Wednesday, August 14, 2013

12 Questions to Consider when Analyzing "Big Data" in HR

I counted the messages in my inbox that had the words "Big Data" in them.  In one week, I had 32 messages that referred to "Big Data."  Now, I know that's partly because of the work that I do and the sites that I visit but that is a lot of noise about the data subject.

I wonder why they call it big? It sure does make data sound really scary when they refer to it as big.  Data has been around since the beginning of time, large companies have always had a lot of data to analyze, manage and store.  I had a client tell me recently that they had more data than the Library of Congress...I believe him! So what's the big deal?

For me, I don't get overwhelmed with the sheer volume of data, I know that it grows by gazillions everyday and I know that we are smart and will find a way to store it, analyze it, etc.  What bothers me is getting to the most relevant and useful data.  That to me is the bigger deal.  What is the data that actually matters?

Looking at HR, we have "Big Data" on our employees especially if we have a lot of employees.  So, which data matters and which data needs to be analyzed in the Human Capital arena?

If I could answer that in a succinct, easy to understand way, I think I could retire to a very lovely beach somewhere.

I believe the following questions are good ones to start off with when trying to figure out which data matters in regards to our people?

  1. What is important to the company and where is the company trying to go?
  2. What issues and problems are facing the company in trying to achieve #1
  3. What do our customers say we do well and what needs improvement?
  4. What human capital behaviors drive business results?
  5. What human capital competencies drive business results?
  6. What is our company's competitive advantage and is it sustainable?
  7. Why do our customers keep buying from our company?
  8. What knowledge, skills and experiences do our top performers possess?
  9. Do we have bench strength in key positions?
  10. Do we have capacity for higher productivity or are we maxed out?
  11. Are our processes without waste and duplication?
  12. Do we have the right people doing the right jobs?
That's just a start, I know there are other considerations.  What do you all think?  

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