One of his key messages is this: HR analytic tools are making a big leap forward.
The old way of doing analytics, which might be called “Request & Wait” is being eclipsed by new tools that let us “Explore & Inquire”. Here’s how they work:
Request & Wait: Decide what information you want; ask an analyst to prepare it, wait…
Get the results. This usually leads to a new question. Ask, wait…ask, wait…
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Explore & inquire: Look at a visual representation of the data (e.g., retention by department); notice a trend; check by gender; notice an anomaly; drill down to that issue; look at the whole thing again by region…
Visual, fast, and easy
Let me spell out what impresses me with the Explore & Inquire approach:
- It’s visual, so you can notice things as opposed to having to ask exactly the right question.
- It’s fast, so you can follow up on inquiries in real time.
- It’s easy, so it can be run by an analytically minded person, not necessarily an analytics specialist.
If, like me, you have grown up in a world where getting reports was slow and difficult, you may be truly surprised by what these new tools can do.
What is interesting?
- The Explore & Inquire approach is possible because HR data is generally not that big and doesn’t change that fast. This means you don’t need real-time data; instead you can periodically pull the needed data into a standalone database optimized for HR analytics.
What is really important?
- New analytical tools built specifically for HR allow us to explore data much more easily so that we can answer a great many more questions — even when we don’t start out knowing the right question to ask.
- “More easily” doesn’t mean super-easy. We still need to build the capability to use these tools and a culture that ensures the findings influence decision making.