The Mystery, Myth, and Magic of Big Data: A #SHRM21 Speaker Spotlight with Chas Fields, UKG

Are you excited and ready for the 2021 SHRM Conference and Exposition (SHRM21) to start tomorrow? Be sure to attend #SHRM21—virtually or in Vegas—to stay prepared for the future of work.

This year's conference theme, "Now More Than Ever," emphasizes the far-reaching changes the workplace has experienced, including all the challenges or opportunities they present to HR professionals. So, as you make your final preparations for the conference, I thought I'd recommend a session by introducing you to a SHRM21 speaker.

This session, "BIG Data: The Mystery, the Myth, the Magic," will be co-presented by Chas Fields and Teresa Smith, both senior members of the human capital management (HCM) strategy consultant group for UKG Incorporated. It's a great session to add to your schedule because now, more than ever, we need to pay attention to data.

I've conducted a Q&A-style interview with Chas to learn more about the topic and what you can expect during the presentation. 

Chas Fields is a Senior Partner, HCM Advisory Group & Human Insights, at UKG (Ultimate Kronos Group). Chas helps organizations identify, assess, and maintain their human element, focusing on how increasing employee efficiency while cultivating a differentiated employee experience can ultimately drive business success. As a change management practitioner, Chas is passionate about helping organizations deliver successful initiatives at any scale. Chas is also the host of the People Purpose Podcast of The Workforce Institute at UKG.

Osasu: Please tell me a little about yourself and your career experience.

Chas: First and foremost, I'm a husband, father, and mentor. Now, for my day job, I spend my time working with organizations around the globe, helping people with their people. Prior to this, I worked for a global network solutions provider in the construction element of their business. I led multiple large-scale projects across a multi-state region. I completed my Masters in HR Management and knew I wanted to get into the HR and HCM Tech space because I was able to see first-hand, in my previous role, the importance of people when it came to success. And, here I am.

Osasu: At SHRM21, you will co-present the topic, "BIG Data: The Mystery, the Myth, the Magic." Without sharing too much, what constitutes big data in HR, and how does the data contribute to business success?

Chas: Big data in HR is all about the people, the sentiment, the perception, and the actions that HR and business leaders should be taking to empower their people to bring their whole selves to work. Big data has been coined as a large amount of data at a high velocity. In HR, that means performance, productivity, sentiment, feedback, and turnover – the 300+ SHRM metrics, if you will. By understanding our people, allowing them to be their authentic selves at work, and investing in the people first, you will see the bottom line improve.

Osasu: What's an example of a mystery and myth of big data in HR, and why do HR professionals have them?

Chas: When Teresa and I began exploring this topic, we realized HR professionals often get caught up in the mystery that data is difficult or too complex to understand, especially if they do not know where or how to get the data they need. This belief can be further influenced when organizations have multiple or disparate systems where they need to pull data or if they have to manipulate their data manually. The mystery is often driven by a lack of ability to obtain high-quality data and understand how to use data to its fullest potential. So, it is natural to see HR professionals shy away from big data.

There are several myths that HR Professionals believe when it comes to big data. Many believe that big data is only for large organizations or that they need a lot of data to understand the story the data is presenting. There is also this perception that big data takes too much time to gather and prepare. Furthermore, many believe that having a lot of data to shuffle through makes reporting and analyzing data too messy. So, they stay stuck with their traditional process of pulling basic reports. Because of the myths around data, many HR professionals are unable to deliver on the magic that data provides to the organization.

Osasu: How will your session at SHRM21 help attendees find the magic in big data?

Chas: It's all about simplifying and teaching something HR may not know how to do. It's often expected of HR to figure out a way to do new and varying things in the workplace. Big data is no different. Big data is not any different. Our goal is to eliminate the fear of big data to help drive employee performance and well-being positively.

Osasu: As an HCM Consultant at UKG, can you share any success stories from working with clients on big data?

Chas: The idea is to not be terrified of "big data." We see the most success with companies by simplifying and starting small with data decision-making before moving to understand the big data. Most HR leaders were not prepared or trained to do this. That's our goal.

Osasu: How is UKG's HCM product different from other HCM products when collecting and analyzing big data?

Chas: UKG delivers more than 70 years of expertise in both people systems and systems of work. We truly believe an organization's biggest driver for success starts with its people. This belief is reflected in UKG's award-winning culture. It allows us to develop an environment of innovation that helps our customers also strive to create outstanding and inclusive workplaces. We focus on designing solutions that lead to more connected and meaningful work experiences so that everyone has the opportunity to succeed.

UKG solutions go beyond traditional expectations of HCM and workforce management. We deliver tools inspired by decades of insights and data points to help our customers understand what really drives engagement, motivation, and productivity at work. We use AI to understand work patterns and human behavior, promote fairer decisions, surface more equitable practices, and disrupt biases. We provide integrated HR service delivery, charitable giving campaigns, intelligent shift recommendations, and diversity and inclusion pulse surveys. Our solutions also help organizations quickly adapt to unknowns with business continuity, contact tracing, and personal safety check-in tools. All this is all set upon the backdrop of deep industry-specific domain expertise. UKG is built upon the premise of taking care of each other—this was foundational to both Ultimate Software and Kronos Incorporated. Since coming together as one UKG family – where our purpose is people – we're committed to raising the bar when it comes to how businesses can also care for their people.

Osasu: The theme for SHRM21 is "Now More Than Ever." How does your session topic represent this theme?

Chas: COVID-19-fatigue is very real. As much as people are tired of hearing about it, COVID-19 disrupted so much in our lives. When creating this presentation, we focused on practical ways to look at our big data, including the variations of the data that COVID-19  may or may not have impacted, to help HR practitioners make faster, more agile decisions. Now more than ever, focusing on our people first will ensure business continuity—one of the many ways is to leverage big data.

Osasu: Is this your first time presenting at a SHRM Annual Conference and Expo, and what do you look forward to experiencing at SHRM21?

Chas: This is my first time presenting at the national SHRM conference, but I've had the privilege of speaking at dozens of state SHRM conferences and other outlets around the world. I've also attended the national SHRM conference in the past.

I'm looking forward to discussing with others to hear how they're doing with life, work, and their pursuit to make the workplace better. I can't forget to mention the awesome expo hall and listening to other speakers on the challenges they've overcome.

Thank you to Chas Fields for participating in this Q&A blog post for SHRM21!

Chas Fields will co-present the topic, BIG Data: The Mystery, the Myth, the Magic, on Friday, September 10, 2021, from 3:40 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. PT in Rooms W311-313 of the Las Vegas Convention Center | West Hall.

SHRM21 is just two days away! Be sure to follow the hashtags #SHRM21 #SHRM21Infuencer, and #SHRMNMTE on all social platforms to keep up with conference updates and activities from the SHRM21 Influencer team. I'll be tweeting from my handle @OsasuArigbe.


The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

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