That Single Source of HR Data Truth

Kevin Grossman
Aug 25, 2014

Truth

Only a few years ago, Gartner stated that enterprise data would grow 650% over the ensuing five years, while IDCstated in 2011 we created 1.8 zettabytes (or 1.8 trillion GBs) of data, in 2012 it reached 2.8 zettabytes and now they forecast that we will generate 40 zettabytes (ZB) by 2020. 

Wow. That’s a big ol’ Milky Way of data anyway you look at it, created by us and distributed by us – some clean, vetted and valid, and much of it not so much. Organizations have a unique challenge today when it comes to managing this expanding-universe of people data, as well as galaxies of other business-related data.

John Sumser, the founder, principal author and editor-in-chief of the HRExaminer Online Magazine, asked this question in his recent (highly recommended) HR Technology series:

Is there an opportunity for HR to harness people data across the entire spectrum of data sources to find the best utilization of people?

Indeed there is. There are finally HR technology solutions and systems on the market today, and some still being developed (always being developed), that combine with the computing and storage power of a thousands suns (maybe not that much, but still), and that allow for large volumes of data to be managed and integrated and reported on, extracted from so much light and dark online matter.

But according to Josh Bersin, founder of leading HR research and advisory firm Bersin by Deloitte, “Large organizations have seven or more different systems managing HR data. Bringing this data together for meaningful analysis has become mission-critical, driving tremendous demand for HR data integration tools to help rationalize, integrate and analyze people-related data.”

Seven or more systems. Mercy me.

My friend and colleague, Jim Bowley, a long-time HR technology executive and mentor of mine, again reminded me that data collection is a very expensive process in which multiple participants need to synchronize their activities to pull together, transform and build integrations that in turn will lead to the kind of workforce discoveries that are the very essence and continuous origin, the “Big Bangs” of talent and the true integrated experience. These are what business leaders are demanding today, hence the conundrum for HR.

But before we can solve for and get to the true integrated and insightful experience, we’ve got to understand the data basics and two other related terms:

1. Data, Metrics and Analytics. Data are specific points of information an organization collects and maintains – like applicant source and key skills. Metrics are measurements with a goal in mind – like what constitutes quality of hire. And HR analytics are the identification of meaningful patterns within the data and metrics – like what key skills from what populations and locations drive quality of hire within the organization, predicting what and who to look for next.

2. Data Harmonization and Transformation. Harmonization is about creating the possibility to combine data from varied sources into integrated, consistent and unambiguous information sets, in a way that is seamless to the end-user. Transformation is about converting a set of data values from another source data system into the data format of a new destination data system.

Harmonization, transformation and integration of data from multiple sources in a single solution that can make sense of all the interstellar mess, putting the data to work in far more strategic ways than it ever before – creating that single source of HR data truth. Only then can we get to the telling HR analytics and insight organizations have longed for (and are finally getting).

That’s where we’re going in HR technology today and tomorrow. Steve Boese, a co-chair of Human Resource Executive’s HR Technology® Conference and a technology editor for LRP Publications, and a recent guest on theTalentCulture #TChat Show I co-host, told me and Meghan M. Biro that one of the major themes for this year’s HR Tech show is the proliferation of HR data and better ways to measure talent initiatives with metrics and analytics, and there will be some exciting case studies shared to underscore this progress.

Yes, welcome to the Big Bangs of talent and the true integrated HR data analytics experience.

Come see us at booth #2300 at this year’s HR Technology Conference to learn more about data management and analytics!

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