23 Jun 2015 21:01 IST

"Data-driven decisions are directly related to performance"

Andrew Lafontaine (inset), Senior Director of HCM Strategy and Transformation at Oracle

Research shows only 15% of the organisations are using data to make decisions

Andrew Lafontaine, Senior Director of HCM Strategy and Transformation at Oracle, and a speaker at SHRM’s HR Tech Conference, spoke to BLoC on the role of data in transforming HR and hiring. Excerpts:

Many organisations use data while making hiring decisions, whereas, an HBR article says, most managers would take a call based on their gut feeling. Do you think data can trump instinct while hiring?

Most organisations still make instinct-based decisions, but the organisations that do use data are significantly improving their decision making. Research shows only 15 per cent of the organisations are using data to make decisions but of that 15 per cent around 12 per cent are getting returns over and above the organisation’s returns performance. So, I think when one is making data-driven decisions there’s a direct correlation to how an organisation is performing. There is always going to be a component of when the managers need to show their judgement. But data helps them make some of these calls in addition to their own reasons.

I think, it’s data and managers. There is always going to be a component of line managers’ judgement because we are dealing with people that cannot be replaced.

What kind of insights can HR get from data?

There are two sets of data: one is the HR data – that’s your traditional performance, capabilities data, and so on, and now the tools can really manipulate that data and help line managers to improve their decision-making.

But one of the emerging trends now is the use of big data and combining that with existing data. For instance, looking at sales data such as a sales-person’s customer set and performance in terms of sales targets, and setting this against where this person is recruited from and what synergy he or she will bring, will influence the decision on whether this person needs to be recruited.

Some companies are still using traditional data but others are moving up the curve and applying much more data to have a fuller view of where organisations are going.

Often, there is excess data which may not mean anything… how can this be avoided?

The companies need to know what they are trying to achieve from the data. Data comes from various places: within the organisation, or from LinkedIn, Facebook and so on. Not being able to use data intelligently is a big concern and needs to be dealt with. Organisations should have specific objectives on what they aim to obtain from different sets of data relating to, say, sales performance or customer service.

What kind of traits do companies look for in B-school graduates?

Some organisations are using data-sets to build profiles of potential candidates, the reasons for their success, and why they should be hired.

Currently, most organisations still recruit for a particular job profile but not for the leadership capabilities and so on. So, while hiring fresh graduates, we can still look for a potential leader and recruit for the job profile as well.

What are the qualities and potential that companies consider?

Organisations like people who demonstrate the ability to innovate. Those who can look at an organisation and come up with a better way to do something, who can challenge and innovate.

The few traditional qualities include communication skills. We live in such a connected world people need to be good at communicating. I think, the final one is the ability to collaborate. Research shows that organisations that have network-collaborative performance — people who collaborate and work together — will add more value than just individual performers.

What are the trends in HR you expect to see?

Innovation in technology will continue. The use of digital within HR functions is only going to accelerate over the next 12 months or two years. And that’s going to force HR functions to operate differently to leverage technology.

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