“Big data is being able to draw inferences from relationships and data points that we didn’t even know existed before,” says Charlie Judy (@HRFishbowl), Blogger at HR Fishbowl in our conversation at the 2012 HR Tech conference in Chicago.
Judy believes that HR is primed to take advantage of big data even though it’s only recently, within the past ten years, that they’ve taken advantage of small data through capturing, tracking, and archiving basic information from the applicant tracking system (ATS).
What’s really important is what actions you take as a result of that data, Judy says. What analytics can you turn that data into that’s actually meaningful? Can you become predictive? Can you start to understand trends? Will you let that information circle back and affect the way you do services in the HR channel? Will it change the way you attract people? Or how about the way you plan for your workforce, not just for tomorrow, but five to 10 years from today?
When you get to that level of future prediction, that’s big data, Judy says. The reason big data scares so many people is the unknown. We don’t know what we’re going to get out of it. We don’t even know what questions to ask, Judy says.
But you have to start somewhere, and that requires experimentation. HR practitioners have to be willing to jump in and kick it around, Judy says, and she believes that technology is becoming so user-friendly that even the average practitioner can handle it.