Research Report

Talent analytics and big data – the challenge for HR

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Talent analytics and big data – the challenge for HR

Published November 2013

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Talent analytics and big data are now must-have capabilities in HR. As the business world is transformed by the sheer volume, speed and availability of data, and as the search for competitive advantage intensifies, data about people and performance becomes ever more critical. Much has been written on the issue of talent analytics, but most of this debate has focused around three key dimensions:
  • Technology
  • Techniques
  • Talent

There seems to be less focus on what is actually happening. What is the appetite on the ground for talent analytics and big data? What are the barriers and enablers to developing this capability and what is happening within organisations?

Using our extensive research on the state of practice in the HR profession and key interviews with organisations embarking on the talent analytics journey, we are able to shed some light on this question. Generally, the capacity and engagement for analytics and big data is affected by three key dimensions:
  • Silos
  • Skills and smarts
  • Suspicion and scepticism

In order to help HR develop a coherent approach we’ve developed some strategies and solutions around balancing the strategic and tactical requirements of developing a data-driven strategy.



Our survey research shows that these are considerable challenges, but practice we discovered among organisations undertaking the challenge shows that there are solutions. These are based on developing a strategic and tactical mindset which:
  • develops analytics as a continuous improvement strategy
  • puts people analytics at the centre of business priorities
  • accelerates the requirement for analytic bandwidth up the HR capability agenda.
  • Identify and promote the skills necessary as part of the overall HR talent and capability agenda.
  • Source more key talent from subjects such as occupational psychology, economics and other social sciences to supplement the normal reliance on natural scientists and engineers.
  • Develop aligned analysts who understand and connect with the people agenda and are capable of translating data into actionable insight.
Finally, by looking at the emerging state of practice, both through our survey research and by interviewing practitioners, the CIPD in association with Oracle Corporation EMEA has put the analytics challenge at the centre of HR, adding to the excellent insight already developed by leading consultancies, academics and HR networks such as the City HR Association. We recognise that the challenge is to get value from analytics. And we hope this report will bring value to those seeking to engage with this crucial agenda.

Visit our Valuing your Talent web area to discover how to measure the impact people have on the performance of their organisation. 

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