I am these days reading a book about Big Data, and going through some of the applications of the technology, I was thinking about some of the ways Big Data can be applied in people matters. I tried to google about usage of Big Data for Performance Management, and didnt quite find much (or maybe thats because the search terms show results for application performance management). One aspect of using technology in HR, I feel, is in the realm of Performance Management.
Today, appraisals are done in an objective manner, with ratings which try to capture achivements and performance. However, as we know, these are a sort of force-fit. What does a rating of “Exceeds Expectation” mean? Does this mean, for instance, that performance is high, or does this mean that expectations are low? Somehow, this seems to be like fitting a square peg in a round hole, or a round peg in a square hole, if you prefer it that way.
An alternative to this could be the usage of technologies like Big Data to handle this. To begin with, managers could have the option of writing their observations, along with specific examples or scenarios as part of the appraisal process. This kind of input gives us rich information about people performance. Instead of trying to fit performance into a quantitative scale, this has the possibility of giving us qualitative inputs into performance.
Add to this the fact that plenty of business-related data is available from finance, sales, and operations, and we have immense data, both quantitative and qualitative, with which to work. Using this data as the starting point, Big Data technologies could be used to build correlation between manager comments and business performance, and deriving employee performance based on this correlation. This has the benefit of giving a descriptive picture of performance, one which describes achievements in a more meaningful way which can be used to drive talent processes.
Theres much more that Big Data can be used for, as this post by @josh_bersin describes.
Continuing from this post, I was thinking about more details about this parallel between Talent Management and Supply Chain Management. The first principle, from which I am trying to derive things here is that in both cases, there is a demand (in one case for talent, and in the other case for products), which needs to be met, and frameworks or processes put into place to match supply with demand. With products, the source of demand is simple to visualize. Not so with talent. So lets begin by taking a look at that.
The need of strategies, processes, and practices in the organization is to meet the business vision of the organization. To meet this vision, some work needs to be done by some people, and therefore, there is a need for people, equipped with the talent to do this work. So, the demand for talent arises from the work to be done to meet the strategic goals of the organization. Add to this the fact that there is specific talent available within the organization, and from there, its a question of trying to match available talent to the demand for talent, and based on this, determine what talent is required (in which area) to meet this demand. The supply of demand comes from employees, contractors, applicants, and L&D. I say L&D because learning is one way for creating talent supply to meet the talent needs of the organization.
Having said this, the basic concept which is the core for SCM is the concept of the part number. This is the unique identifier which tells anyone across the supply chain which specific material or product is being talked about. There needs to be a concept similar to this, something which uniquely identifies the attributes of the talent required (somewhat like part number which uniquely identifies the specifications of the material being spoken about). Different organizations meet this requirement in different ways. As you will read here, IBM solved this with the concept of JRSS, the Job Role Skill-Set, which is a composite of the job role, the role that an individual performs, and the skill sets that the individual has. This is the common identifier which can uniquely define what talent is being spoken of in the talent planning process.
This is a topic which quite a few of us would have been thinking about … what are the implications of cloud for IT service providers? The reason this question gains importance is because with cloud paradigm, the levers of value for customers become different from what they have been. The days of mega implementations, for example, having 500 people teams working for 4 years to deliver a project are no longer to be seen. With cloud coming into the mainstream of technology, project profiles are changing further. Release cycles are much shorter, with larger number of releases coming out in quick succession. Project lifecycles are much shorter too, as is the scope of development or customization.
One is the fact that it is no longer possible for companies to differentiate themselves on the basis of IT as technology becomes commoditized. The paradox is that when IT was a specialized space, IT was almost an afterthought in organizational strategy, while today is becoming centre-stage in the strategy landscape.
As IT becomes more commoditized and more and more of the technology components in the organization, there is more reason for organizations to oursource more of their IT functions.
For enterprise apps, for instance, the cloud era seems to be one of short implementation lifecycles, far less customization, agile development, and accelerators. This means that for services organizations, this is a whole new paradigm, with the sales folks not keen on selling these engagements as the revenue potential from these is much less, and yet, organizations have more focus on cloud engagements. Services organizations would need to change the engagement model, probably with more shared-delivery in implementation projects, and reducing the distinction between implementation and support engagements from a delivery perspective.
In today’s work environment, disaggregated systems are a reality. As much as ERP vendors would like to push for one, centralized system, this doesnt seem to be becoming a reality. Quite of a few of the systems seem to have been integrated in a large number of organizations, but this is something which is an ongoing process, though i am not sure how far this is going. Which is something Rachel Happe has written about in her post about The Future of the Social Web. Interesting reading …
The way i like to look at it, systems within the organization can be classified as personal (ok, so you might put productivity tools as part of this classification), and enterprise apps. Personal systems, like IM, blogs, wikis, communities are tools you use to enhance your way of working. Enterprise apps, on the other hand (i reckon ERP to be probably the largest piece here), are those which you are told to use by the organization (ok, even here, there seem to be islands of information). The point here is, there doesnt seem to be any amount of talking happening between these two disparate systems. As i had written earlier, SAP was working on incorporating components of web 2.0 into their apps (though we havent heard much about this after this, or maybe i missed it … please do let me know!), but one doesnt see them bringing out comprehensive social computing functionality in their apps. As such, the gap between the enterprise and personal tools seems as though it would remain.
And this is one of the sources of information which organizations seem to be missing out on. Between the different terms like Data Warehousing, Business Intelligence (personally, i havent been able to make out the difference, but then, thats not surprising … i have been a Supply Chain consultant for quite some time), and a number of others, there seems to be quite a bit of information that seems to be slipping through. And maybe, this gap is one of the reasons that organizations are not able to make the mostof knowledge which is essentially personal in nature, and gets expressed and shared on the personal platforms, and enterprise apps have no way of accessing this.