5 Minutes With Ian Howard Neotas

In the latest instalment of our HR executive interview series, we talk to Neotas Director Ian Howard about his company, industry trends and careers advice…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

Neotas is a technology led company, focused on providing pre employment screening and Senior Management screening services. We use the full power and breadth of Open Source Intelligence, the deep web and Social Media to help organisations better understand opportunities and hidden risks and opportunities related to their workforce.

What have been the biggest challenges the Human Resources industry has faced over the past 12 months?

From our perspective the biggest challenge has been to find the balance between an individual’s right to privacy and GDPR obligations vs the growing amount of public information available for all of us. Where is the balance between protecting privacy and managing risk?

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

Technology is evolving rapidly and makes it easier to identify information. What was impossible 5 years ago, now is not only practical but can also be cost effective. Of course, this technology needs to be used in a legal and ethical manner, so building this into every process is key.

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2019?

Ongoing adoption of social media screening and analytics in the screening process for most organisations. This will bring an increased understanding of what is “possible” as well as greater guidance on best practice in this interesting space.

What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?

Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing are buzzwords that everybody is using but to us it’s a fundamental part of what we do. NLP will have a big impact on the market. It’s a technology that helps us quickly process large amounts of data and provides contextual analysis, thus in turn providing actionable insights for our customers Without burying them with useless alerts for issues that are not business critical.

In 2022 we’ll all be talking about…?

I think we are only now beginning to understand the impact that social media have in our lives and how someone’s online presence, privacy & data protection and individual rights, are all aligned and can co-exist. I believe we will see an increased need to manage our personal digital footprint better in the future. These conversations will persist over time and I’m sure we will still be trying to strike the right balance in 2022

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the Human Resources sector?

I’ve been surprised but also pleased about how they engage and how keen they are to understand what we do and how we can help them, but also how keen they are to bring us into their processes. Technology is impacting all aspects of business and HR Tech companies are bringing some really interesting innovation to a sector that historically hasn’t been known for it

You go to the bar at the London/Manchester HR Summit – what’s your tipple of choice?

My favourite cocktail is an Old Fashioned.

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

The interesting stories we uncover – From finding out about amazing deeds that people have done and have contributed to getting them selected for jobs to uncovering a small percentage of bad apples and stopping them from going into an organisation. We have some great case studies!

And what’s the most challenging?

Driving change can be challenging. Large organisations operate at different speeds to start-ups! But in Neotas we are up for the challenge.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

There’s a famous quote that’s always stayed with me, “Don’t burn bridges. You’ll be surprised how many times you have to cross the same river.” I have found this very helpful in business and in life.

Originally published in the September edition of HR Briefing here.