Big Data 101: What Is It and How Are Organizations Using It?

Everywhere we turn, we hear the term “Big Data.” It’s top of mind in the business press and conversations. Recent research by Accenture found that 90% of organizations believe Big Data will transform their business like the Internet did, and 83% are pursuing Big Data projects to gain a competitive edge. You’ve probably heard the Big Data term too and perhaps you are wondering what all the fuss is about?

In this three part blog series, we will try to demystify Big Data and how it is collected. In our first post, we’ll discuss what Big Data is and how HR teams in large organizations are using it. Next, we’ll focus on how and why small and medium sized businesses should use Big Data to address their HR and talent acquisition challenges. Finally, we will discuss how HR leaders in small and medium sized businesses can build support for a big data initiative.

So, what is Big Data anyway? Actually, the name is pretty descriptive. Big Data is used to characterize very large sets of information. In terms of volume, we are taking about at least several terabytes of data. To give you a sense of scale, one terabyte of data equates to around 472 hours of video or 2,000 hours of CD-quality audio.

Although companies have always dealt with large amounts of data, that information has often been splintered into different siloed systems. Big Data initiatives are different because they integrate data from many different systems into one, which enables organizations to analyze the information in its entirety and identify insights that could improve the way business is done.

The key to success with Big Data is finding correlations and connections across multiple disparate data sources. This may include information that resides within company systems and emails, or in external systems like social media sites that contain posts or videos.

Here are a few examples of how HR teams are using big data to improve hiring, employee retention, and performance:

  • A large retailer analyzed the skills, knowledge, and attitudes among associates that were predictive of longer tenure and better sales performance. They correlated data from the store’s productivity system with sales per hour. Based on the findings, the store developed a pre-hire assessment which focuses on behaviors associated with high sales volume and longer job tenure.
  • Another company took unstructured data from career-focused social networking sites and analyzed the information to improve their recruiting activities, as well as to understand career progressions. Insights related to career progressions were used to create more effective learning and development activities for staff.
  • Data analysis can be used to determine the characteristics of an organization’s most successful leaders. This information can be leveraged to determine the skills and competencies that should be cultivated among employees with high potential for advancement.

Although Big Data may be a logical area for large organizations to explore, you may be wondering whether it has any applicability for small and medium sized businesses. In our next blog post, we will explore just that. In the meantime, if you need to streamline your hiring approach, talk to the team at Hyrell today!