Operating in the Era of Context

data contextI spend my days talking about data and analytics and technology and how they interact with the human experience. For a geek like me, it’s a pretty darn cool job. Technology is everywhere in our lives, including at work, and data is finally bringing together technology systems to support talent management as a unified experience.

Later this month (March 19, 2pm ET), I’ll have a conversation with Todd Black of PeopleFluent during a webinar about the threads of the Talent Management Tapestry.  We will explore how integration is changing how people interact with data around talent and what is happening in talent management is reflective of what’s happening in the world at large. We are no longer willing to accept data on learning in the absence of its impact on performance, or data on hiring without consideration of how it interacts with succession. We are operating in what I call the “era of context.”

When I think about my own life and how data and technology have changed it, it’s pretty amazing. I was lucky enough to have a mom who was one of the first Apple computer retailers back in the early ‘80s. As a kid I had access to the Lisa, the Apple IIe, the first Macs. Pretty sophisticated for the time.

But these machines stood alone, and the work we did on them was simply our own data, our own thoughts and work without the context of others – unless we printed it out and mailed it to someone. Today, just 30-some years later, I (and many other people) wear a band around my wrist to advise me on sleep, exercise and nutrition, and compare my performance to people in my geography or demographic group.

I order most items for my home from a tiny rectangle of glass in my pocket – but not before comparing prices and reading reviews. And if I’m hungry I can instantly find the nearest Pho shop based on recommendations from thousands of other foodies. I operate in an era of context. Not single data points alone, but integrated processes that bring together streams of data and use algorithms to enhance my decision process. We have come to take this level of insight for granted, and we’re starting to demand it from our systems at work.

Mobile and social tools in talent management are part of this trend, but they are just two lenses we use to interact with data and analytical insight. Behind these tools, organizations need automated solutions, integrated systems, and well-thought-out processes to actually make these tools useful.

Many organizations still struggle with this, finding themselves limited to data without the right context, unable to reap the benefits of true analytics. By focusing on this technology at the core, organizations can weave together the threads of talent management for the benefit of leaders and employees. During the upcoming webinar, I’ll be sharing data from our HCM Technology Trends Study (which is still in the field and I invite you to participate in) on how organizations are going about this important task and the critical elements to their success. I hope you can join me then.

Mollie Lombardi, VP and Principal Analyst,
Workforce Management, Brandon Hall Group

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Mollie Lombardi