HR Analytics and Big Data

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

I recently had the pleasure of moderating a webinar for HR Outsourcing Association (HROA) members on HR Analytics and Big Data on behalf of the Publications and Practices Committee. This was a natural hot topic for our group of HR service providers, advisors, analysts, and buyers as you can hardly read your email without finding a new batch of blogs, webinars, articles, and conferences on analytics and big data, including for HR.David Bernstein, the head of eQuest’s Big Data for HR / Predictive Analytics Division, and Yvette Cameron, VP and principal analyst at Constellation Research, Inc. and founder of NextGen Insights, were our guest experts and both have an extensive background and long-term interest in HR measurement and analytics. The following is a summary from our discussion with Yvette and David.

How are HR Analytics and Big Data different?

When we talk about Big Data what we’re really talking about is slightly bigger than normal but not a huge amount. There is a lot of work that still needs to be done in getting better HR metrics and measures and better ways of communicating results. By bringing in data from a variety of sources from across the enterprise and pairing it with your HR data and looking at patterns, you can start to see correlation, infer causation, and create the ability for forecasting / modeling.

Much of the work we are doing today is measuring the effectiveness of our programs using HR system data – the challenge is getting to the broader business data in order to start making correlations to business value and outcomes and to build understanding of our own employees by mining data in enterprise, productivity, and employee interaction systems.

Are HR clients ready for Big Data?

The desire is there to push beyond the wall we’ve hit with current analytics and metrics. The industry is ready for that helping hand and is looking for service providers to offer help with this.

The struggle isn’t around ‘should I’ but around ‘how do I’ in terms of where to begin. The vendor community can help bring the profession forward in terms of ‘how to make it happen.’  Right now, there is more of a consultative need to fill in missing knowledge and skills; the opportunity for the vendor community is to provide these plus ongoing services that turn the data into insightful information.

Is there a Big Data skills gap in HR?

One of the biggest hurdles and obstacles to implementing a Big Data program, second to having the budget, is the lack of expertise and skills – the HR component of any implementation program can hold companies back. HR divisions struggle between bringing these skills onboard or developing them internally.  This is an opportunity for service providers to help HR become even more strategic as they increase their skills.

The interest in HR analytics is building, but there a gap in actual buying and client abilities to leverage the new capabilities. This provides a growing opportunity for us as an HRO community to make Big Data real in HR and HRO!

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