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Big, Bad Data: How Talent Analytics Will Make It Work In HR

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.

#TChat Preview: People, Performance And Building Legendary Teams

The TalentCulture #TChat Show is back live on Wednesday, September 3, 2014, from 7-8 pm ET (4-5 pm PT). The #TChat radio portion runs the first 30 minutes from 7-7:30 pm ET, followed by the #TChat Twitter chat from 7:30-8 pm ET.

Last week we talked about why HR pros need to support each other and help each other thrive, and this week we’re going to talk about people, performance and building legendary teams.

In two months’ time, we’ll be cheering for our favorite players and teams during the baseball Fall Classic, these will be legendary teams that have been performance focused to drive winning outcomes.

In business, the same is true. Focusing on people and their performance is what drives better outcomes for business.

When your people win, they feel more capable and confident, translating into happy people. They are then more likely to be candid in communicating and advancing the business and driving innovation.

Businesses have three primary customers, but leading companies always focus on their employee-customer first. Allowing employees to reach their potential as they drive results for any and all shareholders, and of course, their paying customers.

Join TalentCulture #TChat Shows co-creators and co-hosts Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman as we learn more about people, performance and building legendary teams with this week’s guest: Patrick Antrim, an author, speaker, entrepreneur, leadership coach and CEO. Patrick is also a pro baseball mentor and a former New York Yankee, and his leadership & coaching firm, LegendaryTeams.com, is focused on winning in life and business.

Sneak Peak

 

We hope you’ll join the #TChat conversation this week and share your questions, opinions and ideas with our guests and the TalentCulture Community.

#TChat Events: People, Performance And Building Legendary Teams

TChatRadio_logo_020813#TChat Radio — Wed, September 3 — 7 pm ET / 4 pm PT Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show with our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman, as they talk with our guests 

Tune-in LIVE online this Wednesday!

#TChat Twitter Chat — Wed, September 3 — 7:30 pm ET / 4:30 pm PT Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and our guests will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, where we’ll continue the discussion with the entire TalentCulture community. Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we gather for a dynamic live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1: What does it mean to have a “legendary team” in the world of work? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Q2: Who are the most important business “customers” today and why? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Q3: What three things should business leadership do to improve their people potential? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed, and in our new TalentCulture G+ community. So feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions. See you there!!

photo credit: 드림포유 via photopin cc

Looking Forward In Workforce Planning

Looking forward, not back

Workforce planning is becoming more and more sophisticated. Tools such as big data let us better identify and act upon patterns in our workforce, whether it’s in retirements, expansions, or the need to improve skills.

Many of the tools we use in this have their roots in the social sciences. So is it time to look to the social sciences again to further improve our approach?

The data trap

Big data is an incredibly powerful tool. It can find patterns that the naked brain cells of the human mind might never notice. It can calculate degrees of correlation, predict the outcome if ongoing trends continue. It can help you to see the woods, not just get stuck looking at the trees.

But it also has two significant limitations, and if we are not aware of them then these can become traps.

The first limitation is that the data is based on looking back, not forwards. It can predict what will happen if existing patterns continue, but not new patterns.

Second is that the data can say what has happened but not why. Just because there is a link between two numbers does not mean that one causes the other. Assuming that the relationship is as expected can lead to errors.

What the data doesn’t show

There are some current examples of problems that data won’t predict if you keep looking at it in the same way. Retirement peaks, for example, can be predicted, but only if you look out for anomalies in the data and specific issues coming down the pipeline.

Looking more widely, there are changes happening in the workforce as a result of longer lives, better healthcare and changes to patterns of retirement. Looking at quantitative data on what has come before will not tell us how this is going to play out, or what the impact will be. There simply is no precedent to look back on.

Similarly, shifts in the way that worker view themselves and what they expect of employers, as explored by writers like Seth Godin, will affect the way that we work. But large pools of quantitative data cannot tell us what the outcomes of these unprecedented changes will be.

Looking forward to looking forward

There are ways to deal with the data better.

One important step is to better understand the potential of the technology and techniques that you already have. Nobody uses the tools they have perfectly, but regular conversations between IT and HR departments can help to find ways for the technology to make your analysis, and so your predictions, more accurate. It may be a humbling conversation, with both sides acknowledging the limits of their current achievements, but it can be an incredibly valuable one.

The ability to synthesize different sets of data is also very important. Looking at each part in isolation gives only an incomplete picture. Developing the ability to see the interactions will allow managers to think about the big picture and to understand each issue in context.

What data you bring together in this way is important. Just looking at what is happening within your firm is not enough. As one global tech company discovered, looking at the broader context of patterns in the national and global workforce, such as upcoming shortages of graduates in particular areas, can be vital to seeing problems coming and preparing for them.

But ultimately what is needed is to look at qualitative data, the sort of information examined by ethnographers and anthropologists. This is the descriptive data, the things that cannot easily be calculated or analyzed by computer, but that can show the links of cause and effect or help managers to make imaginative leaps to new potential futures.

We should not abandon big data and what its number crunching can give us. But we need to use it in more sophisticated ways, and to use other types of data too.

(About the Author: Mark Lukens is a Founding Partner of Method3, a global management consulting firm. He has 20 plus years of C-Level experience across multiple sectors including healthcare, education, government, and people and potential (aka HR). In addition, Mark currently serves as Chairman of the Board for Behavioral Health Service North, a large behavioral health services provider in New York. He also actively serves on the faculty of the State University of New York (SUNY) and teaches in the School of Business and Economics; Department of Marketing and Entrepreneurship and the Department of Management, International Business and Information Systems. Mark holds an MBA and is highly recognized in the technology and healthcare space with credentials including MCSE and Paramedic. Most of Mark’s writing involves theoretical considerations and practical application, academics, change leadership, and other topics at the intersection of business, society, and humanity. Mark resides in New York with his wife Lynn, two children, and two Labradors. The greatest pursuit; “To be more in the Service of Others.”)

To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 7-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter and G+ conversation anytime. Learn more…

TalentCulture World of Work was created for HR professionals, leadership executives, and the global workforce. Our community delves into subjects like HR technologyleadershipemployee engagement, and corporate culture everyday. To get more World of Work goodness, please sign up for our newsletter, listen to our #TChat Radio Channel or sign up for our RSS feed.

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HR and Marketing: Smashing Silos #TChat Recap

In this do-more-with-less era, it’s almost counterintuitive to think that “silo” mentality still defines some organizations. We’ve all seen it — different departments don’t know why or how they should rely on each other, and business suffers from a lack of collaboration.

Of course, I do know some companies where communication is strong. People forge cross-functional relationships, and they use influence to drive progress. But unfortunately, that’s not the norm. More often, departments work in isolation — struggling to understand business problems, confused about how to solve them, and uncertain how to move to the next level. Cultures like this lag far behind collaborative competitors.

Bridging the Gap

Where is this challenge most prevalent? Let’s start in our backyard, with human resources and marketing. As the TalentCulture community discussed this week at #TChat events, these two disciplines share much common ground, but tend not to realize it. Why? Let’s dig deeper.

According to the American Marketing Association, “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings.” How does that apply to recruiting — a critical HR responsibility?

When a company seeks candidates for an open position, it relies upon a process that helps recruiters translate the need into a workable activity. For example, the process may start with a job description, created with requirements and other information obtained from the hiring manager. The description is transformed into a job posting and communicated externally in multiple forms. Various channels deliver the message to appropriate audiences as an offer that says essentially, “Here’s the kind of talent we seek. In exchange for your ability and commitment to perform the job to our expectations, we will compensate you with X, Y and Z.”

This tactic is pure marketing. It rings true with the classic “5 Ps” of the marketing mix — as well as the more recent inside-out version:

People – Potential employees
Product – Job opportunity
Price – Associated cost to recruit, fill, hire and retain
Promotion – Advertising and word-of-mouth about the job opening
Place – Organizational culture, which extends to talent communities that share job information

At the intersection of recruiting and marketing, many tactics and fundamentals go hand-in-hand, creating opportunities to exchange knowledge and hone skills. But more importantly, at the center of this common worldview is the employment brand — a powerful organizational asset. This is the foundation upon which an employment value proposition flourishes. The proof points are bits of raw workforce and candidate experience data we should analyze within the context of a strategic recruitment plan. Ultimately, that recruitment plan should not only inform corporate brand strategy, but also be shaped by it.

Two Sides Of The Same Coin

Like two sides of a coin, recruiting and marketing practitioners must work in concert to be truly effective. As people listen, learn, empathize and sharpen their communications, the opportunity to understand and leverage interdepartmental strengths will expand. When teams work in concert to unify brand positioning, measurably improved outcomes can’t be far behind.

Thanks to everyone who shared ideas and opinions about this topic at #TChat events this week. We invite you to review the related resources below, and continue this conversation here and on social channels. Hopefully, we can be an example of effective professional collaboration!

#TChat Week-In-Review: Recruiting IS Marketing?

SUN 9/1:

ChrisFields

Watch the Hangout with Chris Fields

#TChat Preview: TalentCulture Community Manager Tim McDonald provided a “sneak peek” of this week’s topic, featuring a brief Hangout discussion with one of our special guests, Chris Fields. Read the Preview: Recruiting and Marketing: Blurred Lines?

MON 9/2:

Forbes.com Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro explained why and how business leaders should view recruitment as a strategic marketing initiative. Read: “5 Recruiting Habits of Successful Leaders.”

TUE 9/3:

Related Post: Guest blogger, David Smooke defined 3 keys to “Hiring Culture” as the basis for strategic recruiting initiatives. Read: “Hiring Culture: Creating A Recruitment Ecosystem.”

WED 9/4:

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen to the #TChat Radio show

#TChat Radio: As a prelude to our open Twitter chat, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman, talked with two recruiting experts about why and how HR organizations can leverage marketing expertise to enhance recruitment. Our special guests were:

David Bernstein, VP of the “Big Data for HR” Division at eQuest, and
Chris Fields, independent HR consultant, resume development specialist and HR writer.

Listen now to the radio show recording.

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, I moderated an open discussion with Chris, Meghan, Kevin and our entire community on the #TChat Twitter stream. For highlights from the conversation, watch the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Highlights: Recruiting IS Marketing

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Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to guests David Bernstein and Chris Fields, for offering your perspectives on recruiting and marketing this week. Your expertise and insights are invaluable to our community.

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about related issues? We’d love to share your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week on 9/11, we take a serious look at an important subject, “Workplace Violence and Prevention.” This promises to be a helpful and informative session. So plan to join us, and check for more details in coming days here and on TalentCulture channels.

In the meantime, the World of Work conversation continues! So join us on the #TChat Twitter stream, on our LinkedIn discussion group. or elsewhere on social media. The lights are always on here at TalentCulture, and your ideas and opinions are always welcome.

See you on the stream!

Image Credit: Stock.xchng