The lead article in this month’s issue of The Atlantic, “They’re Watching You at Work,” focuses on how Big Data is helping transform HR processes in all industries. In the course of the story, writer Don Peck explores how the kind of analytics that powered the Oakland A’s to success on a shoestring (and made General Manager Billy Beane in the movie Moneyball) is changing the way companies evaluate candidates.
There’s no doubt that a data-driven approach is taking hold, particularly for larger companies with the deep pockets to buy the software and hire the people to interpret the numbers it spits out like fastballs (think more like the Yankees than the A’s). Specifically, Peck mentions Google GOOG +0.02%, HP, Intel INTC +1.26%, General Motors GM -1.87%, and Procter & Gamble PG +0.22%.
Certainly such companies are making good use of the analytics their investments provide, but very few organizations have the money or staff expertise to go as far down the Big Data road as those mentioned in the article. That’s certainly a limiting factor for startups and midsize companies. But I think an even bigger challenge with taking a numbers-first approach to hiring, firing and promoting is the notion that the “elimination of the human” is the desirable next step. These are not the writer’s words, by the way, but those of one of the readers who commented on the story.