HRBoss Blog

HR Leaders respond to The Asia HR Big Data Survey Whitepaper Report 2014

Just 2 weeks after the release of The Asia HR Big Data Survey Whitepaper Report, HRBoss spoke to leading government and HR industry experts to get their take on the Survey results. Read on to find out what they had to say about the state of HR Big Data in Asia.

Speaking to HRBoss, Mr Ow Seng Fong, Divisional Director of the National Human Resources Division at Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM), agreed that “ Big Data’ is a sexier word for business analytics or data, which have been around for quite a long time. It is true that HR professionals grapple with the need to churn out fast, accurate data to make fact-based recommendations, but it does not help that most enterprises deploy a myriad of applications that do not talk to one another… even generating simple queries from the more well-known HRIS systems can be such an onerous process”.

In general, HR leaders understand the excitement surrounding Big Data and the concept of actionable intelligence. Sure, they have an appreciation of how valuable it is to the HR department and business as a whole. But unfortunately, the vast majority of Asia-based HR departments are working with run-of-the-mill systems that simply cannot deliver the data they need, when they need it.

Based on the survey results, 80% of HR believe that they do not have the right tools to add strategic value to the business. This highlights the fact that HR is struggling with multiple disconnected systems, massive amounts of data to process and an increasing appetite for real-time employee data from C-level executives.

Low Zhongming, Talent Management Manager of SMRT Singapore echoes Mr Ow’s views and attributes this to old technology and the expensive cost in implementing Big Data tools. He commented, “The right tools tend to be more costly, so Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) may not have the resources or financials to support this… Multi-National Corporations (MNCs) are generally moving towards securing the right tools, but are hindered by legacy systems.”

Though an awareness of HR Big Data may be less mature in Asia than in the West, HR leaders are shocked by the fact that only 23% of Asia-based HR professionals know what HR Big Data is.
Nonetheless, Ben Davies, Managing Director of leading HR Executive Search firm The Chapman Consulting Group  says that Big Data is increasingly becoming a hot topic in Asia. “We host regular roundtable events for HR leaders across the region, and the topic of data analytics is coming up with an increasing frequency. Retention, succession planning, the rise of Asian talent- these are still key areas of interest for the Asia-based HR professional, but we are certainly seeing an emerging interest in talent analytics.”

The survey showed that whilst 79% claim that a Big Data strategy is a priority in 2014...a massive 98% have no Big Data strategy in place. Across the board, the industry thought-leaders we interviewed expressed surprise at the huge disconnect between perceived importance and action.

Dr Peter O'Hanlon, Chief Analytics Officer of Onetest, aptly points out that though there is a strong consensus amongst HR community that “Big Data will be transformative as it has been in many other domains, equally strong however is the belief that the opportunities associated with tapping into novel data to generate new kinds of insight are not yet well understood.”

Ultimately, in this digital age where every activity has a data footprint, HR leaders ought to overcome roadblocks and work towards a data-driven strategy for their department.

“Companies are currently still struggling with building the basis of strategic tools and cannot afford to focus in depth where their future relies:  the Human Capital” says Caroline Sirieix, Regional Human Resources Manager Air France KLM, who believes that there is hope for HR Big Data in Asia once HR acquires the right analytical tools to work with. She also adds on to share a more optimistic view about the HR Big Data situation in Asia saying that “the survey and its report really confirms that Big Data is about the shift towards modernized HR practices, from Administrative role of HR teams to Talent management focus.”

To read the full HR Big Data Survey Whitepaper Report, please follow the link here for a free download.