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How Should We Use Big Data?

How should our HR department be using big data? And how do we begin? —HR senior consultant, services, Abu Dhabi

Many HR professionals would say: "If management thinks something is HR's problem, we find a way to take it on." As common as that view is, it seems unlikely to occur with big data as currently defined—one quintillion bytes, or an exabyte.

A typical big data effort involves data on a massive scale: cross-functional leadership across multiple parts of the enterprise, high commitment and higher IT budgets. It's all geared to tap a wellspring of potentially transformative business intelligence that leaders—especially those deal directly with customers—are clamoring for, along with a long sequence of evolutionary steps.

Nevertheless, big data has applications for smaller HR functions as well. One example is the use of multiyear searchable data on employee performance in filling key vacancies. If your organization retains this type of data, and is committed to employee development, a customized big-data application may enable you to find qualified internal candidates more quickly by searching across departments or divisions.

It's only one small example, but get ready for the future: big data is here to stay, and your human resources function should be prepared.

SOURCE: Harold Fethe is vice president of human resources, Anacor Pharmaceuticals, Palo Alto, California, and consults on organizational design and development.

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.