back to the greater community belongs at the industry level, not fragmented across multiple systems. Brightfield and Staffing Industry Analysts are logical choices to serve this function given our track record for success and integrity in this area. It has been a 10-year journey to earn this right, and we are prepared to continue stretching ourselves toward a better, more measurable and impactful CWM industry.
In addition to our NLP work with text, VMSs benefit from our number crunching, too. Our members are their customers. We see the VMS as one of our most important allies and not as a competitive threat. Part of my charge is to help improve the data analytics solutions of VMSs through our market data benchmarking and predictive modeling techniques. They have already captured the eyeballs of the enduser, the engaging manager — this is the best time to deliver intelligence derived from analytics, right there at the point of transaction decision-making, bringing the aggregate sum of data to each individual point of data creation.
VMSs and MSPs can’t be in the data curation business as they are not set up to have all of the data. Only a neutral player like Brightfield can aspire to have all the data because we’re not a proprietary brand looking to compete in the VMS and MSP space. Ultimately, we are in the data curation business and then in the data modeling business. Our toes end where their toes begin.
What data does TDX house, and where does it come from?
The data comes from transactional systems, VMS and ATS, but it has to come with a member’s approval. TDX pulls data from about 45 fields cutting across the request, candidate and assignment tables of a VMS database. VMSs generate more than 200 fields, so these are considered the most valuable across multiple programs.
We must get the permission to source data from these systems from the member itself in order to ensure clarity of our data handling obligations to them. As participants in a third-party benchmark that involves price comparisons, large multinationals need to safeguard against appearing anti-competitive, or else face antitrust measures. In addition, by solely working with verified transactions from originating point of sale, we ensure we have no duplicate records in our data coming in from multiple sources.
Is the data secure, and is personal information kept private?
It is highly secure. We go through a series of testing procedures to make sure it’s secure. We’ve been given the blessings of some of the world’s largest oil and gas, banking, pharmaceutical, aerospace and defense companies — those are very conservative types of organizations and we’ve been able to win their blessing.
Regarding personally identifiable information or even company identifiable information, everything is completely anonymized. We don’t even collect personally identifiable information — we don’t want it, we don’t ask for it, but we still check for it when we get the data. We even check inside the job descriptions to make sure we’re not seeing names, addresses or phone numbers. The same goes for company information.
Even if someone were to be able to hack in, what they would see would not identify any one company. Should a breach occur, what would be compromised is primarily of value to Brightfield.
If a company doesn’t have data to share, can it still be a member?
No. Only contingent workforce programs that are willing to contribute their data can be members. It doesn’t mean they’re the only ones who can benefit from TDX, though. It’s just that we reserve the term “member” for companies that contribute data.
If you want to just look at the data but you don’t have data to share, it could be because you’re a buyer who doesn’t yet have a VMS or an ATS in place. We would be happy offer you a subscription to TDX. Full members have access to a greater breadth of tools because we can show them their data in different ways relative to the rest of the market. For subscribers, if they’re not contributing data, those tools wouldn’t make sense.
How is TDX licensed?
One can acquire a license either directly through Brightfield or through one of our channel partners, including Staffing Industry Analysts. The license is for either a membership or a subscription and typically lasts one year.
What does a company need to do to get started, and what is the normal timeline?
The process can take anywhere from three hours to 10 days. To get started, all they need to do is recognize the value of managing with properly curated data. They can get a demonstration from a channel partner, and then they need to clear their own internal legal and technical requirements. We do the rest.
Where do you see the future of TDX and its membership?
I see us continuing to add more types of members. Right now we have been focused on large and extraordinarily large companies. The broader and deeper the data, the more types of questions we can answer. It’s a never-ending quest to acquire more data, there’s always going to be another layer of detail we successively seek.
We are also looking to add more languages and more document types for our NLP, like statements of work (SOWs). More immediately though we are adding more and more of our predictive tools directly into the front end of the application for users to interact with directly.
For more information or to schedule a TDX demonstration, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.