How your technical staff can help the rest of the company understand what they do.
Big data. What’s so hard to understand about it? Let’s be fair, do IT professionals grok the marketing department’s sales funnel? Or why the people in HR are always referring to a balanced scorecard? Different departments might conceptually understand other departmental objectives—but they may not fully understand how and why it will help the company make money.
Back to big data. Everybody at your company by now has heard that it impacts their job in one way or another. They also likely know that the IT department is the facilitator of this effort. They have to deal with a phenomenon that’s difficult to grasp, because it basically means that they’ve got to find a way to collect anything leaving a digital trace so it can be examined for relevance. Is it any wonder that other departments find it difficult to fathom how this can be done?
Swimming against the tide
The theme of business has been all about specificity and niches for quite some time now. This makes big data somewhat counterintuitive. It’s not about finding anything specific. It’s about spreading your nets as wide as you can to catch as much as possible.
Is all of this data useful right now? Truthfully, no. However, the tools to collect and analyze data are becoming more accessible and less expensive. So, even if it can’t be efficiently used right now, it makes sense for organizations to create the infrastructure right now to capture it for future use.
All departments might agree on this objective, but it still might be a stretch for anyone outside the IT department to see how this actually creates revenue opportunities. How do you build a business case? How do you help other departments see why this is an actionable asset?
The promise of big data for recruiting
Let’s look at this aspect of an organization. The torrents of big data available to any organization—especially from social media feeds—can help companies and their recruitment partners search for talent based on real-world interactions instead of just a resume submitted on a job site.
All of this data can be used to feed computer modeling that will be able to predict whether a person might be willing to consider a job offer, even if they’re not actively looking. Recruitment experts will tell you that passive job seekers are often the best potential candidates for open positions.
Protective legislation and company policies can prevent questions that reveal personal information. That’s important; but certain personality aspects are crucial for organizations to know. These traits ensure that they’re pursuing people who share a congruent philosophical outlook. This is highly beneficial for candidates as well. In terms of a business case, it costs money to pursue and interview candidates that ultimately would not work out. Big data is part of the effort for this cost containment.
Charting the course
This is an exciting opportunity, but there’s an obstacle in the way—and it gets back to what we brought up at the start. Recruiters may be experts in finding talent, but they don’t have a data mindset. That’s an expertise found in a different department. Hard data, numbers, and process thinking is a core competency for IT professionals.
A collaborative partnership between these two departments can lead to success for both. There’s an opportunity to build a business case that tells a compelling story that which can be attached to both potential revenue and expenses.
Here’s an example. Your organization decides to expand operations. It chooses a particular city. Big data collected by the IT department and interpreted by recruitment professionals would be able to determine the likelihood of being able to hire the appropriate talent necessary to successfully launch this expansion.
Traditionally, it’s been leadership who makes these decisions without guidance from available market intelligence. The big data equation allows them to depend on internal expertise for guidance. Instead of telling their recruitment arm, “We want to expand in this location, so go find the local talent there,” they now ask, “Where does it make sense for us to expand, based on available local talent?”
A company can’t operate this way unless it has access to the data that can be used for appropriate interpretations. It’s a clear business case. It also helps everyone in an organization understand the value of big data—and therefore, the reason why IT departments are working so hard to find ways to collect and prepare for its future use.