Human Capital Analytics, Human Resources Reporting, Workforce Intelligence or the ever popular People Intelligence and Analytics…
The new glimmer in many an executive eye spawning an exponential growth in new thought leaders, practitioners and linkedin groups!
To be clear, this is not another commentary attempting to categorize and name what it is that these groups do touting the difference between intelligence and analytics. In this case the rose is analytics and the other names are the groups that have gone through the analytical transformation before us.
People Analytics must look to its forefathers…
In the past decade or so many groups have been the new shiny toy for executives to use as investor fodder, remember the first time you heard about the new trading algorithm that was going to beat Wall Street, or when the EDI systems at Walmart were enhancing the speed and accuracy of logistics 10x? What about more recently when the marketing world became “real-time” with online ad re-targeting or when you visit Amazon and see exactly what you are looking for in the suggestions box?
Mistakes of the Father
1. Data quality = Analytics quality
Countless BI, analysis and infrastructure initiatives have failed on poor data quality. The quality of the data is the less sexy brother of the front end flashy charts and pictures that sell these projects and as such can be forgotten in the process. Spending the majority of any of these initiatives NOT focusing on the data coming through will lead to a not-so-fun conversation post launch around the useless investment that was just made… This rule becomes even more important as most HR systems are user input driven which by its nature will be laced with issues long ignored!
2. “Advanced” is a moving target
Everyone wants “advanced” results NOW. Again, very cart before the horse but knowing that what is advanced today may not make the prioritization cut in the very near future. Building an incredibly strong foundation that can transcend the waves and trends of that next big shiny “advanced” bouncing ball far exceeds the value of constantly chasing this moving target. Informing leadership that the first order of business is not that predictive measure they have all be aching for but rather the data warehouse is much like applying the deferred gratification cookie test.
3. Beware of the snake oil
Vendors descend on new groups of analysis. Take a few factors into account. Analytics as an industry group is in a bubble that everyone wants a piece of. The new kid on that block is HR. The technology to perform these tasks is not ground breaking and is being done across a multitude of areas. This is not to say that hiring a skilled vendor to come and help build this practice is a poor decision, however hiring a toolkit out of the box which delivers immediate results is snake oil. No one gets out of foundation data work and to not include lots of data scrubbing, testing and more testing in every scenario is just wrong!
People are not roses
1. Privacy means so much more
This is not to downplay the importance of privacy in ALL aspects of data and analytics, but when Human Resources comes to mind, what data is there? Compensation? Social Security? Past transgressions and behaviors? What about all of your dependent data as well? Not just security but the confidential nature of People data is more than important, it is essential.
2. Predictions have real effects
No one likes to lose an employee, especially not a gifted one, especially not in a surprise attack. Think everything is going great until “we need to talk about my position here…” or some other similar ice breaker. Then what happens, more money gets thrown, promises for better work happens but it is usually too late. In comes this amazing idea, what if we could predict who was leaving our organizations and stop them! Sounds great right! This is a touchy subject but how and what of this is delivered to managers can be taken or reacted to in a number of ways, not all of which are going to be in the employee’s best interest. Retail may be tracking you on your cell phone when you are in a store, but getting a call or even worse being denied time off because you are “suspected of wanting to leave” could be disastrous.
Finally, although we are different we are the same. To get to a strong base, the same requirements that have plagued business intelligence and analytic projects in other industries and groups will continue to be an issue. As HR, Human Capital and / or People analytic and reporting groups, we can either learn ahead of time or from our own woes. However, we must maintain some of the longstanding confidential culture of HR professionals and be ever conservative in our approaches as we read data to understand employee hearts and minds.