Zapoint Charting Out “Skills Maps” of 300 Big Companies

4/26/11Follow @xconomy

Zapoint, a Cambridge, MA-based maker of career management software, is taking an unusual approach to getting the attention of HR departments.

The company announced last month that it is compiling the data generated by social networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook to put together what it calls “skills maps” of the workforces at roughly 300 organizations, says CEO and founder Chris Twyman. The purpose is twofold, he says: to point out the “artificial walls” HR can put up within an organization, and to show potential customers the new analytics capabilities of Zapoint’s software, SkillsMapper.

Twyman says that HR departments hold back in informing employees about the skills possessed in different departments and required of certain roles. Meanwhile, he says, employees themselves publicize much of this information on sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. “The fact is that all of their employees are driven to those applications. Let’s take that desire and capture it in a career management tool that benefits the organization as a whole.”

Zapoint is roughly four years old and has raised about $5 million, from Stage 1 Ventures, HFF Investments, and individual investors. Last year, the firm acquired the Jobster business unit from Seattle-based Recruiting.com. The company has developed its software to better automate data imports on individual employees, but has decided to take that experience and technology to painting a macro picture of what an organization looks like, specifically, analyzing the skill sets of the workforce.

“There’s a lot of data that you can extract from a LinkedIn profile or resume; much more than you’d anticipate,” says Twyman. “We’re wrapping a career management capability around that. We’ll take the talent profiles that have been created and put the context around them.”

Zapoint is creating its 300 skills maps upfront to show employers what they could get from the technology. The startup claims that the mapping technology could help customer trim recruiting costs by better showcasing who is qualified within their organizations and helping employees develop a career roadmap within a given firm rather than looking for a job at other companies. Twyman says the skills maps could ultimately give organizations insight into things like how their companies’ skill sets compare to those of competitors. Employees, meanwhile, could gain a more accurate picture of what gaps in skills lie between them and their desired promotion and can help bridge these with e-learning tools integrated into the Zapoint software for their company. The startup selling this organization-level skills analytics at a fixed cost of under $10,000 (for the base level) Twyman says.

Zapoint has completed about 30 of the 300 maps at this point, and is targeting the full 300 by the end of the year.  It’s bringing the maps directly to the organizations they cover. “In some cases it’s going to feel very threatening to the organization,” says Twyman. “We’re accessing data on their employees that is very accurate but they don’t necessarily own and control.”

Zapoint has also been commissioned to analyze organizations’ skill sets for a state initiative called Commonwealth Compact to create a talent database for the state and map the diversity of the workforce.

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