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The world is awash with data. From optimizing supply chains to understanding customer sentiment, from tracking the spread of contagious disease to predicting churn — data and algorithms have given us incredible leverage in business and in life. Although the field of business analytics was born in the 1950s, it was only in the past decade that we saw an exponential increase in our ability to capture data, analyze it, derive insights, and take timely action. Always-on data and predictive intelligence are transforming how we view the world and make decisions.
I saw this first-hand at Turn, where we created one of the first data-powered online advertising platforms. Whereas in the past, internet marketing was largely based on a “Mad Men” world of hunches and anecdotes, the shift to using real-time data, visualization, and algorithms dramatically boosted the effectiveness of ad campaigns and gave marketers a nuanced understanding of their audience — and brought us closer to a truly personalized Internet.
The fact is, in today’s high-velocity world, having timely information at your fingertips can make all the difference between staying ahead of the competition and going out of business.
It’s HR’s turn
The modern organization has changed, too. We face a new economic reality where many skill sets are becoming obsolete and software is eating the world. We now have globally distributed workforces and a digital culture that is always on. Millennials are no longer newcomers to the workforce — they have already become the majority.
HR leaders, managers, and organizational psychologists are struggling to understand the nature of today’s workplace as it changes under their feet. Do you know what drives your employees? What makes them happier and more productive at work? What about millennials? Or people in your Asia-Pacific locations? Do the investments you make in your employees actually affect their performance? Who are your top performers? How can you empower and motivate other employees to excel?
Until now, technology companies have largely failed to provide people-operations teams with the tools they need to understand and develop their organizations. The old methods are neither scalable nor actionable; they are intrusive, slow, and mostly irrelevant now. Annual surveys are always a year too late. Binders filled with paper reports cannot give you the answers that interactive visualizations and smart predictive insights can. Timely course correction is not an option when you are stuck with data that’s not up to date.
People analytics can help organizations compete
For years, researchers and firms like Gallup and Deloitte have reported the link between employee engagement and company performance. Some of the world’s most successful companies — including Google, Procter & Gamble, Harrah’s, Progressive, Starbucks, and even the soccer team AC Milan – are investing heavily in people analytics to help power organizational change with great results. These analytics help organizations make more informed, strategic decisions about their people. Best Buy, for example, found that every 0.1 percent increase in employee engagement was worth $100,000 annually at a single store. This led the company to hold employee engagement surveys on a quarterly basis, not just annually.
A vision for people operations
People-operations teams need easy-to-use tools that put data at their fingertips, allowing them to make informed decisions based on meaningful insights. Organizational behavior and change should be guided by data that links attitudinal employee feedback with key performance indicators, along with demographic information and historical data, to generate insights that cut across function, culture, engagement, and outcomes.
With Glint’s new platform, designed for the digital age, we’re excited to help people operations bring the same scientific approach used successfully in a number of other fields to guide decision making.
Goutham Kurra is a cofounder of Glint.
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