Richard Teed: Without a Goal and a Plan, Big Data and Powerful Technology Will Only Move HR So Far

The Proof Is in the Pudding: Proficiency in Talent Analytics Yields Stronger Company Performance

As part of its two-year study of HR analytics (2011–2013), Deloitte looked at the financial performance of companies in the top 14 percent of its research (levels 3 and 4, as defined by Deloitte’s talent analytics maturity model — companies actually able to correlate HR data and business data to predict and improve outcomes).

The research found these companies are the highest performing in terms of shareholder value. Organizations that operate at these levels:

  • Outperformed the S&P 500 by 30 percent over the last three years
  • Reported a fourfold better ability to make data-driven decisions about people, including whom to hire, promote, and let go, and how much to pay

A similar study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and University of Pennsylvania found that companies with mature analytics functions in general produce 5 to 6 percent higher financial returns.

— Josh Bersin, “The Datafication of HR,” Deloitte University Press, Jan. 17, 2014

The first important thing for HR to have when it comes to using big data is a goal. Yet having a goal for big data — having a project, a hypothesis, a strategic business pain you want to understand more clearly — is probably the most overlooked element when an organization of any size sets out to develop its people data through new technology.

The second important thing HR needs if it wants to fully leverage big data is the necessary tools to analyze the data from throughout the organization — not just from HR’s people data.

Without those two linchpins, the power of HR technology and its trends for the future will fall short of expectations.

This is true whether an organization is considering an automated HR case management system like our LBi HR HelpDesk or a more encompassing HCM platform. The point is the same. And it’s something HR needs to own. It’s not the job of your IT department or your platform’s developers.

The savvy HR leader who really stops to ask what the datafication of HR can mean to them will ask themselves this question: What specific challenges are we 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 point where your investment in hiring and training them begins to pay off? Is it the company culture? A perceived lack of opportunity? Management problems? Benefits?

The trick is for an organization of any size to realize that it may not be getting all of the analytic power it needs in one package. Or if it is in one package, like an enterprise talent management solution, will HR be able to correlate that data for its uses? More data isn’t necessarily better data.

This is just as true of our 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.

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

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 (e.g., International Spectrum’s UniVerse).

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.

What all of this means is that 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.

About LBi Software

LBi Software provides precisely engineered, customer-focused human resources technology solutions developed from more than 30 years of experience in HR technology and HR processes. Our flagship solution, LBi HR HelpDesk, is an innovative case manager and call-tracking workflow solution that creates a rich and powerful knowledge base on the fly, with a unique tiered pricing structure that appeals to organizations of any size. Our organic belief in — and solid reputation for applying — a true client-vendor partnership on every project ensures a highly configurable solution for businesses with as few as 50 employees or more than 50,000, always designed to put the power in the hands of the employee. In addition, every LBi project is supported by our rich experience and expertise in Mobile Development, Business Intelligence, Data Warehousing, Reporting, and Analytics.

LBi Software is headquartered in Woodbury, N.Y., and is online at