I Don’t Like It When You Call Me Big Data #BigDataHR

This week on Blogging4Jobs we are focusing on the theme Big Data sponsored by Jibe. Jibe provides cloud-based recruiting technology solutions that enable talent acquisition teams to strategically identify, attract and engage candidates. Join us April 10th 2014 at 3pm to talk Big Data on Twitter using the hashtag #BigDataHR and join our webinar, “What’s the Big Deal with Big Data in HR & Recruiting” on April 17th at 11a EST. Follow the week by bookmarking us

After spending some time in the HR tech space now I have found there is one thing that is starting to bug me more and more. That is the over use of the term “big data”, and recently HR seems to be the fastest growing offender. Let me explain, big data is not just a bunch of data. Just because you have a lot of it, doesn’t qualify it as “Big Data”. In that scenario you just have a lot of data, for it to qualify as the generally accepted definition of big data; you need to not be able to handle the processing of that data through a traditional database.

I Don’t Like It When You Call Me Big Data #BigDataHR


Let me take a few moments to get slightly technical to explain why it matters. Until recent history the only data we looked at was structured data. Structured data is where every data point has its place (think of a column in Excel, where everyone’s first name is in Column A). That worked out great when all the data we cared about fit in to those little boxes.

Now enters unstructured data to the conversation. Unstructured data is like that cousin that shows up to the family dinner on a motorcycle with a new tattoo and parks on the grass. This is data that has no predefined model; it is that issue that makes it hard for a traditional database to process it.

So big data is not just a dressed up version of data you have always had (whether you used it or not), big data is not just a cute little set of metrics that tell your employee productivity. Big data is the story that is told when you bring structured and unstructured together. Big data will tell you 90% of the story our job as practioners is to decide what part of that story matters most to us.

Big data doesn’t answer the question for you; it assists you in reducing the uncertainty around the question you have. You have to take the action.

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Caleb Fullhart

Caleb has been in the people business over 15 years. His experience encompasses Talent Acquisition Systems and Big Data Systems engineering and integration. Caleb specializes in Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS) and has deep knowledge in selecting, configuring, and implementing HRIS systems for clients.


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