More strings to the bow: The expanding nature of HR - Part 2

by Cameron Edmond27 Aug 2013

While an understanding of both technology and employer branding are not new to HR, advancements in big data, social media, and a general shift in society itself mean HR needs to adapt.

HC reported yesterday on the incorporation of marketing into the HR sector. However, this is not the only area in which HR must evolve.

 “We’re now surrounded by so much data,” Yasu Sato, director of HR for Asia-Pacific at LinkedIn, told HC. “How is that relevant to HR? How can HR use the data at their fingertips to make more informed decisions, to highlight possible implications, and build the road ahead?”

John Hansen, vice president of HCM product management at Oracle, agrees that the corporate world is seeing an influx in data. “We know there is a huge amount of corporate data being generated and 90% of that data has been generated in the last two years,” he said.

The expansive nature of big data has left a wide skill gap, which Hansen indicated is of grave concern to many CEOs. “Knowing our people is going to be critical to whether we are able to execute our strategies in the future and ultimately that lack of information and insight is what worries CEOs the most.”

HR’s expansion into an understanding of big data is a complex shift, but one Hansen feels is important.

Although analysing buying trends and financial components of an organisation is done through simple data, the information needed to successfully assess people is much vaster. “People are a little bit more nebulous in nature so we need to know a lot of data points,” Hansen explained. “We need a lot of content to really understand what the talent program looks like, what is bringing us success and innovation today and what is going to be needed tomorrow.”

By becoming familiar with and incorporating big data analysis tools into an organisation, HR professionals can become a part of the big data sector in their organisation. These tools include Oracle’s own predictive modelling.

“What that predictive modelling does is it takes all the corporate data we have and it is able to look at trends and patterns in our workforce. Then it projects that into the future to see when those trends and patterns might occur again,” Hansen explained.

The tool can be used to chart trends such as when employees in certain roles are most likely to leave, as well as what has been done differently in the instances where they haven’t left. This data can then be used to make more informed HR decisions in the future.

“HR practitioners have been very good at telling management in an organisation what happens,” Hansen said. “That has some value, but it would be much better to go into a board meeting and be able to say … “I’ve got enough insight into the workforce to know this is going to be a problem and these are the plans I have to mitigate the risks right now.””

Grappling with big data’s expansive information tools can be daunting for even IT professionals. As HC has reported previously, big data is in many ways its own function of an organisation. As such, HR’s utilisation of it will not only benefit the HR sector, but allow HR professionals to become much more aware of the requirements of a big data team when recruiting, meaning for stronger employees across all big data functions.


Does HR have to evolve? Should it be adopting elements of marketing and big data management, or are these other departments all together? What do you think of Oracle’s predictive analysis program?


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