Ep 14 Jane Bianchini talks about Alcami Interactive (on demand Video tool) for WHS

by Brendan Torazzi

Mar 16, 2019

Brendan: Welcome to Episode 14 of the Australian Health and Safety Business Podcast. I’m Brendan Torazzi, the host of the show and also the director of OHS.com.au which is Australia's first online training marketplace for health and safety. Today, I am joined my Jane Bianchini who is the owner of Alchemy Interactive. Hi Jane.

Jane: Hi Brendan.

Brendan: Thanks very much for coming on the show.

Jane: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Brendan: Tell me a little bit about what you do.

Jane: Alchemy Interactive is a data driven, video interviewing platform helps organizations make better quality decisions on their candidates by replacing the phone screen with video backed up by some predictive analytics.

Brendan: That sounds like a little bit of a mouthful. If I just sort of repeat this back so it's basically video interviewing for recruitment.

Jane: That’s it.

Brendan: What got you into that? Is that like a new technology?

Jane: It’s coming out of pioneering and into growth. I’ve got 20 odd years in recruitment and about four years ago started to see that the recruitment industry needed to be disrupted and to evolve and to innovate. If I look at the actual process of recruitment, the one piece that was left that hadn’t been genuinely innovated was the screening part which is the phone screen. Think you have a job requisition, I have a need and then you go trying to find people. There's this invisible bit which is the phone screening part which is actually as a single point of failure as to whether or not the recruitment effort is successful for that particular role or campaign. At the moment phone screening is done manually. It’s obviously by phone. Twenty minutes is the average time it takes but there is a lot of inefficiency in trying to get to the candidates, missed calls, returned calls, jumping in and out of different jobs and then what I see typically is that the recruiters whether they be internal or agency would record those phone screens just in their notebook without any particular structure or objectivity. Depending on if say the recruiter is happy or hung over will determine who actually gets to the front door.

By making that phone screen part bring that to life through video making that a lot more structured and objective giving a high level data points to someone to make a decision through visual cues of facial recognition, the micromessaging in the face, the intonation of the voice, how someone presents on video gives people richer information to make better quality decisions. Effectively what we're trying to do is bring more of the science back to the art and science of recruitment.

Brendan: Are you saying that when you system video someone you can actually pick up sort of sub...

Jane: We're in private beta at the moment with some organizations around looking and analysing some of those traits through personality insights, sentiment analysis, tone of voice to make some inferred and some inferences on those individuals to see whether or not that would be good fit for a particular team, division, company, job, industry.

Brendan: It's like AI, Artificial Intelligence.

Jane: Correct.

Brendan: How long did it take for you to develop this system? It sounds pretty amazing.

Jane: We've been in development about four years but we've launched in earnest probably about six months ago. We’ve had some great success. Many organizations now at the beginning of, as we coming to the beginning of 2019 looking at using video interviewing for graduate hires, for any volume recruitments, I think customer service, customer success, hospitality, retail. We've had some really great success right across all of those industries even in to government to look at helping them get through the volume of applicants that they received for particular jobs to get to those right people faster.

Brendan: Is there a sweet spot like do they have to be big organizations to utilize this technology? What is your prime focus? The reason why I’m asking this question is because we’ve got a lot of listeners out there that are running certain sized companies. I just wanted to see whether they could use it for their health and safety requirement.

Jane: Video interviewing works best when you have a big brand and an absolute volume of applicants that are you struggling to get through. It’s a real pain point and a bottleneck in the recruitment process. It is a change and transformation pace. It’s not just buying a bit of technology. If we need the third element which is a champion internally to really take this piece of technology to help build in efficiencies to the recruitment process. That is what you really need and for organizations who want to also promote their brand. To be able to showcase their brand, their employer value proposition via video, via promo video that candidates will watch prior to them watching some pre-recorded questions that they then answer by their webcam in their own time and location to send back to the organization. The one point that I didn’t mention at the beginning is that it's asynchronous. You don’t need to be on the video at the same time like you would Skype or Zoom.

Brendan: The person going for the job do they get to have multiple takes or is it just one take?

Jane: Just one go. You’d be surprised at the quality of answers that we see coming through the platform when you just give them one opportunity. There is many debates out there at the moment about whether or not you should get one or many takes. We’ve landed on just one take for the simple reason that you only get one opportunity when you're on a phone screen. Second is you start to see the personality of the individual come through versus it being scripted or prepared.

Brendan: Whether they can cope under pressure.

Jane: Yes, that is one of the qualities.

Brendan: Have you had many people use the platform today?

Jane: Tens of thousands of applicants we've had through the platform.

Brendan: I didn’t realize you had that much volume.

Jane: It is making a meaningful difference to organizations out there.

Brendan: Walk me through like when you're innovating something like this in your four year journey when were you able to start using the products and how many tweaks did you have to make to what you originally envisage what you think people need and what the product eventually becomes often as a big disparity?

Jane: It was a very big journey for me going from services to product and even though I’d been in IT recruitment for 20 odd years I did not know how to manage IT people. I could find them but I did not know how to manage them. The journey was a bit of a rocky one to start with by first of all hiring a group of technologists who worked for me in Sydney where we’re based. I realized that because I didn’t have the management skills to manage versus lead a group of technologists. I didn’t have the language. I didn’t have the frameworks. I didn’t have the knowledge. That didn’t work so I outsourced it for a bit. Once I learned how to get cadence and rhythm with daily standups using some online technology like Jira, Confluence, Slack that I start to get into a bit of an understanding about this is the way product development actually works.

I got the product out early in MVP phase which is a minimal viable product. I had some early trials and they failed spectacularly which was fantastic because of the rich learning that we got through that iterative process to the point where we've now got a product highly robust, absolutely crystal clear in terms of the clarity of the video, the elegant use of interface and experience is what is driving customers across to us now which it's not an overnight thing that you can build. Looking at video interviewing through the lens of recruitment is really what helped me get the product to a point where it is effortless, it is intuitive and it's making people fall in love with recruitment again.

Brendan: Is there many companies doing this sort of thing and are they based in Australia or are they overseas? Tell me a little bit about the marketplace.

Jane: Four years ago I thought I had the unicorn idea and I was going to revolutionize the world. It turned out a number of other people had the same idea. I don’t think we were ready for video interviewing five to seven years ago.

Brendan: You've got to have the internet speeds to be able to handle it.

Jane: That is exactly right. There are a number of other organizations and we're all doing great things in this space. We all vary ever so slightly in terms of the direction that we're heading in. Some people are heading into assessments. Some are heading into just the basic video to improve the efficiency of the recruitment process and others like us who are leading the way in the predictive analytics space to help drive those decisions using data.

Brendan: It's like you built up this volume of candidates, the system is constantly learning and then with some of that learning you're able to then make assumptions for other customers.

Jane: That is right. Video is not just being used for recruitment I might add particularly if I think about your listener base. We’ve got one organization now that is using it for occupational health and safety where instead of asking a recruitment question they'll use this in the form of training for safety. That might be anything from learning how to operate a machine and then having that person replay back how that machine is actually operated to get their certification and then have that on record, on video that they've actually press the button and done it correctly.

Brendan: And still got to be done in one take.

Jane: Exactly right. Whether that would be this how you put on your safety gear and then having replaying that back and being recorded and going yes, you understand how to put on your safety gear. There’s many applications that fall in this platform that go outside of just recruitment but to your point the machine learning piece it will continue to learn from the data that gets put in. This is a wonderfully brave new world and artificial intelligence is actually, it's here. It has landed. It’s not going away. It is disrupting industries and then to put a lens over that and looking at how can we make better quality decisions for organizations with more data is a powerful thing.

Brendan: I’m not quite sure if you can mention specific clients but are you able to share with us some of the types of industries that are taking up with Alchemy.

Jane: As I have mentioned it's everything from government, law firms, not for profit, supply chain logistics. I’ll call out one organization called Linfox. They’ve had their own graduate program. They’ve had a thousand applications through. It would have taken then three and a half to four weeks to get through a thousand applicants but using our platform they did it in one day.

Brendan: You're kidding me. That is amazing.

Jane: The results absolutely spoke for themselves. They’ve got an absolutely stellar group of graduates. They hired a graduate manager who then went and said look, I’d love to meet these graduates. Their head of HR turned around and said, here you go. Here are all their videos. You can meet them all now.

Brendan: Just on that example you went from a thousand down to 20.

Jane: A thousand to a hundred to 20.

Brendan: At what point does the human element come in? Does the platform just automatically go okay, 900 of them are just not suitable based on what the system knows? These are the hundred that we recommend. Tell me a little bit how that works.

Jane: That is a different piece of technology which we don’t specialize in to get from a thousand to a hundred. What I will underscore is that video interviewing does not replace face to face. Using that and video interviewing with some inferences actually gives you a better and more robust decision making outcome rather than just relying on manual processes and human interference when you go through the recruitment effort. Our system kicks in at the point of either first of all an organization can open up their job to all and sundry. We call that open registration where anyone can apply so they can create a link with that.

Brendan: Put it in your CCAT or whatever.

Jane: CCAT or Facebook or twitter or wherever you like and then people can come into the system and apply. That is great for ongoing roles particularly call center or Christmas casual hiring, something like that.

Brendan: Does this mean the candidate only has to do the one interview or they would be on file or is it like if they go for Company B they have to re-record?

Jane: They have to re-record. That is right. That is in our future product roadmap about giving more power and control to the applicants as to where, to give them some efficiencies in the process as well because if I’m a person applying for a Christmas casual job I might apply for four or five. With my recruitment experience I could pretty much guarantee that the same or similar questions would be asked in that screening process for that particular role or function.

Brendan: Then you become more of a marketplace that other employers would be coming to you and saying, this is the profile of employee that I’m looking for. What have you got?

Jane: Exactly.

Brendan: I’m getting it.

Jane: It's a brave new world. It’s something that we're all having to get used to but candidates absolutely love it, organizations love it because of the time saved, the efficiencies gained and it's actually re-humanizing the recruitment process.

Brendan: What means is if you use the platform as a candidate and you're asking for an interview you're probably on a shortlist to get the job.

Jane: If you've made it through the video interview phase there is a very high chance that you'll be offered a position with that firm.

Brendan: I can see this potentially as a tool for health and safety recruiters as well. They could use the platform to screen candidates that they could then supply to their customer base.

Jane: It's really interesting that you mentioned that because if you looked at the industries where they've gone in to disrupt an industry let's say whether it would be Airbnb or Uber and they don’t collaborate with the industry that they're disrupting they're typically on the outside. If you look at the way Uber have engaged and worked with taxi drivers there is a greater level of collaboration and law of abundance versus law of scarcity. To that point we also worked with large scale recruiters. We are working with three other recruitment providers in the recruitment process outsourcing space whether I would do project work for organizations, whether I do ongoing recruitment across the year for organizations so helping building efficiencies into the recruitment agency process as well.

Brendan: We’re going to wrap up now. I’ve got some questions to ask before we leave. This is always a tricky one when I ask the ladies. How old are you now? May I ask I should say.

Jane: Yes you may, 45.

Brendan: What do you like to do to keep fit?

Jane: Run, tennis, swim, meditate.

Brendan: How many hours sleep are you getting on average per night?

Jane: At the moment I’m sleeping very well, eight, eight and a half.

Brendan: Do you have any personal goals that you are looking to achieve in the next 12 months?

Jane: Wide and varied. I think personal goals would be to become financially independent. Second goal would be to see my technology business in two other geographic locations which one is well on the way. The third would be to spend some more time with my children.

Brendan: What business achievement would you like to be most remembered for? Possibly around the new technology.

Jane: I think I’d like to be known for helping organizations make impactful decisions on their hiring to improve culture, decrease turnover and ultimately to greater profits.

Brendan: That is awesome. Great answer. If people want to find out a little bit more about you and also your business where can they visit?

Jane: You can find me on LinkedIn Jane Bianchini. You can go to my website AlchemyInteractive.com or Google me. You’ll find me somewhere.

Brendan: Thanks very much for coming on the show today Jane. If you're enjoying these podcasts don’t forget to subscribe and leave us a review. See you next time.

Jane: Thanks Brendan.

Brendan: Bye.

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