Big Data Floating Point

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Take the Big Data Plunge – The Time is Now!

Take the Big Data Plunge – The Time is Now!

Take the Dive or Risk Becoming IrrelevantTake_The_Plunge

 

Editor’s note – This is the 1st of a two-part post.  Lately, I’ve been a participant in a tremendous number of “debates” where the topic is “to what degree, if at all, does data, metrics, and analytics, play a role in the ongoing success of the HR profession – including the adoption of Big Data?”  In this post, I talk about the connection between being viewed as strategic and the use of analytics.  Next, I’ll give guidance on why HR should pursue becoming the data-centric function it needs to be.

 

I recently attended the 2013 HRO Today Forum presented by the HR Outsourcing Association.  This year’s conference was the best-attended in its history.  This industry event brings together HR thought leaders, practitioners, and suppliers to focus on the best practices that will enable HR to deliver the highest possible business results.  Entire sessions were dedicated to how HR can leverage the power of data and analytics to achieve those results. For instance, John P. McMahon, the CHRO of Cumberland Gulf, talked about how the combination of his business acumen, and his systems and data-savviness formed the basis of the skills that have underpinned his 30 years of successes.

There is a great deal of renewed focused on the connection between HR’s emerging role as a strategic business partner and the profession’s need to use any and all data, metric, and analytic tools at their disposal.  In alignment with this theme, eQuest was honored by winning the HR Outsourcing Association’s prestigious Tektonic Award.  Elliot Clark, CEO of HRO Today, said it best: “As we have moved from the era of technology to the era of information and data, workforce analytics have become the critical element in the management of HR.”  Now, more than ever, HR needs to be able to make faster, evidence-based decisions and take quicker actions.  Being part of the team that is making faster, smarter decisions is part of what will enable HR to develop and execute the people strategies that competitively differentiate their company in the marketplace.

HR has long desired to emerge from out of the compliance, paperwork, and transactional world.  The profession has been seeking to become directly involved in the strategy and execution of running a successful business.  Now, the overwhelming majority (over 79%) of HR executives report directly to their CEO.  And yet, a recent study by the Economist Business Intelligence Unit revealed that while the majority of CEO’s desire HR by their side in a strategic role, only 38% of those CEOs are finding that HR is meeting those expectations.  The survey revealed that many HR leaders are still focused on process and rules, don’t understand the business well enough, and are not developing strategic HR plans that align with the business strategy.

So, what’s the problem?  Where are the lines of HR professionals who are clamoring to talk with their business leaders – providing critical business insights and recommendations derived from their latest analysis of the data?  Nothing has been more strongly suggested to HR departments than the adoption and embracing of data and analytics.  And yet, it is still considered the exception to find an HR organization that is living that dream.

In 2005, Fast Company’s “Why We Hate HR” article caused a stir as HR people were accused of not being “businesspeople” and how the function avoided taking on the truly strategic work of creating an HR strategy that aligned with the business.  How ironic.  CEOs want to integrate HR into the strategic planning of the company, and yet this is only being realized a minor percentage of the time.  I would think that the profession would find it worrisome that such a large gap continues to exist – even now, nearly eight years after HR was publicly called on the carpet for it.

So, I started to think about what’s behind this continued aversion.  It’s almost as if there is a mass delusion that the profession has fallen under – believing that if we ignore it long enough, hopefully it will go away.  Dr. John Sullivan recently wrote about how Google was using “People Analytics” to completely reinvent HR.  While the content was interesting, the comments section is where the real story lies.  The majority of the comments were negative and demonized the idea of being so data-oriented – i.e. “Disturbing.. .Takes the Human out of human resource.”  Another recent article posited the idea that the real reason HR hates analytics is because it increases accountability, which just leads to increased job stress and job dissatisfaction among HR professionals.  Instead of throwing out these objections, what if instead HR were asking itself, “How long can the profession stay viable and relevant if it continues to not be viewed as business-minded, strategic, and evidence-based in its decision making?”  Or, “I wonder how I could start getting my arms around this Big Data phenomenon and start figuring out how I can put its insights to use?”

Big Data is not just another fad.  There are too many examples of critical insights and successes being realized in business, politics, and government.  There are also a growing number of success stories emerging in the HR arena.  Not only is Big Data about being able ask new kinds of questions, it is all about extracting critical insights at the pace of today’s business environment.

It may be cliché to say, but I truly believe that HR is at a crossroads moment.  Does the profession continue to live up to its “gut-based” decision making reputation of being good with words but not with numbers?  Or, does it take the plunge into the analytic pool and demonstrate that it can apply business intelligence to make a strategic contribution?  The future is being set by the actions taken today.  At best, staying the current course means the profession is likely to be split in two – i.e. a “people, compliance and operations-oriented function” and a “people strategies and business programs function.”  At worst, the function splits, with the people strategies function no longer considered to be within the realm of HR.

The challenge for HR is how to maintain its role as the champion of the individual while at the same time remaining relevant by strongly stepping into the strategic role that the executive team is needing from their HR partnership.   HR cannot be that “strategic” business partner without also becoming a more data-centric profession.

When it Comes to Big Data, Don’t Forget — the Basic Rules Still Apply

When it Comes to Big Data, Don’t Forget — the Basic Rules Still Apply

The 3 most important concepts to keep in mind Readers of my blogs and articles know that my focus has often been on explaining Big Data. This Big Data phenomenon is quickly spreading throughout the business world. Those that understand it well will be able to garner new insights that will give them a competitive advantage in their business activities. This is why I’ve focused on demystifying it and talking about how HR can start adopting this new technology to drive business results. For this post, though, I want to […]

Big Data Gains Traction in the HR Space

Big Data Gains Traction in the HR Space

Big Data isn’t just for the Star Trek-loving geeks of the world anymore. Samuel Greengard at Baseline Magazine says it well: “…the topic has jumped outside the boundaries of IT and spread into the general enterprise. A growing number of business publications and portals, such as Forbes and Harvard Business Review, are devoting ink and pixels to big data.”Big Data has pervaded many sectors of modern life, well beyond its obvious business applications of customer service, operational efficiencies, and targeted marketing. Education, health care and even politics have all been […]

Six Baby Steps to Implement Big Data for HR

Six Baby Steps to Implement Big Data for HR

There’s a lot of BIG talk about Big Data. Now for the SMALL talk. While some companies are leaping into Big Data with a vengeance, others are shying away from Big Data altogether. The term “BIG DATA” alone scares off the weak-hearted HR executive who already has enough on their plate. I often hear the already up-to-their-ears-in-work HR director acknowledge the importance of data. However, the common complaint, and more importantly, the derailment of effectuating a Big Data plan, stems from the simple fact that those companies don’t have the […]

You Can Do Big Data, Today!

You Can Do Big Data, Today!

I spend a good amount of time reading about Big Data (after all, this is a Big Data blog), but even those who have a casual interest in it probably have noticed that for all the buzz, most of it is focused on what we will be able to do with Big Data — someday. As I wrote in my previous post, the vision and promise of how Big Data could transform every sector of business has been the focus of nearly every article, blog post and interview about Big […]

Big Data for HR: What’s Ahead in 2013?

Big Data for HR: What’s Ahead in 2013?

Looking back on 2012, it is clear that Big Data was quite a buzz phrase in the business world. As I dust off my crystal ball and look to the future, I thought I’d weigh in on what Big Data for HR holds in store for 2013. There was a lot of talk about Big Data in 2012. The vision and the promise of how Big Data could transform every sector of business was the focus of nearly every article, blog post, and interview about Big Data. Interestingly, though, there […]

Big Data for HR — Can it Really Make a Big Difference?

Big Data for HR — Can it Really Make a Big Difference?

Industry insight and analysis suggests that, when it comes to Big Data, HR is at a crossroads, where leaders realize informed decision-making is critical to increasing their strategic value, but they struggle with getting started. I couldn’t agree more — and have even suggested the same in a previous post on HR organizations feeling overwhelmed by Big Data. Yet, a few events and articles all converged these past few weeks that shine the light on the value of Big Data and analytics —  the insights and the results that can be […]

Spooky Parallels — Leveraging Predictive Analytics For Success

Spooky Parallels — Leveraging Predictive Analytics For Success

I can’t pass up the timely opportunity to point out some spooky parallels between Marketing and Human Resources (HR), as related to data and analytics. It stems from an event invitation I recently received titled “Analytics with a Purpose: The Human Edge of Big Data” (marketingpower.com). If the topic sounds familiar, it should, as I’ve touched on the human element of Big Data for HR in a previous post. This particular conference, geared toward Marketing and Research professionals, is designed to help decision-makers adapt to the way they compile, assess, […]

Big Data for HR Doesn’t Have to be Rocket Science

Big Data for HR Doesn’t Have to be Rocket Science

Last week I wrote about growing HR into something big, and how Big Data can play a key role in helping you become a more valuable partner to your organization by engaging in data-driven decision making. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been talking with both customers and industry analysts. Two themes have emerged from those conversations. The first is the reminder that any analytics endeavor will be pointless unless there are knowledgeable people interpreting the data, knowing how to make the essential connections between what the analysis is revealing […]

Grow HR into Something Big

Grow HR into Something Big

I’ve enjoyed watching the evolution of HR throughout my career. Gone are the days when HR’s primary role was to handle the Administration and Compliance requirements of the employee population. It wasn’t that long ago that being responsible for the Talent Management for those employees was HR’s primary mission. Now, the push is to become a Strategic Business Partner, not just supporting, but being part of the leadership team that drives the business. The challenge for the profession is that the competencies previously honed are not what will fuel HR’s […]

Big Data: A Fool With A Tool, Is Still A Fool

Big Data: A Fool With A Tool, Is Still A Fool

Just as having a saw doesn’t make you an expert carpenter, having Big Data doesn’t make you an expert analyst. A recent article in Harvard Business Review, titled “Big Data’s Human Component,” has reinforced what I’ve been thinking for some time. While the industry is getting excited about Big Data being the “next great tool,” it’s nothing without knowledgeable people making the essential connections. Or as software architect Grady Booch famously stated: “A fool with a tool is still a fool.” Okay, “nothing” may be a bit harsh, and so […]

1.1 Billion Records — Now That’s “Big Data”

1.1 Billion Records — Now That’s “Big Data”

It seems that “Big Data” is all the buzz in technology circles these days — and for good reason. Big data has all the hallmarks of being the next “Big” thing. Big, because of the potential for “Big” rewards that can be reaped. Companies must carefully review how they allocate their resources. Business leaders should consider any investment of time, money, and people in terms of its potential for advantage and financial rewards. As logical as the” Big Data” argument is, however, for most companies, attempting to scale those rapidly […]

Floating Point — The Journey Begins

Floating Point — The Journey Begins

What do a mathematical computation method, a Chinese philosophy, and a baseball coach all have in common? While the answer is not so obvious, the truth is that the powerful combination of these three form the core of the foundation of eQuest’s “Big Data for HR” division. Let’s start with understanding the meaning of the phrase, “Floating Point.” In advanced mathematics, Floating Point refers to a method of representing numbers in a way that can support a wide range of values. Conceptually, this is what eQuest’s HR Data Analysts do. […]