Life Tracking

On December 12, 2011, in HR Technology, HR Trends, HRExaminer, by John Sumser

life tracking and tidal wave of data about employees on hr examinerThe Tidal Wave of Data About Employees

HR will be turned on its head by the coming tidal wave of data about employees. From moment to moment performance management data to sensor based physical information, HR systems will be asked to handle hundreds or thousands of times the current volume. Expect hardware to break and IT departments to cringe.

The data will find its way in the front door, from the bottom, as HR takes on crowd-sourced functionality for hiring, subcontracting, training, education and actual referrals. As has been the case with social media, the employees will want one thing while the vendors supply another. It’s coming in ways that are beyond the imagining of most in the profession.

Self-quantification (or life tracking) is the art and science of using personal data to improve performance and understanding. Take a look at the Quantified Self Guide for 400 or so tools for tracking various aspects of your life (from blood pressure to mood to physical activity to sleep).

Employees are bringing these things into the office every day. They know more about the correlation between a range of things and their performance than the company. Smart HR folks are investigating and considering the possibilities.

The Apple store has begun to carry a range of these tools. There is an emerging synthesis of personal data and health records. Anyone who is watching the evolution of wellness data ought to be plugged into the trend. You might want to scan through the personal fitness section at Best Buy

Some of the tools you ought to know about:

  • Fitbit: this device is worn somewhere on the body. It is like a pedometer, measuring physical behavior and movement. The associated website allows the careful monitoring of food intake and other related measurements. (You can find these at Best Buy and in their airport vending machines)
  • Up: it looks like a bracelet and does some of the things that Zeo does and some of the things that Fitbit does. (At the Apple Store)
  • ZEO: a sleep measurement tool. It tracks sleep through four stages: awake, light sleep, deep sleep, REM sleep.
  • WiFi Body Scale: Wireless unit feeds data to an app.
  • Wiithings Blood Pressure Monitor: unit feeds data to an app
  • Pocket Finder GPS: Allows the monitoring of movements using an iPad/iPhone interface
  • Digifit: Performance management for runners including pulse monitoring.

All of the tools are designed to feed data into portable devices. That gives the user access to the data for a range of purposes throughout the day.

The underlying trend is that people are learning more about themselves and how they work best. Expect to see serious discussion of the related issues (privacy boundaries and access to the enterprise data stream by individuals) as the next couple of years unfold.

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