Conference: 24 – 25 February 2020 | Workshops: 23, 26 & 27 February 2020 |Ritz-Carlton DIFC Dubai, UAE

David Green is the MC of the inaugural SHRM Tech EMEA conference in Dubai on 24-25 February. He is a globally respected speaker, advisor and executive consultant on people analytics, data-driven HR and the future of work. Hanadi El Sayyed, Social Media Squad for SHRM Tech EMEA had the opportunity to chat with David recently.

David Green - Keynote Speakers | SHRM Tech EMEA

Hanadi: There’s quite a buzz around people analytics. What is people analytics?
David: Hanadi, you are right the buzz around people analytics has accelerated. A study by the Corporate Research Forum found that 69% of large organisations (those with 10,000+ employees) now have a people analytics team. Whilst research by LinkedIn found that the number of professionals in EMEA on their platform who list HR Analytics as a skill rose by 61% in the twelve months to May 2018. Despite this phenomenal growth, there is still some confusion as to what people analytics actually is. The first thing to say here is that it isn’t reporting, which looks at what has happened.

People Analytics on the other hand provides insights on what is likely to happen. There are many definitions out there, but essentially people analytics combines HR and business data with the aim of providing insights that help drive improved business outcomes and workforce experiences. Traditionally, the field focused on providing insights that improved HR focused drivers like retention, quality of hire and engagement, but increasingly the work has shifted to business focused outcomes like sales effectiveness, productivity, geo-location strategy and culture.


Hanadi: Why is people analytics increasingly becoming an important capability in HR?
David: We’ve seen how digital is disrupting pretty much every single industry. This means that companies are almost in a perpetual state of transformation as they continually adjust their portfolio of products and services in an attempt to stay ahead of traditional competitors and disruptive new market entrants. Ultimately, the success or failure of these companies will depend on having the right people with the right skills in the right place at the right time, and this is where people analytics comes in. Unsurprisingly, CEOs are increasingly looking at CHROs to provide them with the insights that inform / support business strategy and drive performance and productivity.

In parallel, employees now expect a similar experience at work as that they enjoy as consumers e.g. the ability to provide and receive feedback and have it acted upon as well as personalised recommendations in areas like learning and internal opportunities that help drive career advancement etc. We are seeing this play out in the revolution of employee engagement and performance management and the explosion of the employee experience and wellness markets. Put simply, you can’t create the right personalised experiences for the workforce without people data and analytics. Neither can you listen, analyse and act on the employee voice without people data and analytics.

Together these increased expectations from both business leaders and employees has seen people analytics shift from the periphery towards the centre of HR. People analytics is now a mandatory capability for any HR function. Research backs this up too with studies showing that organisations with advanced capability in people analytics having 30% better stock prices (Bersin by Deloitte), 79% higher return on equity (Sierra-Cedar) and 56% higher profit margins (Visier, The Age of People Analytics).


Hanadi: What are the greatest challenges HR is facing in people analytics and how are the best overcoming these challenges?
David: We ran a study at Insight222 at the end of 2017, which identified the five key challenges HR functions face with people analytics:

  • Data Quality: Insufficient level of data quality and data integration to deliver meaningful analytics insights
  • Capability: Missing capability of HR to produce actionable analytics insights
  • Credibility: Missing credibility of HR to effectively influence people related business decisions
  • Data Diversity: Inability to collect high quality data across the diverse workforce, due to varying data privacy perceptions
  • Privacy: Missing global standards for data privacy (legislation, regulation,compliance)

Partly in response to this and also from our own experience in working with organisations throughout the world to support them in overcoming these and other challenges, Jonathan Ferrar and I created the Nine Dimensions for Excellence in People Analytics model. This model is designed to help companies derive more impact and value from their investment in people analytics. The nine dimensions are grouped into three categories: foundational aspects (governance, methodology, and stakeholders), resources (skills, technology, and data), and value (workforce experiences, business outcomes, and culture).

In my experience, companies that have advanced capabilities across each of the nine dimensions are the ones that are enjoying the most benefit from people analytics and also the ones driving the field forward.


Hanadi: What are the top 3 predictions for 2019 and beyond?
David: I published my 10 Predictions for HR in 2019 just before Christmas, but if I had to pick just three I’d opt for:

  1. People Data for Good – companies will increasingly realise that if they want to benefit from the tremendous potential of people analytics then they need to put employee trust at the centre of these efforts. Recently published research by Accenture on Decoding Organizational DNA revealed that the trust dividend is in excess of $3 trillion, which really puts things into context.
  2. One size fits all to one size fits one – we will increasingly see people analytics teams driving HR programs that provide personalised experiences and recommendations for the workforce that support career development but also benefit the company in terms of better strategic workforce planning. In parallel, we will also see managers and workers being given insights or ‘nudges’ on their own behaviours and how these impact the performance and engagement of their teams and colleagues.
  3. A revolution in HR skills and capabilities – the skills and capabilities required by HR professionals are also undergoing seismic change. I’ve being working with myHRfuture and our study on the skills and knowledge areas required by HR will be released shortly. I can reveal that as well as areas such as people analytics, strategic workforce planning and digital HR technology, the study identifies skills such as design thinking, consulting and influencing, and stakeholder management as key requirements for the HR professional of the future. For those interested in receiving the report when it is published, you should subscribe to myHRfuture.

About David Green

David is the MC of the inaugural SHRM Tech EMEA conference in Dubai on 24-25 February. He is a globally respected speaker, advisor and executive consultant on people analytics, data-driven HR and the future of work. David is an executive director at Insight222, a networking, consulting and learning business focused on helping firms to improve their impact with people analytics. Coupled with his speaking and writing, this gives David a unique perspective and insight into what’s working, what’s not, and what’s forthcoming in the field of people analytics. You can find out more about David via his website, by following him on LinkedIn and Twitter and subscribing to his Data Driven HR newsletter.