How technology can democratize people analytics

Posted by Kathi Enderes, and Matthew Shannon on June 27, 2019.

If you could look into the future and see which decisions will have the greatest impact on your organization’s business outcomes, would you? Undoubtedly, most people would answer with a resounding, “Yes!”” Organizations have an abundance of people data, and many understand they need to use that information for improved performance and productivity. But while analytics technology has advanced, global productivity remains weak, contributing to a gap between the possible and the actual, with no easy way to close it.

Our research shows that the typical people analytics team is small, with less than five members. And the talent market for data scientists with skills to analyze people data is tight—it’s even been referred to as the hottest job of 2019. Our research on today’s people analytics market explores ways in which solutions can narrow the gap between potential and actual productivity, democratizing data to the broader workforce. The technology capabilities offered are powerful tools for optimizing data and helping managers and workers make informed decisions to enable increased productivity and performance—and better business outcomes.

Expanding people analytics beyond HR to managers—and individuals

Most organizations use people data for tactical reporting. Much of the data can go unused, leading to missed opportunities to leverage it as a critical enabler of business success. The imperative to boost productivity with informed and insightful people decisions has never been stronger. Today, people analytics solutions offer preconfigured use cases for common people challenges: finding better applicants; improving hiring; and increasing retention, engagement, and performance. These outcomes are possible when organizations not only make sense of data but also derive actionable insights that add value to the organization and bring them to the people who need to act on them—and ultimately take action that results in outcomes.

The figure below shows an analysis of common people analytics use cases supported by today’s technology solutions. The most widely available preconfigured use cases, retention and engagement, support challenges from the HR perspective. The use cases that support improvements to individual productivity, collaboration, and work assignments, however, are less available in the market. As more organizations strive to take action from people analytics analyses, solutions can extend capabilities and use cases to the broader workforce, scaling impact to many versus the few.

Availability of preconfigured use cases in people analytics solutions

Source: High-Impact People Analytics Solution survey, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP, 2019.

Solutions help derive value from people analytics

According to our High-Impact People Analytics study, more than 70 percent of organizations surveyed invested in improving people analytics in the past year. As with customer data, organizations have millions of data points about their people: demographic and performance data, job history, compensation, training, wellness, skills, and so on. People analytics solutions offer capabilities that can correlate and match the different types of business data important to organizations and offer predictive insights for decision-making. What’s more, features such as point-and-click interfaces and role-specific dashboards that call out areas of attention and suggest actions allow workers outside of dedicated analysts and data scientists to more easily use these insights. Solutions offer several options for augmenting analytics capabilities, affording the opportunity to distribute data processing widely across organizations.

Capabilities that support analyses help workers understand what is going on in the organization. People analytics solutions compile data from a variety of sources, including HR operational data, communication data, and external sources such as government databases or proprietary benchmarked datasets. Because people analytics solutions augment human analytics activities, solutions present analyses in a highly visualized and intuitively consumable manner. For example, a data-visualized dashboard that is color coded to areas of urgency can help workers understand and act on data. Further capabilities go beyond simply reporting information to prescribing action. Action-oriented capabilities can assist workers by prompting specific behaviors, such as recognizing when it has been a long time since taking a computer break. As organizations grapple with disruption and change, the analytics reinforcement of behavior at the individual level can help bolster productivity and performance.

Closing the gap on people and analytics

Closing the productivity gap is everyone’s challenge and in everyone’s interest, and part of the solution lies in leveraging data and analytics. While people analytics activities have traditionally been performed by analytical teams, organizations today have an opportunity to extend analysis and action from people data to the workforce, thereby cutting out the middle person and driving action at the point needed. As organizations explore this opportunity, they will also encounter important regulatory and ethical considerations regarding explained purpose and informed consent. People analytics solution providers can help organizations tackle this challenge and prepare them for the future, scaling people analytics impact and enabling people to benefit from their own data. It’s a win-win.

Anyone can access our Market Primer – an introduction and overview of our People Analytics Solutions research series. Bersin members can access our full market research in our People Analytics Solutions series, which includes the Market Primer,Market Findings, Market Capabilities and Differentiators, and Vendor Profiles. Additional resources include our People Analytics Solutions: Market Navigator, which serves as a guide to help organizations understand the current availability of solution capabilities and where to find them, and our People Analytics Solutions Capabilities Checklists and Evaluation, a tool for assessing current capabilities and evaluating new ones.

Kathi Enderes PhD, is a vice president and the talent and workforce research leader at Bersin™, Deloitte Consulting LLP.

Matthew Shannon is a senior research analyst at Bersin™, Deloitte Consulting LLP.

1 “Total Economy Database™—Key Findings, The Conference Board, April 2019,
2 Seven Top Findings for Driving High-Impact People Analytics, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP / Madhura Chakrabarti, 2017.
3 “’Data Scientist’ is the hottest profession of 2019 according to job-listing data,” Thinknum / Joshua Fruhlinger, 2019,
4 A “use case” provides a description of a sequence of interactions between actors and the system necessary to complete a specific goal or function. Use cases are often co-authored by systems analysts and end-users and are presented as a sequence of simple steps.

5 Seven Top Findings for Driving High-Impact People Analytics, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP / Madhura Chakrabarti, 2017.

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