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An Evolution of Datafication

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Lesson:

An Evolution of Datafication

  • Course: HR Analytics
  • Module: Setting the Foundation
  • Lesson Type: Video
  • Lesson Duration: 4:04

Lesson Content

How did the world of analytics and HR meet? How did datafication of HR come to exist?

To fully understand the history, we must turn to the field of statistics. Although it has a very long history, statistics emerged as a discipline in the early 20th century. For decades, it was difficult to obtain large quantities of data and analyze it. With a small margin of error, statisticians used the method of sampling. Sampling is a process of bringing together or selecting a small amount of something from a larger population. Statisticians will analyze this smaller amount of the whole to make inferences about the entire population.

In 1945, the invention of the Von Neumann architecture paved the way for a greater means to collect and store data. According to Dictionary.com "A computer architecture conceived by mathematician John von Neumann forms the core of nearly every computer system in use today."

In the 1980s comes the rise of database utilization in particular relational databases which used standard query language or SQL to obtain information from the database. At the same time, society was in the midst of a digital revolution marking the start of the Information Age! The memory and processing capabilities of computers was advancing a great deal. The collection, storage and retrieval of data were all becoming a lot easier. The build to Big Data began!

In 1989, the term "Business Intelligence" was introduced by Howard Dresner at Gartner. The concept encompasses all the tools and methods used to take big data and transform it into usable information.

In the 1990s Data Mining emerged as a practice involving the analysis of data to find undiscovered patterns. With the advancement of database technology, businesses were able to harness the stored data to try to predict customer needs.

The field of data science was slowly born bringing together the discipline of statistics and computer science. In 2001, William S. Cleveland published ‘Data Science: An Action Plan for Expanding the Technical Areas of the Field of Statistics’ and soon after the Journal of Data Science was launched in 2003.

During subsequent years, an unbelievable volume of data, especially unstructured data, is now available to us. The datafication of nearly every aspect of our life has become possible from the number of steps you take throughout the day to what number setting you could use to specify the level of softness on your mattress at night.

Throughout this time, HR continued to grow as a profession. We evolved as well by using HR scorecards or dashboards to isolate key metrics in support of the business.

Other functions like finance, sales and marketing had been analyzing data to identify trends and make predictions for years. So why not HR? If other disciplines are impacting the performance of the business with such tools and methods, it’s time for HR to do the same.

To summarize datafication evolved over time. One could argue with roots dating back thousands of years. There is no one single event in which datafication was born. With the development of statistics and technology together came the evolution of data and how we use it today.

Christina Danforth

Instructor:

Christina Danforth

Christina A. Danforth, SHRM-SCP & SPHR, launched HR Jetpack in 2016 to support the development and professional growth of her fellow HR colleagues. She started her HR career in 2002....

Christina's Full Bio

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