Big Data for HCM?

If you are interested in HR innovative solutions especially on the Cloud or currently trying to select a new Cloud HCM solution such as Workday HCM, SuccessFactors or Oracle Fusion, you have surely seen and heard about Big Data. What does it mean? What are the differences with Business Intelligence (BI) solutions? What are the benefits and the usage for Human Capital Management?

I will try in this post to explain in simple words my own understanding and share some relevant links I have found.

What is Big Data?

I have seen many definitions for Big Data and will try to summarize by listing the 7 most important features:

  1. Big Data solutions allow to store and / or access massive amount of data, more then just your own HCM data
  2. You can mix internal HCM data with external sources
  3. External data sources can be structured or unstructured (1)
  4. Data manipulation and reporting is faster then traditional BI solutions (2)
  5. Big Data solutions are always provided with very powerful analytic tools
  6. Big Data solutions on the Cloud don’t need extra infrastructure (3)
  7. Big Data solutions on the Cloud are delivered with many ready-to-use templates and reports

(1) : Structured data usually means that you import external data and map the data model with your own data definition. Unstructured data means that you access external data by using ready-to-use connectors.

(2) : Big Data use innovative solutions to speed access to data and reporting. I have seen 2 technologies being used:

  • In-Memory
  • Hadoop

In-Memory is notably used by SuccessFactors (SAP) thanks to their solution named HANA (“High-Performance Analytic Appliance). More information available on Wikipedia.

Hadoop is an open-source technology used by Workday HCM. More information available on Wikipedia.

(3) : HCM solutions delivered on the Cloud such as SuccessFactors, Workday or Oracle Fusion are hosted by the providers themselves and don’t require any internal (on premise) infrastructure. These solutions are provided in SaaS mode (Software as a Service). Learn more about SaaS on Wikipedia.

Big Data components

Big data components

What are the differences with Business Intelligence (BI) solutions?

Big Data are different from the traditional BI solutions because Big Data are faster (see 4. above), they don’t need traditional ETL (Extract, Transform and Load) tools, they can access unstructured external data thanks to connectors (see 3. above). Usually BI tools do not contain ready-to-use HCM templates and reports (see 7. above).

What are the benefits and the usage for Human Capital Management?

I think that the first benefit of Big Data solutions is the capacity of mixing your own internal data with external sources such as:

  • Internal or external Financial data
  • Salary and compensation market data
  • CVs and recruitment data (Job boards and requisitions from competitors…)
  • Social media feeds
  • Economic or business trends (inflation, GDP growth, cost of living by country or town…)

The second benefit is certainly how fast the results can be accessed and rendered. Its allows real time complex data evaluation and even simulation.

The third benefit is surely the huge number of ready-to-use templates and reports provided by the Cloud HCM solutions.

Usage of Big Data for HCM

Here are some ideas about what kind of new reporting you could perform:

  • Market Compensation Comparison
  • Global Payroll Cost Analysis
  • Headcount Analysis (Combine staffing data with
    data from an external recruiting solution to get a clear
    picture of current and planned staffing)
  • Retention Risk and Impact Analysis (Combine Performance data with Social external sites)
  • High Performer Analysis (Combine Performance data with Market Compensation data)…

More information:

Workday Big Data datasheet

SuccessFactors Big data

Oracle Fusion Big Data

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