3 Minute Read

Can HR Really Use Big Data?

Originally posted on PeopleFluent.com June 7, 2013.

3 Ways HR Can Use Big Data Right Now

medium_2533281806Recently, I was on DriveThru HR, a lunch-time radio talk show hosted by Bryan Wempen and William Tincup. It’s an interesting format, because the core question is “What’s keeping you up at night?” As someone who works with companies and vendors across the entire HR and Recruiting spectrum, that’s a really tough question to answer. After all, Talent Acquisition and Management pros wrestle with all sorts of different talent issues and as I’m fond of saying, humans are the ultimate variable, so those issues are always different. In our business there are no easy solutions. The end. Just kidding.

But that doesn’t keep us from trying to answer the tough questions. One main thing that is keeping me up at night is Big Data. Not just its potential impact on talent management and acquisition, but the definition of the term at all! I hear it thrown around on a regular basis and used to describe everything from basic dashboard analytics to business intelligence from back in the 90s. So, what is Big Data….really?

From HBR.org: Business executives sometimes ask us, “Isn’t ‘big data’ just another way of saying ‘analytics’?” It’s true that they’re related: The big data movement, like analytics before it, seeks to glean intelligence from data and translate that into business advantage. However, there are three key differences:

• Is it a lot? IBM talks about quintillions of data. If you cannot pronounce the measurement of Big Data…you might have Big Data.

• Is it a firehose? Is the data coming in so fast you can barely keep up? You might have Big Data.

• Is it messy? If your data is structured, unstructured, measures every single kind of whatnot imaginable….you might have Big Data.

Now, the above may sound familiar to you. After all, in HR, we see a lot of data. We’ve been collecting data on employees, performance, compensation, demographics, locations (you name it!) for years. We have a lot of it. So how do we use Big Data for HR?

1. It can help us source better. If we have social and mobile data (which we do, it’s simply unstructured) then we can create sourcing profiles that never die. Washington Post and The New York Times both recently talked with sourcing companies like Gild, Entelo and TalentBin who are doing this. But even if you don’t use a tool, you can still source within your own systems and update those profiles with accurate social data. Read more…


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