Holiday Wish List for Talent Analytics

For many HR leaders, talent analytics tops the holiday wish list. They simply can't ignore the need to measure, analyze, and improve their people practices. But not everyone is waiting for Santa. In our recent study, over half (57% to be exact) of the HR leaders surveyed said they already increased their investments in talent analytics over the past year. The 3 top areas for investment are as follows.

Integrating data. One of the biggest challenges with HR data is that there is so much of it. What makes it more complicated is that most large organizations have several different systems – requiring a great deal of manual labor to pull and integrate data from the different sources. Enter: the data warehouse. Just under one-third (31 percent) of organizations in our survey said they invested in building or improving their data warehouse in the last year. As one of the top areas for investment, this demonstrates a clear need for an integrated place to store data.

Staffing the analytics function. Another top area for investment this year was staffing:31 percent of organizations in our study said that they hired or transferred additional staff to boost their analytics capabilities.  Building an analytics team requires dedicated staff with specialized skills. For a company with 10,000 employees, a team with advanced analytics capabilities consists of 6-7 full-time staff, on average. These individuals typically have expertise in statistics, database extraction and manipulation, I/O psychology, and data visualization. The team also needs personnel with strong HR and consulting skills, with the ability to ‘tell the story’ behind the data. And don’t forget to hire staff people who have a deep knowledge of the organization’s systems and reporting capabilities to handle reporting and dashboard capabilities.

There is a lot of talk in the industry about a lack of analytics skills, but our research shows the opposite. If you are an HR leader, you may think your organization lacks the requisite analytics skills today, but more likely those skills are just in the wrong place. Most large organizations employ people with expertise in statistics, database technology, and I/O psychology—but they may be in other functions or they may have migrated into non-analytics positions within HR. Once the analytics team is formally developed and funded, data-lovers will likely emerge.

Hiring Outside Experts. Ok, let’s say that data lovers don’t emerge, or you find you need additional skills or resources. Don’t hesitate to look outside the organization. Approximately one-fifth (22 percent) of the organizations in our study hired external consultants to help them with their analytics initiatives. Many analytics groups struggle with the question of how much expertise they need internally. Certainly, to move into advanced and predictive analytics, you need staff with knowledge of statistics. But many firms will do only a few projects requiring advanced modeling or predictive analytics in any given year. For these organizations, the level of activity does not warrant a full-time headcount for an “expert” statistician. Instead, they can outsource their more advanced statistical projects to external suppliers with the needed expertise.

As 2014 approaches, start looking at where you need to invest to improve your talent analytics capabilities. And if you need help figuring out what you need to do to improve, and how talent analytics will add value to your organization, read our report, High-Impact Talent Analytics, available to Bersin by Deloitte research members. For a complimentary two-page summary, click here. Happy holidays!

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