Operations Capgemini: Business Analytics (UK)

Unstructured data analytics: the HR perspective


Priyam Modi

February 14, 2017

The International Data Corporation (IDC) forecasts, that big data and business analytics global revenue will grow from nearly $122 billion in 2015 to more than $187 billion in 2019, an increase of nearly 50 % over the forecast period. While Gartner predicts that by 2020, predictive and prescriptive analytics will attract 80% of the enterprise BI&A investment. Big data, without doubt continues to be strategically leveraged to add value.

Big data is all encompassing. The sphere of influence is seen across all business functions such as manufacturing, finance, marketing and operations. HR is no different.  Broadly speaking, HR analytics is a specialized field of analytics which leverages analytical processes and insights to support end to end decision making. From recruitment to retention, HR analytics provides critical inputs for shaping major business policies.

As HR analytics gradually finds acceptance, organizations have started adopting recruitment analytics, payroll and compensation analytics, performance analytics and attrition analytics to drive insights.

Text Analytics: the context

Data primarily comes in two forms:  structured and unstructured. Structured data refers to data which comes in fixed fields or formats, e.g. employee records in company databases.  The other types of analytics mentioned above are examples of structured data analytics

Unstructured data is the complete opposite and is not in a fixed or predefined format, e.g. social media comments and emails.

Gleaning insights from unstructured data is a complex process and thus it is not surprising that organizations prioritize structured data over unstructured data for analytics.

Organization’s increased focus on being more customer – centric, coupled with the explosive growth of social media, makes it imperative for the firms to leverage as much as possible from unstructured data.

Marketing department of an organization needs to continuously listen to its key stakeholder viz. the customer for feedback which helps the organization in product or service refinement. If an analogy is to be drawn, HR too has its critical stakeholders.

Text analytics: the HR applicability

Now, let us understand how unstructured data from each of the stakeholders helps organizations get insights:

1.   Employees: As people continue to be active on social media, a lot of employee experiences, expectations and employer reviews spill over to external medium.

These expressions are just not restricted to external platforms, with some companies adopting internal social media platforms like Yammer, Chatter and IBM Connections, they are now sitting on a huge pool of data which help them understand employee sentiments, aspirations and expectations.

As an example, we have worked with a leading conglomerate to understand the employee sentiment during a global campaign, run on their internal platform and aimed at interacting with the company CEO.

We have also been involved in data analytics projects where organizations have rolled out internal thematic surveys to garner employee views on specific concern areas

2.   Prospective employees:  Like prospective customers doing detailed research before buying a product, these days, prospective employees actively seek information about the company on web, on social media sites and job portals. Queries and responses act as a rich source of data to allow them to understand overall employee expectations, sentiments and the company’s performance on various HR parameters.

3.   Labor unions: The majority of trade unions are active on Twitter and Facebook. In the event of a major labor policy announcement or even company-wide issues such as strike, we have seen active social media engagement from stakeholders such as trade unions and employees.

4.   Government bodies / departments:  Labor policies on issues such as outsourcing, immigrant labor, pensions and pay reforms are regularly debated on social media. Categorical insights from these can provide critical inputs for framing policies and decision making.

5.   Trade bodies / industrial bodies: Many top industrial bodies are now active on Twitter and they use the platform to share industry updates and trends which can help organizations structure their HR policies.

6.   Miscellaneous: A lot of thought leadership content, expertise and trends to do with HR policies are made available on social media by HR bloggers, subject matter experts and niche consultancy firms. These can also help shape the HR policies of the organization.

In an employee centric field like HR, it takes more than quantitative focused insights to delve deep into employee sentiments, expectations and aspirations. Text analytics is definitely a step forward and can ably complement quantitative based analytics.


This article was written by Priyam Modi from Capgemini: Business Analytics (UK) and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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