The HR Big Data Debate; What Questions Can HR Predictive Analytics Answer?

Big Data has been around for many years especially in the areas of sales, marketing and customer
segmentation and has served these areas well I believe. But, over the past year or two, Big Data has
announced itself on the scene of the HR profession. The problem is that while journalists, bloggers
and big data technology providers are all fluent in the language and business case for big data, the
average talent management professional has been wedded to the day to day of being a, well HR
professional, and hasn’t had time to look forward and prepare for HR Big Data. And as result, for
many HR professionals, Big Data has arrived at the door of HR and recruitment with a bit of a
surprising bang.

As a result, many talent professionals are wondering what all the ‘Big data’ fuss is about, because –
and they would be right to suggest this – data has been around for many years in HR and recruiting.
Yes, most HR professionals are comfortable with stats such as: turnover, cost to hire and time to
hire etc..

However, there is a fundamental different in the new HR Big Data wave that is sweeping the HR
profession. Yes, old school HR data analytics (or which it will soon become) was confined very
much to looking at data in the here and now, or even the past, such as turnover, cost to hire and
time to hire which are all based on retrospective data.

But new HR Big data is not just focused on the present, it makes predictions into the future and is
known as HR Predictive Analytics and it seeks to answer question like:

1. What will our cost to hire be like in three years time if we do nothing or if we change factor
X?

2. What will our time to hire be like in one year’s time if we continue with this strategy or if we
change factor Y?

3. Which areas of ours or our competitor’s business are at high risk of turnover in the future?

4. Is their a certain profile of employee or candidate who is at high risk of premature
departure or under performance?

5. Is their a profile of new employees that is synonymous with high potential?

HR Predictive Analytics seeks to look into the future and provide calculated data based scenarios
to help HR and senior managers make more effective decisions around the business. The questions
that can be answered are only limited by the data available, analytical grasp of the data and HR
imagination.

Its important for HR to understand that senior managers, marketing and sales are already conversing
in the language of Big data and it is time for HR to get on board if it wants to have a substantial
role in the corporate decision making process and command a seat in the boardroom going
forwards.

So, why now, why is HR Predictive Analytics and HR Big Data taking hold right now? Well, its
largely down to three important converging trends which are:

1. Increasing computer power,
2. increases in cloud based HR data,
3. and a global talent war which is raising the stakes in the talent attraction and retention arena.

There is no doubt that 2013 is the time for HR and talent management professionals to start
familiarizing themselves with HR big-data and to start to begin truly understanding the value that
HR predictive analytics can bring to their business and also how it can enhance the credibility of the
profession overall.

Kazim Ladimeji is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and has been a practicing HR professional for 14 years. Kazim is the Director of thecareercafe.co.uk: a resource for start-ups, small business and job seekers. You can visit Kazim’s website: thecareercafe.co.uk here.

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Kazim Ladimeji



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