Big Data - Stories from our Clients

3 min

We are increasingly being asked about “Big Data” and the role that its playing in hiring trends. The Times recently ran an article, “Bosses Don’t Bother With Talent Data”(26.02.15), in which Armstrong Craven’s COO, Rachel Davis, was quoted:

“Increasingly, senior appointments of chief data officer, head of workforce analytics and head of human capital reporting and analytics are being made within global banks and technology giants, and we expect to see this replicated across other sectors in the coming months,”

The power of people data

HR Analytics is an area that Armstrong Craven has been supporting companies with in terms of understanding best practice, the power of people data and competitor analysis. We thought that you may be interested in some of the headlines gathered from our research:

  • HR data is widely used to look at stats in terms of sickness/absence, joiners/leavers etc. but fewer companies are truly harnessing this data to look at future workforce planning. Harvard Business Review Analytic Services found that although 61% of companies use HR Analytics, only 12% use advanced analytics to drive strategy and decision-making.
  • An example of HR data being used effectively is to spot trends in hiring patterns. For example, a major bank identified that a number of employees who were not a good fit and subsequently left had come from the same competitor. This allowed management to better tailor-interview questions and recruitment strategies for this population to ensure right culture fit.
  • A more advanced model identified was workforce planning for 20 years in advance. Due to a contract won in Central Asia, one company is in the process of ensuring the local school children are educated in the relevant engineering subjects to ensure a high enough percentage of local workers for when the operation is in place in 20 years.
  • Still in its infancy in many companies, one of the key early challenges is fragmented data held in various legacy systems. Until all data is consolidated in to one system, it is difficult to effectively turn the data into actionable information.
  • The challenge in recruiting HR Analytics talent is that there tends to be a lack of statistical skills within HR and a lack of client-facing commercial skills within highly technical teams. This leads to the dilemma of whether to upskill current workforce or hire externally. In either case “stats whiz with gravitas” was described as hard to find!
  • One bank that is using HR Analytics effectively has incorporated marketing talent into its people data team. Many organisations are effectively using data to know everything they can about the customer in terms of spotting trends, personalising offers etc. but how well do companies know their own staff? There is a strong link between consumer marketing and HR Analytics of which few companies are taking advantage.

The points above highlight the difficult decision of where big data teams should sit in an organisation. Are these teams best-placed in HR or under a CIO? Or is this an extension of marketing where skills can be leveraged? Research has shown that the HR Analytics sits in different functions depending on the organisation.

Charlotte Moffatt specialises in talent intelligence for financial services and banking at Armstrong Craven. She can be contacted at

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