The concepts of big data and data analytics are nearing ubiquity, especially as human resources teams work to address challenges like retention and reporting requirements associated with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. But just because more data exists, efforts to use this data to streamline human resources are still a work in progress.


More than 60 percent of businesses surveyed are hoping data-driven initiatives can improve the quality of their decisions, and more than a majority – 57 and 51 percent, respectively – hope to improve planning and forecasting, as well as the speed at which they make decisions, Louis Columbus writes for, citing research from IDG Enterprise’s 2015 Big Data and Analytics study. “The number of enterprises who have deployed (or) implemented data-driven projects increased 125 percent in the last year, with 42 percent still planning data implementations as of today,” Columbus writes.


But while businesses obviously have high hopes for the power of such data, the implementation may not be going as well as expected, possibly because of basic flaws. “Research advisory firm Gartner estimates companies will experience an information crisis by 2017 due to their inability to effectively value, govern and trust their enterprise data,” writes Aliah D. Wright for the Society of Human Resource Management.


And when it comes to HR, many departments might not yet have reached the sweet spot of being able to use employee data to predict their behavior, such as their likeliness to depart for another job, writes Bouree Lam for The Atlantic. “Research shows that only 4 percent of large companies can make meaningful predictions about their workforces,” Lam writes, “while 90 percent can accurately predict business metrics such as budgets, financial results, and expenses.


“Can human-resources analytics do enough to capture the behavior and preferences of its endlessly complex subjects: humans?” Lam cites Josh Bersin, founder of Bersin by Deloitte, an HR research and advisory arm of Deloitte, who points out that both small and large companies using HR analytics are those that work innovatively. However, the key to using HR data in the future will require human analysis. And that effective analysis requires a plan and the right tools, Wright writes for SHRM. Research from Rosslyn Analytics, she writes, has shown nearly half of those it surveyed said “the single biggest barrier was trying to figure out how to utilize data from far too many sources and of different types.”


The next-most-challenging obstacle was poor data quality, the survey found. Paylocity offers tools to help your company easily manage and analyze its HR data, including Point-in-Time Reporting and HR Insight Charts. “Harnessing all of the data that is out there may seem daunting, but it really isn’t – if companies first develop a plan,” Wright writes.