HR struggles with big data

HR professionals should seriously examine the relevance and potential limitations of big data when it comes to the HR function, according to an expert in HR technology and strategy.

“Big data is one of the more over hyped things in the world right now,” said Jason Averbook, CEO and cofounder of human capital management consultancy Knowledge Infusion.

“While it’s true that we have more data, the question is do we have the right data?”

Averbook said hype around big data may be another case of the HR community’s over-reliance on technology to solve organisational problems.

While HR has done well in automating process, the function has generally struggled in moving “process to prescription”, he said.

“That’s the biggest red herring out there for organisations,” said Averbrook, who explained that HR has been good at taking manual processes and putting them online, but not good at understanding how to further leverage this process for organisational benefit.

“If I want to find out who works for a competitive company of mine it’s pretty easy these days to go online and find someone, target them and hire them”

“So the benefit for HR is that it makes their job easier, but this doesn’t necessarily give the organisation better visibility into its people and its talent,” he said.

As an example, Averbook said most HR functions struggle when it comes to workforce planning and effective talent management under commercial pressure to ‘do more with less.’

“As someone who works with global organisations most organisations would be somewhere between a D and an F,” he said.

From a big data and competitive talent standpoint, Averbrook said it was interesting that the system that knows the most about employees is Linkedin.

“LinkedIn knows more about your people than you do, and because LinkedIn knows more about your people than you do, for the most part your competitors know more about your people than you do,” he said.

“So if I want to find out who works for a competitive company of mine it’s pretty easy these days to go online and find someone, target them and hire them if that’s my goal. This is a huge issue.”

By John Nekich