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The Surge of People Analytics Technologies

A group of people working on a laptop in an office.

​As organizations make investments to better manage the influx of people data, HR technology offers advanced capabilities, moving analytics activities from dedicated specialists to the greater workforce.

Over the last year, people analytics has risen as a key priority for over 80 percent of organizations, but less than 30 percent have seen an impact of people analytics on engagement, cost reduction, and productivity. To better understand the surge in new capabilities, Deloitte Consulting LLP's Bersin™ launched a market study. Some interesting capability trends emerged in our research:

Nontraditional data sources. We have spoken to different providers that use e-mail metadata to develop baselines for workplace culture, based on the frequency and flow of communication across teams and networks. Others use natural language processing to draw themes from worker comments on social and professional networking sites to identify strengths and opportunities. This data can be used to identify workers who are more likely to be successful, address engagement issues while they are still easily manageable or bolster the collaboration of different groups. Additional insights can be derived from accessing data from operational business systems, like financial planning systems, customer satisfaction databases, or sales management tools. Our High-Impact People Analytics research revealed that high-performing people analytics teams collect data from an average of seven channels, as compared to only three for their low-performing counterparts.  

Advanced data integration. Various data sources are most valuable when they are integrated with each other, to determine relationships between activities and results. There are quite a few solutions on the market that are now making it easy to combine disparate sources of data. Most providers combine the traditional sources of data (e.g., HR operational data from HCMS and ATS), but others are adding nontraditional data sources like assessments, communication data, social media activities and even customer satisfaction for a more holistic view of the workforce. For example, by combining data from a candidate relationship management platform and a performance management solution, employees could get feedback on their strengths and development areas even before their first day on the job. Another example could be feedback generated from an employee engagement solution combined with retention data, providing users with insight into potential reasons why an employee chose to leave even without having to conduct an exit interview. These insights can create actionable triggers for leaders to improve workplace culture.

Smart organization charts. It has been fascinating to see the growth in how tools can analyze and visualize an organization chart and display much more than who reports to whom. Visualized charts and dashboards make it easier to understand priorities such as inclusion and retirement risk. It is one thing to see a bar chart of retirement risk, and another to see an org chart with over half the individuals listed as likely to retire in the next five years. These insights can trigger actions like high-potential identification and succession management to fill projected gaps.

User-based metrics and permissions. Another critical requirement for people analytics is having an actionable approach for different users--from the CEO to the individual contributor. We have seen a collection of intuitive metrics and data visualizations that make it easy for people at the individual level to take action based on data. For example, proactive notifications that remind an individual to take breaks, focus on a specific task or help find a good stopping point for their day.

Network analytics. It is exciting to see that network analytics is starting to get broader acceptance as a general tool instead of being primarily used by I/O psychologists. Just over 40 percent of the providers in our study indicate that they offer network analytics to understand the connections and connectors in people data, with another 20 percent planning to add the capability in the near future. Beyond an analysis of the inner workings of organizations, we are seeing providers combine their network analysis capabilities with other people data use cases to help achieve business outcomes. For example, to determine connectors in organizations for change management purposes, to bolster exposure for women to male leaders, or to strengthen integration work during mergers and acquisitions. 

What does this continued growth of new features and capabilities mean for your organization?

  • Solutions are now available to help you understand the workforce experience throughout an employee's life cycle. Determine how the different pieces fit together to build your unique ecosystem of tools and don't wait for the silver bullet of a single solution. Bersin research has indicated that mature organizations manage an ecosystem of tools to generate rich insights and complex actions for business impact, pulling together the right tools for each problem.
  • If your organization does not have the solutions necessary or the appetite to build these capabilities, focus on the outcomes you are looking to achieve, whether they be retention, engagement or productivity. Evaluate building the capability in-house against using a third-party provider who can do people analytics as a service, supporting your team on a temporary or ongoing basis.
  • Look for opportunities to drive additional impact beyond HR efficiencies, financial returns or cost reduction. Today, organizations need to be social enterprises, both generating profit and improving the lives of workers, customers and communities as well as solving societal issues. People analytics can provide needed insights into work, workers and the workforce to accomplish this goal.

Given that high-performing people analytics enable significantly better workforce and business outcomes, the cost of doing nothing might be too high to pass up.

Kathi Enderes, Ph.D., is vice president, Talent and Workforce Research Leader, Bersin™, Deloitte Consulting LLP and Matthew Shannon is senior research analyst, Solution Provider Market, Bersin™, Deloitte Consulting LLP.

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