Progressive Human Resource: Thinking Big Data Analytics

Organisations have a sheer amount of employee data (e.g., skills, performance ratings, age, tenure, sales performance, educational background, prior roles, etc.) in their possession, which can be used to better understand organization's current composition, performance, and risk. However, cleaning up and analyzing employee data to gain insight is one part of the solution, while the real value is in turning these insights into information that delivers business value as well as implement the proffered solutions.

With the right competencies and investment in analytical skills, interpretative and transformational skills, HR departments can store, access, analyse and interpret big data resulting in value delivery for the Organisation. More importantly, huge investment in big data technology would be instrumental to better analyse information.

Similarly, as HR continues to evolve into strategic and business partners, it can now leverage on big data analytics to become better partners in organizations. The attraction of HR big data analytics is that it can be used to make smarter and insightful decisions on talent management, incentive structures, organisation design, allocation of training budget, performance management, etc. 

It has been projected that attracting and retaining top talent remains a continual challenge for HR. Although, this challenge may not be new but what’s new is how some companies are tackling it using big data analytics. A report from Bersin by Deloitte (2013) found that HR organizations with mature analytics functions are twice as likely to improve their recruiting efforts and leadership pipeline.

In addition, turning to big data analytics can help companies improve operational efficiency, predict future hiring need through identifying hiring patterns, increase the quality of hires while reducing recruiting timelines and cost. Meanwhile, the pitfall of big data in HR revolves on the ability of HR professionals to effectively utilize big data analytics to reap organizational benefits as well as carefully avoid legal issues and mistrust from employees.

To effectively realise the value and potential of big data, companies must invest in building HR capabilities and big data technology to turn data-driven insights into meaning information, which would in turn enable companies stay competitive in today’s data-driven economy.

Companies that have successfully leveraged on big data analytics are better positioned to outperform their peers. Following that mindset, Google in 2011 used data to determine the qualities of the best and worst managers. The insights gained were used to improve performance as against laying-off the ‘’worst managers”. In 2015, Google moved into the No. 3 position among the Most Valuable Firms in the World. Meanwhile in 2017, the monetary value of the brand rose by 24% in 2016 to $109.5bn, propelling it as the world’s number one most valuable brand.

Google’s market success is attributed to what is labeled as extraordinary people management practice that result from an evolving data-base approach as against the use of a subjective model. Google has been able to recruit highly competent employees by obtaining data from past records of candidates as well as applying knowledge resource gained from big data technology from months of research to improve its workforce.

As big data becomes increasingly resourceful, there is the need to work with trusted partner to analyze the volume and velocity of information. In addition, new tools and technology are needed to manage big data especially as it is voluminous, fast changing and potentially unstructured.  While HR needs to strengthen and embrace data-driven approach to decision making, they also need to involve employees in order to avoid legal issues or create mistrust.