Knock Three Times For Positive Workforce Impact

“Oh, my darling, knock three times
On the ceiling if you want me
Twice on the pipe
If the answer is no…”

Tony Orlando & Dawn

It started with an e-mail. The latest OnStar diagnostic report from our Saturn VUE chock full of data analysis on nearly every single facet of the car: engine and transmission system, air bag system, antilock braking system and more. We had green checkmarks across the board except for one: emissions system.

Argh. Yes, the engine light was on. “How long has the engine light been on?” I asked my wife who usually drives the VUE.

“I don’t know. I think about two weeks,” she answered.

“Wow,” I said.

“What? It’s been running fine.”

“Wow. Those idiot lights,” I added, channeling my father but not referring to my lovely wife.

So I called OnStar and they ran another diagnostic real-time and sure enough the recommendation was to take it in to a GM dealer and have the emissions system checked.

Which is what I did, and when I was getting a shuttle ride back, one of the other passengers, a young lady in her early 20’s, was on the phone with her dad. She said to him, “I have a question.”

I heard her say, “Knock three times? What? That was a song?”

She smiled and laughed and then I said, “Tony Orlando and Dawn.”

She repeated it to her father and then nodded at me. “Yep, that’s what he was just singing to me.”

Funny. It’s not knock four times or three times on the pipe – it’s repetitive precision is exactly how we remember the 1970’s pop hit. At least, those of us who do remember it. All of us have those single sources of musical truths baked into memory banks year after year.

And then it hit me (finally, right?) – the single source has been lost in the fact that since the early 1980’s cars have become more and more computerized, to the point today that data is constantly streaming from cars to servers to diagnostic outputs alerting us to all things that are well and unwell. This is true of most manufactured electronic “things” today that have microprocessors and they can tell both the manufacturers and the consumers exactly what’s going on inside.

This has also been true of finance, sales, marketing, supply chain management software and technology database systems for decades. Business leaders are now demanding the human resources (HR) data and analytics. The talent data and analytics that inform them about recruiting, performance, compensation and learning strategies. The analytics that will drive the enterprise’s workforce strategy and support the financial results the organization wants.

But aggregating and maintaining the sheer volume of workforce data available today, required to maximize that very investment, can be daunting to even the most progressive enterprise. It’s highly complex and costly for large global organizations due to the number of databases and data systems they maintain.

At the very heart of talent analytics is access to clean, collected, and unified workforce data. Early adoption is now occurring in organizations that are organizing and maintaining data so that it is transformed, standardized and reportable, so that they will be able to glean useful information that can in turn lead to measurable improvement in financial performance.

But they’ll need to have a primary data conduit from which HR and other vital business and finance data can flow to and from every internal and external system, all managed in a unified platform – a single source of truth.

How do we get to that single source of big data truth? I asked Marc Rind this question on the TalentCulture #TChat Show. Marc is the VP of Product Development & Chief Data Scientist at ADP and he told us that they’ve been working on a data exchange platform with a very simple API (application programming interface). It allows companies to bring in data assets from other systems and combine them with workforce data in order to bring out valuable insights into the state of their talent and where they’re going.

For example, Marc referenced a healthcare organization that unifies and analyzes their data to identify hiring patterns as well as projecting their overtime and scheduling needs real-time. Their everyday managers can also get the information they need to what their new hire attrition rate is, why it is, how it compares with their competitors, and what they should do to reduce it and be more competitive.

Another example included a retailer trying to understand not just how the sales are going in various locations or store locations, but also understanding how overtime impacts sales and what are the skills they should be hiring for elsewhere and other factors impacting positive outcomes based on those locations that are beating their sales goals. Nice weather plus optimal customer service leads to an extra 10% jump of foot traffic and great sales outdoors versus the mall stores.

These little ditties of insights can and do pay dividends. They are the HR tech pop songs that many providers of unifying platforms and data integration and management solutions are singing today with more to come tomorrow. Companies no longer have to sacrifice their favorite “tunes” – features and functionality – from the best of breed talent management solutions they’ve invested time and money into in exchange for moving to one unified core HR and talent management platform with subpar TM functionality. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Having access to meaningful data standardization and analysis as a single source of business and HR truth leads to strategic reporting and insightful analytics. Both provide critical guidance for organizational decisions, reinforcing the relationships among HR, finance and supply chain management.

So there you go, HR. Simply knock three times for positive workforce impact. After you’ve unified your data, of course.

This article was inspired by the TalentCulture #TChat Show. Don’t forget to check out the TalentCulture #TChat Show every Wednesday at our new time from 1-2 pm ET (10-11 am PT). Join us! And subscribe to the podcast!