How Big Data Drives HR in 2016

Big data has helped earn human resources a seat at the table (or so we hope, as we move beyond buzzword phrases)—an active part of the business planning process, supported by the deep insights and predictive analytics that this gold mine of information provides.

But a lot of HR departments are still trying to figure out what to do with all that data. A report from Oxford Economics and SAP found that few HR departments are without business analytics altogether, but many still struggle to use what they have in a way that matters.

There’s good news for the coming year. As our ability to analyze and interpret big data matures, new tools are hitting the marketplace while existing ones are getting smarter. Here’s a look at how big data will drive HR this year, and the biggest trends you need to know about.

Watch for These Big Data Trends

Technology will never take the place of a highly skilled HR professional, but it can validate decisions and streamline operations—in real time. Companies who take an interest in these trends early on may be able to leverage them in the marketplace.

  1. Vanity metrics—stats that look good but offer little meaningful insight—are fading away. Quality trumps quantity when it comes to data sets, and the application of metrics matters far more than in the past. As companies attract more data analysts and train employees to use analytics programs, teams are focusing more on the strategic use behind how and what they collect.
  1. Predictive analytics are getting smarter. Predictive analytics can be a powerful tool for business as a whole, and the programs available are finally stepping up their game. While they can provide insights into employee benefits, promotions, and talent management, predictive analytics are starting to be used for deeper forecasting. For example, they can help measure the efficacy of training courses, or to identify which employees are more likely to reach their targets and why.
  1. Analytics tools are getting simpler—and more affordable. One thing that’s held the rise of analytics back is the fact that some companies can’t afford a full suite of tools while others find the applications they have don’t always uncover the information they want. But new options are on the horizon. Companies such as Dell and Oracle have embraced HR Open Source (#HROS), a movement to bring “an open source approach to HR and recruiting.” More options will fuel the use of analytics across organizations of all sizes.
  1. You can put a value on human capital. Organizations often claim that human capital is one of the most important business assets companies have, but they have a difficult time backing up that statement with data. With analytics, companies can assign financial values to individual tasks and better understand the financial impact of every person in their organization, which has potential implications for recruitment, benefits, and talent retention.
  1. Sensors offer a whole new perspective. There are new ways to collect data—from internal monitoring systems, online listening platforms, or even the growing Internet of Things (IoT)—and use it for on-the-floor insights. In industries such as manufacturing and farming, sensor-driven data can provide information on machine or crop performance. But it can also impact HR responsibilities: For example, Honeywell and Intel recently introduced a prototype for sensors that monitor worker safety. If HR departments can identify warning signs or other real-time data signals, they can find new ways to improve regulation compliance and worker safety.
  1. Data analysts are in high demand. CNBC called it “the sexiest job of the 21st century,” and it’s definitely one of the hottest jobs out there. It takes a skilled data analyst to understand how to massage and extract data and produce actionable reports. Not surprisingly, they’re in relatively short supply. Organizations will need to get creative to find the talent they need to meet their analytics needs.

Big data has the potential to improve every aspect of business—if companies are willing to take the time and effort to figure out how. The right data-focused talent and tools can transform an organization. The opportunity is there for big data to drive HR; You just need to take advantage of it.

 

Photo Credit: jonahengler via Compfight cc

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