Long data, which looks at statistics in their historical context, will unlock the power of workforce analytics, according to Mercer’s Brian Kelly.
As the value of workforce analytics becomes apparent, many HR leaders are wondering if they have to become analytics experts to keep their jobs.
Big data may be the big buzzword for workforce management, but to really understand workforce trends over time, companies need to take a long data view, said Brian Kelly, head of Mercer’s workforce analytics and planning function in Philadelphia.
Long data, a term coined by mathematician and network scientist Samuel Arbesman, takes analytics beyond a “snapshot in time” and gives organizations the historical context necessary to put workforce data into perspective, said Kelly, who joined Mercer in 2011 to help expand the global consulting firm’s workforce analytics capability.
He argues that it is only through this long-term perspective that organizations can gain insights into workforce trends and optimize their human capital investments.Why is big data analytics important to the talent management practice?
In a knowledge economy, the most important asset a company can deploy is its human capital. Many CEOs and board members today see talent as the differentiating factor in their ability to succeed.
Workforce analytics can help organizations make evidence-based decisions on how to deploy that human capital, and to get a handle on how human capital risk affects their ability to execute business strategy.What are the biggest challenges talent managers face in taking advantage of workforce analytics?
With big data, you are capturing information from a variety of transactions using advances in new technology. The challenge now is how to make sense out of it.
We use a model, developed by IBM, to break big data into the four V’s: volume, velocity, variety and veracity. HR doesn’t have as much volume or velocity as other business lines. They are not doing millions of transactions on a daily basis.
Instead, what happens in the workforce are trends over time, which is why variety and veracity resonate with HR leaders.
The variety comes from all the systems they use. Whether it’s SAP, Oracle, Taleo, SuccessFactors or some other tool, all of these systems have to talk to each other. Then there is the veracity, which is a huge issue for HR because people don’t trust the numbers.