Winning at Basketball, and Recruiting, Big Data Style
Winning at Basketball, and Recruiting, BigData-StylebyDavid BernsteinJun 20, 2013, 5:17 am ETThe goal of any team sport is to win. Professionalsports takes this concept one step further, since winning at the game also leads to greater revenueand profitability through higher attendance. When you think of professional sports as abusiness, it becomes doubly clear why the management of those teams is always looking to findways to gain competitive advantage.This is why it is not surprising that Big Data analytics are finding their way into the sportingarenas around the globe.“Moneyball” made the concept of data analytics in sports famous, but other stories highlight itsuse as well. For example, the Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association arepioneering the use of data analysis to improve the performance of its talent. Through statisticalanalysis, the team was able to uncover a blind spot where they did not know they were underperforming.It discovered the pattern where opposing players were scoring against their star center 53 percentof the time when he was guarding them within five feet of the basket. With this new insight, thecoaches were able to develop a strategy and a training plan that focused on addressing this gapand ultimately improved the performance of the overall team.
Mike Zarren, assistant general manager of the Boston Celtics, another NBA team that uses thesame statistical analysis vendor, could have been speaking for the HR community about theanalytics process when he said, “Whether you think you’re a ‘stats guy’ or not, the age ofanalytical thinking is upon us whether you like it or not.”The parallels between sports and work teams are readily apparent. Regularly examining data forpatterns, measuring for areas of under performance, and implementing a strategy to mitigate anyissues is critical to a business’ financial success. Employers can now use data to find gaps anddetermine how best to fill those gaps. In David Lee’s case, his employer filled the gap withspecific training. Other times, augmenting the team will be called for, particularly if time is acritical factor. This is one way where recruiting with Big Data analysis comes into play.Predictive analytics enable recruiters to more quickly fill the gap by providing a laser focus onwhich recruiting strategies will actually work.This new capability not only provides recruiters with further opportunity to improve theiroperational efficiency but, even more importantly, gives the profession a means to draw aconnection between their activity and the two most important metrics in business: revenue andprofitability.As another example, given the acknowledged critical value of talent acquisition to the bottomline of the company, talent acquisition professionals can zero in on the sourcing strategies thathave the greatest success in finding the highest-skilled candidates, in the least amount of time,for the least amount of effort and spend. Big Data creates an opportunity for talent acquisitionand sourcing professionals to glean key insights from the analysis of job board, candidate, andemployer data to help you determine the best sourcing channels. Big Data can likewise helpuncover valuable trends and patterns on “click decisions” — that is, why or why not a candidatetakes the critical step to apply for your posted job — so that you can adjust your course of actionand calibrate your processes accordingly, in real time.Big Data is slowly but increasingly being applied throughout the talent acquisition process asorganizations recognize both the success predictive analytics has had in marketing and customerservice and the wealth of applicant and worker data available within their own systems.Businesses can now comprehensively compare and analyze data from a myriad number ofsources to see connections that were not readily apparent before. Applied to talent acquisition,recruiters are now able to streamline their processes and take quicker action based on evidence,not on assumption or legacy procedures that no longer serve the employer.As Virginia Rometty, chairman and CEO of IBM, recently stated, “Data will be the basis ofcompetitive advantage for every company, every industry for the next decade.” Big Data issupporting recruiting’s evolution from a traditional “just in time” role to a more foresightedplayer and partner within the business — one that can help deliver true business results throughstrategic talent acquisition. Major sports teams see Big Data’s value and are reaping the results.Are you?
About the authorDavid Bernstein is the head of eQuest’s new Big Data for HR/Predictive Analytics Division,which enables organizations to make evidence-based decisions about their recruiting and hiringstrategy. He writes and speaks regularly on how data analytics can predict future behavioralpatterns of candidates and create a competitive advantage in candidate sourcing.