Technically Speaking

The Official Bigstep Blog

Big data in use…HR

When organisations talk about deploying big data, they usually mean within the marketing department. The insight gleaned from big data is used to better understand customer intent and behaviour and brands can use that intelligence for more effective and targeted marketing.

But big data can be deployed in other areas of a business, providing valuable insight in a number of disciplines. We look at big data deployment in HR, what it can achieve, barriers to deployment and what organisations need for success. 

A practical use of big data
Big data is moving beyond the IT department. Other business lines have seen the value and improved decision making it can offer and want to use it themselves.

One such area is HR, where senior execs want to use big data to help them manage a workforce, attracting, retaining and developing the best talent for their organisation.

HR is a likely department to benefit from big data, as all businesses are packed with data on employees and their performance. This will include previous roles, education, areas of specialism, details of HR reviews and much more. Yet for the most part, this data is rarely used to make informed decisions about the people in a business.

New Bersin by Deloitte research last year showed that HR organisations with mature analytics functions are twice as likely to improve their recruiting efforts and leadership pipelines. Yet only 14 per cent of the organisations surveyed had done any significant statistical analysis of employee data. Why is this and what are the barriers to big data in HR?

Big data barriers
Part of the issue is in HR departments actually deploying the data they hold. Many managers in business rely on instinct and the people skills they have picked up over their years in the job. Using data to make informed decisions about people can seem alien to some, yet a more scientific approach won’t replace instinct, it can compliment it.

There are also potential issues with computing power. Processing and managing big data places a lot of demands on an infrastructure. As we’ve discussed previously, applications such as Hadoop have powerful analytic capabilities but are a drain on any organisation’s computing power.
But with the right IaaS, one can run big data queries and pay only for the time actually used. We operate on a pay-per-hour basis, with no minimum commitment.

So an HR department could literally buy an hours’ worth if that is what is needed. This opens up big data for lines of business, making it incredibly easy to get started on working with big data without huge investment and without necessarily involving IT.

It is an on-going challenge for organisations to find new ways of finding the best talent in their industry and keeping their existing workforce motivated and engaged. Using big data is a way of meeting that challenge and so with high performance computing easily available and a more progressive attitude to using data for people management, 2014 can be the year that HR really sees a return from big data.

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