Tricks of the Predictive Trade

Image courtesy of Flickr/Erich Ferdinand

Though it may take a couple of more years before predictive analytics becomes a mainstream feature in the talent manager toolkit, these stories show predictive analytics is attainable even without sophisticated approaches. Below, experts offer advice on how to get started with predictive analytics.

1. Partner with other analytics driven teams.

“Analytics skills don’t typically come out of HR,” said Karen O’Leonard, vice president of benchmarking and analytics research at Bersin by Deloitte, an HR research and consulting firm. So you either need to hire that skill to your team, or work with finance or IT to bring their expertise to your initiative.

2. Think of the broader skill set.

Many people think that statistics skills are most important when applying analytics, said Patrick Coolen, manager of HR metrics at ABN AMRO Bank, based in Amsterdam. “They are right about the importance, but it is definitely not the only skill needed,” he said. “Business knowledge, HR knowledge, communication and consulting skills, IT and data architecture knowledge, and data visualization skills are also vital to do analytics.”

3. Make analytics business relevant.

Coolen, the predictive analytics leader at ABM AMRO, said that all of his statistical research starts with real business problems, rather than workforce issues. “Our strategy is to stay close to our business needs and business application and improve on our technical and statistical skills in parallel.”

4. Get a champion.

If HR is going to drive workforce analytics, it needs a leader with the credibility and influence to persuade executives to support the effort, O’Leonard said. “You need someone with a vision for how analytics can add value to the organization.”

5. Be realistic.

Analytics is hard work, and it takes time before talent leaders can agree on the right questions and data to explore. “These steps take approximately 75 percent of the whole research project,” Coolen said. “But once this is done, you can relatively quickly run the models and interpret the results.”

6. Preach and teach.

Once leaders have the results, start sharing them. “Not only with your customer,” Coolen said, “but also with relevant HR experts within recruitment, talent development, reward, learning and so on. Preach the benefits of analytics to everyone who wants to hear it.”