Last night, I had the great opportunity to attend the Boston College Technology Council event on “Big Data: Fact or Fiction” and I have to say that it was one of the better Big Data panels I’ve been to. The panel moderated by John Gallant and Mike Makeen with panelists Narayanan Krishnakumar of EMC, Greg Leibon from Coherant Path and Associate Professor Sam Ransbotham of Boston College.
The conversation during the night touched upon a number of key points around big data and what’s possible as we move forward with better talk to the data to make meaningful connections to better engage, forecast and ultimately do things better.
While I won’t cover all the insights from the session, here’s a few that stuck with me (and how I think they’ll affect recruitment marketing):
Big Data doesn’t necessarily have to be BIG
This is one that gets me a lot when listening to sessions on Big Data. Big Data is not necessarily about having huge sets of data (although it can be beneficial for specific problems) but it’s about bringing information and data points that have traditionally not been used in concert together to make meaningful connections. And even small sample sizes can give us tremendous insight into behaviors.
As we collect and capture more and more data (which is inevitably happening), more value is not necessarily gained. The value really comes from understanding this data and having it in a structure that enables connections to be made to help you learn and share knowledge across the organization.
Importance for Recruiting: Data capture has come a long way and is relatively easy depending on the tools you use. The real key is understanding all the different data types and sources that you want to capture. For recruiting, this is a number of data points in a number of different locations such as job boards, social networks, sourcing, email campaigns, employee referral, the Career Site, SEO, mobile and the ATS. You want to ensure that the data you capture for all of these can be centralized and talk to one another. A silo-ed technology strategy where you use 3-6 systems to manage, won’t get it done. If you can’t integrate this data and get it to work together then everything below is a moot point.
Asking the Right Questions is as important as mining the data
I know there’s an analogy here to use but basically if you don’t know the direction you would like to head, it’s much harder to get off course. The same is true for big data. The only way to make connections that can prove valuable is understanding the right questions to ask in the first place. It’s about understanding what you do so well that you can test your assumptions to gain true insight that can help you improve.
So when we look at the future, it will be more about combining domain expertise of asking the questions that are truly crucial to the business with the analytical prowess to be able to create meaningful relationships with the data we own to answer these questions.
Importance to Recruiting: For recruiting professionals, this means partnering with solutions that can capture and display the data necessary to understand their strategy. It’s then crucial to look at their strategy and talking with their hiring managers and HR business partners to truly understand the value they provide to the organization and what the end goal is. This will help figure out those questions (and corresponding answers to look for in the data) that could help them achieve their goals and do their jobs better.
Big Data Is Relatively New
As the panelists said many times, there are a lot of buzzwords out there around Big Data and analytics and while this has been in the works for years we are still very much in the infancy of what we should be able to achieve.
We are still learning what’s possible with data relationships and how we use it to gain actionable knowledge. And it’s the organizations that begin to try and form these relationships between data points that will better positioned long-term. Waiting until best practices come around will not help here but forming a culture of data based decision making will.
Importance for Recruiting: There’s a huge opportunity here for first movers to better understand the triggers that drive recruiting performance. Analytics are not something you just turn on and gain insight from. Moreso, it’s about building a correct structure to capture this data first and second, learning and building a thought think tank to ask the right questions to drive the business forward.
Big Data is an intriguing and interesting topic and years from now we’ll wonder how we ever made decisions based on this type of data analysis before. It’s here to stay and something that makes sense to invest in now.