Big Data and Predicting Turnover


Sharlyn Lauby
HR Bartender



I learned a lot about data during this year’s Ultimate Software Connections conference. Which is totally cool with me; I’m not afraid of numbers. One specific term was “big data.” Now, I admit that I had heard the term but didn’t really have my arms around what it meant or what it means for business.

Chris McLatcher, director of business intelligence and analytics for Ultimate Software, really gave a great overview of big data during his session,  “What’s Coming in the Area of Reporting, Metrics, Analytics & Predictive Analysis.” In case you’re wondering, the term “big data” refers to groups of data so large that they become challenging to work with. But we do it anyway, because of the trend data that we can pull from it. If you’d like to learn more, here’s a video that can help.


Data has always been important to our organizations. Now that lots of it exists and more is generated every second, data is even more important. But not just getting the data. It’s equally key that we can read, process, and make decisions based upon it.

This is where predictive analytics takes over. We can use these techniques to leverage the data. Because what our organizations are able to do as a result of the data will help them achieve success. Having data just for the sake of data isn’t achieving success. Ultimate Software talked about one of the ways they are able to use big data for their clients. Think about this scenario:

Your company is getting ready for their annual strategy session. Part of that session is setting business goals for the next operational year. During the conversation, someone mentions that they are concerned about achieving the goals being discussed because of the current talent situation in the company. “There are lots of reports in the media about people looking for new jobs. If we lose a couple key players, we won’t have the bench strength to make these goals a reality.”

Wouldn’t it be great if you could put the senior leadership team’s fears to rest? The question is: what could possibly be said? Ultimate Software has been successfully testing the use of predictive analytics to not only determine how much turnover an organization might expect but the likelihood of an individual to leave the organization. This is pretty powerful stuff!

If businesses had more accurate data regarding potential turnover, there would be opportunities to potentially change the outcome. Again, what our companies can do with data becomes incredibly valuable and has the potential to impact the bottom line. It all comes down to knowing and understanding the business data we have available.

If you want to stay on top of business analytics and how they can help your organization, consider joining the UltiPro Business Intelligence SIG on LinkedIn. Chris also mentioned two books: Investing in People by Wayne F. Cascio and John W. Boudreau and HR Analytics Handbook by Laurie McBassi. Neither are reads for sipping a pina colada by the pool, but when you need them, they will be very useful.

There’s an old cliché about knowledge being power. In today’s world, having access to the data you need, at the moment you need it, will create powerful opportunities for your company.

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