We at NGA.NET were very pleased to work with Talent Management magazine recently on an in-depth article, “HR Can’t Ignore Big Data” that explored the importance of Big Data in hiring and talent management. The article outlines several things government agencies must consider when implementing a metrics-driven talent management strategy. I’ve highlighted the key points with a few additional pieces that didn’t make it into the final version of the article, but I felt were important to share.
Data is only as valuable as you make it. Numbers alone are meaningless. The IDC’s John Gantz and David Reinsel indicate that the digital universe will double every two years, reaching 40,000 exabytes by 2020. But only one-half of digital assets are actually analyzed. In talent management, this data is accumulating faster than ever as agencies receive thousands of job-candidate applications, compared to the hundreds received before. The increase in knowledge potential here is great. But so far, it remains vastly untapped.
BI brings unified perspective. For too long, hirers have allowed their HR recruitment/retention systems to function as disparate silos, spread throughout numerous office locations and divisions. Thus, the systems never “talk” to each other and don’t sync data for an enterprise-wide view of targeted analytics. “In this case, you’re not dealing with Big Data at all,” human-capital management veteran Jeff Neal told us as we researched the article. “You just own a bunch of different ‘small data’ repositories that can’t do much good for you.” Given that Neal served as Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO) over HR information-technology performance for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) before joining ICF International, we’re inclined to believe him.
Proof in the numbers. Business-intelligence (BI) solutions represent the very best “key” to dismantling the silos to unlock the Big Data “gate.” In fact, organizations with BI solutions that integrate workforce and other related data outperform those which don’t by 12 percent, according to the CedarCrestone 2012-2013 HR Systems Survey. These initiatives can develop into what is called an “integrated talent management,” or ITM, system. Seven of ten top-performing organizations conduct their ITM and HR management systems on the same platform, compared to less than half of others.
Without BI, departments don’t know what to do with metrics even if they are collected in a unified, enterprise-driven manner. “It’s a massive amount of information,” Neal says. “They’ll collect it all, but they often don’t know what to do next, how to conduct analytics to help them launch meaningful, action steps based upon what it will reveal.”
Process is out. Strategy is in. BI is no “magic bullet.” It should serve as one of a number of tools intended to produce optimal talent management, as opposed to a “be all/end all” solution. With this, agencies can think beyond simply fixing broken personnel processes. They can align with leadership on the business/strategic side to make more meaningful, enterprise-wide contributions.
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