In another case, a pharmaceuticals company was confused and disappointed by the wildly differing results it achieved from an analytics tool that offered suggestions as to what action a salesperson should take next following a specific customer interaction. In one market, the technology drove up revenues; in another, it was a complete flop. Investigating these results with staff in the latter group, the L&D team realized that the sales team, feeling threatened by the technology, were feeding it inaccurate data – or, at times, no data at all. L&D leaders built a program to demystify the technology, enabling staff to understand how it would increase their sales and give them more job security rather than less.
Elsewhere, HR leaders are using analytics tools to work out how to deploy staff with technology skills to maximum effect. In the past, the tendency has been to locate data and analytics expertise in the IT department. When such expertise is deployed and embedded across the business, in areas where it can have influence, it can deliver even more impressive results.
Where HR can begin with analytics
The best advice for HR leaders is to start small. Modest internal projects with crystal-clear objectives provide an opportunity to experiment and learn in a safe space. As the organization’s experience and understanding of what is possible grow, it can begin to plan more ambitious initiatives with confidence. Inevitably, CHROs will look to their IT colleagues to manage the integration of these technologies but, as HR becomes more confident in their use, the deployment should become more of a cross-functional collaboration.
In practice, however, data analytics skills are in short supply. Indeed, developing them may require HR leaders to think more imaginatively about recruitment and training programs. For example, somewhat counterintuitively, the data indicates that History and Philosophy majors are particularly quick to acquire data skills, suggesting that a technical IT background may not be an indispensable prerequisite.
By building competency to support analytics in both HR and throughout the wider business, organizations can drive significant value.