Why Human Resource Should Care About Big Data

There is no conversation or corporate strategy presentation today without mentioning Big Data. The focus of this write-up is to understand, what Big Data is and How HR will be impacted due to Big Data:  

There is no conversation or corporate strategy presentation today without mentioning Big Data. The focus of this write-up is to understand, what Big Data is and How HR will be impacted due to Big Data:  

Big Data refers to the totality of information available. This includes data in emails, instant messages, in video, and in audio files — all that might help create a more complete understanding about an issue or a person or provide clue to some business problem. All the spreadsheets and databases that are currently being used are made up of structured data, and, while this type of data is incredibly useful, access to unstructured data would add dimensions and depths.

HR Man Icon resized 600

The volume and unstructured nature of so-called “Big Data” prevented much of analysis. Making the best of data across varieties of media is very time consuming but we now have software applications that are able to look at large amounts of this kind of data and draw inferences, make suggestions, and provide summaries. Undoubtedly, many are using these tools to analyze email, voice mail, and phone calls.

HP, IBM, Oracle are all working on market offerings and imagine the power these tools will potentially give to marketing and advertising folks who can specifically target groups  with messages based on the analysis of what they are writing or talking about.

What This Means for Recruiters:

For recruiters, this new normal may change everything about what Human Resource (HR) people do and how they do it.

To thrive in the coming world of Big Data analysis, Human Resource professionals will have to learn to adapt and develop different skills from the ones traditionally every Human Resource person had.

Job Descriptions:

Unlike traditional ways in which HR/Recruiters profiled candidates ,the new normal will be by analyzing, what  people talk to and interact with while in meetings or in social networks, one  will be able to identify key characteristics of successful people and from that develop a list of competencies, skills, and attitudes that are most likely to be successful. It will be more to identify their AIOs, and then profile them than use the traditional tools like MBTI or Thomas profiling .The recruiters will be then able to match this social profiles with current requirements and suggest changes or ask for skill sets  that might improve or complement whatever already exists. Job descriptions will be much more specific and accurate.


By tapping into a larger data-set than one can access or analyze today, HR folks can reach more people and learn more about job hunters. One can perhaps get referrals from whoever a person calls, what they talk about, and who they refer to in the conversations in Facebook or Twitter.

The new normal will completely eliminate the need for Boolean search or experts in using the various forms of search engines. Few recruiters today know how to even optimally use search engines, they need not worry as tools will all be automated to a great extent. Imagine a computer similar to the Hal 9000 that can understand human languages (similar to Siri on the Apple iPhone 4S) and conduct a search independently of a recruiter.

HAL 9000 is the primary antagonist in Arthur C. Clarke’s science fiction Space Odyssey saga. HAL (Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer) is an artificial intelligence that interacts with the astronaut crew of the Discovery One spacecraft, usually represented as a red television-camera, eye found throughout the ship.  HAL is capable of speech, speech recognition, facial recognition, natural language processing, lip reading, art appreciation, interpreting and reproducing emotional behaviors, reasoning, and playing chess.

They will be able to dig much deeper and make inferences based on data that would be impossible for a human being to do it without the help of Data and analytics.


There is huge jump in the capability and ability to learn more about people by dissecting bits of information about someone from scraping or extracting data from websites/public information/social networks and from information about the products or services someone buys or uses, and from their interests extracted from comments, Tweets, locations, and so forth.

This, combined with better analysis of the job specifications , expected on the job behavior , recruiters can  choose people with a higher probability of success than they can  do today with all tools viz selection processes, tests, interviews etc.

Metrics and Performance Analysis of recruiters:

With the power that these tools are already capable of, everything recruiters do will be tracked and can be correlated to performance.

Management will be able to measure and track which calls resulted in the most candidates, what methods yielded the greatest returns, and how well candidates performed once hired. Some of this capability is available today with tools incorporated into HRIS systems like SAP and Oracle.