These are the thoughts and takeaways from the latest Resourcing Think Tank held on Thursday 31st March and hosted by Accenture’s Dan Landy (Global Recruitment Lead for Accenture Consulting – Products). This Think Tank sought to discuss big data and what “Big Data” actually is.
The following summary has been prepared to reflect a segment of the discussion held amongst senior Talent Acquisition professionals from leading national and international businesses. Specific company details, experiences and examples have been omitted from this summary as all discussions are held under ‘Chatham House Rules’.
What is “Big Data”?
Which direction is it going in?
Big data has been a major topic over the last 4 to 5 years but there has been no real trend about it and what it truly means to a business.
Big data has an abundance of possibilities; helping businesses understand what talent it needs, to understand what’s in the system and go about using that data at a tactical level which no one has achieved so far.
The question is, are any companies doing this well now? If not, what are the blockers and why isn’t it translating?
With all this data at the tips of our fingers, we can use this data and analytic’s to make informed decisions which at present isn’t being utilised by businesses out there.
The fear of having something analysed and numbers dropping out at the bottom is one that has crossed people’s mind. It’s next to impossible to have clean and accurate data. So, sometimes the data doesn’t tell the story we think it should be telling and therefore this data is not being presented to the board for fear of looking bad. These conversations need to be had to see where the gaps are, to enable to demonstrate where recruitment adds value to actually drive the change that’s needed.
Where is the starting point for gathering this data?
- Big data is a collection of traditional and digital sources which are the focal point of big data, both from within and outside the business, which provide the business with analytic’s, right at the cusps of their hands. The Application Tracking System is where a lot of data comes from and helps the recruitment function with their needs to hire the right people.
- Using social media to bring data lists down is another option but there have been cases of this not working in the past because it’s not accurate.
- There is a whole lot of data on different systems that don’t speak to each other, making it hard to identify key solutions or trends.
- When data is inaccurate and ineffective, there is a lack of faith in data, so the attitude of “let’s ignore it” follows.
MI looks for the information to tell the story that you want to report. It’s very focused on time to hire but what does that really tell you?
It’s much more difficult to get that information out of the software, so difficult that people shy away from it, even though it will have a better impact on the business. Lots of people narrowly focus on MI and don’t join the dots between systems to find out more insights.
We should be taking data from different systems, to try and make sense of it and develop effective insights to develop and make informed decisions.
Everyone is focused on today and not looking at the bigger picture, you can pull data from all the sources, some will be time to hire etc. People are overwhelmed with how to get it all to work but will the data ever be perfect? It’s not a stopper, but the willingness of how much investment you are willing to put into it and with no immediate ROI on that activity, needs to be sorted out so the business can achieve its goals. A fundamental change to big data needs to happen. Once the decisions are made based on data, the rewards and investment from it is huge, so it is worth spending 12 months to sort the data out.
How do you evidence the value that resourcing has on the business?
- Think of the annual revenue of a business and measure the talent brought in and how the resourcing function contributed towards that.
- Considering human resource as an asset, change the attitude and mind-set of people, how to up skill and maximize revenue from each employee.
- Employers know more about their customers than they do their employees!
- Moving towards cloud based technology will help, focusing just on ATS only tells a small part of the people story . Rich data is in all the stuff that no one looks at from training courses that people go to, to having the bigger conversation of what’s happening with people in the organisation.
How can you verify and clean data that is fundamentally flawed? Is there anything to help with the verification and cleansing process?
- People are aware that the data is not clean, people need to own their own data.
- Data migration, don’t do it! You are bringing in dirty data, two year old data is not worth having if it isn’t clean.
- There is a whole load of data but you don’t necessarily need it all for the business to progress and thrive. Make it a bit more simplistic rather than having the whole elephant. First step, find out what is important to the business and that will help you target the data most relevant to the business needs.
- Making fields mandatory to the data has always been there, but if you have manual intervention, there is always room for error, so mandatory measures are not always the way forward.
There is a lot of pressure put on recruitment to finding and hiring the right people. A lot of added value gets lost as opposed to producing data that is hard; but the blood, sweat and tears can help the business make good and informed decisions.
Where to strategically grow the business and what skill gaps are there from the data?
- Businesses need to realise the importance of investing in “Big Data” to make themselves even more credible. Investing in the data will allow the business to feel confident it’s making the right decisions and giving the right insight.
- Asking business leaders what information they want. Focusing all our time on dashboards but is anyone actually interested in it?
- Recruiters often look to the data and get caught up in what’s important to “us” but is it important to the business? The answer is, it usually isn’t.
- Looking at exit data and where employees are going, catches attention and gets that buy in. Where are you getting your hires from and where are people in the pipeline coming from, these are all crucial facts to find where top talent has come from in order to target that talent for the future.
- Who, at the top, is looking at the bigger picture for the next five years and reading this data.
It all comes down to aligning the business together; recruitment, HR and all the business people. This can be tough with day to day challenges but if you get the collaboration, that’s when you get the traction. Pushing the communication channels will enable the data to start cleaning itself, although it will never be able to fully clean itself, but it’s moving in the right direction. It will only work by having everyone working together with the needed investment from the business.
Does Talent Acquisition understand what the business wants?
- You have all this data at the tips of your fingers, what do you want to do with it? How will it help manage the recruitment function?
- Recruitment is seen as a very transactional function; here’s a role, go fill it…
- Going back to basics, what is it you are delivering and how are you building credibility within the business.
- Are you delivering what you’re meant to be delivering, providing the best candidate experience etc? Bring in standardised dashboards and on top of that developing insights that come out of that operational data.
- Gathering external data from market insights and partnering agencies will show the bigger picture of what’s going on at an operational level and the day to day to stuff.
In a utopian world, if you had all the factual perfect data you needed, what are you going to do with it? What we’ve done, where we’re going and what function would you develop for it?
In conclusion, if we provide insightful data relevant to the business needs, big data has the potential to provide valuable insight. What questions does this raise? Conversations about strategies and goals but what does that mean for talent acquisition in order to deliver solutions and ideas to prompt the business. By starting at the business strategy and working from there seems to make the most sense. The data Talent Acquisition finds interesting might not always be as interesting to the business, so we need to flip it the other way around and ask the business what they want and what’s interesting to them. Only then can we go and find the data which will help make sound business decisions.
Talent Acquisition needs to understand where they fit within the business and align that to the businesses aspirations for the current and future needs of the organisation. Once both parties get to that level and understand each other, then you can take it to the next stage. Big data can be used to fill those gaps and see what is missing. Looking at pipelines isn’t big data, it’s the entire talent circle and seeing if we have the people with the right skill sets for the current and future needs of the business. Rather than replenishing the person who left five years ago, we should be looking at filling the skill gaps now by using big data?