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The Evolution of Data Analytics in Talent Management

August 20, 2018

Big data and analytics have significantly impacted the broader business landscape. This highly analytical, scientific attitude to data has now filtered into the wider world of recruitment. HR departments are now looking to professionals who are very comfortable with data. In a way, this is an obvious extension of the role, as HR has access to excellent data and it can support a variety of strategic activities.  

What is it? 

Despite its ubiquity, “big data” and "data analytics” are phrases whose meanings are very broad and can sometimes be made to fit a variety of contexts. The topic can also be tied to artificial intelligence and machine learning. However, in this context we are purely focused on the technology that facilitates the predictive analytics element and the visualization of that data.   

How is it being used? 

Predictive analytics has a very broad set of usages. It allows users to forecast the employment life cycle, predict how potential employees will likely respond to their new working environment, and identify new performance markers. The field of talent analytics ultimately aims to help organizations find out what are the key characteristics of a great candidate. In addition, technology is now enabling HR to analyze this data more easily and visualize it in a compelling manner.  

The evolution of technology has enabled more data about the employee to be captured. For example, wearable technology provides a new and valuable source of information. Currently, the tool is being used by many corporate wellness programs. However, in the future, this type of technology and information can also be used to support the development of highly predictive tests. HR technologies are trying to take all this data and help leverage it in the right way.   

  • Better decisions: The use of data ensures that the tests designed are focused on predicting performance so more appropriate decisions can be made. The evidence and scientific focus on data analytics ensures the tests are as accurate as possible.  

  • Differing perspectives: The use of predictive analytics may draw attention to relationships between competencies or test elements that you may not have ever considered as being important. The use of analytics may enable you to gain insights that may have not been uncovered without the power of data by identifying empirically meaningful trends that have previously not been considered. 

Key considerations: 
  • Evolution rather than a revolution: Despite being a current trend regarding the usage of data analytics, it is not that new. Validity and reliability are the cornerstones of test development. The term data analytics is nothing new and any test being used in recruitment should have evidence and data to support its usage. However, technology can help visualize the data more effectively.

  • Data literacy is not everyone’s strength: Having access to information does not automatically mean that you fully understand it. Data analytics could be very powerful, but in the wrong hands, could be misinterpreted. To wield the power of analytics there needs to be a foundation of understanding about data. This may not be a strength for some talent management professionals and the lack of this foundation may lead to either over-interpretation or the wrong conclusions being made.  

As you can see from these trends, the potential for technology to enhance and improve recruitment processes are significant. Some of these trends may redefine how we identify talent and others may fade into obscurity as newer technologies supersede it. Whatever technology trend you consider implementing, it is always worth looking at the balance of what benefits it is delivering and whether it is adding value. Innovative technology for the sake of it will not improve anything, it needs to be deployed in the right way and for the right purpose. Nevertheless, the future of talent management is bright. The opportunities that technology will bring to recruitment processes are unlimited and it is exciting to see the potential of these technologies to flourish.  

Ali Shalfrooshan Ali Shalfrooshan is the Head of International Assessment R&D, at PSI Talent Management. Ali is an experienced business psychologist with a passion for using psychology, technology and psychometric test design to help organisations and individuals thrive. He has a particular interest in designing innovative solutions, which combine technology and scientific rigour to help deliver a measurable business impact.