IBM Aims Big Data Analytics at HR Function

Pedro Hernandez

Updated · May 31, 2013

Employees generate and share a lot of data. IBM is banking that human resource (HR) executives and managers will want to tap the potential wealth of insights that can be gleaned from all of that information.

As part of its Smarter Workforce initiative, the IT systems and services giant announced two new Big Data analytics software offerings developed by IBM Research scientists: IBM Survey Analytics and Retention Analytics. The new workforce analytics services peer into internal and external social networks, employee data and corporate surveys to expose work-related trends and gauge employee sentiment.

IBM Survey Analytics displays sentiment “heat maps” derived from employee surveys. Relying on text and visual analytics, the software is capable of extracting and displaying over one million pieces of anonymous, unstructured survey data. This includes human resource information system (HRIS) data and over 4.2 million worker comments collected by Kenexa.

IBM acquired Kenexa, a maker of human capital management (HCM) software, in Aug 2012 for $1.2 billion. The deal followed a multibillion dollar rush for HCM specialists. Oracle had snapped up Taleo in Feb 2012 for $1.9 billion and SAP parted with $3.4 billion to buy SuccessFactors in Dec 2011.

The Kenexa buy set the stage, in part, for Survey Analytics. “The combined strengths of IBM and Kenexa provide organizations with unique capabilities that allow them to increase workforce efficiencies and gain insight from their business information,” said IBM in a statement upon the deal’s completion.

IBM Retention Analytics combs through enterprise HR, CRM and social data and leverages predictive analytics to identify high-attrition “hot spots” within an organization, according to the company. In an IBM-supplied example, the software can allow an organization to delve into the reasons why turnover rates for some personnel are low compared to the rest of the company. Once the cause is identified, “the analytics software automatically identifies other at-risk employees so changes can be made to quota rates to ensure their long-standing employment,” boasted IBM in a statement.

Big Data analytics can also give organizations an edge in retaining star employees, according to Dr. Bob Sutor, vice president of Business Analytics and Mathematical Sciences at IBM Research. “Companies that invest in Big Data and analytics to nurture their workforce will keep the best talent and distinguish themselves from their competition,” he said in company remarks. “Knowing what motivates people can boil down to the data you capture and how you interpret it. Using the insights identified by our new predictive and socially-driven workforce analytics tools, companies can ensure long-term success through employee engagement and meaningful work.”

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Enterprise Apps Today and Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

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    Pedro Hernandez

    Pedro Hernandez contributes to Enterprise Apps Today, and 11Press, the technology network. He was previously the managing editor of, an IT-related website network. He has expertise in Smart Tech, CRM, and Mobile Tech, Helping Banks and Fintechs, Telcos and Automotive OEMs, and Healthcare and Identity Service Providers to Protect Mobile Apps.

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