One company we’ve met in recent weeks is SplashBI. Their marketing message is fairly common: “Use your data to make smarter decisions.” No doubt. That’s the eternal promise of data and especially of the data age we currently reside in (apparently). But as we mentioned earlier today, data isn’t everything because you have to take psychology into account too. When you approach someone in a high position in a company, they might have been working in that industry or vertical for 20+ years. If you come at them with data and that threatens their sense of self-worth (which is very possible), now you have a bigger problem. The data as a threat = the data ain’t getting used = the decision-making ain’t right = your company is just kicking the can.
There’s another problem too.

Who gets their hands on workplace data? 

When we talked with SplashBI founder Kiran Pasham, he brought up this point: all too often, workforce analytics is delivered from the top down (who knows what information gets filtered by the time it hits front-line managers).

The future of business will be more agile teams and business leaders who can react to the speed of business change. That means more levels of an organization need customized workforce analytics.

We’ve heard this stuff before, though, right?

Right. “Customized analytics” is a major marketing message of many in the HCM space. No doubt.

What’s cool about SplashBI is that they break out their analytic suites into function — so there’s a sales function to help you close more deals and do it faster, but also a workforce analytics/HR suite. There are some cool features as well, including “Blend” (put together cross-functional data more easily) and “Analyze” (better decision-making). Plus, Kiran knows his stuff.

I’d say there are a couple of potential issues here:

1. The perception of HR: If HR is viewed as “a compliance function” or “a cost center,” it is less likely for them to be involved in bigger decisions. If the executives view “access to data” is akin to “bigger decisions,” then you’re going to have that issue where business analytics get withheld down the business chain until executives see them as a competitive advantage for HR. Then the filtering stops. It either stops there or stops with the organization getting more agile. “Agile HR” is still largely a buzzword, although it is beginning to happen in some places, notably Roche.

2. The types of people entering HR: Over time, this needs to be more data-driven, data-analytical, high-quality employees. Right now it’s not that. As one of my friends says, “HR is the lowest ceiling of new hires, which is ironic.” You’re going to need to raise HR salaries to get better people in the door to be analyzing this info — or you’re going to need to outsource HR and use software suites like SplashBI to run the numbers, then have them analyzed in another department and make sure “people data” is on at least somewhat equal footing with “financial data.” That’s your second possibility. It can work.

3. Scrubbing data: Garbage in, garbage out. Make sure you have some process for scrubbing what you’ve got coming in. Former RD goddess Katrina Kibben mentioned that just this AM on Twitter.

4. Are analytics problems actually problems of software suites, or are they problems of leadership? I think it might be the latter.

OK, all that said though … SplashBI is a good option in this space, especially if you want to “do more around data.” (Don’t we all?) And as for this headline above, well, no one likes a smart ass even when they have data — but at least if you have data, the smart ass nature is tempered just a little bit, right? What’s that old line? “In {whoever} I trust, all others must bring data?” Awesome. And SplashBI will help you get there.

BTW: I kicked tires on some SplashBI blog posts and this one on “the power of HR hierarchy” is pretty solid.

Ted Bauer

Originally from New York City, Ted Bauer currently lives in Fort Worth, Texas. He's a writer and editor for RecruitingDaily who focuses on leadership, management, HR, recruiting, marketing, and the future of work. His popular blog, The Context of Things, has a simple premise -- how to improve work. Ted has a Bachelors in Psychology from Georgetown and a Masters in Organizational Development from the University of Minnesota. In addition to various blogging and ghost-writing gigs, he's also worked for brands such as McKesson, PBS, ESPN, and more. You can follow Ted on Twitter @tedbauer2003, connect with him on LinkedIn, or reach him on email at [email protected]