It seems that "big data" is here to stay. From predicting sports and election outcomes to improving traffic flow, big data plays a role in every person's life. For businesses, it also has a profound impact. Across different business areas, big data has allowed organizations to make better-informed business decisions. For sales and marketing, big data and analytics can illuminate valuable information on customer and audience behavior and interests.

For human resources, big data holds equally powerful possibility. The HR teams that are most successful are ones that use data for more than merely accumulating workforce metrics. Predictive modeling techniques are the key to taking HR from reactive to strategic–which can create immense value for the organization as a whole.

Perhaps the most immediately visible HR function that big data can support is talent recruitment. The same way that marketers can use big data to glean insight into customers, so recruiters can use it to better understand potential talent.

Analytics can be used to pull patterns and trends from social profiles, resume databases, applications, and tests. If you take this data and compare it to similar data from existing employees, you might have a better chance of hiring talent that's the best fit for your company.

You might also compare candidate data to data from employees who have left your company, such as exit interviews. It's impossible to eliminate turnover entirely, but there may be an opportunity for your HR department to reduce it. If you can analyze big data to identify trends amongst departed employees, it might help you better select future talent–and retain them.

HR teams might see similar benefit in managing performance in their organizations. Big data could be used to analyze productivity trends among employees and help determine areas and strategies for improvement. For companies with hourly employees, data analytics can be particularly useful in determining which shifts yield more productivity.

Most departments are data-driven these days, and HR is catching up to join the ranks. Of course, bringing big data analytics to HR requires a fair investment, but the business case for it isn't out of reach. In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, 71 percent of CEOs view human capital as the biggest contributing factor to sustainable economic value. Moreover, 43 percent of CEOs state that investing HR is a high priority.

While many organizations have yet to capitalize on big data for strategy around hiring, retention and performance, those that have can likely attest to the power of strategic human capital decisions. At the end of the day, big data holds a wealth of insight and information that could dramatically change the management of human capital, as well as the value of HR to the business overall.

To learn more about the effects of technology on HR, watch our recent webinar "The Modernization of Traditional HR Services."

13 October 2015

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