The Serious Value in Talent Data and Insights

Thursday 8th December, 2016

You want a seat at the table.

Actually, not just a seat. You want HR input to be as indispensable as the CFO’s while the serious decisions are being made - that’s what we hear from HRD’s.

In this era of big data and artificial intelligence, how does HR begin to secure and maximise influence?

Owning and using seriously good talent data and insights.

While many progressive organisations already leverage the unprecedented amount of available information and analytics to maximise their competitive advantage, detailed customer knowledge and insights tend to be the first points of call when informing business strategy. Too often, talent data is not considered as part of the equation.

For the purposes of this blog, when referring to talent data we are moving beyond what an organisation should know about its own workforce (although I would question that there is still work to be done here) – we are looking externally, at organisations’ competitor talent data. How they work, how they are employed, how they are structured, how they are remunerated, what they are working on and most importantly, why the competitors are successful.
Many organisations have gathered competitor talent data, but not usually in any consistent, sustained way. An influx of data tends to happen when a significant external hire is made from a competitor organisation. With them comes a plethora of insights into strategy, intellectual property, pricing structures, potential available talent and, when not constrained by litigious contracts, often customers. This incidental influx is useful, but not particularly strategic and there is typically a finite currency to the information in the fast-paced environment we find ourselves.

Recruitment is an obvious arena where organisations have eyes and ears on their competitors’ talent. Unfortunately, many in-house recruiters are under so much pressure to get appropriate hires in place that they do not have the luxury of compiling talent insights and disseminating them to the appropriate stakeholders. When organisations outsource their recruitment operations, the internal-external divide places another buffer against the talent data information flow.

What's the solution?

A dedicated source (internal or external) of talent data and insights that is aligned and integrated with your business strategy.

The progressive organisations using talent data and insights are able to:

•  Benchmark existing talent against competitors’
•  Understand available talent in specific locations
•  Identifying key talent within a specific sector
•  Inform specific talent attraction strategies for individuals and or teams
•  Build specific gender/capability pools
•  Lift entire teams and functions out of competitors
•  Identify key hires or potential external successors to critical positions
•  Understanding how their Employee Value Propositions compares to competitors’
•  Understanding how dominant competitors are structured for success

In parallel with the dramatic increase in customer-insight analytics, over the coming years there will be a corresponding surge in the use of talent data as organisations continue grappling for competitive advantage.

Sir Francis Bacon said, “knowledge is power”. Owning the talent data and insights will not only get you influence at the table, it will help your organisation gain competitive advantage.


I am always keen to hear how other organisations are tackling this, so don't hesitate to touch base for a conversation:


Peter Hood is the Managing Director of Evolve Intelligence – Europe (based in London). Evolve Intelligence is a leading talent firm focused on succession management, competitor intelligence, talent benchmarking and talent solutions. To read Peter's popular blog on  HR Transformation please follow this link.