Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Business integration crucial for HR Big Data to be meaningful, says ADP Perspectives Paper

HR Big Data currently too disorganised and dispersed, argues panel

HR departments must collaborate more effectively across the business if HR Big Data is to be meaningful, agreed a panel of experts brought together by ADP, a leading global provider of Human Capital Management (HCM) solutions.

The panel debate, which has been summarised in the perspective paper, 'Big Data in HR: The big questions being asked', involved leading HR thinkers and practitioners including:

  • Dr. Max Blumberg, Research Fellow at Goldsmiths, University of London; and Founder, Blumberg Partnership
  • Dr. Anthony Hesketh, Senior Lecturer and Associate Professor, Lancaster University Management School
  • Matt Stripe, Group HR Director UK & Ireland, Nestlé

The panel argued that while HR Big Data holds enormous potential for organisations, promising to improve the measurement of HR impact and development of people strategy, in many cases it is too disorganised to be useful.

With data often distributed across multiple business functions, databases and systems, cleansing and structuring data is the first step to maximising HR analytics. This presents a major challenge to HR teams, with research by the CEB has showing that less than one in five companies is satisfied with the ability of their current data management systems[1].

“Cleansing data to make it useful is hard,” commented Stripe. With the relevant datasets distributed across different systems, it took his team at Nestlé some time to organise the data and put it into a useable format. To make it happen, Nestlé created a specialist analytics team composed of big data specialists, dedicated to getting it right.

HR departments must also be prepared to work closely with others in the business to ensure the insights provided can be useful, as Dr. Max Blumberg explained: “Not everything is HR. Analytics belongs to the organisation as an integrated whole”. The HR department must therefore make sure it works with other departments to gain a holistic view of business performance, he stressed.

Commenting on the conclusions, David Foskett, Managing Director, ADP UK, said: “With so much hype around Big Data, many HR professionals will be wondering how they can maximise the data they have within their own departments. What our panel discussion and perspective paper have highlighted is that it is crucial to do the ground work to ensure HR Big Data can be maximised. Get it structured in a meaningful way and work with others in the business to analyse and make sense of the information. Only then can it really have an impact on business planning and strategy.”