2013 HRMS Trends so Far: HR & Big Data

Big Data is one of those big jargon terms that IT people like to throw around a lot lately; often to the consternation of their HR colleagues since Big Data in HR was named as a key HR technology trend for 2013. But is it really ‘trending’? Is it really so important? And what is it anyway?

What is Big Data?

Unusually for jargon phrases, Big Data is fairly literal. It simply expresses the concept that the volume of available data and information (on any subject and in any field) is so large these days that it is outstripping the capabilities of traditional database management or processing tools. Big Data is defined by high volume, high velocity and high variety – in other words, there’s a lot of it, it’s moving/changing fast, and it comes in different forms from different sources…, that probably sounds like your HR data. The potential benefit of dealing with these Big Data sets is the deeper, more subtle and more detailed insights that you could be getting in areas such as hiring, and talent and performance management; if you have the software to cope with it, that is.

Big Data & HR

Up till now, HR could be said to be lagging a little in grasping the Big Data challenge. Recent surveys suggest that the majority of HR professionals feel they don’t have a clear picture of their workforce’s potential. Much of this dissatisfaction comes down to inadequate data management systems (according to the same research). It sounds like there’s an appetite for the insights Big Data for HR can offer, but HR departments feel the technology is holding them back.

However, that’s not the case anymore. Most of the big HRMS vendors – including SAP, Oracle, ADP and Workday – are offering talent management packages with fully integrated Big Data analytics. So, could 2013 be the year that HR gets to grips with Big Data; after all, the will is there and so now, is the supporting technology? The remaining factor though, is the skills and understanding of the HR professionals themselves. If you don’t understand Big Data capabilities then formulating a strategy becomes next to impossible, put simply, if you don’t know what questions to ask then the answers will be of little help.

In a Nutshell…

HR is ripe for Big Data and in a way has been for years. Think of the sheer volume and variety of people information floating around your various systems – performance management, timekeeping, recruitment, talent management – that could be linked and cross-referenced not only with each other but also to corporate strategic aims and performance and critical business outcomes. The software to tie it all together and draw meaningful conclusions is now available. The remaining question is are we ready to use it?

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Dave Foxall

About the author…

Dave has worked as HR Manager for the Ministry of Justice for a number of years, he now writes on a broad range of topics including jazz music, and, of course, the HRMS software market.

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Dave Foxall