SEERA takes its talent to the world


It was an idea 13 years in gestation and now Microsoft Azure is helping to take talent management software company SEERA to the world.

Founded and led by dynamic CEO Bradley Birchall, SEERA came into existence four years ago but first started as an idea in his head more than a decade earlier when he was heavily involved in the establishment of Seek, now Australia’s leading employment website but then just an ambitious start-up trying to take on the job advertising sector which had long been firmly entrenched in newspapers.

“I was responsible for building Seek’s platform and operations,” Mr Birchall said. “I saw a flaw in the market that I approached the Seek board on, and said look: ‘It’s all good to provide a job site, but what we’re not addressing is the management of people and the management of organisations and how they deal with those people’.

“So that’s going back 13 years ago now, and at the time it would have been difficult to achieve due to the inherent technology constraints.  I always knew that one day I would realise the dream when the time was right.”

When that time came, Mr Birchall established SEERA and started building the first version in Java using Amazon Web Services, but after a year decided to switch to .net and the Microsoft Azure platform.

“It was a completely different approach to all existing HR solutions. You can profile people at the recruitment point which provides enormous savings for customers. With their profile and performance appraisal information you can then do things like gap analysis, project resourcing, and learning and development planning.  And you can automate all of those processes that were previously manual or cumbersome,” he said.

“What differentiates SEERA is that it uses competency frameworks as the foundation.”

It’s been a winning differentiator, with the company in recent times doubling in size every three to four months.

Helping to fuel that expansion was a move to Microsoft Azure.

“After we started using Microsoft Azure we found that the cost of developing and building out SEERA and the ongoing management costs using Azure were, on average, 30 to 40 per cent lower than AWS.  In addition, Azure allowed us to innovate on top of the platform to deliver value to our every growing customer base by adding new features and functionality on a regular cadence.”

SEERA has products for businesses at all stages of growth, from SMBs to enterprises, and the rapid growth is “because we’re providing features and functionality that just simply don’t exist in traditional HR solutions,” Mr Birchall said.

For the Australian Technical and Management College (ATMC), an educational institute with four campuses in Victoria, and ones in Sydney, Sri Lanka and Malaysia, SEERA has proved a godsend.

Asheley Jones, the Executive Director for Work Integrated Learning (WIL) at ATMC, described the SEERA platform as user-friendly and delivered a great ROI. It allows the institution to “better integrate between education and industry; it bridges the gap; it enables a work-integrated learning process to be implemented, cost effectively, and it makes students ‘job ready’ and ‘career aware’.”

“I needed a platform that could map students to projects; that gave me data across three different campuses over four countries; pre-SEERA, this would have taken 10 plus people months to create using spreadsheets. Using SEERA, I am doing this project at one third of the cost in year 1, and the costs fall even further in Year 2 onwards.”

The Azure service has enabled SEERA to rapidly develop and deploy new features improving its agility and responsiveness to the needs of the market. SEERA will further enhance its capabilities in 2016 with the introduction of Azure’s Machine Learning technology.

“Right now we’ve got 14 provisional patents filed.  Two of them are in machine learning, we’re consuming VM’s at the moment in Azure Native and Azure SQL.  We are looking at integrating Office 365 for communications and for Skype business for video interviews to be imbedded within SEERA as well,” Mr Birchall said, adding that while SQL reporting services were currently being used, Power BI was being considered for future use.

With a potential market estimated at $2 billion in Australia and $60 billion worldwide, there’s little wonder that SEERA is expanding rapidly. The company is in the process of opening a London office and is looking at Singapore for a base for the Asia Pacific region, with the medium term plan seeing a move into the US in late 2016 and NASDAQ listing in 2018-19.

The idea may have been 13 years in the making, but it’s an idea whose time has come.

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