Posted: March 23rd, 2023

The Use of Big Data in Human Resource Management


HR management data is defined according to the context. It depends on the company, industry, or the expert offering it. Big Data refer to the collection of a huge amount of information and intricate data sets from wide sources (Giuffrida, 2014). In particular, big data initiatives are encompassed by three criteria. The first criterion is volume, which entails enormous usage of data sets. The second one is the variety of data streaming in from multiple sources. The last criterion is velocity, which indicates the increased pace at which the data is created and incorporated into the process of analysis (eQuest, 2013). In addition, the speed at which the data is used in the real time as it undergoes the streaming process is of essence. This paper aims to provide a persuasive argument for the importance of Big Data in Human resources and other aspects that have encouraged its adoption in global businesses.

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Many organizations encounter challenges in developing the capacity to tap into and extract the value of Big Data information. In fact, it requires resources and expertise to normalize, acquire, analyze, and process Big Data in real time. In the recent past, computing and technology limitations hindered the development and usage of Big Data analysis. In fact, those companies that wanted to glean insights regarding their business practices had to scrutinize the smaller amount of data from a scarce number of sources. However, Big Data has completely changed this forever. In fact, just as Google has enabled the layperson to search any information from the web with a number of key words, the next generation of big data is connecting employees with the data landscape of their company (O’brien, 2014).

Big Data & HR: Made for One Another

Human Resources and Big Data are a natural fit. In fact, much of the enterprise’s internal data is already at HR’s disposal. The HR department invests in systems and software devoted to reporting, capturing, and storing the data of its people securely. The department has spent most of its time investing in solutions that keep on managing the human capital efficiently (eQuest, 2013).

Recently, the HR department has been experiencing a gradual movement toward the analytic style of Big Data. They used anecdotal evidence that required the HR department to make hiring decisions and human capital based on hunches, opinions, and past experiences. Before the data gathering tools and cost-effective computing became available, the HR department would conduct counts and ‘data dumps’ to bolster their decision-making. In addition, before true talent management, HR would examine hiring metrics and internal sourcing using internal metrics. This marked the beginning of the talent management approach.

Another indication that shows the connection between Big Data and HR is the use of descriptive analytics. The HR shifts towards data analysis through observing the information and analyzing those past events to have an insight on how to tackle future hiring decisions and sourcing. Lastly, HR applies predictive analytics to Big Data to determine and anticipate future results of human capital decisions. This represents a momentous leap in terms of extracting value from the collected data (eQuest, 2013).

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The Big Data in the 21st Century

The arrival of Big Data has created an unprecedented opportunity for HR. Companies have become more data-driven, strategic, and analytical in acquiring talent. Earlier, HR spent time and resources looking for better ways to apply analytics and metrics in decision-making in its human capital, which were not forthcoming. Currently, the new technologies enable HR to unify its data with another unprecedented amount of data from outside sources. This enables evidence-based decisions of the management to improve the department’s profile as a strategic partner in senior leadership (eQuest, 2013). Therefore, when it comes to job boards, the management continues to tap into active job seekers.

In today’s world, more evolved job boards present reliable information, and the needs of HR to leverage this information so that the required talent is discovered. In addition, the increased numbers of software vendors have enabled the gathering and analyzing of talent-related data. Therefore, HR can consult those experts for assistance in launching talent-related initiatives of Big Data.

The Importance of Big Data in HR

When HR uses data, it gathers business intelligence on events and things that had already occurred. However, through predictive analysis, the big data can reveal to HR professionals why an event happened and using this fact, they make a thoughtful forecast. Indeed, the predictive nature of data analysis is changing the role of HR for the better. The use of data alone by HR was merely anecdotal and was based on solid data and little analysis (O’Brien, 2014).

The use of data analysis has enabled HR to make predictions, create a success roadmap, spot trends, and have a conservation with the company’s stakeholders based on solid facts. Therefore, HR must ask relevant queries, rendering the data analytics relevant. In addition, HR must start with the right questions, followed by analyzing the trends and, eventually, predicting the anticipated trends. Using data analytics in management helps the company maximize returns on the investment of the workforce. Next, predictive analysis assists the company in maximizing employees’ investment returns and helps HR to understand if an increase in recruitment cost will increase the chances of getting the right candidate who will fit in the company’s culture (Rai & Abhilasha, 2014).

Big Data allows HR to test theories, conduct intricate predictive analytics related to hiring and sourcing strategies, and proactively solve existing problems. In addition, the HR is able to capitalize on the vast amount of data and powerful technologies to come up with evidence-based decisions and then act on those decisions swiftly. This creates a competitive advantage in looking for talent and effective execution of business strategies.

In fact, HR hires for a reason since it immediately needs talents to execute its business objectives. When sourcing is uninformed, the hiring process will be delayed, leading to poor candidate selection, and hence the business objectives are not achieved. Big Data can eliminate the existing biases among hiring managers and senior decision-makers. Instead of relying on beliefs, instincts, and opinions, Big Data and computing technologies assist in identifying the desirable hiring outcomes.

HR Opportunities Offered by Big Data

The opportunity offered by Big Data has created a platform for HR to become evidence-based and adopt more strategic ways in business operations. Notably, many companies across the globe are investing in Big Data; for instance, Wall Street Journal reported that more than 85% of fortune 1000 executives are establishing projects that will see their businesses benefit from data collection. In addition, Big Data will account for an increase in global IT spending from $28 billion to $34 billion by the end of 2013 (eQuest, 2013). However, it is not clear how those businesses will extract their real value from the collected data.

Nevertheless, companies are already oversupplied with data; therefore, they know there could be value to be mined from the data, but they are unaware of how to unearth the insights from this unstructured data. In addition, they are in a dilemma on how to act swiftly on their findings with purpose and speed. By and large, those challenges are anticipated since we are entering a new frontier of Big Data that has not been mapped out yet (Holley, 2014).

Amidst those challenges, Big Data still offers the biggest business opportunity for human resources. The opportunity to focus on evidence-based decisions for human capital and a chance to solidify the reputation of HR as a strategic partner who is analytic-driven is an important feat in the acquisition of talents. In essence, the whole process entails hiring the right candidates into the company, at the right duration, and for the first time. In addition, it means developing candidate selection and sourcing, hastening the hiring process, easing costs, and eventually creating a competitive advantage.

Big Data, Talent Acquisition, and Job Boards

Talent acquisition is instrumental in Big Data because HR views talent as a crucial component of an organization’s success. The CEOs need to spend much of their time developing talent to ensure that their company meets their organizational goals. Evidently, it is important to find the right types of talent and the source of those talents. Big Data is instrumental in searching for the talent. It shows the employer the sources with the greatest probability of generating the required job candidates (Rai & Abhilasha, 2014). The employers are required to leverage a mix of strategies in sourcing to put up their talent pipelines. Careful employers are keen to allocate their resources, such as time, people, and money to those activities that will yield optimal outcomes. Big Data can identify the most effective sources and the anticipated volume of candidate flow with greater precision and accuracy. Therefore, the competitive advantage of recognizing in advance the sources that will produce the best result is evident.

HR will always have a considerable amount of internal data. Therefore, there will always be an opportunity to speed its Big Data initiatives by collaborating externally with partners who process additional data. In fact, this is the best approach for those organizations that cannot afford the required infrastructure to invest in Big Data.

Specifically, we can see the advantages of Big Data in business at request. Indeed, eQuest can furnish employers with an analysis of board performance records of more than a billion historical jobs. This information would include the patterns of candidates to job postings and assist in forecasting the online sources which would supply the most candidates. In addition, it would show the cost-effective source and do the analysis faster (eQuest, 2013).

Job boards are one of the top sources that reach active job seekers and offer information for HR departments and employers, representing a feasible initial step into the Big Data world. However, most HR will not have the storage capacity and computing power to initiate the Big Data process. Therefore, they sought assistance from external partners who have successfully initiated Big Data capabilities. In this connection, eQuest understands how to use various job boards and their performance to meet the set objectives. eQuest helps HR how to conduct benchmarking, enjoy the maximum benefits of job board investment, and how to quantify their sourcing results (eQuest, 2013). They also deliver labor market intelligence that helps the company identify talent demand and supply dynamics in local, regional, global, and niche markets. These dynamics include talent shortages and surpluses, risks, salary-related and economic trends, and attrition.

The Importance of the Human Element

Despite the adoption and relative use of Big Data, many HR are losing the focus on the importance of the human element. This can be expected since the technological and technical aspects are bound to overwhelm them. However, the fact remains, Big Data would be of little assistance if the aspects of the human element were absent. In fact, the real value of the application and usage of Big Data is anchored in the answers it can give, its ability to assist business users in asking new questions that previously had not been answered, and the insights it can offer. Therefore, Big Data will only achieve its ultimate goal when the information is analyzed, interpreted, reported, and used to achieve the organization’s success. In this context, the impact of Big Data could be a mirage if HR does not initiate the application of Big Data especially during talent acquisition (Bersin, 2014).

Consequently, HR should be at the forefront in assisting their organization in finding the most talented people with the required skills to put Big Data to use. Indeed, there will always be significant constraints on realizing the value of Big Data. Lack of the required talents, such as individuals with deep statistics expertise and analysts, will always be challenging. Hence, additional human resource is required to interpret, analyze, and share the findings of Big Data effectively. Notably, HR will be charged with finding the experts and assembling individuals with the required mix of business, technical, and analytical expertise to unveil the power of Big Data (Giuffrida, 2014).

Therefore, HR is required to raise its profile to become a strategic business partner. It should plug in Big Data, and develop the talent acquisition plans to unprecedented levels. In fact, the most critical issue is to ensure that the company can achieve its business objectives. With the assistance from external experts, HR can start the Big Data efforts in their organization and make decisions that are more-evidence based as well as build strategic advantages in the business to empower the entire organization.

Despite all the odds, many international companies have adopted Big Data and are using it to study their employees. They are leveraging people through insights and metrics to improve employee engagement and business performance (Rai & Abhilasha, 2014).



Bersin, J. (2014). Big Data in Human Resources: A World of Have-Nots. Retrieved from.

eQuest (2013). Big Data: HR’s Golden Opportunity Arrives. Retrieved from

Giuffrida, M. (2014). HR Can’t Ignore Big Data. Retrieved from.

Holley, N. (2014). Big Data and HR. The Henley Centre for HR Excellence, 1-44.

O’brien, J. (2014).Big Data Is Changing the Game for Recruiters. Retrieved from.

Rai, A. & Abhilasha, O. (2014). Big data in HR. Retrieved from.


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