SMD Prediction Comes True: Leveraging the Right Data

It’s happened again! One of our “Crystal Ball” predictions from last year has come true. Luckily, the proof associated with this prediction can greatly impact the decisions made within your department. Read on to learn more about how the right data harvested correctly can be more impactful than more data.

Prediction from 2016: The Data Balancing Act

We believe that organizations will increasingly understand the value of “Big Data” and will work to connect data sources across their organization to more effectively conduct analytics and strategically answer important business questions. Applause for analytics done correctly!

However, we envision HR still struggling with the balancing act. What we mean by that is, there is a balance between just having more data and having the right data. Think about all the data HR already owns: HRIS, employee surveys, 360 feedback, candidate data from an ATS, performance management ratings, etc. The reality is that lots of data already exists and many practitioners will continue to have an insatiable–and unnecessary in our humble opinion–need for more data.

Our advice to you (if this prediction comes true in your organization): remember that the need is to harvest the power of data to identify drivers of outcomes. HR functions are better off leveraging the intelligence from the data they have instead of racing to gather more data.


Recent real-life examples have provided us with proof that this prediction has come true and is being regularly seen in a variety of industries.

“Data or Die,” to a Certain Extent

Howard Gerver, a self-proclaimed human capital data geek and Founder and President of ACA Managed Services and HR Best Practices, says in a recent interview that, “5 years ago most analyses were limited to data that was sourced from one system due to system constraints as well as limited IT resources … Going forward, expanded HR data sets will continue to be leveraged by best practice organizations. Given the pervasive use of analytics in every part of the enterprise, it will be ‘data or die’ as the C-suite will no longer accept we don’t have the data or we don’t have the technology to access the data.”[i]

There is a fine line between collecting the right data from multiple sources and fighting the insatiable need for more and more data. You must know when you have enough data to begin to leverage it.

Implement Procedures to Process the Data

To see how to harvest the power of the data collected, we can dig into the practices of Fortune 500 financial planning company, AXA. Recently, the HR team at AXA implemented specific internal processes, software solutions and a big data analytics platform that allows them to quickly and efficiently manage and gain insights into what their data is telling them. These processes allow them to accurately leverage the data that they have collected, instead of just collecting more.

Nicole Hazard, AXA’s Head of HR Strategy, Analytics and Innovation, speaks to the biggest challenge they are currently facing in How Fortune 500 Company AXA Leverages Big Data to Drive Employee Retention. She says, “I think we, like many companies, are trying to find a better way to have a more accurate picture of the employee lifecycle. The challenge is that the data associated with all those different touch points reside in different systems. Being able to pull information on training, retention, engagement, and compensation to create a stronger picture of what works and doesn’t work for employees, that’s a real central challenge for most large companies at this point because most of us have somewhat inflexible legacy systems. We’re trying to move from these manual ways of looking at people data to more automatic and insightful approaches. There is a term “data janitor,” meaning that you spend a lot of time trying to make sure your data is clean and that it can be read—our goal is to move from data point to decision-driver.”[ii]

Like AXA, you should also look for ways to pull the impactful information out of the data you have collected. If you can’t extract the helpful information you have hidden in your data, you won’t be able to identify any drivers of outcomes and make the positive changes needed going forward in your company. By the way, we launched last year an Employee Lifecycle integrated solution, in case you, like Nicole at AXA, are looking for that full employee picture.

Prospect Testimonial

We recently talked to a prospect that was doing “surveys all the time” and they said their participation plummeted and people came to hate the process. Our assumption is that they aren’t alone!



[i] Green, E. B. (2017, June). HR Tech and People Analytics: An Interview with Howard Gerver, President and Founder HR Best Practices. Lexology. Retrieved from

[ii] Ongchoco, D. (2017, June) How Fortune 500 Company AXA Leverages Big Data to Drive Employee Retention. Huffington Post. Retrieved from