Data is ubiquitous today and information is truly the king. This gets proven by the fact that 2.5 quintillion bytes of data is created every day, which could really fill about 10 million Blu-ray discs, the height of which, if stacked, would measure the height of 4 Eiffel Towers on top of one another. Astonishing, right?
The importance of gathering business related information is right at the fore today. However, without any system to manage and interpret data, all the effort put in to collect it in the first place might go in vain. The ever increasing quantity of data in business, therefore mandates that the management and interpretation of data follow a qualitative approach. And this is the exact reason why Big Data was conceived. It allows extremely large data sets to be analysed computationally to reveal patterns, trends and associations, especially relating to human behaviour and interactions. Interestingly, even though the big data concept has been around for quite some time, it is only until recently that organizations across the globe have started fathoming its true depth and power. Citing an example, the e-Commerce industry is heavily dependent on the data collected through various web based tools. Big Data analysis has enabled this industry to determine customer choices, preferences and behaviour. It has even allowed marketers to strategize through prediction of customer demand in any given market.
More recently, so, Human Resources too has started making its first strides in its use of Big Data. This of course is an obvious progression since Big Data revolves entirely around human behaviour and interactions, and HR is really all about this. As HR hops on to the Big Data bandwagon, let us take a closer look at the ways Big Data can be put to use here:
Recruitment and Selection: Big Data can really change the way of how we look at recruitment and its associated data. With people related data available with multiple sources like video profiles, social media websites, assessments, etc., merging and converting all of this data and knowing the browsing patterns of candidates and their social media relationships, etc. will reveal an altogether different level and magnitude of information about the candidate’s profile before being hired in an organization. Furthermore, micro analysis in the notice period duration will help employers in ascertaining whether the candidate will join or get dropped.
Employee Welfare: When leave, time, attendance, financial expense and system usage patterns are merged and trended over a timeline using Big Data, it gives us interesting insights into how people are discovering the balance of work and life. This is quickly becoming a new benchmark information system that is used by HR heads before they get about designing new policies and take decisions on increasing productivity without compromising attrition, etc.
Managing Team Performance and Productivity: With the power of hindsight, getting derived from past data using Big Data, managing the team’s productivity and performance becomes really easy. For example, if you are in a retail setup and need to manage the staff availability during both high and low activity seasons, inferring from hind sights derived from past data will keep you ready to meet the seasonal business demands in advance. Furthermore, by using Big Data to correlate performance and sales data, HR can determine which employees are most successful and why. This could further help in developing pre-hire screening surveys that could predict which employees would most likely succeed and produce higher sales.
Employee Retention: Predictive analysis that uses Big Data is an important tool than can help companies identify which are the employees with a higher chance of leaving the organization. The process utilizes a set of variables which are attributed to the retention of employees by analysing other organizations, creating a system that will be able to predict actions of both already employed and those who will be employed.
The sheer magnitude created by petabytes of data being available online makes it a new game altogether. With Big Data being used to manage and interpret this vastness, the HR industry is greatly benefiting in its own way. Gone are the days when the business decision making process was dependent on intuition and experience alone. Today, it is much more organised and scientific through data collection and interpretation, allowing successful prediction of future trends and very informed decision making by business leaders. This is Data-As-A-Service, or more popularly known as DaaS, which is a highly specialized service to merge and analyse data from different sources. This entire service operates in real time and also helps in the enhancement of the company database. Data interacts with each other across two distinct information ecosystems: the data INSIDE (within the organization) and the data OUTSIDE (market data) to give us the hindsight – insight – foresight of any situation, problem or challenge faced in business.
The Data Inside: This is all about how can data and database logics be merged across disparate systems that organisations use today, reaching to a seamless data integration and maturing model through ACOUSTICS model, then building trend lines and comparing it within organizational sub-units to represent and identify variances. Most of the reporting and BI systems work at this level.
The Data Outside: This is all about how the inside data are compared within a limited external context like the same market, the same business segment or a limited set of companies, by subscribing to intel and merging the data points and understanding the relative context.
Where is HR in terms of Big Data analysis process implementation?
According to a 2013 SAS study, 6400 organizations across 1200 business types, and with a staff of 100 or more, will have implemented big data analytics by 2018. What’s more, a Towers Watson survey done last year of more than 1,000 organizations, found HR data and analytics to be among the top three areas for HR technology spending. But, of the total number of major companies across the globe, just 4% have actually implemented Big Data for HR, showing that despite high predictions, adoption continues to be low. HR has only hit the tip of an otherwise huge potential when it comes to the use of Big Data and implementation of Big Data analysis, with some of the top organizations reserving the opinion that analytics is a highly complex and time consuming process. Adding to this is the fact that Big Data analysis also includes preparation of reports and delivering decisions, which again is time consuming. These preconceived notions can be deemed responsible for HR teams of leading companies still not adopting big data in their decision making processes.
As explained in the above mentioned examples, Big Data can literally turn around the way HR operates, just as it has done with marketing processes. Finding the best talent is the best example, where combining social, enterprise and public data can not only help in finding the right profile for a job, but also in predicting to a large extent how will the candidate perform as an employee.
Some top organizations merging Big Data and HR
When HCL used Big Data analysis to calculate their business related expenses (BRE), they found that there is a significant scope of saving a lot on BRE costs by simply providing their employees the timeframe to submit their reimbursement details to the company. By doing just that they were able to contribute savings of up to 4% to 6% of their BRE.
Believe it or not, IndiGo Airlines used Big Data analytics that led to their decision of making most of their employee related letters and paperwork go online. They made a major part of their HR operations online and saved 23881 sheets of A4 paper, a considerable amount in yearly savings.
During their manpower planning process, the main challenge that HDFC faced was to hire their workforce across India for their insurance profile. In order to know the success rate of retention of such HDFC employees and whether this workforce will stay with the organization or not, a detailed study on 5000 people was conducted using Big Data analytics, to identify unique state level CTQ (critical to quality) parameters. This study threw up various unique combinations of CTQs, like when hiring a person in South India, the candidate should be 18 years of age, while in East India, it was not recommended to hire someone of less than 23 years of age, etc. With the help of correlation analysis of the data received, region wise specific CTQs were found out and implemented, which brought down the conversion ratio big time, and contributed significantly to the retention of such profiles.
Big Data is revolutionizing the way organizations answer their most pressing business questions.
In this era of mobility and information overload, where powerful computing, faster networking, and cheaper storage is getting bigger and crazier like never before, DaaS can prove to be a valuable strategy. As HDFC, IndiGo and other organizations have already discovered, CEOs, CFOs, CIOs and CHROs wanting to drive their businesses forward, will need to quickly recognize the enormous value of Big Data in HR and start investing in it accordingly. DaaS in HR will allow us to move beyond simple headcount, and be more predictive than reactionary. At PeopleStrong, we believe that businesses work more effectively when real-time insights are made available alongside the transactions being conducted, enabling business leaders to make quick and informed decisions related to their people and people related costs, which we know is the one variable that can make or break the bottom line.