HR Can’t Ignore Big Data

 -  6/28/13

Information remains an organization’s most valuable and underutilized asset. Top performers are investing in analytics to elevate recruitment and performance.

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Moving From Data to Insight

The difference between having data and gaining insight is often the difference between winning and losing. But HR adoption rates for analytics are discouraging.

Everyone talks about big data. People talk about being overwhelmed by information, about capturing it, storing it, struggling with it and doing something useful with it.

Talent managers can’t avoid the topic. The digital universe will double every two years, reaching 40,000 exabytes by 2020, according to the December report “The Digital Universe in 2020” from research firm IDC. To put that kind of volume into context, one exabyte is big enough to contain 50,000 years’ worth of DVD-quality video.

In the same report, authors John Gantz and David Reinsel indicate that a “generous estimate” would be that half of 1 percent of these digital assets are actually analyzed. “Herein is the promise of ‘big data’ technology — the extraction of value from the large untapped pools of data in the digital universe,” the authors wrote.

Talent leaders can either survive or thrive within the vortex of big data, and IDC projections demonstrate all of this is going to get bigger. Consider the implications for recruiting.

“This is a new frontier,” said Chris Collins, director for the Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies (CAHRS) and associate professor of human resource studies at Cornell. “It’s so easy to submit an application if there’s a job posting. So where there would be hundreds of candidates in the past, some of these companies now get thousands, especially with the job market being what it has been in recent years.”

Online applications and the resulting follow-through create vast additional knowledge streams that can drive optimal hiring practices. Overall, however, that’s not happening. In “State of HR Analytics: Facts and Findings From CAHRS Topical Working Groups,” a Cornell University report published in spring 2011, Fortune 500 firms working with Cornell’s CAHRS indicated they were using HR data for basic reporting, usually deploying dashboard display technologies or scorecards.

Two-thirds of them said they had senior leadership support for HR analytics projects. However, only 27 percent felt they had a strong team of analytical talent to execute such initiatives. Thirteen percent said they had the necessary technologies or systems to facilitate HR analytics. And one-third agreed with the statement, “Front-line HR generalists understand the value of HR analytics.”

Article Keywords:   evolution   evaluation   analytics   big data  


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