Q & A with Jon Birdsong, CEO, WideAngle

Jon, the CEO of WideAngle, is a great writer/storyteller/entrepreneur. He has built and led pitch sessions at Atlanta Tech Village—the fourth largest tech hub in the US—and has enabled many entrepreneurial endeavors for founders. In this interview, he talks about his company WideAngle, and shares his views on the trends and technologies in the HR space.

Let’s start by briefly introducing WideAngle. In a sentence, what is WideAngle and what is its unique value proposition?

WideAngle combines software for performance reviews and 1:1 meetings to offer a suite of Agile Performance Management Software.

Is yours a point solution or a suite? Why did you choose to build what you built?

We are a suite. We built our suite of software because it solves some of the largest management problems. It’s imperative that managers have good relationships with their direct reports. Our belief is the better your relationship with your direct reports the better the results. This does not mean everyone has to be best friends, it means constantly communicate with them, discuss performance, and push them for more. Our suite of software is the perfect symbiotic relationship reflective of any sound relationship. There is love and warmth but also expectations and standards. Our 1:1 software is loving and warm. It is progressive and looks ahead and ways to remove road blocks. Our intuitive performance review software is reactive. We call it the velvet hammer because this requires harder conversations around overall performance, keeping score, and having a checkpoint where outcomes and conversations are tough but eventually agreed upon.

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What problems are you looking to solve in the HR space?

Results and retention. Those are the two most important problems for every manager and therefore should be most important for HR.

What is your take on the massive explosion of HR Tech companies across so many categories? Salesforce is making inroads into the HR space as well. Do you see competition, opportunities to partner and/or integrate?

It’s fantastic and needed. There are so many problems to be solved!

We are on SalesForce.com’s AppExchange and integrate seamlessly with them. HR tech companies are finally getting the ground swell that sales and marketing categories have seen in the last 10 years. It’s a very exciting time to be in our space.

Regulatory compliance is an integral part of HR; how does your product/solution address this?

We provide consistent, proactive, documentation of the most important conversations across the organization. Answers in our solution cannot be changed after five minutes of being submitted. Our solution is a great way to hold managers and direct reports accountable on all fronts—it’s hard to do well without software that improves the workflow by 10 times.

What questions are your buyers asking you? How is that impacting your product/solution roadmap? Are there any new features or upcoming upgrades that you’re excited about and would like to give us a sneak peek into?

Buyers are asking a lot of questions about two areas: integrations and big data analytics. On the integrations front, they want a comprehensive solution so we’ve had to build integrations with many HRIS systems. Let’s be real, performance management takes a back seat to payroll, benefits, and onboarding with an HRIS system. You can still run a business without a seamless performance management process. You cannot run a business if your people are not getting paid. Optimization, results, and retention are improved through a sound performance management process.

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The other item people are asking about is the big data analytics we provide. For example, we can show leaders who is the top 20% in their organization, who is the middle 60%, and who is in the bottom 20%. They want this in a single pane and we can provide this after months of development. It’s very exciting.

Contact Info:

WideAngle’s Twitter: @WideAngleHQ

Jon’s Twitter handle: @JonnyBird

Jon’s LinkedIn: Jon Birdsong