PepsiCo is more than a soft drinks business. The food and beverage portfolio company has 22 brands that in 2013 produced $1 billion of revenue… each. Household names like Quaker, Gatorade, Doritos, and of course, Pepsi, are available in more than 200 countries worldwide. To say that PepsiCo has a massive consumer and employer brand would be an understatement. And for Chris Hoyt, part of the leadership team responsible for hiring the people that make PepsiCo a consumer powerhouse, telling the story behind that brand is important and goes way beyond excel spreadsheets. With over 300,000 employees and business leaders in the PepsiCo family, telling that story required insight into some very big, very global data.


The Challenge

Toward the end of 2012, Chris Hoyt, Director of Global Talent Engagement and Marketing, was looking for a reporting solution that did more than “spit out columns and rows of data”. His current process was overwhelming his direct reports and leadership team with numbers and didn’t give anyone insight into how to become a talent advisor.

“We wanted to support a transformation from recruiters to talent advisors,” explained Hoyt. “The rows of data weren’t doing it, the executives weren’t reading it and nothing was resonating.”

This data disconnect was causing internal reputation issues and making it difficult for Hoyt to tell the story of just how well the talent acquisition team were doing. Hoyt began a search for something that would tell the company’s talent acquisition story (and the mountains of data that supported it) with captivating visual elements, comparison data and high-level snapshots of activity.

“At the time, Big Data was becoming a buzzword,” said Hoyt. Executives were asking about the value add from different departments and wanted more than just, “talent acquisition candidate traffic, source of hire, etc. They were like ‘show us the data’.”


At first…

Chris turned to an internal team to create visual reports using the popular Business Objects program. But while the results were better than the spreadsheets Hoyt had been working with before, they didn’t deliver the seamless results and at-a-glance functionality Chris was seeking.

“I wanted the math to be done behind the scenes. I didn’t even want it to be visible,” explained Hoyt. “I wanted a visual to tell the story.”

As Hoyt explained it, the same questions at every meeting were eating up valuable strategic time. “It was taking an hour at every meeting just to explain the data.”

Right around this time, Hoyt took his frustrations to Kelly Robinson and Dominic Barton of Broadbean Technology. The rest, as they say, is history…


Challenge Accepted!

“Why can’t we just build it?” wondered the CEO and COO of Broadbean, a company that has made its name and its fortune on reducing friction for those hiring all over the globe. Because PepsiCo was already using several Broadbean products in its talent acquisition lifecycle, the team of three decided to tackle the presentation of big data in an understandable, interesting and useful format.

“We started simple,” said Hoyt. “We built something to show the answers to those 4-5 questions that came up in every meeting.” The team titled it BDAS, for Big Data Analytics Software, and a new product was born.

The initial goal was to reduce hour-long conversations about frequently asked questions down to a 5 minute conversation. Hoyt explained this was in order to spend the valuable remaining time to determine what to do with that information. “I wanted to spend the meetings on strategy,” said Hoyt. “Not deciphering data.”

The first run of the BDAS reporting suite was built for recruiters and has been rolled out in both the Americas and EMEA. “It’s designed to fit in the palm of their hands, and allow them to talk to hiring mangers and for them to have conversations with their boss.”

Ultimately, this has freed up PepsiCo recruiters to make better decisions and move decisions from the tactical to the more strategic. In effect, turning recruiters into talent advisors.

“The great thing is we’re tracking recruiter behavior. We are currently training and retraining everybody. We anticipate a truly global solution rollout by the end of the year.” 

As you can imagine, rolling out an entirely new reporting system designed to overhaul your recruiting process was no easy task.

While Hoyt pays close attention to how this reporting solution is being used within the talent acquisition business units, he’s simultaneously able to use the reports to reallocate budgets, reduce unwarranted spend and “tighten up” his recruiting budget overall, all while increasing productivity. 

The use of BDAS has prompted some big and to some, counter-intuitive changes in the PepsiCo talent acquisition departments. In a large company like PepsiCo, there can be a lot of interest for open positions, regardless of whether the candidate is actually qualified for the job. Recruiting spend on large boards was exacerbating this problem and making it tough for recruiters in the company to use their time on qualified applicants because “they were buried in screening”.

Hoyt did the unthinkable and cut the spend off completely because of what BDAS was showing to be true about the number of qualified applicants he was receiving from certain channels.

“The funnel is a bad metaphor for recruitment marketing – it’s actually more like a sieve,” Hoyt stated.

A funnel takes marketing prospects (traditionally) from the top where they are least qualified to the bottom where they are MORE qualified. Hoyt explained this is not how candidates work, they simply don’t become more qualified by passing through screens. Like a sieve, the qualified are separated from the unqualified. The earlier on this happens, the lower the cost per hire, not just from a cost perspective but from a time and resources lens as well.

When Hoyt used BDAS to confirm his thoughts with data, he decided to turn off email alerts, which was then, the company’s #1 source of hire. But armed with data about the volume and quality of that source, Hoyt realized they were “interested but not qualified” and he surmised the volume was slowing his team down. His hypothesis proved right.

The risky move resulted in a dip of applications the first month of over 70%. By the second month it had “leveled off” and Hoyt said “The quality of applicant had increased by 100%. We took the noise out and could see so much better.”

The quality of applicant had increased by 100%. We took the noise out and could see so much better.

Using the same login to other external vendors, Hoyt realised he was spending significantly on channels that were just creating more noise for his recruiting team. He was paying for busywork.

“By applying the same logic to vendors, I realized 99% of requisitions on one channel gave me tons of candidates but only 10% made it to the interview,” said Chris. “After that just 2% made it to offer and in the end, 1% ended up being hired. I realized I was paying a vendor to make my recruiters’ jobs a little harder.”

By using BDAS, Chris made the decision to reallocate the saved spend elsewhere. In a world where profiles, traffic and resumes used to be the only metrics when evaluating vendors, Hoyt grasped that, “Unlimited is not necessary. Traffic doesn’t equal everything and THAT changes the contract negotiation completely. It’s a very different, more targeted and strategic conversation. BDAS has undoubtedly saved us money in our contract renewals to the tune of at least a quarter million.”

Hoyt realizes that the issues that plague a large multinational company are not the same ones that might frustrate a medium sized enterprise or even a smaller company, many of whom are struggling to get enough applicants in the first place, not attempting to screen out massive quantities of jobseekers. But that, said Hoyt, doesn’t matter as much as you might think.

“If you drop me in a SMB, as I do pilots with BDAS, I can see what jobs perform better, how my ad copy is doing, where I should be dispersing my budget,” argued Hoyt. His point is no matter what kind of recruiting function you’re working within, the data can tell a compelling and informative story that changes the conversations from tactical and arduous to strategic and simple.

Future Process Involvement

As PepsiCo continues to see even more value emerge from viewing their data in a strategic and frictionless format, Hoyt and the team at Broadbean have bigger plans for making BDAS a total talent acquisition toolbox.

The next round is more strategic and for talent acquisition leaders like the CHRO. Hoyt uses his own CHRO as a model, trying to determine what she wants to see, in what format and when. The natural by-products of the kind of data a company that has been around since 1965 might have are exactly kinds of things BDAS can make into a compelling talent story.

“The woman in charge of all HR internal movements, mobility among locations, 20/20 foresight and retirement forecasting wants predictive analytics,” said Hoyt. Currently, 80% of the executive team is promoted from within at PepsiCo, the company could use BDAS to bring that success rate through into the ranks of the company and create plans for new leadership based on data. 

Case study: PepsiCo