HR and new age technologies

Nick Babington, Regional Director-MENA of Saba, talks about the increasing role of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies in HR practices. Muhammed Nafie reports


Saba has been named as a leader in Learning Management three years in a row by IDC. What differentiates your offerings in the market?

We know that when people work, learn and grow together, that’s when they’re most successful. Our talent management system is designed to create high performance cultures, deliver the experiences employees will love, and provide the insight talent leaders need to elevate HR’s impact on business success.

The catalyst for exceptional employee engagement starts with the experience of coming to work every day. Our simple and scalable cloud platform is built for making that experience better by helping people learn and grow as a team – from real-time coaching, goal-setting and feedback to personalised learning and collaboration.

It’s a people-centric, personalised experience delivered on any device to help you thrive anytime and anywhere you are, and connecting you to the full talent experience from smartphones, tablets, or browsers that are optimised to the device you love.

What kind of a product portfolio does the company deliver to clients? Can you name some of your global and regional clients?

Saba makes talent management solutions used by thousands of companies around the world. Customers count on Saba to transform talent, improve the employee experience, and drive growth, innovation and productivity.

In particular, some of the unique features are:

  • Impactful learning that’s personalised, customised and scalable. Your people know what they need to learn. Give them the autonomy to learn on their own while still tracking and measuring informal learning along with your formal learning programs.
  • Performance management that feeds the employee development experience. Embrace the way performance management should be done. A forward-looking and proactive process that provides a continuous coaching and feedback experience for your people with the foundation and skills you need to connect to your business goals.
  • Always-on engagement. Connect to your employees. Create a real-time channel for feedback so your employees can provide the input they need to feel engaged with your business. Proactively identify problem areas, improve effectiveness, and understand organizational engagement at any time.

Continuing to innovate in these areas is important to us because it’s important to our customers. Through the acquisition of Halogen, a solution widely used and recognised across the GCC, we are creating market-shaping approaches to learning and talent management for organisations of any size. These innovations are based on our deep and shared expertise in performance, learning and engagement. They are designed to help talent leaders support their culture and embrace the needs of their people, while driving business impact.

In region and global brand customers include:

Gulf Bank Kuwait


Umniah Mobile



Saba Halogen also works with Oman Arab Bank, Al Madina Takaful, Oman Oil and Sweets of Oman in their Talent Mangement inititiatves and all the four companies use Halogen’s talent management suite to manage and automate their performance management processes.

The company has been using machine learning for a more personalised talent experience for employees. Please share its functionality and benefits?

We bring machine learning technology that applies sophisticated algorithms to your talent data and gets smarter every time someone logs in. With comprehensive HR analytics across talent management, our solution helps you evaluate the impact of your talent strategy so you can make better business decisions. With over 600 data elements, we give you full visibility into your talent management processes.

This platform intelligence can help you:

  • Know your workforce better. Connect all your people data – profiles, feedback, checkins, learning completions, communities, discussions, and even badges – finding similarities and affiliations with an eye on what leads to success. As the data changes and as recommendations are accepted or rejected, the system learns. It’s providing a richer understanding of your workforce, and helping you make better decisions.
  • Increase employee engagement: With better insights, you can use your workforce data to engage your employees with meaningful talent management programmes to ensure they have the skills needed to adapt to a changing business environment.
  • Proactively improve learning and employee development: Deliver proactive, personalised recommendations for guidance, content, and experts to help unlock potential across the entire workforce.

Technology has been a force of disruption and advancement. How are you using technological breakthroughs to enhance your products?

Machine learning and AI is one such example of technological innovation that Saba was an early adopter of. We’re at the forefront of market marrying talent analytics, AI and UI, with conversational voice interfaces across performance, learning, succession and engagement. The next generation of Saba’s intelligent mentor will skip the user interface and give employees a consumer-like interaction experience with their talent platform (like bot-assisted personalised coaching and learning), and it will use the same approach to give HR leaders real-time actionable insight into the talent programmes that drive business outcomes.

What are the top three HR challenges faced by companies in the GCC region?

Skills development and career development. Especially important in supporting nationalisation

Building a high-performance culture

Embracing the digitisation of HR

Oganisations in the GCC region can address these challenges by making data-informed decisions about the efficacy of their talent programmes. Doing so will create more growth and success for your people and ultimately, your business. We know this people-centric approach to talent management works. It’s why we are so passionate about helping our customers succeed in creating a work experience for their people that’s more engaging, inspiring and empowering.

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