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How Big of a Change is Big Data in HR?

How Big of a Change is Big Data in HR?

"Big Data" has been traditionally used to find out what kinds of new or additional products to sell consumers, find out when and how consumers buy, and more. It's also used outside of the market to help reduce crime and solve other social problems by tracking patterns. You can use this same kind of data collection and analysis process to hire better employees for your business, whether you're a small startup or a large established enterprise.

How to Use "Big Data" to Find Potential Candidates

"Big Data" is actually nothing new--although the way it's handled sometimes is new. It's just another name for multi-layered data, which is more easily (and more quickly) processed in today's "Age of Search" than it once was.

But no matter how valuable the data or how powerful the processing equipment, HR can still get lost in the woods if it doesn't know how to process the data.

One thing HR can do is compare the data to any existing data about top performers in the position you are looking to fill. You also need to know where to find the people you need to find, who else is competing with you for those candidates--and what kinds of criteria they are using to hire as well.

This isn't usually a project that HR can handle all on its own. At the very least, it needs help from the IT department to manage this data. Since this is a specialized field that doesn't fall within the day-to-day work of many IT departments, It's also possible that you may need to call in outside help in order to organize and interpret the data. You also may need to upgrade your servers if you plan on hosting the data in-house.

What About Compromised Data?

One concern that some IT departments may have about outsourcing the process is the security of important hiring data. Compromised data of this sort may give competitors too many clues about how a company is looking to hire or--worse--leak sensitive information about candidates and employees.

The results of another company holding this data can range from them stealing potential employees out from under you, to them guessing what kind of moves your business may make in the marketplace.

This is one reason why it's often a good idea to simply buy the data you need, and then have your IT team figure out what to do with it. Even if this costs you in terms of overtime or new employees, it could save your enterprise in the long run.

It's Not as Easy as Google Makes You Think

Companies like Google make search look easy, returning even complicated results in a matter of tenths of a second. But Google and even minor, third-tier search engines use complicated algorithms that have take decades (if not centuries) of work-hours to complete.

"Navigating big data to uncover the right information is a key challenge to all industries," says IBM's Arvind Krishna. The company recently acquired Vivisimo, a company that provides software that helps large enterprises collect and analyze data of all types.

Krishna emphasized that the big winners in today's information economy will be those who can quickly interpret their data, and take action on this information as it is acquired. Those who don't, he says, will be left far behind.

About Zack Buckley

Zach Buckley is a freelance writer based in the Midwest. Having graduated from high school in year 2000, he belongs to the millennial generation. Zach holds a bachelor’s degree in history and political science and a master’s degree in communication. He enjoys exploring developing trends in education, technology and culture. When he isn’t reading or writing blogs, he enjoys sampling good music and good food.

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