Own the Table: How to Leverage Human Capital Data

Would you like to own the C-level table? I didn’t say get a seat at it, I said own it. Computer technology and predictive analytics have developed to the point where you can. All you need to do is adopt a strategic predictive mindset and take advantage of human capital analytic tools that already exist. When you use them, you will have the best data in your company — better than finance or sales.

Start by thinking like an economist. Economists study factors from finance and technology to politics and humanity that affect how local and global economies function. One of the industry’s outputs is The Economist magazine. This is a comprehensive publication for business people. And you are a business person, aren’t you?

The Economist’s masthead lists its areas of coverage: world politics, business and finance, economics, science and technology, culture and the world in 2012. Is there a topic there you should ignore? Maybe if you are a sole practitioner in a very small company where you are up to your ears in recruiting, record keeping and managing payroll, I will let you off the hook. But as you progress to a position of higher responsibility in a larger enterprise, you must develop a broader perspective.

Ask yourself these questions:

• What do you need to know about future human capital investments and how they will affect your organization? You need to pay attention to government regulations, economic movements, your industry and company financial matters.

• Why do you want to know this? When you put these data together you are developing business intelligence. You need more than next year’s sales projections to plan and manage talent, achieve greater efficiency and promote profitability.

• How can you create value with this intelligence? You will be operating above the service-delivery level, elevating HR to a point where you are directly contributing value in terms of cost reduction, customer delight, risk management and revenue generation.

Embed this intelligence in your technology. It doesn’t do any good to have it sitting in a server somewhere that no one can access. Additionally, you can’t embed intelligence if you don’t know what data is useful. You have to have a comprehensive context derived from the aforementioned disciplines. Then you can take advantage of the new technologies: tablets, smartphones, social media and workforce analytics.

Emerging social networking tools are already having an effect on what people do, why they do it and where it takes place. To leverage your investments in technology, you have to get up to speed on workforce analytics. Vendors provide many platforms from software as a service to the cloud. It is now a matter of knowing what you want to take to the field and presenting it to the table.

One particularly intriguing development is the Human Capital Impact (HCI) program that was reported in CFO magazine late last year. It turns data on more than 70 variables into strategic business intelligence. HCI is divided into four sections: workforce productivity, total cost of workforce, talent management impact and total organizational impact.

I know what you are thinking: “We could never get the data.” However, businesses already collect a lot of it through various HR activities, but it is not pulled together. Much of it is also available in corporate accounting statements and government publications.

The time has come for anyone who wants to advance HR’s position in his or her organization.

This is not a gimmick, a get-rich-quick scheme or a magic cure. The twofold approach of comprehensive analysis carried forward through powerful mobile technology is being used by many companies already. The system is being applied, tested and improved daily throughout industry and government. If you are ready to drop the excuses, you can own the table.

It is a matter of understanding what will be useful. Then, collect data and load it into your integrating analytics software. Next, make it available to line managers. Finally, take it to the table that you now own.