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Workforce Transformation: People Analytics is a Challenge for HR

According to a number of recent polls a majority of CEO’s feel that investing in, and adopting, people analytics is critically important to the competiveness of their organization. However, the same polls also show that a majority of CEO’s don’t feel as if their HR departments possess the skills and expertise necessary to make it happen.

These polls highlight the inherent opportunities and challenges around people analytics. CHRO’s are not going to quit, or be fired en masse, and people analytics will quickly be adopted. The challenge CHRO’s face is that of finding partners and vendors who will work with them to better understand and harness the power of people analytics in a strategic manner.


A majority of HCM software products on the market today are really just automated extensions of the types of activities and processes that companies have been doing for years. Think payroll, benefits, travel, workforce management, MBO’s, etc. Sure there has been innovation around the edges but tracking sick leave is basically the same whether you do it using pen and paper, or by accessing a proprietary system on your company’s database or in the cloud via your mobile device.

People analytics is a different animal in that in most organizations it hasn’t really existed, or at least it hasn’t existed at scale. Sure, in some organizations, and in some departments, and in different forms it has existed but it has not existed like payroll exists. Every company since the dawn of commerce has had to process payroll, and track vacation days, and sick leave and all the rest.

The irony is that without technology, and especially recent innovations in technology, people analytics could not exist, BUT the power and value of people analytics to an organization is not solely achieved through the application of technology. The technology is only a means to an end. For example, just because we can all access the worlds information through Google doesn’t necessarily mean that you or I can cure cancer. But on the other hand, without online access to a global community of researchers and research reports, as well as the latest scientific tools, chances are pretty good that we won’t be able to solve it.

Rather, the promise of people analytics is going to be realized when decision makers and leaders within the organization begin to co-innovate with their technology partners, and others, to figure out what information can be gathered, what information is worth gathering, what information is important and how it can be used to impact the bottom line.

Organizations need to empower HR, and create an environment, where this type of strategic, out of the box thinking can occur. The challenge for vendors in the space is to approach people analytics as a co-discovery and co-innovation partnership instead of the typical vendor-customer relationship.

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