Here’s a mind-blowing fact to spark up the late-summer doldrums: research from IBM shows that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. I find this fascinating.
Which means that companies have access to an unprecedented amount of information: insights, intelligence, trends, future-casting. In terms of HR, it’s a gold mine of Big Data.
This past spring, I welcomed the ‘Industry Trends in Human Resources Technology and Service Delivery Survey,’ conducted by the Information Services Group, a leading technology insights, market intelligence and advisory services company. It’s a useful study, particularly for leaders and talent managers, offering a clear glimpse of what companies investing in HR tech expect to gain from their investment.
Not surprisingly, there are three key benefits companies expect to realize from investments in HR tech:
- Improved user and candidate experience
- Access to ongoing innovation and best practices to support the business
- Speed of implementation to increase the value of technology to the organization.
It’s worth noting that driving the need for an improved user interface, access, and speed is the nature of the new talent surging into the workforce: people for whom technology is nearly as much a given as air. We grew up with technology, are completely comfortable with it, and not only expect it to be available, we assume it will be available, as well as easy to use and responsive to all their situations, with mobile and social components.
According to the ISG study, companies want HR tech to offer strategic alignment with their business. I view this as more about enabling flexibility in talent management, recruiting and retention — all of which are increasing in importance as Boomers retire, taking with them their deep base of knowledge and experience. And companies are looking more for the analytics end of the benefit spectrum. No surprise here that the delivery model will be through cloud-based SaaS solutions.
Companies also want:
- Data security
- Data privacy
- Integration with existing systems, both HR and general IT
- Customizability —to align with internal systems and processes.
They also want their HR technology to be:
Cloud-based. According to the ISG report, more than 50% of survey respondents have implemented or are implementing cloud-based SaaS systems. It’s easy, it’s more cost-effective than on-premise software, and it’s where the exciting innovation is happening.
Mobile/social. That’s a given. Any HCM tool must have a good mobile user experience, from well-designed mobile forms and ease of access to a secure interface.
They want it to have a simple, intuitive user interface – another given. Whether accessed via desktop or mobile, the solution must offer a single, unified, simple-to-use interface.
They want it to offer social collaboration tools, which is particularly key for the influx of millenials coming into the workplace, who expect to be able to collaborate via social channels. HR is no exception here. While challenging from a security and data protection angle, it’s a must.
But the final requirement the study reported is, in my mind, the most important: Analytics and reporting. Management needs reporting to know their investment is paying off, and they also need robust analytics to keep ahead of trends within the workforce.
It’s not just a question of Big Data’s accessibility, or of sophisticated metrics, such as the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that reveal the critical factors for success and measure progress made towards strategic goals. For organizations to realize the promise of Big Data, they must be able to cut through the noise, and access the right analytics that will transform their companies for the better.
Given what companies are after, as shown in the ISG study, I predict that more and more companies are going to be recognizing the benefits of using integrated analytics for their talent management and workforce planning processes. Talent Analytics creates a powerful, invaluable amalgam of data and metrics; it can identify the meaningful patterns within that data and metrics and, for whatever challenges and opportunities an organization faces, it will best inform the decision makers on the right tactics and strategies to move forward. It will take talent analytics to synthesize Big Data and metrics to make the key strategic management decisions in HR. Put another way, it’s not just the numbers, it’s how they’re crunched.
A version of this was first posted on Forbes.