Improvements in culture and performance are both referenced by case studies in our research, and while the majority of organisations believe that they are behind their peers in terms of maturity, all of those interviewed are looking to invest in future capacity and can see real potential in HR analytics as a core part of their function’s future capability. HR professionals that focus on small, discrete but high business-value projects are the ones which are gaining most traction, with investment following the production of robust evidence and insights.
As with our other research in the Middle East, organisations continue to focus their attention of engagement and data around cultural aspects of the firm as their main sources of people data. Far less is being measured and reported with regards to other strategic activities in the firm, such as productivity and performance. Capabilities including technology and skills are both areas which are in need of increased investment in organisations. The absence of any resource commitment to people, or IT systems and processes, which are able to do analytics will continue to be a significant barrier to the use of data and improved evidence-based practice by HR managers.
This research shows that standardisation is expected to be one of the most important concepts to hit HR analytics, and HR in general, over the coming years. The application of standard measures and context-specific measures is something which HR professionals throughout the study consistently spoke about when considering barriers and opportunities for the profession. Establishing robust standards will enable less sophisticated and resource-rich organisations to invest strategically in analytics activity and will enable organisations with embedded HR analytics activity to benchmark data, which will itself drive up performance and transparency of human capital data. Without the mix of standard measures and context-specific indicators, HR professionals in the region believe that they will be unable to maximise the value generated through HR analytics.
What is apparent from this study is that there is significant potential for HR analytics to add value across the region. Medium to large-sized organisations in the study are interested in developing new HR analytics systems which match or lead their Western counterparts. This thirst for high-quality analytics in some organisations is driving up capability where investment is present – however, those HR professionals in organisations unable to invest are finding it difficult to build interest in HR analytics and develop insights for their business stakeholders given the complexity of large organisations and the high resource requirements needed to establish HR analytics processes. HR professionals who are able to secure investment are likely to gain the most from early high-value insights for their businesses, and in a competitive economic environment such as south-east Asia, those organisations able to move first are often the most likely to make considerable gains against the competition.
HR analytics is at the forefront of mind for many HR leaders in the region, but many have acknowledged that there is still a long way to go to realise the full potential of what HR analytics can do for their organisation. We hope this current work and the discussions and debate that can arise from our findings will help drive practice in the area and stimulate thinking. We know that there isn’t one analytics strategy that will suit all organisations, but it’s clear from our research that there are common challenges and we believe cross-organisation learning is a key way of advancing HR capability in this area.