For the most part, HR Departments and Recruiting divisions are treating the rise of social media as a data bonanza. From that perspective, the future most resembles the vision of TalentBin, a company that plans to scrape and aggregate social data much as Indeed does with job information. The idea is that the more data you have, the more you can know or understand. Somehow, in the thicket of data, there is some form of competitive advantage.
According to Intel executive Kirk Skaugen: “There was more data transmitted over the Internet in 2010 than all the data ever transferred online before.” (SiliconValley.com). The logarithmic increase in data flows will continue for the foreseeable future.
As data overwhelms everything in its path, it will become the defining element in the evolution of HR and Recruiting. Organizations, drowning in the avalanche of data about people and their performance, will increasingly look to HR to figure out the meaning and performance relevance of all that data.
While the promise of social technology is increased levels of intimacy between individuals and their world, the current reality has more to do with surveillance. As individual targeting data becomes more precise, there will be an inevitable explosion of customized services. The irony will be so much customization that consumers recoil from the intrusion.
As the ability to segment audiences grows, the volume of data from sensors and other sources will also multiply. The “internet of things” will contain billions of objects, from household appliances to toothbrushes, from lawn moisture monitors to personal biometrics, from individual environment monitors to deeply personalized investment data. In 2011, there were 22 Billion things already connected to the internet. By 2015, that number is expected to exceed 1 Trillion.
HR Departments are going to have an increasingly difficult time managing the intersection of what employees experience as consumers and the internal needs of the organization.
New questions are possible because of new kinds of data. The emergence of data science and the rise of social network analysis make it possible to see and understand aspects of human behavior and performance that were not quantifiable 18 months ago. Leading organizations will rapidly establish new types of performance benchmarks that combine internal and external data.
While data is pummeling the corporate walls, demographic shifts will be taking a deep toll. Throughout the Western world, native-born populations are in decline. That means that any culture desiring growth will be an increasingly competitive market for the best and brightest immigrants. Countries suffering from recession based xenophobia will create sustained disadvantages by trying to keep immigrants at bay.
At the same time, the decline in types and quantities of services provided by Western governments will accelerate. Important data like local demographics will be decreasingly available. Governments will be increasingly focused on the answer to the question: “What is the Minimum Viable Government?”
Tomorrow in part two of our series: Some specific trends