Quincy Valencia (aka Queen of the Chatbots) joins the menz to talk chatbots, programmatic and industry whitespace. Whitespace? WTF is WHITESPACE?
Gotta listen to find out...
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Intro: Hide your kids. Lock the doors. You're listening to HR's most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheesman are here to punch the recruiting industry right where it hurts, complete with breaking news, brash opinion, and loads of snark. Buckle up boys and girls. It's time for the Chad and Cheese Podcast.
Chad: Now, on today's Chad and Cheese, we have, once again, we've actually ran into Quincy Valencia. And you will remember, she is also known as queen of the Chatbots. Hello, Quincy.
Quincy Valencia: You mean, hello, your highness.
Chad: I mean, yes.
Quincy Valencia: Hello.
Quincy Valencia: Nice to be back.
Chad: Good to have.
Quincy Valencia: Good to be here.
Joel: Great interview that we did with Quincy not too long ago.
Joel: It's been a while. It's a must listen for anyone who cares about Chatbots in our space.
Quincy Valencia: Well, I appreciate that. It was good. It was a lot of fun.
Joel: Was it?
Quincy Valencia: There's so much new and exciting-
Joel: So much fun.
Quincy Valencia: So many new and exciting things and the field.
Chad: It's hilarious because I've known Quincy for over 15 years and I haven't seen her smile this much.
Joel: And she is still talking to you, oddly enough.
Chad: Yeah, I know, right? That's because I keep sneaking back in.
Joel: Have you had a psychological evaluation at any point in the last-
Quincy Valencia: I refuse to disclose.
Joel: Okay. Good enough. Enough said.
Chad: So, let's go right into it. So, there was this little Chatbot in Canada.
Quincy Valencia: There was.
Chad: The porridge was kind of warm. So, you guys went for it?
Quincy Valencia: Yeah, we did.
Quincy Valencia: Karen HR, Karen.AI out of Toronto was a great company. It was at the right space at the right time. As we at Alexander Mann are looking to expand upon the services and products that we offer in the industry, it was a perfect time. We were working with the Karen folks and some of our existing clients. And we thought, you know what? Now is a really good time to explore what else they have to offer that will help us augment and propel us into the next phase as an organization with Alexander Mann. So, really, really lucky to be working with those guys. Incredibly smart people. The co-founders, David Vradenberg, and Noel Webb, and a few of their other people came over and we couldn't be happier. It's a perfect fit. I'm really excited to see what we're doing with them now and what's going to be coming up soon.
Joel: So, Canadian means it's also French compatible.
Quincy Valencia: Sure.
Chad: Oui. French Canadian, which is entirely different.
Joel: What is your title now?
Quincy Valencia: VP of product innovation.
Chad: VP of product-
Quincy Valencia: So, we're the cool kids. Everybody at AMS is cool.
Joel: That's why you have the ripped jeans on.
Quincy Valencia: That's right. I've ripped jeans, and boots, and tattoos showing right now.
Joel: Yep. Yep.
Quincy Valencia: That's the cool kid division. It's the prerequisite for working there.
Joel: You have the uniform.
Quincy Valencia: That's right. I do. It's true.
Chad: Okay, so the Chatbot thing, you dove deep into Chatbots for a while.
Quincy Valencia: Yep.
Chad: You were looking at every Chatbot you can find out there. But that's not your only jam.
Quincy Valencia: It's not.
Chad: Right? So, what is that jam? I know you love technology and you've loved technology forever. Right now, this is a very exciting time in our industry. What excites you more than a Chatbot?
Quincy Valencia: The white space, frankly. So, we're seeing it here.
Quincy Valencia: All the white space.
Joel: That sounds racist.
Quincy Valencia: That's out there.
Chad: The white space. Why does it got to be white?
Quincy Valencia: Come on, man. No, there's so much space out there. There's so much innovation right now in our industry at large.
Quincy Valencia: And great point solutions out there. If you want a point solution for automated sourcing, you can find it.
Quincy Valencia: If you want a great solution for a programmatic, you can find it.
Joel: So, the white label space.
Quincy Valencia: Nope.
Quincy Valencia: There are gaps. So, you have... point A to point B, there's a line between those two and there's nothing filling that line. And point B to point C, there are solutions for B and C but there's nothing filling that gap.
Joel: I was largely being sarcastic, but thanks for filling that in.
Quincy Valencia: I'm here for you.
Chad: So, you have stack technology, right? And then, you have gaps in the stacks.
Quincy Valencia: Right.
Chad: That's what you're saying.
Quincy Valencia: Yeah, that's it.
Chad: So, what do you do? And why do you buy all of this technology if there are all these God damn gaps?
Quincy Valencia: Well, you know what? That's a really good question. And part of that is I think there's a few things that we're seeing. So, our time working really from the operator side, and the recruitment side, and all the years that we've seen there, and then partnering with such great technologists out there and falling into the same trap, frankly.
Chad: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Quincy Valencia: As what everyone else falls into, which is, that looks really cool and can solve a problem, and that looks really cool and can solve a problem, and that looks really cool and can solve a problem, and there are markets for those things out there. But what's really missing in a lot of cases is that one cohesive engine that will take you from point A to point Z, which is the hire in our industry-
Chad: Okay. Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Quincy Valencia: Without those gaps and without those breaks. Because some of the challenge... look, I'm a big proponent of everyone who's here today, and of what we do, and I buy these products, and we partner with these. So, it's not to denigrate them at all. There are places for that. But what we don't see is that one cohesive end to end solution. And, when you start Frankensteining pieces together, and one of those providers changes one piece of code, now you have a single point of failure. And often it looks very disjointed. So, if you look at a candidate experience, and you know from when we talked before, for me, candidate experience is everything, stakeholder experience in general is everything. And that's the lens you need to build everything through.
Quincy Valencia: And so, when you start jumping from one solution, to another solution, to another solution, if not done properly, and it's hard to do that properly, it becomes a poor experience where really all you're trying to do is make it better. And so, the white spaces and how do you fill in the spots in between each point solution. So, that's what's really exciting me these days.
Chad: So, aren't the ICIMs and the Jobvites of the world trying to get rid of those by buying Jibe, and Canvas, and then Telemetry? And I mean, aren't they trying to do that? Aren't they trying to be one system?
Quincy Valencia: Everyone is trying to do that one platform?
Joel: Are they going to achieve it though?
Quincy Valencia: Well, I don't know. I mean, I guess it's yet to be seen. But, when you look at all the different pieces, growth, and expansion, and penetration through acquisition is smart, in a lot of cases and really will acquire them more business. And they're really moving toward what it is that we're talking about today. But those platforms are still built on different code. And so, basically they're still kind of... it remains to be seen how successful they are in integrating that from an experience standpoint. I don't know.
Joel: Who do you give the best chance to be that one platform?
Quincy Valencia: Oh, this is such a loaded question. I don't know.
Chad: Is it an ATS?
Quincy Valencia: Well-
Chad: Is it an ERP? I mean, what's the company that's going to
be the core that they can build around that, this makes the most sense?
Quincy Valencia: I can't name which company it is. But I will tell you this, it has to be a company that will, whether they're building it themselves or whether they're building it through acquisition, has depth and breadth of knowledge and experience in the business of recruitment in people and in that, as opposed to only being technologists on the other end that may have seen a gap out there.
Quincy Valencia: And an opportunity and they try and plug that in. I think that's one of the biggest things that's missing is that experience in recruitment in general and hearing and having access to and living day to day the frustrations that are out there in the marketplace. So, not just knowing it because everyone knows the data points, but really understanding it sort of viscerally.
Joel: Are we not giving the app marketplace enough credit here? Because shouldn't an ATS have a robust enough application or app store to where other solutions can build on top of theirs to create this one platform? So, whether it's Canvas or Text Recruit, whatever you choose, you just plug it into your ATS. Like I feel like we spend too much time on, they got to buy it, they got to build it. Like can't they just provide an environment where third parties can build these tools on their platform?
Quincy Valencia: The people who have the problems, the people who have the challenges in their recruitment programs are not necessarily the people who understand the vast technology marketplace that exists today. And so, if you just create a tech marketplace like ICIMs has, which I love ICIMs by the way. I think a company I used to work for was I think the 12th company to purchase and implement them.
Quincy Valencia: So, again, props to them. But, if you're only having a marketplace for them and you're saying, well we've added them, but you've got 20 of them and there's no consultation behind that about what are you trying to accomplish as a business, as an organization?
Quincy Valencia: What are you missing today? What are you trying to accomplish with TA holistically, as opposed to you can plug in these point solutions, I don't know how successful that's going to be.
Joel: And I think there could be a marketplace rating system where people who use those apps say, this is fantastic. And you say, okay. Well, this one has a better review than the other one.
Quincy Valencia: Yeah.
Joel: So, I don't know if you have to know every single text recruiting platform to just go in and say, okay, these two have five stars.
Chad: It's very Apple store-ish, right?
Quincy Valencia: Yep. Totally agree with that. So, I love the idea of that pre-vetting.
Joel: Let the market decide. Or let the market... I mean-
Quincy Valencia: It's no different than buying something on Amazon. You're not going to buy something without a five star rating. Right? So, I totally get that.
Joel: Correct. And a thoughtful review and things like that.
Quincy Valencia: The problem with that approach is that you have operators, which is what you need to make these business decisions. And they can identify what they think the issues are in their market. And sometimes you have two issues, and this is why they hire consultants to help them with this. The marketplace is vast and the terminology is sometimes foreign. So, do I need a Chatbot? Do I need Programmatic? It's still, we go into clients it's, I need an AI. They don't exactly even know what that means.
Quincy Valencia: And so, it's not enough, in my opinion, to have a marketplace that has the best of the best, even if it's the cream of the crop, fully bedded of 50 different types of point solutions without any context around that to help guide those decisions of what those opportunities really are in their marketplace. Time and again you'll see somebody who says, we need sourcing. We need sourcing, sourcing, sourcing, sourcing. What can we do for sourcing? And you can add people, or you can do it programmatically, or you can do whatever you want. But, if the real problem is you don't have enough people downstream to do anything with those candidates that now you have a great pipeline for, you're actually creating a worse experience than what existed before. So, you really need to take a holistic view instead of just buying piece after piece.
Joel: The market needs to be forced.
Quincy Valencia: Really. It's true. Yeah. Yeah. I think it's true. I think there needs to be some consultation that goes along with that, rather than just looking at piece, after piece, after piece and not understanding how it's all going to fit together.
Joel: I'd still like to see an environment that I sort of just outlined. I think ATS has put up way too many barriers for companies and technologies to integrate into their systems.
Quincy Valencia: I agree.
Joel: Whether it's by write a check, or we'll get to you when we get to you, I think there's a hindrance to that one platform happening. And, if I were saying where would my money go, when we talk to startups, the one ATS that everyone is like, oh they're great to integrate with is Greenhouse.
Quincy Valencia: Yeah, it is.
Joel: So, if we're saying, who has the best chance of building an app store, platform environment? To me, like Greenhouse has as good a shot of anyone just for the fact that they actually do integrate easily.
Chad: We'll get back to the interview in a minute, but first we have a question for Andy Katz, COO of Nexxt. Andy, if a company wants to actually come to Next and utilize your database and target texting candidates, I mean how does that actually work?
Andy Katz: Right, so we have the software to provide it two different ways. If an employer has their own database of opted in text messages, whether it's through their ATS, we can text on their behalf. Or we have over eight and a half million users that have opted into our text messaging at this point. So, we can use our own database. We could dissect it by, obviously, by geography, by function, any which way. And sometimes we'll even parse the resumes of the opted in people to target certifications. So, we really can dive really deep if they want to hone in on just give me the best hundred candidates that I want to text message with and have a conversation back and forth with, versus going and saying, I need 30,000 retail people across the country. And that's more of a, yes, no text messaging back and apply.
Chad: For more information, go to hiring.nexxt.com. Remember that's next with the double X, not the triple X. Hiring.nexxt.com.
Chad: I don't think that answers the white space problem. The white space is still going to be there. But then, I go to Salesforce who has this huge app marketplace thing, right?
Quincy Valencia: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Chad: And, I mean, they've actually created an entire industry of Salesforce consultants to be able to get those tied together. And I see where you're going and I like it. But I can see that also, with Salesforce, they still have a lot of white space. And they still need more people to come in to try to cover those gaps. So, I don't think that would be the answer to actually covering any of the gaps.
Quincy Valencia: Well, agreed. And so, that brings me back to the point that I said before. I mean, to your point, Joel, I think having that sort of market place is invaluable if you have a company that you trust, whether it be an ATS provider that you know and trust, whether it be an RPO provider. We have something called the Hive that's exactly what you're talking about.
Quincy Valencia: Because of our experience there. And I think that can serve a great service. As an operator, if you don't truly have that guidance and consultation behind, you may think you need a Chatbot, but do you? What is it you think you're missing? What are you solving for? And, if you're only relying on individual vendors to provide that information to you, they know their product really, really well. They're going to pitch their product to you, and as they should.
Quincy Valencia: It's what they should do. But I think you need to take a bird's eye view and see how, not just they're going to integrate technologically, but from an experience standpoint and what that end product will be for your candidates and for your recruiters and for your hiring managers. You have to look at it every stakeholder, not only candidate.
Chad: The experience itself, so the the candidate experience, the internal experience for a recruiter, or a hiring manager, or whatever, there's white space all over the place with that.
Quincy Valencia: Yeah.
Chad: And I think there isn't going to be an easy answer to just plug in these apps or just pick these vendors. Right?
Quincy Valencia: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Chad: I think we try to go that whole easy route and it has never worked. The problem is we need to understand that. We need to blow up our processes. And we need to start from the ground up and start building pretty much a new system overall, as opposed to trying to layer all these old systems on top.
Quincy Valencia: That's exactly what it is. So, you and I have talked about this before, Chad, where you come back to process, process, process all the time. And I actually agree with you on that because a lot of the problem that you have today-
Chad: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Did you say you, you agree?
Quincy Valencia: I did. You should ring a bell or something when you edit this, because this may be the only time. Mark this time in history. But I actually agree with you on that where a lot of the issue from plugging in a lot of the tools that we're talking about now is that they're really trying to replicate their existing experience and existing process just in an automated way. And you're really not improving anything really materially.
Quincy Valencia: And so, I would take it one step further from you. And I'd say experience, experience, experience because it incorporates more. You're looking, not just... typically when you're talking about a process, you're looking at it from the company point of view, and you want to add efficiency. And you can do that lots of ways, but you certainly want efficiency, your candidates want efficiency, your hiring managers want efficiency, but they want to feel good. They don't want to feel like crap and like they're being ditched and lost forever when they're going through a process.
Quincy Valencia: They want it to be engaging. They don't want to have to take two shots of whiskey before they start a process.
Chad: It does help.
Quincy Valencia: Yeah, I know. I've done it so. So, you really need to look at it all around in a-
Chad: In a prior job, of course.
Quincy Valencia: Yeah. Of course. Yeah. But you need to really look at, how are they going to fail when they go through. And that, to me, that's your primary lens always. And don't try and replicate your existing crappy processes that were built in 1902 because that's what your ATS... you built your process around an ATS that didn't fit your needs. And so, it's not going to work if you just try and recreate the thing. You're wasting your money. You're throwing money at a bad problem if you think that technology is going to fix that for you.
Joel: What other technologies are you currently bullish on?
Quincy Valencia: RPA, actually.
Quincy Valencia: I think a lot of people are... I know. The more I see and the more I've seen it actually applied in situations, I think it does... there are places where it can do exactly what it is the companies are setting out to do, which is efficiency, accuracy. It helps normally if you hired somebody to manually transfer 70,000 files from one system to another. Certainly opportunity for error is there, human error. It's not very fun. Chances of turnover are great. And you can actually do that in an automated way with a greater degree of accuracy without somebody wanting to kill themselves at the end of the day.
Quincy Valencia: And I think there's broader application than what we're even looking at it here. I think you're going to see an upturn there, I think, I expect too, and maybe unexpectedly. Because people are so focused on... it may not seem as sexy. It's like an automated process. It's the assembly line, but I think that
could have some real implications in our industry.
Chad: Yeah, but, in some cases, we look at Chatbots and everybody wants to say AI, right?
Quincy Valencia: Yeah. They don't know what it means.
Chad: But overall you're using these Chatbots, in some cases, really in an RPA manner. I mean, robot process automation. You are looking to really automate a process. If you're having a conversation with somebody about getting their data to build a profile in your system to make it more conversational, to make it just a better experience. It's not really AI as much as it is RPA. I understand AI can be behind the scenes. I understand that they can work together. There's no question. But it's like I don't think we talk enough about being able to do something that is sexy. I think process can be ugly as shit, but it can be sexy too.
Quincy Valencia: Well, that's the goal. I mean, that's what the goal should be. I think those of us who work in this industry have an obligation, frankly, to make sure that whatever it is that we're building, whatever it is that we're putting in place does have some sexy and sizzle to it. And not only that, not just the shiny squirrel, but... oh, I just mixed metaphors. Not just the shiny new thing, but really in a way that's meaningful.
Joel: There may be some shiny squirrels out there.
Quincy Valencia: And that's going to be-
Joel: Who knows.
Quincy Valencia: Probably. But, no. I think it's important that we are looking at it from that way. Otherwise we're all reinventing the same thing.