Big data’ seems to be the technical jargon making waves in the technology space today. Big data supporters are continuously making a case on how it can transform the way businesses operate today. The belief is that it can help pitch better business performance in the end. The Big data concept promises to “revolutionise our everyday lives.”
According to American multinational technology band consulting firm, IBM, every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data – so much that 90 per cent of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. This data comes from everywhere: sensors used to gather climate information, posts to social media sites, digital pictures and videos, purchase transaction records, and cell phone GPS signals, to name a few. This data is ‘big data’ indeed!
Big data is going to change the way we do things in the future – how we gain insight, and make decisions. The change isn’t going to be a replacement, rather it is a synergy and extension.
Okay, do you know what ‘Big Data’ is? For the purpose of this piece, let us start with a few working definitions.
Webopedia.com states, “Big data is a buzzword, or catch-phrase, used to describe a massive volume of both structured and unstructured data that is so large that it’s difficult to process using traditional database and software techniques.”
According to a US-based analytics software developer company, SAS Institute, “Big data is a popular term used to describe the exponential growth and availability of data, both structured and unstructured.”
The key word from the definitions above is ‘massive volume of data which is both structured and unstructured’. Data is the life stream of business operation – from sales lead generation, to sales prospecting, closing the sales leads to generating the revenues and translating to profits etc.
The business world is driven by data and this data are on a massive scale which must be collected, structured and made into useful insight to help with making better business decisions. This exactly is the reason for the ‘loud noise’ around ‘Big Data’. With Big data, business executives can make better business decisions or create new business opportunities. There are three classes of value Big Data brings to businesses and organizations. These are cost reduction, decision improvement, and improvement in products and services.
In human resources, data thus abound as well – labour population statistics, unemployment figures, employee personal information, employee turnover figures, salary data across organisations and industry etc. The list is enormous to mention. The point here is that data abound in human resources, and HR professionals cum business leaders that hope to play in the 21st century must sure embrace ‘Big data’.
With the arrival of Big data, HR is faced with an unprecedented opportunity to become more data-driven, analytical and strategic in the way that it acquires talent. Big Data can help HR professionals find and hire the right candidate for every position in the organisation – faster and more cost-effective.
According to eQuest, a global job posting distribution firm, “Big data offers HR the opportunity to take its evidence-based decision making to an entirely new level by factoring in an unprecedented amount of data from a wide array of sources, some of which might never have been considered previously. Big data will enable HR to test theories, proactively solve problems and conduct more complex predictive analytics related to sourcing and hiring strategies.”
The real value of Big Data is that it gives HR the ability to capitalise on more powerful technologies and an exponentially greater amount of data to make more accurate evidence-based decisions and then take faster action on those decisions. This creates significant competitive advantages – not only in the war for talent but also in the organisation’s ability to execute its business strategies more effectively.
Employers hire for a reason. They have an immediate need for talent that is critical to the execution of their business objectives. Uniformed sourcing and hiring practices lead inevitably to hiring delays and poor candidate selection, and these result in delays to the achievement of business objectives.
Employers need to leverage a mix of both traditional and ‘newer’ talent-sourcing strategies to build their talent pipelines. Savvy employers are careful to allocate their resources – time, money and people – to activities that produce optimal outcomes.
Big Data can be leveraged to identify both which sources will be most effective and what the expected volume of candidate flow will be. The forecast for the optimal sources and the anticipated candidate flow can now be made with greater accuracy and precision. The competitive advantage of knowing in advance which hiring sources will produce the best results is clear – better hiring at the shortest possible time and at a reduced cost.