Results from Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends 2016 survey showed that 32 percent of the global organizations surveyed feel “ready” or “somewhat ready” for people analytics (+8 percentage year over year). Among those same organizations, 77 percent think people analytics is “important” or “very important.” While the increase in the former case may look promising, the disparity between the percentage of organizations that think it is important and the percentage that feel ready to implement it, is glaring.
At the same time, we should keep in mind that people analytics has been among the top 10 trends in the Global Human Capital Trends survey for the last three years. In other words, business and HR leaders have consistently recognized it as an important area that is critical to how organizations operate today.
So what does that mean? On one hand, we can see some clear indicators of people analytics’ maturation and its widely recognized importance; on the other, practitioners are grappling with numerous emerging questions and concerns.
Bersin by Deloitte’s first-ever High-Impact People Analytics research study in 2013 covered several factors (e.g., having accurate data, standard definitions of metrics, basic skills sets) that are needed at a minimum to start a people analytics practice and progress through the four stages of analytics maturity. It is now time for us to go beyond “table stakes.”
During the last two months, we have conducted approximately 30 in-depth interviews with people analytics practitioners and thought leaders in the field. Among many other trends, we see three prominent ones emerging:
- The need for people analytics to add value to the business
- Analytics as the new normal
- The critical role of technology
We discuss each of these topics in more detail below.
Across our aforementioned interviews, we found that people analytics maturity is increasingly being defined based on how the data gets used or to what extent the insights derived from the data (1) enable better business and people decisions; (2) improve important business metrics; (3) enhance employee productivity; and (4) result in a positive employee experience. This implies that organizations are focusing on the entire chain, from data to analyses to findings to insights to action. Said differently, maturity goes much beyond the kinds of analyses (e.g., descriptives, correlation, regressions) being conducted.
The critical question of transforming people analytics from data and insights to value for the business—and what organizations can do to realize that value—are at the center of our upcoming High-Impact People Analytics research study, to be released in summer 2017. The potential for people data to inform business decisions and outcomes will also be one of the key themes at the 2017 IMPACT conference.
“If given a budget that you could either invest in educating the entire HR population in basic analytics concepts or in advancing your people analytics team further, which one would you choose?” When asked this question, all but two of the people analytics leaders we interviewed chose the former—that they would invest in upskilling the entire HR population, while indicating the criticality of having a central advanced team that is focused entirely on people analytics.
Along similar lines, our research on the changing role of human resource business partners (HRBPs) found that business leaders are now demanding a more analytics-savvy HRBP population capable of conducting simple analyses and telling a compelling story with data.
This trend toward a need for mass upskilling and making analytics the new normal indicates a few interesting shifts in the customary thinking. We need to shift our focus from having one team capable of running structural equation modelling and machine learning to creating an entire population of data-fluent (or data-literate) HR professionals.
In addition to many other things, fostering data fluency can mean tactical moves such as making sure analytics is part of every job description in the HR job family. It entails having a set of HRBPs who, along with business knowledge, can bring an analytical mind-set, differentiate correlation from causation, question the representativeness of a sample, know exactly when and where to engage the people analytics team, etc. As an example, an HRBP population capable of running and / or interpreting simple organizational health metrics (e.g., retention rate of critical talent, number of leaders with top engagement scores) can go a long way toward building a truly data-driven organization—certainly farther than investing in the latest and greatest technology to run advanced statistical models.
It is important to emphasize here that while organizations increasingly want analytics to be the new normal, we aren’t there yet. Our recent research on talent management indicated that analytics and workforce planning do not tend to be integrated into other talent practices, and organizations significantly lack a culture of analytics.
Our new High-Impact People Analytics industry study will address how organizations can reach the stage at which data-driven decision-making is part of the organizational DNA. In addition, we will publish a two-part case study this fall and conduct a webinar in early 2017 to showcase how Chevron effectively scaled its people analytics capabilities using a community of practice, an in-house analytics curriculum, and an analytics center of excellence, all in an effort to make using people analytics their new normal.
Our research has shown that clean, consistent, accurate, and timely data is foundational to a robust people analytics practice—which creates a need for the right systems, tools, and technologies. Indeed, technology can be an enabler for building strong analytics capabilities. A plethora of solution providers in the HR landscape today provide embedded analytics offerings in some shape or form. In some cases, the availability of technology can even change how some areas are measured in the HR space.
For example, an increasing number of organizations are now conducting short employee pulse surveys in addition to annual surveys. One of the biggest enablers behind this shift is likely the availability of technology that supports an “always-on” measurement approach borne out of an increasing need for real-time feedback and quantification.
However, a recent study on people analytics trends found organizations feel technology is more of a hindrance than an enabler. This brings up an interesting question: Is there a tipping point beyond which advancements in technology yield lower and lower returns?
Our High-Impact People Analytics industry study will investigate the role of tools and technology in transforming people data and insights to yield business value. In fall 2017, we will also publish a research report examining the current landscape of people analytics solution providers.
I am looking forward to executing the people analytics research roadmap this coming year! If you are an analytics leader and interested in any of the topics mentioned above, please reach out to me at email@example.com. We are always eager to listen to practitioners to ensure our research is relevant and useful.
In addition, we’d like to invite you to participate in the Bersin Research Exchange, sharing your leading practices and receiving research-based rewards such reports, diagnostics, and white papers. If interested, please register here: http://tiny.cc/PAn
As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte Consulting LLP, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP. Please see www.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.
Copyright © 2016 Deloitte Development LLC. All rights reserved.
 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends survey data, Deloitte Consulting LLP, 2016.
 “Still Under Construction: The State of HR Analytics 2016,” New Talent Management Network, 2016, www.talentstrategygroup.com/application/third_party/ckfinder/userfiles/files/NTMN%202016%20HR%20Anaytics%20Reports.pdf?utm_source=NTMN+HR+Analytics+Survey&utm_campaign=HR+Analytics+Survey&utm_medium=email.