Don’t Let Big Data Scare You

The No. 1 excuse I hear when executives are asked if they are measuring their human capital is that their data is messed up, incomplete and hard to get. This stems mainly from a fear of what is now termed big data. The truth is, your organization is awash in data. You need to figure out how to get it and how to make it useful for evaluations. Yes, in some cases your data is not organized well. In most cases it resides in multiple systems, some new and some legacy. In many cases the data between these systems is not labeled consistently and data analysts have to make sense of it.

In a new report published by i4cp, “Building a Change-Ready Organization: Critical Human Capital Issues 2013,” the second most important issue is workforce analytics (behind managing organizational change). So if you’re serious about connecting your human capital investments to your organization’s business outcomes, and ultimately improving these investments, you must overcome the above-mentioned data issues. Without obtaining this data, you will not be able to make these linkages to outcomes and you will continue to rely on anecdotes, myths and opinions.

Understanding what data is needed to connect your investments to outcomes starts with what Jac Fitz-enz calls finding the trail of evidence. In essence, begin to think about what outcomes you are trying influence. Not HR activity metrics, but rather what business outcomes these investments are trying to change. What evidence can you find in your data that shows this investment is moving the needle?

One last word of advice: even if your bosses are not asking for measurement results, you should be proactive in this environment to stay competitive. Most of the world’s leading organizations are using their big data to move beyond activity metrics and applying advanced analytics to improve employee engagement and retention, and improve their bottom lines.

In the next few weeks I am going to walk you through the different types of data that make up big data and how leading indicators and key performance indicators can help you find the evidence that your investment is having an impact. If you have any specific questions you would like answered, please leave a comment below and we’ll address it in the next few weeks.