We already see hints of this in human resource management. For example, Google developed a formula that predicts the probability that each employee will leave, allowing the company to “get inside people’s heads even before they know they might leave,” said Laszlo Bock, Google’s head of HR, in Retooling HR.
As in retailing, predictive human capital analytics might reveal when employees are ready for learning opportunities, likely to benefit from a stretch assignment or ready to contribute to a new project.
Of course, this insight comes with equally powerful dilemmas. Duhigg tells of the outraged father of a high school-aged daughter who complained to a store manager that she was receiving coupons for baby-related products. When the father later talked with his daughter, she revealed she was indeed pregnant.
For talent management leaders, what are the appropriate boundaries on insights, even those based on freely-available information? How might employees react to their company using data to predict if they are in danger of burnout or about to leave?
The employee-employer relationship is different from the customer-retailer relationship, but the depth and detail of employment data is increasing, and with it both opportunities and dilemmas like those faced by marketers today. Talent management and HR leaders might do well to get into the “habit” of considering how predictive analytics implications that face marketers today may be a harbinger of the future of employment. John Boudreau is professor and research director at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business and Center for Effective Organizations, and author of Retooling HR. He can be reached at email@example.com.