Big Data for Human Resources - Can it really make a difference? - From eQuest's Floating Point Blog
Big Data for HR – Can it Really Make a Big Difference?by DAVID BERNSTEIN on NOVEMBER 19, 2012Industry insight and analysis suggests that, when it comes to Big Data, HR is at a crossroads, whereleaders realize informed decision-making is critical to increasing their strategic value, but they strugglewith getting started. I couldn’t agree more—and have even suggested the same in a previous post on HRorganizations feeling overwhelmed by Big Data.Yet, a few events and articles all converged these past few weeks that shine the light on the value of BigData and analytics— the insights and the results that can be achieved from this work. HR needs to actswiftly to take advantage of this golden opportunity.Let’s review what’s been happening. I’ll start with my recent webinar, titled “Big Data for HR – UsingPredictive Analytics for Faster, More Accurate Talent Acquisition.” This program was developed inresponse to the fact that many HR professionals are hungry to learn more about Big Data. For many HRleaders, Big Data is a buzz phrase and mysterious black box. It’s impossible to derive value from a newtechnology if you don’t understand what it is and how it can be applied. I explained how a successfultalent acquisition sourcing strategy can be predicted, planned, and executed successfully with Big Data.By leveraging the insights of Big Data, HR organizations are equipped to make better-informed, and morestrategic decisions about their recruiting marketing efforts, and therefore produce greater results for theircompanies.With such insights in mind, consider how Big Data influenced the presidential election. Being the BigData junkie that I am, I was intrigued by the Harvard Business Review blog post (“Electing a President ina Microtargeted World”) discussing how both presidential candidates leveraged vast amounts ofinformation to better understand voters and their behaviors. The point was “to figure out which
persuadable voters to spend energy—and dollars—on, in the hope of moving the dial just slightly in theirfavor. It’s a world where hundredths of a percentage point matter.”How powerful: multi-million dollar campaigns using predictive analytics for better targeting anddecision-making that will ultimately impact an entire nation—and world. Utilizing data and derivinginsights to impact critical outcomes is certainly a lesson HR can benefit from. The power of Big Data forHR and microtargeting should not be lost on talent acquisition leaders as well.If that weren’t enough to remind you that the Big Data for HR opportunity is real, consider what HRresearch analyst Josh Bersinrecently said at the HR Tech Europe conference. Bersin is quoted as saying,“Data analytics has the potential to help businesses make dramatic returns by managing their workforcemore effectively. This is the next big thing that is going to happen in HR.”Bersin cited how one insurance company changed its entire hiring strategy because data analytics showedsomething completely different than what its HR leaders previously believed. As a result, the companysignificantly increased profits. Bersin advised HR departments to set up small teams to develop dataanalytics as a discipline within their own organizations.This brings me back to the crossroads. I believe that most HR leaders recognize the power Big Data canbring to their organizations. However, the challenge is knowing how and where to begin. Buildinginfrastructure, developing processes, and growing analytic competencies are not outcomes that can beachieved over night. Infrastructure and process aside, a recent survey conducted by the MIT SloanManagement Review (“Analytics – the New Path to Value“) – concluded that the biggest barriers tosuccessful utilization of analytical data were the “lack of understanding of how to use analytics toimprove the business” and the “lack of management bandwidth.”To effectively leverage Big Data, HR organizations must seek ways to apply the insights gleaned from theanalytics, recognizing that the shortage of skilled talent to perform such analysis is often the constraint.From a talent acquisition standpoint, the value of Big Data is in the ability to make more accurate talent-oriented decisions and to take action faster. With Big Data, HR leaders now have the power to infusecritical decision-making with insights not previously attainable. Getting to desired results faster createscompetitive advantage. In fact, companies that use data-directed decision-making enjoy a 5-6% boost inproductivity, according to Bersin.com.eQuest understands this imperative and is providing our customers the opportunity to experience thepower of Big Data insights without having to first create a Big Data infrastructure.If you are unsure if Big Data can make a difference, just ask Obama.I look forward to your comments!