People Analytics: An Opportunity AND a Responsibility for HR

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David Green
David Green, People Analytics thought leader

It has long been said that people analytics represents a huge opportunity for HR to leave its antediluvian cost centre obsessed past behind and re-emerge as a revenue and profit generating engine of the business.


I heard a new and better twist on this last week from Al Adamsen of the Talent Strategy Institute. Whilst acknowledging the opportunity element, Al argued that it was equally a responsibility for HR functions to use analytics to help leaders make better decisions with regards to its people. Not just for financial and business performance either, but also to help make work – and the workplace – better for employees.


Given that culture, engagement and retention are three of the biggest issues facing business leaders and CHROs, I think Al has captured it perfectly and it’s a message I intend to espouse hence forwards.


It was an honour and a privilege to co-chair Tucana’s People Analytics conference in London last year. Fortunately, it seems I performed my duties reasonably enough as I have been invited to reprise my co-chair role for this year’s conference.


This year’s conference takes place on April 27-28 and will be held a stone’s throw from the Houses of Parliament and the glorious Westminster Abbey at the prestigious QE2 centre.


As usual, Barry and Tucana have booked some great speakers, many of whom I have not seen on the European conference circuit before. I am particularly looking forward to hearing Mark Berry, one of a new, emerging breed of CHRO that is comfortable with data, and driven by making fact-based people decisions that lead to enhanced business outcomes. Mark has described analytics executed correctly as the “GPS of HR” (see interview with Luk Smeyers of iNostix), and there is nothing to disagree with there.


Other speakers include ex-Googler Mike West, Vanessa Varney of Coca-Cola Enterprises, Ian Bailie of Cisco, GSK’s Ben Nicholas, Gene Pease, Jonathan Ferrar, the aforementioned Luk Smeyers and the irrepressible force of nature that is Max Blumberg. If you haven’t booked your place yet, don’t panic as there are still a few tickets left – register here.


Looking back to last year’s conference there were several key takeaways (see full ‘Key Takeaways’ here), but if I had to highlight one it was that growth in people analytics could be seen by the conversation having shifted from the ‘why’ to the ‘how’.


Nearly one year on conversations I am having with senior HR leaders suggests this progress has accelerated, and as well as the ‘how’ of establishing a people analytics programme, equal emphasis is being given to the ‘what’ of the business problems to centre the analysis on.


So, shifting focus towards this year’s conference, I’m looking forward to validating my own belief that 2016 is the year that will see a significant step forward not only in the wider adoption of analytics within HR but also the sophistication of the work that is being undertaken.


As well as the reasons already outlined, my confidence is based on a number of factors, including but not limited to:


  • Analytics is consistently a top three priority for CHROs and is also a fundamental component for HR leaders to tackle the troublesome holy trinity of culture, engagement and retention.
  • Technology has opened up new possibilities for HR with regards to analytics and cognitive computing. This means that the ability to derive insights from multiple data sources both inside and external to the organisation is increasingly viable.
  • Increased willingness by both organisations and HR leaders to collaborate and share best practice on its people strategies and so to accelerate progress for the many rather than just the few.
  • Allied to all this is that the business case for analytics is pretty much irrefutable. This is perhaps illustrated best by research from Bersin by Deloitte. They studied the benefits enjoyed by the 14% of companies who have already developed mature people analytics capabilities. As well as generating better talent outcomes in terms of leadership pipelines, efficiency gains, and talent mobility, the most telling finding was that the share prices of this pioneering 14% outpaced the S&P 500 by an average 30% from 2011-14


All this points to 2016 being the year that the exponential growth predicted by the likes of the aforementioned Bersin by Deloitte may well go into overdrive. So, if you are hesitating over whether to book your tickets for People Analytics 2016, I would urge you to do so right now!


About the Author


David is a respected influencer on the burgeoning topic of people analytics as well as a wider commentator on the implications on the human resources function of the future of work. He is an active contributor to social media, a regular writer and blogger whilst also speaking at industry events and being an experienced conference chair and moderator. David has recently received recognition as Best Writer at the 2015 HR Tech Writers’ Awards and also from LinkedIn, who made him one of their ten Power Profiles for Human Resources in the UK based on his influence on the site in 2015.


David’s role at IBM enables him to deliver people analytics solutions to clients across the full range of IBM’s analytics, data and workforce science solutions. These include employee listening, behavioural and skills assessments, predictive and cognitive analytics solutions and consulting services.


Please feel free to follow David on Twitter @david_green_uk and LinkedIn.



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