The Importance of Data-Driven Insights in HR Management

Marc Rind, VP of Product Development & Chief Data Scientist, ADP
Marc Rind, VP of Product Development & Chief Data Scientist, ADP

Marc Rind, VP of Product Development & Chief Data Scientist, ADP

1. What role does data and technology play in HR?

All organizations today have become more data-driven. They have begun with sales departments looking for data science to gain an edge over their competitors. With the advent of the internet and big data, they have been able to track their success about their advertising and marketing efforts. This has changed the industry. Although the HR department has been trailing in this, the organizations are catching up quickly. I have, over the years, seen at many client conferences the discussions about how data science and machine learning can help HR. The challenge here is that unlike in sales, it is not as straightforward. Factors such as what people are doing every day at work, are they happy at work, what the organization looks like, all have to be analyzed. We have come a long way forward with insights about the workforce that managers need to make an impact. Today, it is every employee’s responsibility to ensure that there is cleaner data so that managers who need to leverage the results of the data can do so quickly. Additionally, people have always been skeptical about leveraging data science with the fear that jobs would be lost. With the realization that it is here not to replace anyone’s job but to give a direction about who and where organizations need to focus on, it has started garnering more interest. This is because when you expose your data to the management of an organization, it can lead to better results.

2. What are some of the technology trends that you see in HR?

Earlier, technology solutions were treated as a necessary evil that was needed to keep everything in place but not as an innovation. But that trend has changed in recent years with organizations looking at these solutions for better usability. It has expanded from the behemoth HR system that only the HR practitioners had access to. Today, HR systems have to be more intelligent to provide recommendations through the HR system for HR practitioners, managers, and other employees regarding their job. This is where data is needed to feed into AI and machine learning regarding making suggestions based on profiles of people similar to you. Additionally, managers also need to have information about everything that happens within the organization such as are the employees happy, are they taking higher than expected absence, who is looking for a promotion because they have been in the same role more than others, and so on. The advent of the cloud has made it possible for them to access this information from wherever they might be. By incorporating AI and machine learning, they can receive suggestions that they can leverage while conversing with their employees to help their top employees stay in the company while helping others who need improvement. This is important because only if your employees are satisfied can you meet your goals.

HR systems have to be more intelligent to provide recommendations through the HR system for HR practitioners, managers, and other employees regarding their job 

3. Is there any methodology that can be followed while choosing the right partners?

From a vendor perspective, it is vital to ensure that your partners have a proven track record from handling security issues to success stories. For anyone choosing a vendor, you need to know the different technologies that they use, the number of clients that they have, milestones about their own organizations’ growth, and so on. They need to have a clear vision and a direction instead of merely repeating to you what you are looking for.

4. What are the strategic points that you go by to steer your company forward?

We are trying to make sure that the managers know how their team is doing. This is important in the war for talent. There is a responsibility for an organization to provide fertile soil for an employee’s growth. Employees join an organization with the hope that the company would guide them through a manager who sees their talent and lets them use it on a daily basis. By being engaged, the employee would produce efficient results, and this is one of the critical goals of HR personnel—to find and keep the best talent for their organization. By leveraging data, the managers can help the employees grow while providing enhanced results to the organization. In a nutshell, this is what we do here at ADP—provide data-driven insights and direction to help organizations recognize and build better talent.

5. How would you envision the future within this arena?

The most significant disruption would be a combination of the trends that I have already mentioned before. Cloud provides the ability for data to be everywhere all the time. The data collected through the cloud in the next 15 years would be the fuel for the development of ultimate intelligence. We, at ADP, are collecting data that is important such as how are employees getting bonuses, how engaged are they to an organization, what kind of organizations have the best employee engagement, and so on because they are very strategic points while looking at the future.

The second disruption would be the openness brought about by open APIs. We already see many organizations embracing open API stacks such as RESTful API. By collecting data from a wide range of sources through open APIs, combined insights can be driven. This is all going to be available and open through open APIs.

6. Is there any piece of advice that you would like to give for companies in this space?

Embrace, collect, and understand your data, and do not be afraid of it. There are ways to make sense of data that may not be the cleanest. Go out with a positive mindset to figure out such data. Large organizations should not swallow data. Collect all the different datasets such as sales data, service data, and so on and bring it together across your organization so that it can fuel intelligence for everything whether it is building a product or helping service a client. The key is to have all the data connected together.

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