HR and Big Data; Jumping the Gun?

Michael Folkman, Jul 19, 2013
Commentary by Stephen Downes

From a human resources (HR) perspective, big data has two potential applications, according to this article:

  • to enable organisations accurately predict the performance of individuals and identify and nurture the behaviours that lead to success
  • widen the recruitment net by trawling social networks, forums etc. looking for people with experience or abilities that are in demand

But Michael Folkman writes, "I’m not convinced that in its current form Big Data going to have the effect that many supporters are claiming." Why not? Because "a person’s performance is not just about that individual." For example, "individuals are rarely able to replicate the success they have in one organisation once they get headhunted into another." Team relationships, organizational culture, and similar factors play a crucial role in outcomes. But it will be hard, I think for governments, organizations and educational institutions to stop thinking of people as 'plug and play' and instead start thinking of them as people situated in specific environments.


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