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 positively affected by the opportunity to gather insights on their stakeholders and then make faster evidence-based decisions that influence the success of the enterprise.

While the human resources community has historically been cautious and therefore late adopters of new technologies, there is already growing interest in the HR community about how the insights derived from the mounds of data they already own — not to mention external sources such as government employment data — could revolutionize the way the HR function makes decisions and measures its outcomes. HR has come under increasing pressure to deliver business value as the C-suite recognizes the critical role talent acquisition plays in achieving enterprise goals. With the foresight Big Data analysis affords, talent acquisition professionals can truly contribute to a company’s profitability by proactively creating the talent pipelines required to meet the hiring needs that are critical to the business plan.

A review of recent HR literature demonstrates an awareness of Big Data’s promise. Several publications, including Talent Management and HRO Today, are planning special issues focused on Big Data. eQuest in particular has received a warm reception from the HR and business trades as it has demonstrated the real value of Big Data analytics to the talent sourcing function:

Recruiting Trends Bulletin, Personnel Today and Retail Performance Monitor will soon publish articles based on eQuest’s job market insights and ability to transform the sourcing function from hind-sighted and reactive to proactive and strategic.

Now, recognition of value and implementation are two different things. Because organizations first saw Big Data’s promise in the realms of sales and marketing, those functions tend to dominate whatever Big Data bandwidth an organization has. It’s incumbent upon HR professionals to educate themselves about how Big Data can be applied to the domain of Human Resources in order to present a strong business case for using Big Data in the HR function.

It will be important for HR to establish some quick wins with any money spent on Big Data initiatives. HR can gain these wins by focusing the use of Big Data on single, critical business issue. Accurately forecasting which job boards should be used for recruitment marketing and being able to measure how effective those campaigns are running in real-time is an example of one such critical business issue that can benefit from Big Data analyses. The analysis of candidate response patterns and job board performance is key to producing the forecast of which job boards will yield the needed candidates. Real-time recruitment marketing analysis reveals the insights into how effective the campaigns are running. Being able to investigate and then mitigate any under-performance issue as the campaign is running provides a distinct advantage over any talent competitors who often only do a historical analysis; if at all.

In the end, it is simple. Talent acquisition teams are tasked with the responsibility of putting the best talent in front of the hiring managers, in the least amount of time, for the best cost. Failing to meet this responsibility means the business risks not having the right talent in place at the right time to meet its business objectives. Talent acquisition cannot fulfill its mandate without first ensuring that it has adequate talent pipelines from which to prospect its interviews from. Having enough qualified candidates to choose from means there is the ability to make faster hiring decisions. This quicker time-to-fill supports populating the employee roster so that companies don’t have to wait on or miss out on business opportunities. A fully staffed organization is one that’s far more likely to move with — or ahead of — market forces, innovate and successfully meet business challenges.

I look forward to your comments!

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