August 8, 2023

Using LinkedIn Data to Help Understand the HR Tech Ecosystem

Andrew Pitts

In April we attended the Unleash America Conference in Las Vegas. Altogether it was a great event and we had a lot of interesting conversations and made a lot of great connections. While we were at the conference we started to think about the connections that exist between the exhibitors at the conference. This post is the result of some analysis we did as a result and that we are now pleased to share publicly. As I’m sure you will see, there are a great deal of insights that one can glean from the approach we have taken and we have not attempted an exhaustive analysis here but rather have made the resulting networks publicly available below so that you can access them and ask your own questions.

Background and Our Approach

When looking to understand the relationships between exhibitors, the key questions was of course, what data to use? We made the decision to use data from LinkedIn, specifically the set of “People Also Viewed” companies available on a given company’s LinkedIn profile page (please see the screenshot below). So, the approach we took was to extract this People Also Viewed data for each exhibitor at the conference, which we call the Seed Profiles. At the same time as extracting this People Also Viewed data we were also able to capture other attributes about the exhibitors, such as the industry they were in, whether they were private or public, the size of the company, and so on.

So, to create the company People Also Viewed network for Unleash America, we first identified the 150+ exhibitors for the event and curated a list of their LinkedIn profile URLs which we used to extract both the People Also Viewed data as well as a set of company attributes.

The next step was to iterate on this process, i.e. to repeat it for the profiles from the People Also Viewed data. We continued this process until a specified number of company profiles had been collected, 500 companies in this case. Once the data had been collected, it was processed into a network format (i.e. nodes and edges with attributes on each of those nodes and edges) and uploaded to Polinode via the Polinode API.

Each node of course represents a distinct company profile and the resulting network consists of companies and their People Also Viewed connections. Two companies are connected in the network if one company was listed in the set of People Also Viewed companies for the other company profile.

The Unleash America Exhibitors “People Also Viewed” LinkedIn Network

In total, there are 2,309 companies in the unfiltered network and 4,703 connections. Note that there are more than the 500 companies that we retrieved data for because we did not retrieve the full profile of each company due to the stopping condition. On average, each company had about 4 total connections. In the network images below, we’ve filtered out companies with relatively few connections to reduce the noise in the network, resulting in a core network of 582 companies with 2,534 connections between them.

The following image shows this core network colored by the country the headquarters of the company is located in. We have also sized the nodes in the network here by the total number of incoming connections, i.e. the number of times they were identified as a People Also Viewed company. Additionally, we’ve simplified the list of countries by combining countries with less representation into an “Other” category.

We have made this network publicly available in Polinode so you may also click the following link to view a live version of this network in Polinode which you can explore and interact with: https://app.polinode.com/networks/explore/64b70ec0d90de40011f8b57c/64c1a531fca65700b18cc4e7

As seen in the network image above, the center of the network mainly includes companies headquartered in the USA (blue). Moving away from the center of the network towards the lower left, there is a group of Israeli companies (red), such as Wix, several gaming companies and a mix of other tech-focused companies. Additionally, towards the lower right of the network, there are two distinct groups of India-based companies (light green).

We have saved multiple views in Polinode for this network and the image below shows another view that we have saved - one where we have colored by whether or not a company was in the seed list of exhibitors for Unleash America. It’s interesting to see which of the seed companies are well connected across the ecosystem and which are less well connected. If you have opened the interactive network, you have likely also seen that there is a fair bit of clustering / grouping of companies other than by country…and we are going to look at that very soon.

We have also made this network publicly available in Polinode so you may click the following link to view a live version of this network in Polinode which you can explore and interact with: https://app.polinode.com/networks/explore/64b70ec0d90de40011f8b57c/64c1a347fca65700b18cc4a6

We were of course curious about the groups of closely connected companies and how they might be related beyond headquarters location. To better identify the clusters and understand the mix of companies in each, we ran a community detection algorithm in Polinode, which finds non-overlapping groups of relatively connected companies. Several methods are available for detecting these groups, each offering tradeoffs in speed and quality. Arguably the most commonly applied algorithm is the Louvain method for community detection and that is what we used.

The following image shows the network colored by the resulting communities. For reference, we’ve set the resolution parameter of the Louvain algorithm to 0.3 to reduce the total number of detected communities in order to simplify the resulting network visualization.

We have also made this network publicly available in Polinode so you may click the following link to view a live version of this network in Polinode which you can explore and interact with: https://app.polinode.com/networks/explore/64b70ec0d90de40011f8b57c/64b76b7290bb980012545801

The result of the above was the detection of eight communities among the 582 companies in the filtered network. If you hover over a few companies in the interactive network, you will notice that similar companies tend to be grouped together. In the next section we dive a bit deeper into just a couple of these communities.

A Deeper Dive into Three Communities

We have chosen three communities to take a closer look at. They are what we have labeled the People Analytics community, the Consulting community and the Health and Wellbeing community and we have highlighted them in the image below. Of course, not every company in those three communities falls neatly into these three categories….and it’s interesting to see which companies have been allocated to those communities but don’t necessarily fall into those categories.

The first group we’ll look at is the People Analytics community at the top right of the network above. It includes companies like Visier, One Model, Worklytics, Polinode and Insight222, among several others. The following image gives a closer look at this community. We have added labels next to some of the more connected companies in the group.               

We have also made this network publicly available in Polinode so you may click the following link to view a live version of this network in Polinode which you can explore and interact with (you will want to use your mouse wheel to zoom in on the community towards the top right of the network to see the above): https://app.polinode.com/networks/explore/64b70ec0d90de40011f8b57c/64c2d07af95ae100102db6ff

No doubt you will have your own observations about the People Analytics community above! We’d like to briefly mention a couple of things that we noticed. We found it interesting that the Unleash profile, i.e. the organizer of the Unleash conference, was positioned in the People Analytics community rather than elsewhere in the network. Traditionally HRIS and Recruiting companies get a lot of mindshare and budget in the HR Tech space and, of course a number of these companies were well represented at Unleash. So, given the broader scope of the conference – covering not only People Analytics but the HR tech space in general – it was interesting to see the Unleash profile positioned where it was. We also found it interesting to see Visier positioned closer to the center of the network - pulled in by connections to Deloitte and Workday as well as some fellow Canadian companies that sit towards the center of the network.

The next group we’ll cover is the Health and Wellbeing community, which includes companies like BetterUp, Headspace, Calm and Lyra Health. Having a reasonably sized community of companies focused on health and wellbeing was also really interesting to see. BetterUp, one of the exhibitors at the Unleash America conference, is in an interesting bridging position relative to the other health companies in this group and the overall network. The image below shows a close-up view of the Health and Wellbeing community.

We have also made this network publicly available in Polinode so you may click the following link to view a live version of this network in Polinode which you can explore and interact with (you will want to use your mouse wheel to zoom in on the community towards the top right of the network to see the above): https://app.polinode.com/networks/explore/64b70ec0d90de40011f8b57c/64c2d5fef95ae100102db70b

Finally, we’ll look at the Consulting community and the companies that it includes, such as Deloitte, EY, KPMG, Accenture and Tata Consultancy Services. One of the attributes that we collected from LinkedIn was company size. On average, the companies in this group are considerably larger than the typical company in the network. To demonstrate this, we have sized companies by this company size attribute and saved a view in Polinode. The image below summarizes this view. Deloitte’s position is an interesting one - see how it is closer to the center of the network and playing more of a bridging role than the other consulting companies?

We have also made this network publicly available in Polinode so you may click the following link to view a live version of this network in Polinode which you can explore and interact with: https://app.polinode.com/networks/explore/64b70ec0d90de40011f8b57c/64c2db91f95ae100102db72d

We’ve mentioned a few individual companies in the above, including Visier and Deloitte. In the next section we are going to take a look at both of those companies as well as Polinode in a bit more detail.

Looking at Polinode, Visier and Deloitte in More Detail

The first company we’ll take a closer look at is Polinode - yep, we are interested in ourselves! Not surprisingly we are in the People Analytics community. Our software and solutions are often used by People Analytics teams inside of medium and large companies. The image below shows the ego network for Polinode, i.e. the connections to and from Polinode as well as the connections between the companies that are connected to Polinode.

We have also made this network publicly available in Polinode so you may click the following link to view a live version of this network in Polinode which you can explore and interact with (to see the view above you should go to the right hand side window and search for and select Polinode and then zoom in with your mouse wheel): https://app.polinode.com/networks/explore/64b70ec0d90de40011f8b57c/64b76b7290bb980012545801

What can we say about Polinode’s direct connections? Well it’s not surprising that we are connected to the People Analytics Academy Conference as Andrew Pitts, Polinode’s Founder & CEO, recently presented at that conference. And the connections to Worklytics and Trustsphere make sense as Polinode is an Organizational Network Analysis company and both of those organizations focus on passive data (something that Polinode can also do but it’s worth noting that some of our customers use our network analysis tools to plug into passive data sources collected by other vendors…the People Analytics space can be complicated!). Of course, we also see our friends at Tucana who run the People Analytics World conference each year (another terrific event that we are hoping to make it to in person next year!). And finally there is OrganizationView, which is a Europe-based organization that focuses on understanding and analyzing open text data, including employee responses to open text engagement questions. The founder of OrganizationView, Andrew Marritt, has been a valuable addition to our Polinode Enterprise Connect community that gets together a few times a year to listen to and discuss various presentations on People Analytics / Organizational Network Analysis. By the way, if you work in the People Analytics space and haven’t heard about the Polinode Enterprise Connect events please feel free to reach out to us at info@polinode.com (they are one of the best kept secrets in the community).

You will recall that we already mentioned that Visier, the next company we’ll discuss, is closer to the center of the overall network than other companies in the People Analytics community. We found this interesting as Visier is quite a large player in the People Analytics space now. Similar to the image above for Polinode, below is an image of Visier’s ego network highlighting its position in the network and the other companies that it is connected to. Note how it has those three connections into the more central pink community…quite different to most of the other People Analytics community companies.

We have also made this network publicly available in Polinode so you may click the following link to view a live version of this network in Polinode which you can explore and interact with (to see the view above you should go to the right hand side window and search for and select Visier and then zoom in with your mouse wheel): https://app.polinode.com/networks/explore/64b70ec0d90de40011f8b57c/64b76b7290bb980012545801

Finally, let’s take a look at Deloitte. Deloitte is one of the most connected companies in the overall network, which is not surprising given its strong presence at Unleash and also in the overall HR Tech community. Though not in the center of the network, its connections are quite varied and include several communities like People Analytics in addition to the Consulting community. It also has a varied set of connections across both the central pink group as well as the People Analytics group and is positioned in a bridging role relative to the other companies in the Consulting community.               

We have also made this network publicly available in Polinode so you may click the following link to view a live version of this network in Polinode which you can explore and interact with (to see the view above you should go to the right hand side window and search for and select Deloitte and then zoom in with your mouse wheel): https://app.polinode.com/networks/explore/64b70ec0d90de40011f8b57c/64b76b7290bb980012545801

Conclusion

The community and individual company examples shared above are only a few of the potential insights that can be gleaned from the LinkedIn network data. If you're eager to delve further into this network and uncover more captivating insights, we invite you to explore the interactive views on the Polinode platform that are linked to above. And, of course, feel free to reach out to us at info@polinode.com if you would like to discuss in more detail.

If you found this interesting, we have another analysis that will follow very soon. Instead of being a company-to-company network though it will be a person-to-person network. We guarantee that this is not one you will want to miss! Feel free to follow us on LinkedIn and turn on post notifications to be notified once we publish it. And, once again, If you would like to learn more about Polinode or ONA more generally, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at info@polinode.com. As you can probably tell, we love connecting with new people!

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