People analytics enable organizations to gain data-driven insights that optimize the impact and value of the workforce. For decades, human capital management (HCM) leaders have been sold tools marketed as analytics that were no more than dashboards filled with nice visualizations of historic data with no context as to what each individual data point meant to their strategic objectives and initiatives. And yet, our recent Analytics and Data Benchmark Research shows that 83% of organizations indicate that dashboards are very important or are currently in use for analytics. A dashboard, while important for a snapshot view of key metrics, is not an analytics tool. Today, advances in technology allow systems to provide actionable insights into potential people risks or opportunities before it’s too late.
One of the key challenges for people analytics platforms, and analytics in general, has been the inability to normalize and decipher data ingested from disparate systems. The proliferation of cloud infrastructure has enabled significant advances in overcoming this obstacle, affording ready access to data that was previously siloed, often in completely incompatible structures. Beyond structure and accessibility, systems can now intelligently analyze data within context and deliver back to the business more than just static data, in the form of performance to goal, for example, but in a way that tells a story relevant to the persona consuming it. This is critical because now each individual user within an organization can see the synthesized and analyzed data in a digestible format, through advanced visualization, and understand what it means in the context of their function and business, with guidance on what actions to take as a result of those insights, as provided by the people analytics software. Dashboards report the news. Analytics tell what the news means to each user, whether it’s time to be alarmed or excited, and what can be done with or about that news to achieve desired outcomes.
Our research shows that an increasing number of organizations are using or planning to deploy people analytics solutions to help predict and manage workforce-related challenges and opportunities. We assert that by 2024, one-half of organizations evaluating people analytics offerings will require prescriptive guidance with actionable insights for quantifiable HCM impact. Where data scientists were once required to synthesize and interpret data for business impact, that power now sits directly with the individuals responsible for taking action. This type of access affords greater agility and operational efficiency within the organization, creating a bias for action rather than the extended contemplation and review that can lead to “analysis paralysis.”
Furthering the impact of this new breed of people analytics are correlating technological advances that support actionability. Capabilities such as in-context visualizations, push notifications in the flow of work — in systems where users already spend their time — and the ability to take action via artificial intelligence (AI)-assisted messaging have all bolstered the people analytics function. Not only can end users now have a near real-time purview into key business indicators, they have supporting technologies to act on those insights, often with no manual effort outside of an initial system configuration.
When considering people analytics tools, organizations must look beyond mere visualization of static metrics. A true people analytics platform has the ability to transform a human resources organization into a data-centric, action-oriented function. The most capable HR leadership teams focus their time and efforts on those activities with the greatest business impact. A people analytics platform can provide contextual business insights directly to the people who need them, in a manner and channel most comfortable to each user, so that actions can be taken to mitigate risk, capitalize on opportunities, and boost efficiency and productivity. I strongly recommend buyers fully vet the analytics capabilities of any HCM technology software being considered. If the tool itself does not natively deliver the insights required to support meaningful business decisions, it may be time to consider a stand-alone people analytics platform.