2018 HR Analytics Predictions Series: Part III-IV

ICYMI, we issued two of our predictions via our blog (intro and #2) last month. We are giving you the cliff-notes version of our final two here, but you can read more fully about all four in our white paper. If you are an auditory learner, you can hear about each in our recent webinar (recording here).

#3 HR Analytics Capabilities Become the Norm

It is now pretty clear to most HR professionals that predictive analytics is not going away (again this is another positive trend). SMD has been a leading provider of predictive analytics for 10 years now. In fact, SHRM will be publishing our third book on the topic in 2018. We are seeing most mid-size to large organizations make a concerted effort to invest and build substantial HR analytics capabilities. It took a bit of time to get there, but most organizations are at least in the process at this point. This transition will take some time, but the bottom line is that the transition is definitely occurring.

As such, organizations are working through several issues as they build out capabilities, like:

  • What to “buy” and what to “build?” – Should we enlist the help of external vendors or build internal capabilities?
  • Where to focus? From data warehousing to predictive analytics, there is a ton of work to be done to get a project off the ground. Where do we start to be successful?!
  • When to invest in supporting technology? There are a lot of new technologies coming to the market touting analytics, machine learning, algorithms, etc. – which are worth the investment?
  • Red flag! How do we ensure we’re truly doing HR analytics correctly, and not just building tracking dashboards?

Again, this prediction is a good thing for HR. However, the journey is long, complicated, and full of potential pitfalls. Have a strategy to ensure you end up at the targeted destination.

#4 Machine Learning and AI in HR Will Fail Before It Succeeds

HR is getting bombarded with the next set of trending vernacular – specifically artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Outside of HR the most prominent example we hear about is self-driving cars. In time, AI and machine learning will drastically change the world of HR. However, the hype of these concepts is much greater than the practical applications. In fact, some companies are touting machine learning that is simply the application of macro algorithms – these examples are light on the “learning” part. Further, the statistical rigor behind these concepts is based on weak analysis (i.e., correlation) and should be taken with a grain of salt.

As an HR practitioner, what does this mean for you? This is another place where a healthy dose of skepticism is warranted. The truth is we are probably years, and maybe decades, from real machine learning and AI drastically impacting our day-to-day operations. Many companies have been using algorithms to prioritize learnings and recommend actions. SMD has been doing this through our SMD Link platform for years now. The appropriate conclusion is that the hype may be a little ahead of the technology – especially in HR. There are a few reasons for this: (1) Predicting human behavior and/or performance is difficult and complex and (2) AI has difficulty applying context.

The prediction here is that the hype for AI and machine learning in HR will be just that – hype. Try to avoid jumping on this bandwagon – unless you figure out how to overcome some of the existing barriers. If you do, please call us.