John Cusack - May 16, 2019

Breaking HR Analytics Insights

We’ve been up to a lot of really great things in the HR analytics world lately! We’re continuing to deliver more value to your customers by providing insights in simple English to ensure they have everything they need to make - predictions, plan for the future, and figure out the root cause of workforce issues.

Read on to find out what we’ve been up to. Be sure to subscribe to our Activ8 Alerts so you can keep up with Activ8 Intelligence.


John Cusack participates on the Partnering and Alliances session at HRThinkTank in Boston. Other participants included Kerry Morse of ADP, Bob Jaworski of equest and Katrina Paglieran of Modulus Data. The session was hosted by Ward Chrisman of HR Tech Advisors.


Meeting up with existing partners Raet and hoping to meet some new partners as well 😊 . Delighted to be sponsoring HRTech Alliance as official Blog Squad (Media) for UNLEASH World Conference & Expo


Activ8, provider of workforce analytics software, and Raet, a leading provider of HR, Payroll and outsourcing services, have signed a ground-breaking enterprise partnership.

This unique partnership means Liaison and Netherlands-based Raet will share IP ownership. They will jointly fund the Workforce analytics tool, to ensure they develop a world class product, superior to traditional dashboarding offerings.

Activ8’s workforce analytics software uniquely distils complex HR systems and reporting down into just one screen. It can then deliver valuable analytical and predictive insights for HR teams.

Bruce Thew, Chairman of Liaison, Activ8 parent company, said, “I am delighted to welcome Raet as our first Enterprise Partner. The Raet team bring significant added value to the partnership from which all future partners will benefit”.

Raet’s CEO Kobe Verdonck also commented, “The technology and knowledge transfer from Activ8 will have a significant impact on Raet’s customer retention, margins and new business sales.”

John Cusack of Activ8 commented “This is a unique workforce analytics partnership between Activ8 and Raet – sharing IP and joint roadmap development. This will accelerate Activ8’s mission to provide automatically found accessible HR analytics.”

Activ8 are now seeking just two further Enterprise Partners to complete its strategic plan.


Activ8 Intelligence Limited has been acquired by Liaison Financial Services in a 100% share purchase.

Activ8 provides Human Resources analytics software that help organizations more effectively manage their workforce, develop and retain key talent and provide relevant and important insights to HR and management.

Liaison are a leading supplier of temporary workforce management services and analytics into the NHS. By combining this deep knowledge of the NHS with Activ8’s advanced analytical software and experience, Liaison will help the NHS with the management of their permanent workforce, something which Liaison are being requested to assist with.

In addition, Liaison will continue to build on the commercial success of Activ8’s award winning ‘Mission Control’ software through its channels and directly to clients both in the UK and US.

Matthew Lymbery CEO of Activ8 said, ‘I am immensely proud of the brilliant software we’ve developed which changes the way HR works with data and I am delighted to be joining Liaison on their journey to help the NHS and develop on our commercial success.’

Andrew Armitage, Liaison’s managing director said “Activ8 is an important strategic purchase for us as it brings a great team of developers, a long HR heritage, market leading software and deep experience into the fast growing workforce management and analytics needed for our business, whilst it gives Activ8 the investment firepower and expertise to make the most of the booming HR analytics market they are in”.

Activ8 was founded in 2005 and its award winning software is HR focused, consolidating data from all employee systems, automatically findings analytical insights and communicating these in English.

Activ8 have been recognized by:
  • BT’s HR Innovation award
  • UK’s top HR award, Personnel Today’s “Innovation in Recruitment”
  • HR Technology Outlook awarded Mission Control with the top 10 HR analytics solutions and featured Activ8 as the cover story
  • Winner Citibank Smarter Worklife Challenge
  • Finalist in People Analytics Awards

Selected in CIO’s Big Data 100 Established for more than 25 years, Liaison works with two thirds of NHS trusts, health boards and CCGs in the UK. Liaison’s mission is: “To deliver savings to our clients by creating strong, long lasting relationships built on honesty and results.”

Liaison focus on innovating new services and ways of working to benefit our NHS clients. We do this while still retaining a focus on our core values of intelligence; care; hard work and honesty.


Activ8 are excited to announce that we will be exhibiting our flagship product Mission Control at the CIPD HR Software in London.

For more information on the CIPD HR Software Show, or to register for free entry, please click here. We hope to see you at Stand H250!


The Formula 1 (F1) season is drawing to a close and the rather predictable news for those less avid petrol heads out there is that yet again it has been dominated by a German team (based in Britain), a German engine (built in Britain) and a British driver (not based in Britain) winning 14 of the 17 races so far. However, it’s still worth remembering that sometimes after racing at impossible speeds for a couple of hundred miles, cars still cross the finishing line within a few feet of each other.

Imagine that… still that close even after the ten teams have spent their colossal annual budgets totalling around £2bn ($3bn). Consider the variability in the system – tens of thousands staff based around the world with different ideas, different engines, different aerodynamics, different brakes, different tracks, different corners, thousands of potential ways to set a car up, different tyres types and tyre pressures, different pit stop strategies, different racing lines – the list goes on. And the biggest variable of all – the stroppy, egotistical and over-emotional driver eeking out every last inch of advantage out of the delicate £100m car on a narrow and twisting wet track at 200mph.

A hundredth of a second per lap is the difference between winning and losing – so F1 teams are as much in a development race as in the actual race itself. After the initial big improvements have been made – what next? They have deep pockets to find the smallest performance increments that a faster car is all about the aggregation of marginal gains. Key to this is that the better teams analyse the mass of data collected about performance and environment, then put it in the hands of those geniuses who are able to make important design decisions.

So what’s this got to do with HR? In the same way as F1, HR provides many of those small increments in improving the workforce for competitive advantage – not just to “win” once or twice, but to keep on winning time and time again. And in the same way, HR measures and tests what incremental benefits an employee (skill / training programme / absence policy / and so on) will / has made over the competition. Except… sadly, the majority of HR don’t (or don’t do it well).

But HR are special, right?

One of the most successful F1 teams has used analysis of data for every single aspect and movement to reduce the time taken for a pit stop (changing all four tyres on the car) reducing from over 5 seconds a few years ago to less than 2 seconds time and time again (next time you have a flat, time yourself) – orchestrating the most precise choreographed dance of twelve burly mechanics kitted out in helmets and heavy fire suits you could ever imagine. The same team was asked by British pharmaceutical giant, GlaxoSmithKline, to reduce time for their own “pit stop” – swapping over production lines for different toothpastes. The outcome – an increased production of 7 million tubes of toothpaste and an estimated £100m bottom line impact – using data.

No doubt the naysayers will be shaking their heads in exasperation pointing out that it might work for F1 and cleaner teeth (and marketing and sales and operations) but it’s just “not relevant to HR”. Orchestrating a workforce is completely different – more complex, more moving parts, more variability, and requires the human touch. Which in conclusion means gut feel is the only way to go.

The counter-argument – there are many technical challenges to overcome which may seem daunting to adopt an evidence based HR function (all of which are entirely solvable without the need for a £2bn annual budget) – but in the end, the biggest challenge to overcome is the right mind-set to embrace data as a key ally for decision making in the quest for those marginal gains to aggregate.


We are pleased to announce that Activ8 was chosen as one of the Top HR Analytics Solution Providers in October’s issue of HR Tech Outlook magazine. Activ8 is featured alongside Cornerstone OnDemand, Kronos, SuccessFactors and Workday, among others in the Top 10.

Heading the Top 10 list also meant that Activ8 was featured extensively in the magazine – with a front cover and an interview with Matthew Lymbery, CEO of Activ8, spread across 4 pages of the issue. In the interview, Matthew focuses on his goal of demystifying analytics and making it accessible to everyone making decisions about the workforce. This recognition is a credit to the quality of Activ8’s ground-breaking HR Analytics and Predictive solutions.


HR Technology show in Las Vegas – the biggest in the world. Judging by the expo area, it certainly looked like the tallest.

Some vendors promoted their brand with massive multi-storey stands topped with impressive 20 foot diameter circular “hats” suspended from the convention center’s rafters with logo proudly displayed and declarations of how they can “help” or “change” or “empower” HR to be even better. A few vendors with the larger marketing budgets went a little further and chose to spin the whole affair making the hall look like a giant Mexican hat dance. I overheard one attendee muttering that the height of each exhibitor’s stand seemed inversely proportional to the useful content contained within. Maybe in the battle for limited budgets, the marketing department won the fight to the detriment of the much maligned product development geeks (I was pleasantly relieved that Activ8 had chosen to limit its spend to a curved monitor, a rather nice looking glass top table and six comfy chairs – ploughing the remaining budget into building a half decent product).

On a more positive note, my spirits were lifted when I realized what I had been banging on about for the past 10 plus years was now being taken seriously by nearly all major HR software vendors – well sort of seriously….Apparently, HR Analytics IS the next big thing hitting HR (or People Analytics or Workforce Analytics or HCM Analytics depending on the level of brand snobbery). Seriously good news.

But software providers have decided with the word “visualization” ringing in their collective ears to cobble something together and call it Analytics with the majority making the dash for dashboards. I guess the logic is – add a few metrics vaguely to do with what HR do, add a few charts, organize them in some fancy way and hey presto! – you have suddenly transformed your product to have “real actionable insights” – or some similar overused marketing nonsense. A well designed, well thought out dashboard is absolutely a step in the right direction definitely (indeed something that Activ8 started with several years ago) but the result is in danger of being pure analytical gorilla dust – same old HR reporting but rebadged with prettier charts. It’s true that a pretty chart is great to demonstrate during the sales cycle – But Insights? Actionable? Really?

The problem with solely focussing on the dashboard concept are multiple – they don’t overcome the challenge of aggregating data from different systems in order to get metrics which show a holistic view of the workforce, they don’t overcome data inconsistencies and gaps, they don’t seek out insights for the novice end user who neither has the time nor skills to find them for themselves, they don’t give those same end users tools to test their own hunches and ultimately, for the the large minority of visualization atheists and agnostics, a pretty chart doesn’t paint a thousand words (contrary to the well-known quotation). Meaningful metrics are incredibly powerful in describing an organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats but to be useful they must be relevant to a decision or to a strategy. Simple and generic they are not.

Saying all that, during a recent deployment of Mission Control, the HRD was blown away on the discovery he had a growing challenge in retaining corporate knowledge after viewing a simple age by tenure distribution chart. Too many “old timers with all the experience” heading for retirement with only the relatively inexperienced ”kids” left to replace them (and by kids he meant my age which analytically speaking is unfortunately unacceptably inaccurate).

Hardly analytical rocket science, but hey ho… I guess there are always exceptions.


So what ethos is winning the battle between the single unified HR solution versus the multiple “best of breed “ employee systems for HR, recruitment, talent and attendance?

Well, surprise, surprise, it seems the Breeders still continue to dominate the Unifiers. A recent survey confirms this with over two thirds of organizations having four or more different employee systems covering the various HR specialisms. Good old Gartner and a host of other reputable neigh-sayers are having the same non-purist thoughts.

Why? Well, no doubt Breeders are seduced with generally more functional rich (or should it fit for their needs?.. ahem) and quicker / cheaper to deploy systems when compared to the six figure $ costs and complex implementations measured in double digit months rather than single figure weeks.

Will it change? You’d have thought it was a no brainer based on balancing the conundrum of having just a single supplier with a single system with zero integration versus the complexity of multiple systems, multiple suppliers, multiple integrations and your IT department’s neurotic negative obsession over “Cloud based systems” with their mystical objections that are randomly thrown up.

Well, apparently not – doing the day job more efficiently and effectively still trumps having a couple of extra invoices to process and “The Cloud” being a little damp (but never exactly in Noah’s Ark territory as prophesied by your resident IT geek-ism).

All of which, whilst great for the $ per functionality and speed of deployment, raises challenges beyond multi-system integration – most importantly in a world where big data is fast becoming the old “new” (come on HR – time to catch up) – how do you combine data from multiple employee systems which is so core to good HR analytics?

So all you Breeders out there – sign-up for one of Activ8’s webcasts to find out while your proliferation decision was totally justified after all…


Activ8 recently opened a new office in Austin, Texas. This will allow Activ8 to be closer to its client base in the Southern States. If you are located in Texas and would like to get in touch, you can reach us at the following address:
SUITE. 200,
TX 78746
T.: +1 (347) 759-6267

Written by John Cusack