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What's the Big Deal with Big Data?

Posted by Dominic Barton

22-Jan-2015 13:00:00

You’re a high-level talent acquisition director who wants to move sourcing and recruiting out of the cost center and into the value producer arena. From competitive intelligence to corporate history, your enterprise has the ability to dive deep into the data amassed over its lifetime, and create more opportunities for scalable, predictive growth.

Big-Deal

 

Recruiting and talent acquisition, even at a strategic level, have always been part art, and part science. A profession emerged from sales, rather than personnel, it’s been veering more toward the science part of the equation for the better part of the most recent decade. Recent findings have shown just how much the “science” portion can help during the hiring process

Companies from Xerox to HP, Facebook to PwC, have been taking internal data that “belongs” to HR to create plans that manage human capital and business processes more effectively. The gut-feeling, while valuable in the hiring process, is no longer the cornerstone of effective HCM planning

 

So what is?

You probably already know the answer to that question. It’s data of course. Big data. Mountains and mountains of data. Even the smallest companies often find themselves overwhelmed with the sheer volume of data they collect on employees, applicants, candidates and those who leave the organization. Human Resources kept this information for the same reason finance did, because it was sensitive. So how does a small organization pummel the mountains of data to digestible molehills of information? Steve King, Partner at Emergent Research says: 

“Small businesses can’t get caught up in the hype. They should think about their business and what steps they can take to take advantage of data in new ways.” 

 

What’s the Big Deal?

The problem with Big Data is the big part. Because of the influx of information about our employees from outside the firewalls of the company, this means we are no longer used to dealing with data in the structured, internal manner in which we dealt with it before. Today’s data is messy; 62% of large companies gather scattered information from many and very different sources in an attempt to formulate it into something more substantial. It’s unstructured and frustrating to wrangle into a meaningful story. 

This unstructured firehose of data might be valuable; but its value only matters to busy talent acquisition professionals if they can make sense of it. The data we’re referring to includes (but is not limited to):

 

●   Policies 

●   Compensation models

●   Performance management data

●   Employee behavioral surveys

●   Engagement data

●   Employee data

●   Applicant tracking data

●   Source of hire data

 

Big Data Maintenance

While the road to the market might be paved with solutions, many of them require the data to be cleaned and sorted before entry into the system, a seemingly insurmountable obstacle for many talent acquisition professionals, who have no desire to become data scientists as well. Despite this fact, nearly 60% of organizations are increasing investment into talent analytics. This is likely due to the reported success of organizations already using talent analytics, many of which report a 2-3X increase in recruiting and leadership succession. 

 

broadbeantwitter-01 Nearly 60% of organizations are increasing investment into talent analytics.

 

For the CHRO and those in the recruiting executive suite, the shift from gut-feeling can be intimidating. After all, many of recruiting’s educated guesses have panned out or been proven by assessments, retention rates and performance on the job. However, these metrics don’t have to fight against the art portion of recruiting. In fact, they can enhance it. 

For example, a hiring manager may be pushing the recruiting team to hire someone with a certain period of experience even though the recruiter handling the requirement wants to bring in someone less experienced for more enhanced training, intuiting this will increase retention and performance because of the company’s proprietary training process. Xerox faced this very situation and by using talent analytics discovered that retaining top performers within their call center was less about experience and inputted this data into their job application process. The result? Xerox slashed their attrition rates by half, resulting in reduced spend and waste. 

Your recruiting and talent acquisition can see more favorable metrics with the addition of a little more science. The last decade has exhibited a shift in how talent acquisition teams evaluate information with the accumulation of data. Organizations need a system to read all of this information more effectively because it’s not just about the gut-feelings anymore. It’s based on instincts with a bit more data than HR has seen before.

Knowing how you will affect change once the data is in, internal or external, is how you marry gut feeling with data-driven decision making.

Start now.

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Topics: Big Data , Big Data Conversations with Dominic