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Mining boom: HR strikes gold with big data

Big data is revolutionising the world of HR - so how can you use it to make strategic business decisions? We speak to John Hansen of Oracle, Vaughan Paul of Optus and Barry Thomas of Cook Australia for their thoughts on the latest way to gain insight into the workforce.

Video transcript below:

Donna Sawyer, HC TV
Donna Sawyer:  Big data is taking the HR world by storm.  John Hansen of Oracle says capturing information about employees at recruitment stage can be used not only to identify future leaders and fill key positions, but it can also be critical in making strategic business decisions.  
John Hansen, Oracle
John Hansen: The information we capture when we bring people into the organisation and then the information we capture in an ongoing sense as we manage the work force is actually critical to the contribution that human capital management practitioners can make to an organisation and a large reason for that is that the nature of roles and the nature of organisations is changing.  Ultimately companies in the marketplace need to be so much more agile today, they need to be very flexible in the way they leverage the human capital inside the work force and when we bring people into a particular role that’s entirely possible that well that will be their primary responsibility.  We will be looking to leverage their unique skill set and their unique experience in multiple ways, in fact through their life cycle in the organisation.  
Barry Thomas, Cook Australia
Barry Thomas:  We try to gather as much information about what the person, what their aspirations are, where they would like to be, where they see themselves.  Sometimes it’s, you know there is a degree of reality that needs to be shared as well.  And we try to be very straight and upfront with people as to what, what the future path might be and fit in with what their aspirations are.
Vaughan Paul, Optus
Vaughan Paul:  At the time we hire employees we put them through behavioural interviews and psychometric tests.  We like that data to use that for their own development plans, but in looking at that data, there is more rich information in that process that actually can be fed into other programs which we are presently looking at.
Donna Sawyer:  Vaughan Paul of Optus says people data is likely to become as important to an organisation as sales and marketing figures as it has the capability to offer HR an even deeper insight into the work force.
Vaughan Paul:  I think there is a opportunity for HR to actually approach their data a bit more like marketing do around their [cohorts] or their customers.  When you look at the people data there is so much rich information there, in their backgrounds, their experiences that often we don’t capture because we are looking at them in the view of what role they are currently undertaking or the past roles within the company.  So one area I think for the HR profession is to think more analytical around the data that it captures, past experiences, past achievements that can be fed into your own people CRM system and what you do with that and how you data mine that.  Because there are capabilities in the organisation that to be honest in an organisation like mine, I don’t know I have and I can use that to look at future succession, future capability gaps etc.
John Hansen:  Big data really gives us the capability deeper insight into all of the information that we have captured about the work force and to use that in a really effective manner to bring real business results, to increase performance, to retain the top talent inside an organisation.  And ultimately that’s how I see HCM can make a huge contribution today to their organisation.
Donna Sawyer:  Barry Thomas of Cook Australia says information gathered on staff can be used to help them achieve their career aspirations as well as their life goals.  
Barry Thomas:  If we have looked after our people as well we looked after our machinery and as a general reference, we would get a much better outcome.  I think in some ways we make sure we have got new machinery coming on board, we do all the servicing for it, we look after it, we have you know a planning for the replacement cycles and all that sort of stuff, yet when it comes to the human resource which is our most valuable resource, we kind of let that go to the side a little bit.  We wait until somebody has a problem before we address it and I think that’s got to change and I think HR has a got a role to play there.  
John Hansen:  This is about using all of that information we gather and using that insight to both manage the talent today and also to ensure that the organisation, the work force within an organisation is appropriately structured so that we can support the business goals and strategy of that company into the future.  That manifests itself in multiple places, certainly at an individual level, it manifests itself in the individual development plans, the career paths that we set out for each person.  From an organisational perspective though, it gives us true insight into our readiness to prosecute our strategy into the future.
Donna Sawyer:  This is Donna Sawyer reporting for HC TV.