Big Data in HR: Potentially Revolutionary, But There's One Small Problem

katy-smigowski by

Big Data in HR: Potentially Revolutionary, But There's One Small ProblemBig Data is set to transform your Human Resources Department, but there’s just one small problem…

Big Data, Big Data, Big Data. I’ve been hearing this buzz word a ton over the past year or so.

As it turns out, there’s plenty of substance behind the hype. In fact, it’s a real trend. With advancements in technology, we’ve created a lot of information (data) for ourselves. This has created a huge opportunity for companies to create solutions to manage this data.

The Potential Impact of Big Data in HR

Big Data analysis can be used to improve talent management, as well. Using this information, managers can make highly-informed decisions about their organization and workforce, targeting high-performing employees/teams, recognizing them for their accomplishments, and drilling down into what makes them successful to better understand — and help them and others repeat — their results.

The annual Global Assessment Trends Report, published by talent measurement solutions company SHL, digs into details on HR trends for 2013 and devotes its main section to exploring the challenges and opportunities of Big Data being utilized within HR. The authors explain that the ability to acquire and analyze increasing amounts of complex data offers HR managers the opportunity to better measure and understand their employees. This can lead to improving decision-making and performance.

The report indicates the focus of the trend is currently leaning more towards developing internal capabilities and current employees rather than utilizing Big Data to help with new talent acquisition. For example, I was happy to hear that, according to the report, a top priority for HR in 2013 is engaging the workforce (55%) and developing leaders (52%).

One Small Problem

However, as often seems to be the case with Big Data, organizations appear to be having difficulty determining the best ways to analyze their data. The report reveals one of the biggest challenges of managing talent data efficiently is a general lack of reliable and relevant systems and automation. Surveyed HR professionals are looking for changes in the quality and accessibility of their data, and believe current data is being underutilized.

The following table shows the complete findings from the survey:

Big Data in HR tableLess than a quarter of respondents have a clear understanding of their workforce’s potential, although 73% do have a formal performance appraisal/management process in place.

Also, only 18% are satisfied with their HR systems/automation to manage talent data, although over half of respondents believe it is critical to have data on competency and skills integrated into their talent management system. Talk about a huge need that is going under-served.

What does this mean for HR? I predict over the next year we will find more useful ways to use this overload of data to HR’s advantage. I also think this is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs to create a solution that addresses the gap in data management for HR professionals. Perhaps we will see a few new companies spring up dedicated to Big Data management for talent measurement.

What do you think? Will Big Data have a big impact on HR? Are there any products/solutions that are already focused on helping HR departments with talent data management?