If you think the term “Big Data” alludes to the large size of the data referred to, it is not entirely correct. For a group of data being considered "Big Data" there must be complex connections between the data (see Mike2.0). Thus, not all large amounts of data can be called "Big Data", and actually, there exist very small Big Data: for example, the data generated by the sensors of an aircraft during a flight are only 3 gigs big, but their combinations are extremely complex.
Getting to this simple definition of Big Data took me several days of reading, but it was actually due to some conferences on the subject -in which there were participating some companies using Big Data- that I finally understood the topic. I am talking about the first conference on Big Data organized by Fundación Telefónica: "Living in a sea of data" (from Big Data to Smart Society), which took place between 6 and 8 November.
During the conference I became aware of the great applications that Big Data have in any field: from agriculture to auto-motion, marketing or medicine. And I got especially interested in the cases applied to agriculture and robotics. The first one developed by Cubenube, a startup that combines the Cloud with Big Data and has managed to cross a lot of different data to make smart decisions in agriculture: meteorological data, persons’ genomes, irrigation systems, data from Twitter, etc. Amazing, isn’t it? In the second case, Big Data was applied in robotics, developed by the creators of “Aisoy technology” for building robots "with emotions." These androids collect environmental data and then process them in the robot’s engine providing it with information that will help make an emotional decision. Just amazing.
But what is the Big Data application in HR management? Although, as Dr. John Sullivan says, Big Data is not used in most HR functions (which are still based on Small Data), a great development on the field is expected, to the point that Bersin says "Big Data and Analytics will change the management of HR" and its use will be equal to that applied in other fields such as finance or marketing.
However ... What type of utility do we mean? How can HR benefit from Big Data? It is still too early to give a complete answer, but the perspective of Dr. Sullivan is interesting: he believes that Big Data in HR can help "identify productivity problems, predict where turnover problems will occur, help you increase innovation, and make your leaders more effective”. These are just a few applications, but surely we will see many more as they appear in the future. As of now they have begun to appear interesting initiatives, such as some Active Dashboards (dashboards), capable of generating strategic value analytics that have a direct impact on the company's business, making predictive suggestions and indicating possible actions to develop in the future.