Is HR Ready for Big Data?

bigdataOrganizations are rushing to understand, incorporate and manage Big Data.  However, like many big changes in recent years its use and application will be different by organization and the various departments within those organizations.

Using the example of Social Media, I have regularly encouraged organizations to think first of their organizational goals and then determine how and if social media will help the organization achieve those goals.  Many organizations incorporate social media believing its use is required to stay “up to date” and “relevant”.   Social media is here to stay and companies should be incorporating its use…but only where it makes sense and when it will help them achieve their goals.  That requires planning.  I believe the same can be said for the use of Big Data.

More and more companies agree that the capture and analysis of data has a positive impact on the success of their organization.  A recent article in McKinsey Quarterly, “Big Data – What’s Your Plan?”  quotes Harvard Business Review  “The tally of successful case studies continues to build, reinforcing broader research suggesting that when companies inject data and analytics deep into their operations, they can deliver productivity and profit gains that are 5 to 6 percent higher than those of the competition.”  The same is true for HR; useful data and meaningful analytics provide focus, alignment and the business case for HR strategy, tactics and programs.

However, without a plan, the following things occur:

  • We are flooded with data, some of which may be useful and some not.   We may not know which is which.
  • We try to measure and analyze too much potentially missing information that is critical to success and focusing on areas of little impact.
  • Programs and initiatives may not be aligned with established goals and business drivers of the organization.

McKinsey suggests organizations consider three core elements when determining a plan:

  • Data:  Important data may be stored both inside and outside the company. Identify the most useful data and the means through which you will bring it all together.
  • Analytics:  Develop analytical models, who will use them and where they will create value. Avoid the temptation to include too many variables in the models that will make them hard to analyze and apply.
  • Tools:  Identify tools that will simplify the data and integrate into day-to-day processes.

Human Resources has long measured a number of metrics. As your business evolves is your HR data capture and analysis evolving with it?  Is it aligned with your organizations business goals?  HR has the opportunity to lead the way in creating a plan for using Big Data to align your people practices with your business results.  What is your HR Plan for using Big Data?

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