The Power of Big Data


The ideas behind Big Data hold a lot of promise for the world of talent management and for HR practitioners aiming to help develop their people and provide insight into strategic decisions. However, a vibrant analytics solution isn’t built in a day and it can be daunting to know where to begin.

Big Data doesn’t need to be something only big companies benefit from. There’s a place to start for almost any organization. As you think about how you may advance your own strategy and consider your organization’s readiness, here are some things it may help to keep in mind:

Build or Partner…or Both?
When it comes to an analytics tool itself, there are many choices. Some organizations go the route of building a solution themselves, allowing full control. Consider your IT group’s existing data strategy, capabilities and resources, as well as where your initiatives may fall on the priority list. Alternately, a hosted solution may be the right choice, offloading support and development of new features. It often makes sense to augment your own team with specialists or resources from a vendor to help establish your system.

Start With a Realistic First Step
Robots are not going to be doing all your hiring any time soon—or automatically plucking the next generation of leaders from your ranks. Lay the foundation for sophisticated features like predictive analytics and scenario modeling by first setting up a more basic analytics function.

Most organizations have that report that takes forever to build, taking up someone’s time manually merging data from different systems—or, similarly, there are questions from operational managers that take digging to answer, only for the response to be out of date right away.

A great start for an analytics solution is to bring data together from two or more currently siloed sources and address current pain points like these. Bring your current metrics or scorecards on board, and start to collect the data that can be used for trend analysis in the future.

Keep the Journey Moving Ahead?
Start with something simple and achievable, but don’t stop there. As your organization gets used to information and metrics available on demand, more opportunities will present themselves. Many talent management programs can be strengthened through better analytics.

Succession planning is one example. A maturing analytics solution can bringing together diverse information such as tenure and experience, spans of control, leadership assessments, downstream engagement scores and more. More quantitative measures can help identify a broader range of candidates and better map to development plans and the demands of potential new positions.

Keep an Eye on Governance and Privacy
HR professionals best understand the place of confidentiality and privacy and this knowledge can help drive your analytics strategy and policies. Does your organization have any polices or restrictions regarding data staying inside your organization, or inside Canada? Would you need to be able to justify decisions based on machine learning or an algorithm? Understanding any requirements on how data is stored and who can access it is critical to a thriving analytics program.

Look for Quantitative Metrics
Analytics offers the opportunity to put talent measures next to productivity and business metrics, allowing you to demonstrate the bottom-line business value of your talent programs. For instance, analytics based on attendance patterns can pinpoint problem areas. Investigating root causes and designing the right response has the potential to save thousands of dollars. Similarly, a detailed analysis of why and when employees leave the organization can help you understand your turnover rates. If you can intervene at the right time, high-performers can be retained and turnover costs reduced.

Don’t Underestimate Change Management ?
It can take time for your team to embrace these changes. It can be an adjustment to go from receiving a report to checking a dashboard on your phone or desktop. Trust in the data may need to build before it is used in decision-making. Help your organization adapt with a change management strategy. Make sure you have sponsors on your side who are championing the initiative. Ensure your managers and decision-makers are equipped to use it and access the metrics they need. ??And of course, listen for what will support the business next.

Shannon Power, business analyst, new Business for TELUS Employer Solutions has worked as a seasoned BA for over 20 years. She brings a high degree of project lifecycle knowledge and ITIL best practices to the project team. Shannon has worked in human resources for 11 years and excels in project leadership execution and delivery.

Shannon Power is presenting The Power of Big Data live webinar on November 14, 2018.  For more information on this and other professional development opportunities, please visit



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