A reader asks, How can I use Big Data to create business value?

Last week a reader commented on the Simplify Work blog post on how retailers can use big data. He asked, “I am in the HR field and looking for ways to tap on Data analytic functionality to improve employee experiences and create business value. Any suggestions?”  

We went to our HR technology and data analytics specialists Scot Marcotte and Travis Klavohn for their ideas.

Travis Klavohn
“Data analytics is transforming every aspect of business in the new millennium.” – Travis Klavohn, Global HR and Benefits Analytics Lead

Conduent imagines a future for business in which data analytics is an integral part of HR management and employee experiences.

HR continues to change its focus away from processing transactions – benefits administration, revising and publishing workplace policies, investigating workplace issues – activities from recruitment and onboarding new employees to processing terminations and conducting exit interviews. And as HR moves toward a more strategic role in the organization, the role of all that information it’s been gathering has given it the tools to deliver measurable program outcomes.

By analyzing plan data, demographic information and user experience, HR can use business intelligence tools as well as process automation to guide employees in selecting and using the right HR programs to improve their own physical, financial and professional wellbeing. By continually assess the impact of its programs on the productivity of employees, and adjusting tactics, HR can tie individual wellbeing outcomes (e.g. better health leads to reduced absenteeism and lower health care costs) to real organizational value.

To get to real business value, we suggest the following steps:

  1. Confirm ideal outcomes and related metrics. You need a place to start, and your data should tell you in general where the problems and opportunities are in your organization. You set the goals and decide how achievement can be measured (improved productivity, lower absenteeism, better engagement and retention, and so on).

    Marcotte
    “As you track how people interact with HR and HR programs, you can see how the programs are working, and can adjust your tactics accordingly.” – Scot Marcotte, Managing Director, Client Technology
  2. Gather key data points. With the goals and desired outcomes now set, you’ll want to determine just where your people are now – their health, their attitudes, and the various needs they have in the workplace. Pull together data from:
    • Voice of the Customer (employee, family member, retiree) surveys
    • Current population health and retirement readiness,
    • Demographic data to analyze various personas (generational, geographic, work type)
  3. Coordinate with vendors. You don’t have to go it alone, but instead can talk to external providers who can use your aggregated data to help create a personalized benefits model so that individual employees experience HR according to their unique profile and interests.
    • Review existing tools and channels
    • Determine consumer-focused editorial calendar
  4. Establish a consolidated approach to engagement with the workforce. You want to evaluate the need for a call center, self-service and information portal, and “push” communication media (email/text/print). Your data gives you the tools not only to personalize messages but to send them at the right time, based on what actions the employee is taking.
    • Create a single customer relationship management (CRM) model to manage all interactions
    • Develop a common theme, automate where possible and reduce unnecessary cost/noise
    • Target interventions by persona, and eventually by individual (contextually)
  5. Track interactions and their impact.
    • Action (e.g. did the individual enroll in the saving plan?)
    • Outcome (e.g. did the individual become financially ready for retirement?)

As you track how people interact with HR and HR programs, you have a method of seeing just how the programs are working, and can adjust the tactics you’re using accordingly – and regularly.

Data analytics is transforming every aspect of business in the new millennium. The challenge for HR and benefit managers is to uncover existing data that could yield more insightful decisions and drive business strategy. We think this approach will help converting data into insights and action.

(For another angle on how big data can help organizations, read Playing the Big Data Game.)

One thought on “A reader asks, How can I use Big Data to create business value?

  1. Kenneth Wanyoto April 12, 2016 - Reply

    I would like to thank you for the excellent response to my query – definitely in the right direction..
    Unfortunately in the industry we are faced with the scare or reluctance to apply HR analytics in business despite the value you are highlighting.
    I am still trying to understand why. Is it that CEOs do not see the opportunity cost or is it that other priorities are running ahead of HR viz viz other business functions? Or are we in HR not competent enough to harness the power of HR analytics? Can we do it?
    I am still looking answers

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