Guest Blog by Christophe Coutat
Christophe Coutat is Founder and Managing Director at Advent Group – organiser of the MERIT Conference for corporate and higher education leaders.
Big Data (BD) is not just a buzz word, but an avenue of opportunities for HR practitioners to identify patterns in human habits and interactions. Findings can then be used to make razor-sharp decisions for sustainable staff improvement and satisfaction. People analytics empower L&D executives with tools for employee-centric design and data-driven training and development content to replace or build on instructional approaches.
Big Data in L&D strategy
“What most companies need is not more strategic analysis but a clear methodology to link strategic decisions, fast and cheap exploration of opportunities, and staged investment, and a radically different strategy to manage people, skills, training schemes, and internal digital platforms“ – Ricardo Perez, Professor of Information Systems, IE Business School.
When planning for BD-based L&D strategies, HRs must first answer a basic question: What data are we looking for?
The answer is fourfold: how employees receive information; how employees perceive information; how employees behave and perform within the organisation; and how employees feel while at work.
• Information consumption
Around the globe, access to knowledge is just a click away already. Since information is freely and widely available, learning materials such as guidelines, workshops, intranet, etc. can be obtained outside of traditional corporate learning resources, from sources such as social media, webinars, blogs, and others. Depending on company policies, materials from the latter sources can be consumed both while at work and outside of work hours. HRs must be certain as to what the information flow is and take that into account when planning for L&D practices.
• Information perception
The next part is understanding how employees perceive information: “Do employees process and remember information better when it is given to them by external or internal sources?” It could turn out that information delivered by authorities outside of the organisation has a bigger impact on employees. Big Data can also track whether employees act upon that information by signing up to said external webinars or interacting (sharing and replying) to said opinion leader social media posts. This has to do with the development of data-driven content explained in this article.
• Employee behaviour
Data on factors such as employee performance and satisfaction, career growth and remuneration, as well as interdepartmental and personal communication has long since been gathered in one form or another by HR departments around the world. By streamlining the process of data gathering (by means of anonymous questionnaires and automated tracking software), HRs are able to compile, extrapolate and cross-reference huge streams of data that can identify correlations between these basic, but important factors and the role, place, and impact that corporate learning has on them.
• Employee wellbeing
Breakthroughs in technology have afforded us unprecedented access to health analytics. Wearables and other electronic gadgets are able to measure things like blood pressure, arterial pulse, heart rate, and blood glucose level. In one interview, Norman Kurtis, vice-dean of Behavioural & Human Development at IE School of Human Science & Technology, suggests that the data provided by these devices can optimise a whole range of things such as insurance premiums, sick days, and overall productivity. Lee Newman, dean of the IE School of Human Sciences & Technology, goes even further, suggesting that this data can measure willpower, self-control, and brain performance in real time. By gathering and analysing this data, HRs can devise an L&D strategy that boosts these metrics in order to help employees improve their own cognitive performance.
Changing tomorrow’s workplace
As technology becomes more advanced, L&D managers will be able to incorporate even more complicated tools in their strategies. However, it is important to remember that the employee is always at the centre of it all. Technology merely helps improve the results of human work.
“Using human analytics and behavioural measurement we can fine-tune the “how” we communicate and improve the outcome of our collective performance even more. Applying the right technologies helps organisations to grow in a fundamentally different way, from hiring, on-boarding, and sharing knowledge to succession planning. There are a number of innovative techniques that will fundamentally change tomorrow’s workplace” – Wim Focquet, HR and Talent Management, IE Business School.
Digital transformation is inevitable and so are the challenges that come with it, but if organisations embrace the change, they will gain a competitive edge that will ultimately cause them to emerge stronger.