Human resources

Does HR Really Fit the Definition of Big Data?

Kouros Behzad, Director of Solution Management, Line of Business HR, SAP

Wikipedia defines big data as “a term applied to data sets whose size is beyond the ability of commonly used software tools to capture, manage, and process the data within a tolerable elapsed time. Big data sizes are a constantly moving target currently ranging from a few dozen terabytes to many petabytes of data in a single data set.”

Typical large enterprises have between 5,000 and 50,000 employees. Very large organizations employ numbers in the single-digit millions – which is still not considered big data by itself. Yet if this isn’t big data, how do we get to petabytes of data in HR?


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Strategic Workforce Planning – Simulate to Survive

By Henner Schliebs, Director Solutions Marketing, SAP Business Analytics for LoB

There’s a famous and wise quote whose relevance will never fade – “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” – by Norman Vincent Peale, author and influential clergyman in the US during the 20th century. And this is certainly true with business analytics.

A recent blog post by Padmini Ranganathan, a thought leader in the enterprise performance management (EPM) space, focused on this very topic. In it, she discussed how an integrated approach to all enterprise planning exercises is key to becoming a best run company. To continue that discussion, I’ll focus on the HR executive, specifically strategic workforce planning.

Market Trends Necessitate Strategic Workforce Planning

Over the past 12 – 18 months, Aberdeen, IDC, and other analysts, as well as numerous consultancies and the HCI have published papers and reports about a new management process: strategic workforce planning. Talent management (identifying and proactively developing employees with the potential to advance in the organization) has been a hot topic on the Web even longer. And global market trends underscore the need for both management processes:

  • Cost pressures
  • Aging workforce
  • Decreasing talent loyalty
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Technology advancement

These market trends point enterprises in one direction: adopting a new approach to business analytics!

Strategic Workforce Planning as a Business Analytics Process?

Is strategic workforce planning really a business analytical process? Yes.

Mollie Lombardi and Justin Bourke define it as “the systematic approach of aligning business strategy, human capital strategy, and budgets in order to ensure that talent with the right skills and competencies are in place to support anticipated and unanticipated future business scenarios…” (Strategic Workforce Planning – Winning Scenarios for Uncertain Times, Aberdeen).

Aberdeen also recommends that companies “plan for an uncertain future through scenario [planning] and… analytics…” and “…view workforce planning as a tool to manage organizational change.”

And Deloitte’s take on applying analytics to workforce issues is to take “a top-down approach that bridges the gap between data and business problems by providing a repeatable framework for achieving resolutions.” Translated that means, analyze your current situation (data) and simulate trends that affect the achievement of strategic goals – all under the assumption that market pressures dictate the analytics and metrics.

Bottom line: HR executives need business decision support. And a critical success factor is that it must be a clearly defined and integrated business process.

Many companies have yet to set up a formal process and long for business advice and supporting technology. The first step is to assess what your company is doing to ensure it has:

  • The right resources
  • With the right skills
  • In the right job
  • At the right moment
  • In the right quantity
  • In the right place
  • At the right price

So how do you view strategic workplace planning? Do you see it as business analytics? Why or why?

And a closing thought: as a pastor, Peale talked a lot about positive thinking and hope. But the first thing you learn when taking responsibility for a process, a project, a program, or a company is that hope is not a strategy.

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