Big Data and HRTech

On January 17, 2012, in HR Technology, HR Trends, HRExaminer, John Sumser, by John Sumser

Big Data in HR Tech will blow the lid off of HR

Each year, someone wedges new data into our crowded HR closet. The next one will come from big data in small sizes.

HR Tech: A universe of sensors will blow the lid off of HR as we know it.

Our current definitions of what is and isn’t HRTech are astonishingly narrow. Generally speaking, the world of HR Technology is limited to the varieties of software and service that execute the administrative end of Human Resources. Talent Management, HRIS, Recruiting, Sourcing, Payroll, Learning and Learning Management, Benefits Management and some elements of Health record keeping are the general limits of the known universe.

Each year, someone wedges new data into our crowded closet. HR manages gift card programs, real time performance feedback, assessments, competency data and more. It’s a great big pile of administrivia that really needs sound record keeping to keep the organization running and the regulators at bay.

And still, the definitions are too narrow.

Right around the corner, hoping to be embedded in the various smart phones and tablets are a universe of sensors that will blow the lid off of HR as we know it. Huge flows of data from health and fitness simulations, which allow employees to take charge of their own health and employers to optimize performance are coming to a cloud computing installation near you

Take a look at A Doctor in Your Pocket from the Wall Street Journal.The article details the rapid rate at which we are moving to be able to really control our own health at microscopic levels. The article envisions a very near future of micro sensors and personal simulation that enable us to optimize human health and performance.

These are not the ramblings of a science fiction crazed futurist hopped up on dreams of the singularity.

It has to start with data collection. In 2004, Dell launched a company program called Well at Dell to encourage healthy lifestyles. Employees receive alerts and information customized to their health issues, incorporating their latest test results and treatments and allowing them to make more informed decisions. A newly diagnosed diabetic, for example, might get information about how to monitor blood sugar and watch out for the circulatory problems that often accompany the disease.

Not surprisingly, these corporate health-management tools have come under fire, with most critics worrying about privacy.

But we can’t expect the health-care industry to continue to innovate and grow if we continue to hoard health information. The federal agency that administers Medicare pays over half of the medical bills in the U.S., but it doesn’t retrieve, organize or mine that data. Imagine how much better the Medicare system could be if all this data were analyzed to improve public health. Or imagine databases from many different sources, private and public, coming together in a centralized network that would look for patterns and try to translate them into new ideas for anticipating and preventing health problems.

Who’s going to win the recruiting contest? The company that helps you live longer or the company that squirrels around with primitive offerings?

Who’s going to have the competitive edge? You guessed it.

Whether it takes the form described in the WSJ or adopts some other approach. the flows of data from personalized sensors and simulations will break the databases and structures we have in place.



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