Darwinbox co-founder Chaitanya Peddi on the HR tech market
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SME story: Darwinbox co-founder Chaitanya Peddi on HR tech and the firm’s partnership with Microsoft

SME story: Darwinbox co-founder Chaitanya Peddi on HR tech and the firm’s partnership with Microsoft

HR tech firm Darwinbox and software giant Microsoft are collaborating to redefine the ‘future of work’

Neesha Salian
Chaitanya Peddi - Co-founder of Darwinbox

How and why was Darwinbox set up?

I started Darwinbox in late 2015 with two of my other co-founders – Jayant Paleti and Rohit Chennamaneni. At that time, I worked as an HR consultant with Ernst & Young, where I consulted global firms on organisation design and performance management, while Jayant was an Investment Banker at Ernst & Young.

The initial idea actually came when Jayant realised that the companies he was advising for a takeover had absolutely no idea regarding the HR functions of the company they were merging with. The founders were not clued in on the attrition in their own company and believed it to be lesser than the reality.

As he shared this with Rohit and me, we embarked on a study of the HR tech market. It quickly became evident that global HCM leaders cannot solve for enterprises of the modern day – to manage highly diverse workforces, one needs to stay agile and requires a strong focus on delivering great experiences. This called for a system that needed to be extremely configurable, extensible, and connected.

There were multiple disintegrated systems (every organisation had an average of three HR systems) across the employee lifecycle, which made it difficult to sync and analyse data. And in cases where there were integrated ERP options, the solutions were rigid and clunky for the HR and employees alike, resulting in poor adoption. Further, the HR platforms did not address the nuances of the markets they operated in.

To deal with these challenges and to make HR technology more intuitive, integrated, and insightful, Darwinbox was conceived with a vision of transforming the interaction between the workplace and technology.

Tell us about Darwinbox’s growth trajectory and its key milestones.

Today, Darwinbox is one of the world’s fastest-growing HR technology platforms that helps large enterprises empower, engage and elevate the potential of their workforce. In our seven years journey, Darwinbox has emerged as a leading player in South Asia (third largest), Southeast Asia, and MENA. Today more than 750 enterprises and two million employees from across 90 countries love the Darwinbox experience, and the company is backed by reputed global investors like Salesforce, Sequoia, and the most recent being Microsoft.

Read: Microsoft invests in HR tech unicorn Darwinbox

Darwinbox operates in six SEA markets, with offices in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand. In the MENA region, we recently opened our office in Dubai at DIFC and are present in Saudi Arabia. We have just started our foray into the USA.

Tell us about your digital HR/ HR tech platform and how it has helped companies across the region.

Darwinbox is built for the local context – understands local nuances and build solutions that cater to local needs.

Employee Experience (for the hybrid/ remote workforce) – Employee experience is at the heart of every business. Darwinbox empowers its customers to elevate employee experience in more ways than one.

The intuitive and mobile-first platform helps in understanding the needs of the distributed workforce. At the technology level, AI and ML capabilities allow the creation of personalised experiences, get predictive insights and increase engagement and motivation for the digital, distributed workforce. Innovations such as Voicebot, and facial recognition-based touchless attendance are some of the aspect’s customers can benefit from.

One of our eCommerce clients in the region needed capabilities delivered via an easy and intuitive app that mirrors their own platform for employee engagement and employee self-service. Darwinbox’s mobile-first approach empowers employees with easy access to information, interact with managers, track their performance, attendance, and just about every matrix and dimension related to their work at the convenience of their devices.

Unifying multi-country employee operations – For one of our fintech clients in the region with a multi-geography operation, it was imperative to be compliant with local HR regulations, payment processes, data restrictions, and benefits discrepancies that come along when expanding and operating in a new country. With Darwinbox’s platform, we could offer them a unified employee view, so they are now able to address these local intricacies with ease.

Talent management – It enables customers to manage the entire talent management from performance management to succession planning, talent strategy and planning, and total compensation.

Daily workforce management – During the pandemic, Darwinbox was able to extend unprecedented support to all customers by helping them transform in 24 hrs – be it through touchless attendance, collaboration, remote engagement/productivity. Evolve, a curated product for post-covid workplace needs was born during the pandemic. It is a solution comprising relevant offerings like a vaccination tracker, touchless attendance, daily health check-ins, timesheets, location shifts and more.

Analytics and reporting: Be it personalisation or bringing about employee engagement, getting a pulse of your employees is essential to intelligent and informed decision-making. Customers use Darwinbox to democratise insights through reports and dashboards.

Time savings – MSS and ESS: ESS or Employee self-service allows employees to take care of different work related or HR related tasks by themselves, resulting in better employee experience and increasing efficiency and productivity. Similarly, MSS or Manager Self Service provides manager with information regarding their employees and also enhances better collaboration between manager teams and HR teams. It Automates everyday HR operations, freeing up time for HR admin to focus on strategy.

Tell us about your partnership with Microsoft and why it is significant/ its implications.

 We are thrilled to announce our strategic partnership with Microsoft. As part of the partnership, Microsoft made an equity investment in Darwinbox, however, what’s unique about this collaboration is that it marks the marriage of the world’s most comprehensive system of productivity with dynamic and ever-evolving people data.

The partnership will enable deep integration between Darwinbox and the Microsoft product ecosystem to co-innovate solutions that enhance employee experience and organisational agility.

Microsoft has commissioned multiple lines of co-innovation redefining what’s expected traditionally of HCM systems. The collaboration establishes a product offering that radically differentiates itself from the legacy incumbents in the market. Leading Microsoft products and platforms like Office365, MS Teams, Viva and Dynamics will offer integrated solutions involving Darwinbox’s offerings to compound both ease and value delivered for enterprises and end users alike.

This is one of the first HRMS investments from Microsoft and is a sound validation for Darwinbox’s growth journey. This also makes Darwinbox one of the rare few companies globally to have both Microsoft and Salesforce on the cap-table.

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