At the Harvard Business Review, John Boudreau, a research director at the Marshall School of Business and Center for Effective Organizations at USC, highlights the fundamental challenge most HR functions have when it comes to analytics: They are making significant investments, but not getting returns from those investments. The work that we are doing at CEB (now Gartner) has found the same result: More than 70 percent of organizations are increasing investments in talent analytics, but only 12 percent feel like they are getting results.
Boudreau offers up a set of push and pull strategies to improve the effectiveness of talent analytics by making it more “user friendly.” Looking at the pull situation, he lays out the following conditions, which he argues must be present for an analytics program to succeed. The HR function, he writes, must:
- receive the analytics at the right time and in the right context,
- attend to the analytics and believe that the analytics have value and that they are capable of using them,
- believe the analytics results are credible and likely to represent their “real world,”
- perceive that the impact of the analytics will be large and compelling enough to justify their time and attention, and
- understand that the analytics have specific implications for improving their own decisions and actions.
While it’s certainly helpful advice to invest time, energy, and thought into how the consumer of that information will use it, there is still a fundamental problem—alluded to in the third item above—that heads of talent analytics must tackle first, and that’s improving data quality. In fact, poor data quality is the number-one cited reason why talent analytics leaders feel that they aren’t having the impact that they want.
Without solving the data quality problem first, all of the push and pull strategies in the world will result in lost credibility—you are just pushing and pulling without accurate information! To solve this problem, analytics teams need to build the right relationships across HR and the broader organization to make sure the data entered into the system is accurate and useful. Once the information is (closer to being) accurate, then progress can be made.
CEB Corporate Leadership Council members can review our recent webinar to learn about the most effective strategies for improving talent analytics.