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4 Reasons to Embrace Big Data … and Good Data

HR folks didn’t invent Big Data, but often, they feel like they’re the first to be overwhelmed by it. And not just the raw amount of data that could be at their disposal, but the avalanche of hype surrounding its use, too.

The Age of Big Data

Big Data includes both quantifiable “internal” data pulled from resumes and internal employee documents (via talent management systems), as well as external sources, such as social media, job boards and even company review sites. Big Data sure is … big. It’s also an asset that can, and should, be leveraged.

Here are four reasons to embrace Big Data:

  1. It can help you hire better people.
  2. It provides insight to keep your high performers from leaving.
  3. The rest of the C-suite is embracing big data.
  4. Sometimes, your gut is wrong.

In fact, according to the Human Capital Institute, 80 percent of executives say their company cannot succeed without an assertive, data-driven chief human resources officer who takes a strong stance on talent issues and uses real-time facts to chart his or her talent strategy.

Start with “Good” Data

Big Data is relatively new, so it’s not surprising that many HR executives struggled with the best approach to harness the power of all this information. Gathering “good” data – pulled from a company’s talent management, HRIS and even payroll system – is the place to start. Next, HR departments then can integrate data from social media and other online sources to create a broader perspective.

Good data should be viewed from the perspective of an HR department’s major goals and challenges, with the HR executive asking, “How can good data better drive our activities and inform our decision-making on each of these goals and challenges?” Then, ask, “What factors separate our firm’s productive employees from our unproductive employees?” Lastly, think from the C-suite perspective: “How many of our employees have the skills required to transition to our firm’s new line of business?”

Many HR executives already are addressing these questions and issues without good or Big Data, using experience and instinct. But backed with hard data, they can provide strategic guidance and decision-making that enables their firms to remain competitive.