The Devil in the Big Data #BigDataHR

Cracked face with sinister evil scary eyes
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This week on Blogging4Jobs, we are focusing on the theme Big Data sponsored by Jibe. Jibe provides cloud-based recruiting technology solutions that enable talent acquisition teams to strategically identify, attract and engage candidates. Join us April 10th 2014 at 3pm to talk Big Data on Twitter using the hashtag #BigDataHR and join our webinar, “What’s the Big Deal with Big Data in HR & Recruiting” on April 17th at 11a EST. Follow the week by bookmarking us

Big Data, the new oil?

We hear so much about it. It has been the buzz phrase for the last several years. But what does it really mean?  What are we really measuring? What impact does it really have?

In looking at the “big”, what do we miss? Who loses? What is really being done about it and how do you really define “big data”?

Peter Sondergaard, Sr. VP at Gartner, has described big data as the new oil of the 21st Century, and analyzing that data is what keeps the engine running – rich in information, the future can be predicted and thus refined.  I am not sure I agree – I have drug my feet when it comes to espousing the goodness of big data. Yes, the informational content is valuable, but only if we actually do something about it. We can talk about it all day and reveal it as the key to the future.  But only if we learn from it and change as a result.  We cannot expect the fact that we talk about it to save us.

Fine Data

But the devil is in the details.  The real knowledge comes from the fine and refined data – the refined oil, if you will. I want to know specifics – I want to be swept off my feet by knowledge and the change that comes as a result.

We don’t need “big data” to prove we have a candidate experience problem which continues even with the exposition that there is a problem.  The problem continues on.  What is the mysterious element that we cannot grasp in order to make data truly part of our everyday work? Work that solves a problem.  Maybe, it isn’t so mysterious.  Maybe it’s right in front of us and we’re just too close to see.  Isn’t that how the devil gets you — isn’t that the trap?  By wrapping you up in the “big”, you lose sight of the “fine” which is where the real solution resides…

What does it really mean…

Those in charge of  bettering HR and recruiting processes consistently seek for ways to keep their organizations staffed with quality hires providing quality services or products – that means retaining quality employees once you have them.  Innovation and phrases like the elusive “big data” have sparked the creative minds of best and the brightest – but what does it all really mean? Has the unemployment rate dropped as a result?

Ever since HR and Recruiting teams switched from paper to computer and “the internet of things“, employers have been storing, saving, stockpiling electronic data – any kind of storable data. And with the illustrious promise of analytics – we should be able to measure anything and everything.   But are those who could benefit actually reaping the reward of all this information?

What is actually being stored?

The information typically saved, measured, counted, analyzed by Hiring and HR includes demographic data, attendance records, and performance scores. But what is missed by not measuring social engagement? Can or should employers and hiring companies go beyond their own mined data and capture the devilish details found through scouring social data?

Maybe it’s the new soil

David McCandless with TEDGlobal states, “Data is the new oil? No: Data is the new soil.”  Perhaps social profiles are the fertile ground for rich analytical initiatives. But how – and who really understands this data? We still struggle with the ethics of the whole soil/soul mining thing.  How do we really benefit from social data? I ask because I have yet to really find an answer I believe, trust, or on which I want to rely.

The Future

Can social data really be collected and used for predictive analysis? This is what everyone wonders and wants.  We might be able to predict outcomes in HR and recruiting? But no no no… we are talking about humans, not automatons or bots… These are humans with the spirit to change and challenge on a whim.  This would involve using and thus fully understanding the personal and professional characteristics of job seekers, candidates, and employees in order to make reliable predictions on a person’s future behavior.

Can employers really discover what kind of person is best suited for which job based on the norms of the masses?  Can we really match experience and personality characteristics when hiring by using data?

Oh dear, what is this – Gattaca?
This is all too “genome project” for me.
more to come…

by Rayanne Thorn

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