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Have you met Big Data?

You’ve probably had a brief introduction, though you may not know it by that name. Big Data is a catch-phrase describing the massive amount of data available to business leaders – a quantity so large that it’s virtually impossible to process using traditional methods.

Big Data is measured in exabytes, the equivalent of one quintillion bytes of information – and the world creates five exabytes of data every two days. To put it in perspective, that’s the same amount of data created between the dawn of civilization and the year 2003.

So, Business Leader: Meet Big Data! You guys are going to be awesome business partners. But you need to start off on the right foot by lining up the tools, processes and people to harness the power of all that information.

Big Data in HR

Your files are probably packed with employee data. But it’s not doing anything but taking up space, unless it’s successfully leveraged to add value to your HR practices.

To accomplish this, you need specialists with the skill set to perform:

  • Descriptive analytics: Deep diving into past results to produce key insights.
  • Predictive analytics: Crunching and interpreting data to map future outcomes.

As it applies to HR, the process can be summed up in a single term: talent analytics.

Successful talent analytics demands highly advanced skills in data analysis and cleaning, statistics, visualization, data interpretation, and problem solving. Also known as data mining, it is instrumental in:

  • Accurately identifying top candidates.
  • Improving employee engagement and retention processes.
  • Identifying leadership and talent gaps.
  • Enhancing talent pipeline development.

And so much more. When Big Data is effectively processed, companies gain a thorough and accurate understanding of their business, products and competitors, as well as workforce traits and tendencies.

For example:

A major financial services company used traditional methods to make hiring decisions. They placed a lot of weight on their candidates’ alma maters, college grades and professional references. Makes sense, right?

However, through data analytics, the company learned that the following attributes actually had the highest correlation with candidate performance success:

  • Error-free resumes
  • Graduation from a school
  • Success in prior jobs
  • Ability to succeed with only vague instructions
  • Experience in time management

Once the data was reintroduced to the hiring process, the company saw revenues grow by more than $4 million in its next fiscal period.

Building a Data Team

As organizations embrace Big Data, two to key positions are emerging on their organizational charts:

  • Data Scientist: Required technical expertise includes the ability to distill a problem down into a clear set of hypotheses that can be tested. A qualified data scientist also needs strong communication skills; namely, the ability to translate data into a compelling story that moves your business forward.
  • Data/Web Analyst: This specialist generally does not have the highly advanced skill set of the data scientist, but does require a strong understanding of analytics packages. Both positions call for a passion for data and a high level of curiosity and creativity.

The concept of Big Data and how to make it work for you can be overwhelming until you get to know it. But once you do, you can turn it into a winning formula for your organization.

For more information on this and other HR business strategies, contact the expert team at BrainWorks.


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