Technology continues to revolutionize various aspects of businesses across industries. The background screening segment, a vital part of human capital management industry, is riding on technology and is growing at a rapid pace globally. With increasing awareness of the potential risks involved in hiring people without a Background Check, more companies are demanding employee background screening. The technique becomes even more critical in the light of regulatory and compliance changes. In the Indian context the Background Screening market penetration is still low. But technology is plays a critical role in expanding the horizons. In an exclusive interaction with CXOToday, industry veteran Ron Douglas, COO of First Advantage explains how technologies such as blockchain can be a game changer for Background Screening market and how First Advantage is tapping the India market potential in this domain.
CXOToday: What are some of the key trends in the background screening industry?
Ron Douglas: Some of the popular trends expected to be seen this year in the background screening industry include:
Social Media Checks- With the birth of so many social media platforms and the increasing involvement of people on those apps, social media has become crucial for an initial background check. Almost everybody has an account on at least one social media site. It gives us a bird’s eye view and a quality sneak peek on the prospective candidates’ lives and thoughts.
Continuous Monitoring- It has emerged to be very crucial because organisations need to be aware of any development or information regarding its employees thatcan potentially harm the reputation of the company. Continuous monitoring enables firms to be up-to-date with all the necessary information to provide quality customer service.
A centralized global background screening platform is gradually becoming more pervasive to ensure consistency and system-wide compliance.
Drug testing for current and prospective employees has increased by 12% among our clients. The usage of ‘National Criminal Plus’ file has also increased by 38% among our clients.
CXOToday: How do you see India as a market for employee background screening?
Ron Douglas: India has the potential to become one of the largest markets for the screening industry. Although background screening is not mandatory in India, a number of firms, ranging from start-ups to multi-nationals, have started integrating it as part of their recruitment process.
With a high rate of discrepancy, as can be seen from our quarterly reports, companies have realized the need to invest in effective background screening service providers to hire the right candidate.
CXOToday: What kind of technologies is your organization exploring at present or intend to do so in future?
Ron Douglas: Technology is indispensable that has crept into every single aspect of our lives and the processes involved in pre-recruitment and employee background screening are not an exception to this. Today, a number of processes involved in recruitment are automated, but this doesn’t imply that the humans have become redundant. Technology has helped cross boundaries and carry out wider, more thorough checks faster.
Currently, we are seeing a number of technologies unfolding and becoming popular. Some of them such as process automation, robotics, blockchain and predictive analysis have the potential to disrupt the hiring industry, like many other industries. We are planning to explore and incorporate these capabilities in our screening solutions for speedier and near flawless results in the future.
CXOToday: Talking about blockchain, how do you think the new technology can boost employee screening?
Ron Douglas: Blockchain is one of the most recent and high potential innovations . It has the power to disrupt industries and allows for fast, secure and transparent movement of digital and electronic goods and information without the need of a mediator. Basically, it will make the role of an intermediary redundant, and reduce the time, cost and labor.
Talking about blockchain technology in employee screening, it can be seen as an unhackable ledger system that can store data about the employees and help create a sophisticated employee profile. It can verify performance, work history and a host of other data that would be helpful in determining whether or not a candidate is a good hire for the company. This technology will be able to boost the entire operational system and applications utilized by the background screening providers. It will not only enhance the performance but also deliver better, faster and more accurate results provided there is proper infrastructure support and that it is aptly leveraged.
CXOToday: Tell us about your career journey. What exactly is your job role in First Advantage in tech innovation?
Ron Douglas: I have driven multiple transformational projects during the course of my career. I joined First Advantage in 2015 and in my current role, I lead the company’s global operations, customer care, procurement and supplier management functions.I consistently aim to provide practical and workable solutions to ensure revenue growth, decreased costs and improved operational effectiveness. In the end, we are in the outcome business – outcomes that help facilitate faster and better hiring decisions and onboarding of candidates by our customers.
Before First Advantage, I was with a consulting firm – FCM LLC, prior to which I was spearheading the global operations function and technology initiatives at Nielsen where I spent around 31 years. I had started my career at Nielsen in Finance on the International Audit Staff.
CXOToday: What are some of the biggest challenges you faced in your career?
Ron Douglas: Challenges make you stronger and better prepared for the next set provided you learn from those experiences. I have had my fair share of big and small challenges in my career, and facing your challenges head-on is what I have always believed in. I have never met a challenge that couldn’t be resolved, but the key is understanding the range of solutions and and the implications associated. Likewise, you learn from both failures and successes. A good manager gets it right 85% of the time, a great manger addresses the 15% effectively and ultimately gets it right. A consistent challenge as an operations executive has been the balance between running an operation and making it better. While those two notions are inextricably tied, sometimes it can be a bit like changing a tire on a moving car.
CXOToday: What’s your digital agenda? Do you find the right talent to meet your organisation’s digital need?
Ron Douglas: We want to leverage and utilize the advanced and latest available digital solutions to support our staff. Proper training sessions will be provided so that our employees understand the true potential of these solutions which can help them deliver better and quicker results.
Being a background screening service provider, we follow a strict screening procedure while hiring candidates. We conduct a thorough background screening to identify and pick the best talent in the market who can become an asset for the company. We aim to hire candidates who would proactively deliver the best outputs, who would strive to exhibit excellence in their work, and be able uphold the firm’s reputation. Digitization is part of everyone’s future, but it’s founded on strong operational and process principles. The overall complexion of the workforce continues to evolve to meet the demands of a digital market.
CXOToday: What is your business roadmap for Indian market? How can technology help you expand First Advantage’s business in the coming years?
Ron Douglas: India is a very promising market. As a leading background screening service provider, we are studying the local market situation for a better understanding of the services required by different clients, so that we are able develop and offer tailored and premium customer experiences. Technology is definitely the most powerful ingredient for us to be able to achieve this. Every company is striving to adopt digital solutions to have a firm footing in the Indian market and we intend to lead that effort. Technology is a critical enabler and it has helped fuel the success we have had of late in India. We are doubling-down on technology as a driver of fast and effective outcomes.