Luddites Need Not Apply

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Change management, finance and great leadership are all vital skills for top talent executives.

Still, there is one skill set that may be even more important, said John Houston, national practice leader for global workforce analytics for management consulting firm Deloitte.

“One of the surest ways to make yourself irrelevant is not staying on top of technology trends,” he said.

HR leaders have to understand the basics of any workplace technology that affects recruiting,retention and workforce planning. And among the technologies, workforce analytics is one of the most important.

“HR organizations today need to figure out how to efficiently allocate human capital resources, and they need to be able to collect and analyze data from across the company to make those decisions,” Houston said.

That means having at least a working knowledge of big data and workforce analytics.

To be sure, HR leaders don’t have to be pure data analysts, but they do need to know thebasics, said Kelley Steven-Waiss, head of HR forExtreme Networks, a global switching and routing products firm.

“You have to know where the data will come from, what questions to ask and be able to understand the results so you can extract valuable insight from it,” she said.

The big data trend began well after Steven-Waiss built her career, but that didn’t stop her from figuring it out. When she was at Genentech/Roche, she tapped internal analysts to help her learn how analytics work and how data could be applied to talent management.

Though she is far from an expert, Steven-Waiss said she learned enough to sell the value of big data to her current leadership team. “I was able to show them how predictive analytics could save the company time and money,” she said.