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21 April 2016

Embrace your data

by Carol Mynott Director

Just down the road from our offices, Somerset House has been hosting "Big Bang Data" the UK’s first major exhibition exploring the big data explosion that is "radically transforming society, culture and politics in the 21st century".

We constantly see and hear stories about the exponential growth of data and its associated advantages and disadvantages. Today people generate data on a daily basis, through mobile telephones, social media and online transactions.

In 2009, we produced the same quantity of data as in the entire history of humanity up to that point. By 2012, it was estimated that 2.5 quintillion bytes of data is created every day.

In the HR world, the way HR Directors embrace data analytics can be of huge benefit to business performance. However in a recent survey, although almost 90% of nearly 1,500 business leaders said that technological breakthroughs will impact their organisations, they admitted that they lacked the talent they need to make this transformation possible. Only 39% said that their HR function is well prepared to support this degree of change.

New EU Data Protection Rules (due to be enacted in 2018) will also have far-reaching consequences, not least with the potential for financial penalties of up to 4% of worldwide turnover.

With data as our chosen topic, there was therefore a lot to discuss at our latest HR Matters event on 10 March. We had a fascinating discussion with leading HR professionals from businesses in London on how they are trying to harness data in their organisations.

Some key points from our discussion:

  • Organisations are very keen to use and enrich their HR data to inform business decision-making.
  • The key HR data challenges are quality, ownership and accountability. HR functions have access to lots of data, but much of it does not sit together, and is hard to cross-reference and draw conclusions.
  • One of the most attractive uses of HR data is predictive analytics for talent management. HR Directors can spot reasons for talent leakages but can often only back it up anecdotally. Having data to support any business case for solving problems will be extremely valuable to them.
  • The New EU regulations were discussed as well as the complex issue of balancing corporate needs with employee privacy. The potential of new technology is endless, but how much of their personal data or rights are your employees going to be willing to give up to improve business processes? The impact on morale could vary depending on individuals or occupations.
  • Interestingly, when the conversation moved on to New EU Data Protection Rules, we also concluded that the same practice of ensuring you know what data you have and it's quality are the same vital first steps to being compliant. So, despite being driven by regulation which can seem onerous, it could be a win-win situation for HR directors - especially when putting together a business case for investment into data analytics. This can also help them create a culture of 'leading from the top' on data.

I look forward to our next event on 28 June. To find out more contact our London events team.

If you would like to discuss these issues, or the impact of emerging technology or data and analytics on your industry, then contact our Data & Analytics team.

by Carol Mynott Director