Demonstrating People Analytics

Deloitte recently published their annual Human Capital Trends publication. In it, they gave their article on people analytics the subtitle ‘stuck in neutral’.

It’s now over 5 years since I gave up big corporate HR life to build a startup in the people analytics. I had seen how data and analysis had revolutionised marketing and felt it was inevitable it would do the same to HR. In fact one of my earliest projects with OrganizationView was in a marketing department, using visualisation of their activities to drive a behavioural change in the marketing team towards collaboration.

Back then HR was interested in talking about analytics but had little real interest in starting. Now I think we’ve changed to knowing that it’s coming, that it’s of benefit but being confused about how to start.

There is a thought, propagated by some of the technology vendors, that technology solutions can solve the problem. I don’t fully agree with this view.

Certainly certain common requests can be automated but the key part of good analysis is linking it to the business strategy; not just enabling but providing opportunities which might help refine how you’re creating competitive advantage. This takes experience and knowledge – it takes good analysts.

Next week at HR Tech Europe I am running a session on People Analytics with a difference. Instead of presenting case studies or trying to demonstrate the potential ROI I’m going to show the sort of things people analysts actually do.

The session is called ‘People analytics using open source technology’. It’ll be a demonstration not a set of slides. I’m going to show a few different analyst activities that can be achieved quite easily without having to make a big technology investment. I’ll walk through how to do it and provide support materials so the audience can try it themselves.

Some of the things I’ll show how to do include:

  • Exploring data, spotting outliers, dirty data, reshaping it etc.
  • Creating great quality graphs that can be used to communicate
  • Using external data sources through APIs
  • Using location-based data, for example finding commute time for employees
  • How to get started with building predictive models

I hope to finish by doing something fun – analysing the twitter stream for the conference in real time.

When you look at the job descriptions for people analysts at the firms who are arguably leading this field they’re asking for experience of the sort of technology I’ll be using.

If you’re an HR Director I hope that I’ll be able to show you that moving from neutral into first gear doesn’t need to be a big step. If I can raise the confidence of some of the audience to go off and do some interesting things with their data I’ll have met my objective.