HR analytics – past, present and future

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Overview


Twelve months ago there were a great deal of topics and predictions made for HR in 2013. Many predicted that recruiting tools including social media, assessment and Big Data particularly with mobile applications would develop considerably throughout the year. Big Data was a major topic throughout 2013, as it continued to represent both an opportunity and a challenge to HR. Combining structured and unstructured data offered HR ‘big analytics’ and ‘big insights’. The Big Data debate took centre stage and it shows no signs of slowing down throughout the year ahead. 

It was widely shown that in 2013 increasing numbers of companies would be moving their HR applications to the cloud. The average HR system was, and still is, outdated. Companies have multiple systems, so there is a huge replacement cycle, most choosing to replace their current IT systems with cloud-based software. Observers in the HR sector considered HR in the cloud to be inevitable.

The potential offered by the deployment of cloud-based systems requires a crucial and up-to-date coming together of HR and IT specialists. Forging valuable relationships through knowledge and reputation in the HR analytics domain will only enhance an organisation’s focus on talent, recruitment and reward. During the course of 2013 we saw a significant increase in the demand for cloud-based skills, in the HR domain as well as across a diverse variety of industry sectors. This is something that many are predicting will continue apace throughout 2014.

Reflecting predicted trends and expert opinions for this year, the CIPD reported that social media was most commonly being used for attracting candidates (86%). However, in one of our recent surveys, 64% of respondents admitted to experiencing difficulty in hiring specialist skills. So, is social media best used for non-professional skills or is identifying talent now easier, but actually making the hire become more challenging?

Did HR analytics come of age in 2013 though? Last year, estimates showed that a vast number of organisations around the world could license and use corporate HR software, yet only a relatively low number had actually been sold. The market in 2013 remained young with potential for development of new products, enabling the market to expand in size. Only recently though the CIPD reviewed how the rhetoric is not quite matched by the reality.

Cleansing, analytics and reporting are not typical features in the traditional skill set of HR professionals. Can they develop or will they need to bring on people who can work on HR data? Silos (structural and system obstacles to HR’s and others’ effective and consistent use of data) can either enable or impede a data-driven HR agenda. Suspicion and a cautious mind-set also impede a Big Data driven strategy, alongside systems issues including incompatible technology, permission problems and legacy systems. 

But move forward they must in 2014 because analytics are crucial to HR. The business world is continually transforming through rapid advancement in technology. The potential to use data to create competitive advantage intensifies in debate, and data supporting the people and performance link is vital. 

In 2014 we will see data and technology continuing to dominate discussion in the HR world. The pace of change will quicken, placing pressure on HR to change its approach and culture - accepting what they can and cannot deliver in-house when it comes to using big data to improve talent acquisition, employee retention and development.


 

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