How many times did you experience the negative effects of the lack of communication in your team? How many times a better internal communication with a less structured approach would have led to more innovation and concrete efficiency? Every manager knows that the human resources potential must be boosted and put in a knowledge sharing context, but has always been very hard to figure out what triggers should be activated.
ONB analytics is a startup providing innovative knowledge management solutions, with a system that analyzes your company collaboration and knowledge share level delivering powerful insights to boost your business and increase your team efficiency.
These guys showed up at SMAU tech exhibition in Rome and explained to the tech community how their system shoots a detailed photograph of the level of knowledge sharing inside a company by analyzing the communication streams both between the different units and the external channels like customers or suppliers. It’s a system widely awarded in international contests like Bendigo Inventor Awards (winner – international award), Startup Cup Palermo 2013 (winner), National Innovation Prize (finalist) and eCapital award (finalist).
We have been glad to share with Maria Meister her startup’s vision, mission, and innovative business potential. And it’s been extremely interesting.
How did you have the idea to launch ONB and to enter the HR management industry with a disruptive and innovative service?
We decided to bet on the analysis of the complex structure of HR with easy and plain charts and reports. We started from the union of three different research fields: economics, sociology, IT. ONB’s scientific background relies on the organizational network analysis and the adaptive competence mapping. The analysis of a business network is made through the graph theory and relies on the PhD research path of our co-founder Stefania Vitali at the Federal Polytechnic of Zurich (Switzerland), based on the empirical analysis of economic processes by innovative means.
We wanted to make these techniques easily accessible by innovative companies. These companies strongly need to have an effective HR management. I agreed since the very first steps to the idea that an aware management of skills and relationships in the HR context would set a relevant competitive advantage in a company, and found a deep connection with my personal research background in sociology. Thanks to Rosario Distefano and its IT skills, it’s been possible to develop a software system to make this kind of analysis available to top managers, leading to provide powerful insights in a very short time.
What’s your added value? What concrete competitive advantage are you offering to your target clients?
Our main target are average and big companies leading their industry with a strong background in innovation. Our software as service product make possible to reach a further development of their continuous improvement path, leaving the international competitors behind. Our system shoots a picture of a company organizational structure with the aim to test its reactive attitude and dynamic potential. It identifies the blind spots in the information streams and the leaders into the organization, no matter what their formal role is. Companies are then able to take decisions with a better and detailed awareness, activating changes and improvements in the organizational structure with a better performance in terms of productivity and flexibility. ONB provides also powerful insights to approach in a more effective way M&A processes, as it’s widely appreciated by our clients and press commentators.
In Italy the startup environment is growing every day unless the gap with other European countries. Tell us about your experience with the funding systems, the institutions, other startupper and the innovative business community in Italy.
ONB is now living the current opening of the institutions towards the startup community. We attended top level training courses organized by Banca Intesa and Confindustria [the biggest industrial association in Italy], provided for free to a pool of selected companies. We’ve also been supported by the startup incubator of the University of Palermo in Sicily. We’ve seen a lot of young entrepreneurs with great ideas and ambitions together with huge troubles in finding the financial resources needed to set up their companies quickly. It’s good to have a professional education and training offer, to avoid mistakes in the very first steps, but young startuppers need more trust. There are a lot of EU funds for Southern Italy and our banks should ease the ties that prevent them to be used by startups that have already invested in marketing and the great business set up expenses. We don’t need public contracts giving us back 30% of the costs after 12 months only if the business plan we set up while applying is followed without any flexibility. We’re concerned that trendy terms like startup and innovation are being used by banks and financial player to refresh their public image. ONB has been set up in the last two weeks and will test the concrete support of these players very soon.
In the US market we’ve seen interesting funding rounds focused on startups of the enterprise social networking segment, like Yammer (recently acquired by Microsoft and facing great competitors like Slack), Jive or Socialtext. What do you think about these innovative platforms and their potential in optimizing knowledge share and team building in an average structured company? Would it be an interesting integration with your services in future?
We believe that these innovative platforms have to be implemented to be up to date with the current communication speed of the mobile media era. Companies can’t really miss the opportunity of implement new systems to improve the internal communication and communicate with their clients. That’s why a solution like the SaaS provided by ONB is a must. Company top management is increasingly experiencing bigger troubles in really understanding and analyzing the volume of information through the different digital channels. Our software reduces complexity and provides powerful insights to make informed decisions.
Take a look at the US and EU market. What are the most interesting startups in your opinion? Have you identified high potential players? Who are the other competitors in your market?
Actually there are several Italian, European and US startups with a great potential. Most of them analyze big data in companies without a specific focus on HR. International companies like Kenexa, SuccessFactors, Taleo have developed talent and knowledge management niche products and have been acquired by global groups succeeding in reaching a fine tuning of their solutions already established in the market. For example SuccessFactors (SAP group) delivers to more than 3.500 customers and 8.000 users worldwide a solution based on strategic coordination and HR assessment made by managers, clients, colleagues on specific dimensions (i.e. communication skills, sales skills, etc.). It allows to easily search for keywords or tags in a visual organizational structure and evaluate the performance improvement after a training course or similar. There’s no attention to more technical skills developed thanks to the relationships established in a company environment. We believe that these ones are extremely important. There’s also Lumesse, a well established company that acquires data through digital questionnaires requiring active engagement for 2-3 hours to every user.
Therefore we believe that our key advantages are, compared with services already established in the market, our data mining method and our analysis system, that allows us to have a more scientific and serious focus thanks to our background in big data and network theory research field. This system allows us to save money, time and energy while delivering highly reliable solutions and insights.