HR Technology: Giving HR Better Data, Not Just More Data

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Deloitte’s recent report, “Global Human Capital Trends 2015,” is a wake-up call for HR leaders who are paying attention. For starters, the report ranks learning and development as the third most important talent management challenge facing business this year (the most important challenge was culture and engagement, followed by leadership).

But while three times more companies rated learning and development as very important this year compared with 2014, only 40 percent of respondents rated their organizations as “ready” or “very ready” in learning and development in 2015. That compares with 75 percent in 2014.

What that means is that while we keep hearing about how rapidly business is changing and how HR is transforming, HR continues to fall further behind. HR leaders need to take stock and decide what role they’ll play and how they’ll deal with the changes.

One part of the problem is that HR is being inundated with data, and the C-suite is asking HR to step up and play a more strategic role. But often those skills are not necessarily in HR’s wheelhouse. More to the point, more data is rarely the answer.

I wrote recently that without a goal and a plan, big data and powerful HR technology will only get you so far. That was the essence of my conclusion in our recent Lightpaper, “The Power of HR Technology in the Quantified Organization,” which offers insight from several observers of the HCM space on HR’s role in the quantified organization and related trends in HR technology. Participants included:

What’s clear is that the savvy HR leader who really stops to ask what the datafication of HR can mean to them will ask this question: What specific challenges am I facing right now that I could solve if I had not simply more information, but more of the right information?

For example, what are the common denominators among people who leave your company before the tipping point where the investment you made in hiring and training them starts to pay off? Is it the company culture? A perceived lack of opportunity or career development? Management problems? Benefits?

As I say in my concluding notes to “The Power of HR Technology in the Quantified Organization,” the trick is for an organization of any size to realize that it may not be getting all the analytic power it needs in one package. Or if it is in one package, such as an enterprise talent management solution, will HR be able to correlate that data for its uses? As I said above, more data isn’t necessarily better data.

At the same time, I readily concede that this is just as true of an HR case management solution as it is of more encompassing HCM software platforms or all-embracing e-business applications. Let’s assume you buy an HR package and it has analytics available to you. But that data will be contained to what that package or software was designed for.

You need to be able to correlate data across systems if you really want to see how trends develop and the changes your organization can make in response. For example, an HR case management application like LBi HR HelpDesk has key performance indicators (KPIs) in a graphical executive dashboard format that presents real-time data to help HR make critical decisions on HR staff and identify corporate issues.

But how do you gather and correlate all of this HR case management data with the data in your core HR system and your broader talent management platform? You need to take all of the data, flatten it, and load it into a business intelligence database. The market offers several Extract, Transform, and Load (ETL) tools, some for free. From there, you can build real-time queries using tools such as Business Objects, Pentaho, or Cognos. Or you can build a tool using LBi’s Business Objects Web Framework.

So the good news is that the role of HR technology has indeed changed to meet the demands of the quantified organization that’s demanding a more strategic role from HR.

In fact, supporting HR to build better projects for big data and then making sure HR has what it needs to correlate and map the necessary data is an area of HR technology that’s most likely to have an immediate and measurable impact for the quantified organization.