How and where will your business grow? Decision intelligence is helping more and more organisations to answer these questions in a data-informed way. However, pulling together the data you need can be a daunting thought.
Decision intelligence is the use of external data on people, skills and place to influence business decisions. As the influence of talent in business strategy grows, so does the number of routes to find it and there are literally thousands of data sources and millions of data points that could offer part of the answer you need.
So where should you start and what are the options?
In this post I’m going to explain some of the methods and tools for gathering decision intelligence along with their pros and cons.1. Get the data yourself
There are plenty of low-cost ways to collect the data yourself. By searching platforms like LinkedIn, you can gather information on jobs, skills, and individuals that can help you build a picture of the external talent market. Many of our clients who have started small have done so by combining data from LinkedIn with their own internal data from ATS or BI tools to join the dots. This approach is useful for benchmarking and for providing context to organisational KPIs. The shortcoming of this approach is the limited data set. By viewing talent though a single lens, usually with much more internal than external data, you may miss out on bigger picture trends. Use Google alerts to see what competitors are doing, look at job postings, use Twitter – there is heaps of data available, in thousands of different sources.2. Appoint a management consultancy
This method is favoured by organisations when a talent perspective is required as an input into a strategic business plan. By bringing in a view from a people perspective, organisations can make better strategic decisions about their growth and when to enter or exit a market. This is a truly strategic use of decision intelligence and some of our clients are in fact management consultancies. However, one of the drawbacks of this approach is that it’s a point-in-time snapshot rather than live data, plus it is labour intensive and therefore comes at a higher cost. Plus, this report will be designed to answer one question, so its use outside of that purpose might be limited.3. Use a research firm
This is very much my own background. My interest in decision intelligence grew from executive search, and specifically the value I could see in the background work we did before compiling a candidate shortlist and the gold dust of information that was contained in candidate reports. Anonymised and aggregated this is a true source of qualitative intelligence. It is invaluable in adding a qualitative element to talent intelligence – what do people say it’s like to work at your organisation? Who from the senior team might be open to opportunities? By combining this information with quantitative data, research firms provide a comprehensive project-based view. As with reports from consulting firms, these are a point-in-time view and so its longevity is limited- which is where the inspiration for Stratigens came from – the ability to have all this data on tap.4. Use a decision intelligence platform
The market is awash with choices of platform – but beware as not all TI platforms are created equal. Tools like LinkedIn Talent Solutions, Talent Neuron and Eightfold provide data from a wider range of data sources than other tools and visualise the data in more engaging ways than BI tools. Talent intelligence platforms bring together data on skills, locations and diversity that allow you to plan your recruitment strategy. The challenge with most of these tools is that they rely on data collected by the ATS which is, by its very nature, not showing the whole market. Or they use external data but only look at talent supply rather than demand, therefore missing vital connections between data sets. Equally, Lightcast has probably the strongest demand data available on the labour market, but this needs to be combined with strong, global supply data to be meaningful. These tools can be useful for talent acquisition, but they are limited to a short-term view of individuals.5. Use a strategic decision intelligence tool
A tool like Stratigens does not have all the answers. However, it provides many of them. To make good decisions, you need good data. Stratigens brings together data on talent supply and demand, and displays it in the context of other chosen variables like location, diversity, competitors for talent, connectivity, infrastructure and ease of doing business. Forward thinking business leaders are using Stratigens to make radically smarter decisions about where to grow, where to invest and the future makeup of their workforce. Unlike some tools, Stratigens is focused not on finding individuals, but on answering the big questions:
- Based on the supply of skills, where should I grow my business?
- Based on skills availability, business risk, economic health and cost base - where should we invest?
- Based on the breakdown of skills, roles, gender and ethnicity, what can we achieve in DEI if we match market availability?
Stratigens provides the whole picture (1500 credible sources on 552 cities in 52 countries using 600 million profiles and over 10 million data points) in one place, so you can understand where opportunities exist and how to integrate skills and people data into strategy.
What’s the best solution?
As the market for decision intelligence is rapidly developing, it’s likely that you will need a combination of tools to answer all your talent questions. You will need to decide what talent intelligence is to you and your business. As you shop around for a decision intelligence solution, it might help to keep in mind the following points to guide the direction:
- What is your vision for decision intelligence? Define the business challenges, understand the red flags in your company, and desired outcomes to quickly narrow down the range of providers who can address them.
- Consider your requirements. Do you need to answer questions about tactical talent acquisition? Or competitor insight? Or executive research? Or strategic analysis of locations and talent populations to inform org design and location strategy. Where your needs sit on the spectrum will shape the solution you need.
- Who are your stakeholders and what are their needs? Collaborate from the outset so that you and potential vendors understand the varied needs of everyone from the CFO, Strategy Director, Real Estate, to D&I lead and the talent acquisition team. Are you a trusted adviser to the leadership team or delivering key data to functional heads?
- Be transparent about your company’s ethics and what you want to see from a provider in terms of their data sources, data privacy, methodology, and credibility of data.
- Define your selection criteria for choosing a solution. Examples could include scope of data such as cities, regions, skills and diversity data; user experience; reporting capability; customer support. There are some things that all approaches offer but when it comes to the decision you need to be clear about differentiators.
There are plenty of options so as long as you’re able to make an informed decision, you’ll glean a wealth of benefits from your decision intelligence tools.
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