Big Data Fever Hits Workforce Management Professionals

Workforce management professionals have not been immune to the Big Data Fever that has consumed their colleagues in the business community.  The allure of Big Data and the amazing insight it promises has been well documented in every facet of the supply chain and well beyond.  Heck, even baseball had its come-to-religion moment when Billy Beane famously harnessed data to build Oakland As into a World Series contender more than a dozen years ago.  So where do things stand at the intersection of Big Data and workforce management?

Workforce managers are already convinced that data can help their organizations excel at tasks like selecting the best job candidates, retaining valued employees in competitive environments, identifying the correct people to advance within the organization, and improving plans for future workforce needs.  But is your workforce management program ready to harness Big Data simply because you have a VMS in place to capture transactional data?

The answer is “not likely”.  According to Deloittes Josh Bersin, while most companies large enough to have a workforce management program in place have the capacity to capture the data, most are not ready to derive the kind of predictive analytics that have caught the attention of talent managers everywhere.  His research showed:

  • The majority –56% of those polled – had operational reporting capabilities driven by VMS usage.  This data, existing in isolation and accessible only through ad-hoc reporting, enabled users to only be reactive to business demands. 
  • 30% of those polled were able to use their data for multi-dimensional intelligence, leveraging benchmarking and analysis for improved decision making. 
  • A mere 10% were achieving strategic analytical capability using statistical analysis to develop “people models” and attaining multi-dimensional understanding of root causes driving HR activities. 
  • A scant 4% were truly reaching the level of predictive analytics – the holy grail of Big Data, wherein the data can be mined and analyzed to achieve sound and accurate future plans for workforce management. 

So as you can see, the potential inherent in the use of Big Data is understood, but few are equipped to truly execute it.

Michelle Rafter, in an article from cosigned by saying, “The buzz over successes at early workforce analytics adopters such as Google Inc. and Xerox Corp. is giving HR practitioners a bad case of big data fever. They’re buying workforce analytics software or adding modules to existing enterprise resource planning and human capital management software suites.”  The missing element from any of the technology tools available to harness big data, however, is the human expertise.

Finding that rare professional with dual competency in both data science and workforce management can be difficult.  Employing such a person comes at a premium as they are truly in high demand.  Of course, you could leverage the expertise of service providers where many of these highly sought-after professionals are in residence.

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