Making HR’s Big Data Not So Big

Lois Melbourne
Mar 21, 2013

Big Data

What are the most critical topics in human capital management that should be on your radar in 2013? Topic #11: Big Data and HR.

The term ‘Big Data’ has taken the business world by storm. With so many integrated systems and the presence of cloud-based technologies, we are able to generate, access and view data in ways that just weren’t possible before.

To comprehend the amount of stored information in the world, consider this IDC paper sponsored by EMC Corporation. In 2015, the amount of data stored around the world is expected to be 7.9 zettabytes. That’s equivalent to 18 million Libraries of Congress!

So, what is HR doing with all this data? According to Bersin & Associates, the majority of HR organizations are not prepared for workforce analytics and measurement. Over 60% of HR organizations self-identified themselves as “poor” or “behind” in workforce analytics. And, only 6% identified themselves as excellent.

We’re here to tell you that BIG data should not be a big problem.

It’s Not About the Amount of Data. It’s About the Right Data.

HR collects data and metrics all the time. Whether it is performance reviews, diversity metrics, salaries, or other information, we collect and store data in spreadsheets, databases and systems all of the time. Data should not be new to HR organizations.

The art and science of workforce analytics is identifying the HR metrics that tie to your specific HR initiatives and how these metrics are affecting the strategic goals of the organization. Maybe that is easier said than done, but it is comforting to know that not all data is relevant. And, even more comforting may be the “Ultimate Guide to HR Metrics” from Aquire, Peoplefluent’s Workforce Planning & Analytics division, which ties HR metrics to specific workforce initiatives to get you started.

Clean Data is 80% of the Battle

It sounds simple, but bad data leads to bad analysis. It is critical that processes be set in place to ensure data quality throughout the HR organization. This requires automation to limit human error and clearly defined business rules that are shared throughout the organization.

We understand that better processes do not offset the years and years of bad legacy data. That data must also be cleansed to provide a foundation for workforce analytics. Data integrity tools help with this process.

You Have the Talent and Skills Necessary

With the foundation of clean data and the right data, you have the tools necessary to begin workforce analytics initiatives. Workforce analytics is not a job for professional statisticians. HR managers and executives understand their workforce better than most and are fully capable of using data to make better decisions. As we said before, it is about looking at the right data and clean data. What will make the job much easier is a tool that can help you collect and visualize this data to make these decisions more quickly and confidently.

>> Stay tuned to the Peoplefluent Blog as we address 2 other critical topics in human capital management. You can also access the replay of our recent webcast “13 for 2013: Key HCM Topics” here.

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