Big Data – Part 2

In my last installment, I discussed the new evolving world of Big Data, how quickly its growing, and the potential that it has to transform the way that we live and work. If you missed it, read it here.

A great deal of activity is already taking place in many industries. Let’s take a look at a few of the stories and consider how it might impact the staffing industry. In Healthcare, the Human Genome Mapping Project was finished 10 years ago and the continued analysis of the resulting data gives us opportunities we have never had before to really understand what it means to be human. Together with the Human Microbiome Project, researchers around the world are studying the behavior of 100 Trillion cells to truly understand diseases such as cancer and develop better treatments for them. In Natural Sciences, people are volunteering to be part of a new program called Quake-Catcher, which uses home computer processors to create a crowd-sourced early warning system for earthquakes. Sensor data such as this was used in Japan in 2011 to stop all the trains and factories 23 seconds before the earthquake hit, saving countless lives.In Astronomy, the Large Hadron Collider generates over 25 Terabytes of data a day (that’s 12 Million times larger than your average digital photo). That data is being used to understand some our biggest and most long-standing life puzzles. In Oceanography, scientists are using elephant seals to map the ocean floor. The data retrieved by these animals, such as the paths in the picture below, is helping us understand what factors are contributing to the collapse of ice shelves in the Antarctic and how this change is affecting the animal populations there. In Energy, the Nest thermostat gives every one of us the opportunity to see our energy utilization for heating and cooling, saving us money and making us better stewards of our resources all at the same time. Others, such as Shwetak Patel, are taking this idea to a new level by creating sensors that measure the energy used by every appliance in your house. In Sports, the Moneyball phenomenon has taken hold, leveraging existing data – previously only captured for sports enthusiasts – in order to truly understand the baseball team as an organism. The concept was so profound that it has revolutionized the game of baseball and many major league teams now have hired full-time sabermetric analysts. In Business, companies such as Placed are tracking voluntary location data through SmartPhones and selling that to other companies so that those companies can better understand where else their customers are going. They may use this data to open an additional branch in a key location or target advertisement in other venues frequented by their type of customer. So what about Staffing? What is happening there? What are the possibilities that will be realized in the next 5 to 10 years and how different will the industry be as a result? The truth is that it is largely uncharted territory and largely depends on us and what we collectively do with the data that is available to us. There is most definitely a large quantity of valuable data available in our industry; Beeline alone has billions of lines of data. Imagine if we could apply intelligent contextual analysis to resumes to really understand what qualities of a candidate make them more or less likely to get a particular job. Imagine if, using this same data, we could then predict what qualities of these workers actually make them more or less likely to succeed in a particular role, at a particular company with a particular culture, working with a particular manager. Imagine if we could track talent pools as they ebb and flow across the world. Multi-regional companies could pick and choose where to hire certain skill sets based on the level of talent (and the cost of that talent) in that region Imagine if we could recommend offshore project staffing strategies based on the skill levels of the resources (and the resulting time that it takes to finish a certain project) versus the resource cost. Imagine if we could predict the hot jobs 5 years from now and begin building the skill sets now to prepare for them. Ironically, we wouldn’t have the severe shortage of data scientists that we currently have if we could have leveraged this type of data and acted on it. Imagine if we knew the price point for a particular skill set based on location, experience, and education. All of this and much more is within our grasp if we embrace the opportunity. Beeline’s SmartView product was introduced a few years ago as an entry point for its clients to embark on this journey. It consists of program-level analytics and is designed to allow users to explore their data at a high-level and uncover insights previously only guessed at. I will never forget the first time I saw a demo of SmartView and watched the look on the faces of the audience (the “aha moment”).  If you haven’t had that eye-opening experience yet, I invite you to set up a demo and join the movement. The first step towards answering these complex questions is visibility and awareness of the data that already surrounds you every day.   Beeline internally uses this same data on a much larger scale for our own exploration. We are constantly looking at trends, patterns and relationships in the data to better understand the market and our clients in the hopes that we can turn this information around in product form to change the way we do business in the staffing industry: improve efficiency, lower costs, increase quality! Carl Sagan said that “somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known”. I love this quote because it inspires me to wake up every day and continue the search for that hidden nugget of gold that could make all the difference.    

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