Big data equals smart decision-making: Research

by Iain Hopkins04 Jun 2013

Organisations recognise the importance of connecting business strategy and people, but are missing the crucial link – quality data on their talent.

The 2013 SHL Global Assessment Trends Report, which surveyed 592 HR professionals from around the world, found that 66% of organisations believe HR is a strategic function of the business, however, only 43% use talent data to make business decisions.

“Measuring and benchmarking individual performance and potential reveals valuable information on the strength of an organisation’s workforce. Armed with the insight from this talent data, HR managers are in a position to influence the development and implementation of business strategies,” said Samantha Hickey, head of professional services for SHL Australia.

The SHL report indicated that less than a quarter of HR managers are effectively using talent data to understand their workforce’s potential to achieve business objectives.

It’s an issue also highlighted in research by Accenture, which surveyed C-Suite executives and HR leaders from Australia’s 500 largest organisations about their human capital strategies. That research found a significant gap exists between the importance employers attribute to human capital initiatives and the effectiveness of how these initiatives are executed. The fundamental driver of this gap is ineffective use of human capital analytics, with leadership teams remaining overly-reliant on qualitative decision-making despite continued moderate returns.

Hickey said HR managers need to ensure the workforce can deliver on existing projects, while also contributing talent data to influence new business strategies.

“Significant business decisions, such as a new approach to the market or a major shift in operations, should be made based on the knowledge that the right people are in right places to deliver on the new strategy,” she said.

“Talent data provides the proof points for HR managers to demonstrate workforce strengths and gaps to the executive team. This includes identifying areas of risk where training and development is needed to boost the skill and capability required for the organisation to deliver on strategy,” Hickey added.

Indeed, the Accenture research indicated the under-utilisation of analytics can lead to several pitfalls. Organisations that fail to put data at the centre of their decision-making processes are unable to purposefully shape their organisation’s future, missing opportunities to manage talent and direct initiatives towards the longer term needs of the business. Without a strong predictive analytics capability, companies struggle to effectively measure employee behaviour, leadership success or workforce capabilities and rob themselves of the ability to forecast not only what decisions need to be taken, but also how those decisions will play out over time.


  • by Wanting More Detail 5/06/2013 12:19:40 PM

    There has been a lot written about 'Big Data' and analytics recently. However, there appears little in terms of specifics - What is it that is being measured and what is it being compared to. This article refers to Talent Data, what is meant by this? More detail on strategies to identify what should be measured would help greatly.

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