What is Big Data?
Data comes from many sources; climate sensors, blog posts, social media, mobile phones, GPS devices and cameras, to name just a few. And the more we rely on technology, and the more we interact with each other using technology, the more data will become available.
In 2012, Gartner updated its definition of Big Data to:
"Big data is high-volume, high-velocity, and/or high-variety information assets that require new forms of processing to enable enhanced decision making, insight discovery and process optimization."
Douglas, Laney. "The Importance of 'Big Data': A Definition". Gartner. Retrieved 21 June 2012.
This can be summarised as the 3 V's - Volume, Velocity and Variety. High volume will not be a huge concern for recruiters for some time (i.e. we are not talking anywhere near the volumes collected by banks). Velocity and variety, however, will be of importance.
Big Data = Big Business
With the emergence of advanced and new analytics techniques, businesses can make informed insights from their data and become more agile. They will be able to pull information from many different sources including, of course, social media.
In fact this industry is big business. In 2010 the data management and analytics industry on its own was worth more than $100 billion, and is growing at almost 10% a year.
How easy is it to use Big Data?
Social media is a massive source of Big Data but it is by no means the only source - it is very easy to forget this. Big Data is all the data you collect, no matter where from or in what form; and with all this data, analytics technology has to evolve because in many instances it is not quite there yet.
Many companies are trying to utilise the vast amounts of data we create on a daily basis. Google has recently released its Google Now feature, which utilises elements of Big Data for its analytics and "cards". These "cards" give the user notifications about useful events, tasks and other information such as weather and travel. Whilst a great start, it is not yet perfect and many businesses are still trying to find a way to make commercial gains from this kind of data.
Old fashioned methods
Big data can be expensive to use. If you are truly dealing with high volumes of data, expensive data infrastructures and software systems need to be deployed. Many large organisations such as the major mobile network providers actually delete a lot of data that could be useful as it is too costly to keep. However, within the scope of recruitment it is highly unlikely that the data collected is ever going to be this large. It is also tricky to use successfully as statistics and data can often be misinterpreted. There are also moral considerations when deciding on what data to use and how to use it, not to mention privacy and security issues.
Traditional methods of making decisions and gaining actionable information and insights should not be forgotten. Focus groups, questionnaires etc. are still just as valuable as they have always been; they are very easy and cost effective to setup, plus they can be more targeted.
Big Data and Recruitment / HR
For Eploy at the moment (and many HR and Recruitment Systems) the key thing about Big Data is utilising the methods and ideas it brings. Primarily this means maximising the data that is collected throughout the recruitment, onboarding and employment process.
It does not take long to realise the benefits of using a candidates' previous aspirations, achievements and skill sets, as well as the results from behavioural and psychometric testing, in your talent management or recruitment processes.
Significantly, this will help with strategic resource planning for specific projects and succession planning. The data can be used to evaluate risks and identify potential talent for roles - talent that previously would have gone under the radar. It will enable you to get the most out of existing candidates by analysing what they do compared to what they are capable of doing.
However, we should remain cautious when considering using Big Data; people change and do a person's buying habits reflect their employability? In other words how relevant is all this data when recruiting.