Mobilising data analytics to deliver opportunities

Delegates at the launch of the RES Forum's 2017 annual report heard how the 'new normal' operating environment brought opportunity as well as challenge – particularly around IT and data integration.

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A headline finding of the RES Forum’s Annual Report, The New Normal of Global Mobility, is that multinational companies are not yet using the full range of IT, integration mechanisms and data analytics.With HR and GM practitioners reporting anecdotally that a key issue in these volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) times is a lack of clarity and certainty, could data analytics offer a real opportunity to resolve this through evidence-based, predictive processes?

Is Excel enough to excel at data analytics?

Talking through the RES Forum’s study alongside its co-author, Professor Michael Dickmann, of Cranfield University, Vicki Marsh, head of UK operations at Equus Software, revealed that 40 per cent of respondents to the RES Forum's January survey relied predominantly on Excel spreadsheets for their analysis. A further third (31 per cent) used bespoke software, a figure she believed was rising, albeit slowly.The data also revealed that how data was being deployed remained relatively low level, with most respondents (82 per cent) reporting they compiled data primarily for compliance purposes. Interestingly, a further 71 per cent used data to present demographic information, while 64 per cent did so to manage costs.

From data analytics …

According to the study, almost all companies consider that general data analytics will be important or very important to their GM programme management in the next three years.Good-quality data analytics allow data to be compiled and consolidated so that people have insights into the present that can inform evidence-based decision-making.

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 … to predictive data

Four in ten respondents also said they were “planning to move forward decisively” with the next stage in the analytics journey and use data for predictive analysis in the next three years.Key areas of focus here were overall assignment success, retention and performance, with the intention of predicting success elements and patterns.Half of GM professionals also aimed to predict future assignment compensation, reward trends and costs. Two in five planned to go further and predict assignment types and movements alongside a list of future GM candidates.For Vicki Marsh, the survey findings suggested companies were focused on getting the basics right by creating a sound mobility data ecosystem before moving on to the predictive stage – the next big development in global mobility’s data analytics journey.

The role of global mobility practitioners

The survey’s insights prompted thoughtful discussion from attendees around the impact of data on the role of global mobility practitioners in future.One direction was that global mobility could “steal the show” from other parts of the business keen to adopt similar approaches and integrate systems with other departments to achieve a true big-data picture – one route to delivering mobility as a trusted business partner.Another interesting projection was how the global mobility function and roles would develop to incorporate data analytics, and add to the four-quadrant model of the global mobility function.For the moment at least, as the report says, the data analytics field remains “relatively immature and neglected in companies”. With the sentiments revealed among RES Forum members, there is a sense this will not be the case for much longer.The RES Forum is an independent community of more than 1,350 in-house HR professionals in over 40 countries around the world. To join for free and to view the full RES Forum Annual Report from which this article is taken, go to the RES Forum’s website and click on ‘Join’.Follow the link for more global mobility news and features. Read more from the RES Forum in the Summer 2017 issue of Relocate magazine (out June). Reserve your copy here.