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These are strategies for staying grounded in a data deluge

By alexaqz
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

The executive suite is awash in data. Ninety percent of the world’s data has been generated in the last two years, and storage cost per gigabyte has fallen from $11,000 to 3 cents since 1990. Decision makers see great potential in this vast pool of increasingly affordable information to generate insights that help drive business growth, but as interest intensifies, so too does the deluge of untapped and unutilized data.

Unfortunately many data management efforts barely tread water. PwC reports that while only 3% of new digital data is tagged and 0.5% is analyzed, 23% of all digital data would be useful after both treatments. Decision makers acknowledge the resulting deficiencies in strategic workforce intelligence—less than half of surveyed CEOs report using analytics to better utilize the skills their employees possess.

In the face of huge volumes of data, this struggle is understandable. As with any large, multifaceted endeavor, knowing where to start is half the battle.

One area where the most capable and ambitious managers are continuously putting data to work is in the process of resource allocation. Thanks to the segmentation of important data across various silos, functions, and geographies, companies often struggle to accurately forecast their company’s resource needs. Proactive managers are using analytics to bridge the gap between HR and finance data to make planning efforts more robust. The cross-functional data capabilities being used are diverse, and range from tracking peak business hours against headcount to optimizing the impact of changing salary costs on margins.

Of course, an optimized workforce won’t produce much amid constant employee turnover–and turnover costs a fortune. A well-equipped and informed HR team knows when to step in before a rock star talent exits stage left. Analytical heft allows companies to match industry hiring trends with employee behavior and performance indicators to identify possible departure risks.

Likewise, targeted data insights can help talent teams stay on top of the fierce competition to fill critical positions as the economy improves and technology helps skilled workers wander. Seventy-eight percent of CEOs plan to grow headcount. Big data analysis offers the ability to tag and track job titles on a massive scale, enabling recruiters to drill into the different skill sets their companies need and gain visibility into how these skills correspond to job titles and applicants in the job market.

Even a well-managed, contented workforce will require adjustment and improvement as the organization evolves and expands. Growth challenges may require a fresh evaluation of how individuals and business units fit into a streamlined corporate structure. But for companies whose operations span continents, understanding how these smaller elements contribute to the whole organization can be difficult. Large-scale analysis of metrics like cost per employee, sales quotas, and asset allocation within functions can provide a true picture of overall value.

The big data boom isn’t much help to business decision makers unless they understand the practical, powerful ways analytics can help a company. From staffing to implementation, finance to HR, data is the great untapped resource for multinational companies. By carefully matching specific problems with tailored analytical solutions, executives who harness the power of data to make decisions have a leg up on the competition.

Learn how

Workday can help harness advanced data science to make smarter enterprise decisions.

This article was produced on behalf of Workday by the Quartz marketing team and not by the Quartz editorial staff.

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