The data transformer
As new technology replaces certain jobs, added value is increasingly provided through knowledge and creativity of people. Today’s employer brand manager should operate as a data transformer: with a clear client focus, the goals vary from translating the data to the business, understanding its technological source and interpreting it for future employer brand strength.
In this post I'll focus on data transformation, a post I wrote back in February of 2015. Data is everywhere, also data on your organization. Data that, rightfully or wrongfully so, indicates what employees, customers and stakeholders think of you as an employer. Interpreting this data is valuable, but that remains an art in itself. First, you’ll need to capture this data before you can use it to your advantage. A good employer brand manager knows that this is just one of the prerequisites for building a strong employer brand. Transforming data, however, requires more than just capturing it.
Transforming data is big business and proposes the following question: what does relevant data mean for my organization in terms of interpretation, customer focus, technological requirements and the business? For an employer brand manager this is reformulated to the following question: what does relevant data mean for the strengthening my employer brand?
Jobs disappear through technological development
Answering the last question correctly requires acknowledgement that the world in which we live and work today changes continuously. Changes in political, economic, social and legal conditions change the framework in which your employer operates as well. Technology especially is changing at a faster pace day-by-day. This results in clear consequences for the labor market: faster technological developments equals more automation, possibly in combination with the internet, resulting in increasing difficulties to keep their now automated jobs by the lower and middle educated. A job like a a taxi driver will eventually disappear, because of Uber and others. Google is almost at the brink of introducing the self-driving cars to the masses. Robotics and AI is also gaining ground. Higher education will also get their fair share of complications, but they’re more likely to continuously learn and innovate themselves. According to the Economist, the top 10 jobs that are most likely to disappear the years to come aren’t just lower or middle educated jobs. A profession like accountant is likely to lose its right to exist according to research by the Economist’s Intelligence Unit.
Add value through knowledge and creativity
Employees with professions that have to or going to have deal with technological alternatives will have to reinvent themselves. Employees-to-be will have to choose alternative education possibilities: future graduates will have to obtain a different skillset. The key for success lies in non-automated skills like knowledge and creativity. The pure human skills if you will. For an employer brand manager, this means that the interpretation of the series of data that is collected should be carefully interpreted into useful knowledge. That knowledge should be translated in how to strategically attract, engage and retain talent. Technological developments are moving quickly, so be aware. It's also an advantage: quick data analysis based on the right software allows employer brand managers to save more time for the interpretation part. Big data is a great example: thanks to technology we’re capable of collecting huge amounts of data from around the world in micro-seconds and create insights with each other immediately.
The broader role of the analyst
In the past a data analyst was someone who collected and ordered data neatly and correctly. In the pre-computer era, this was done with the help of pen and paper and later with a computing device. This process was often long and tedious and the analysis remained limited to conclusions in terms of increased or decreased by x%. An interpretation - why does it rise or fall? - often lacked. There simply wasn’t enough time. The length of the analysis in terms of number crunching was so long that was little or no time left for the interpretation within the budget constraints. Nowadays software programs are more sophisticated. As far as speed they keep improving: for example, business intelligence tooling allows millions of data points to be analyzed almost real time and visualized on the go. An interpretation of data is thus visually prepared at your disposal. With these opportunities at hand, an employer brand manager should keep the following in mind:
- Customer perspective is transcendent
The power of the customer is more evident than ever. She knows what she wants and the same goes for your employees: they and their peers determine through social media what your reputation as an employer is or should be. Steering their opinion through branding is the key. The role of online marketing is therefore becoming increasingly important. Using (social) CRM in conjunction with an online internal community (e.g. Yammer) or an external community (e.g. a LinkedIn group, closed or open) that creates an environment in which the community manager operates based on the employer’s behalf helps shaping your audience. Remember to integrate social media into your online marketing strategy, how to encourage it within the organization and set up proper measurement precautions to track progress. This data is the key to new insights and further improvements.
- The type of technology determines the value of data
Focusing on the right customers and your employees is crucial, but how the data is collected and through which platform or devices is almost as important. These elements surely determine what your relevant target groups are saying about your brand. With a mobile first mindset nowadays, it’s increasingly becoming important to not only to present your career site for example via PC, tablet and mobile phone, but also how to measure it all and knowing how to interpret the data from the different channels you expose your audience to.
- Translating insights for the business
Data is more than a series of numbers or a lot of indicators. The trick is to make it understandable for everyone, especially for decision makers. As an employer brand manager you particular want to present the right insights to senior management. After all, they decide on your employer brand budget for the years to come.
Is the budget not there yet? As a basic employer brand you’re at the beginning of your employer brand journey. In this stage it’s important to present the business case for your employer brand. One of the keys in this stage is to break company silos within the organization. Good cooperation between HR and Marketing is crucial. Both worlds do not speak the same language, but you – as the data transformer – can act as a translator and make sure they understand what they’re saying to each other.
In short, the employer brand manager of today is not only known for her knowledge of recruitment, HR and Marketing, but must also be able to think and act as a data transformer. You need to know what the data stands for, how it’s collected, who your target groups are, what they want to know and how you can translate all of this to the business. Quite the challenge, but if you manage to transform data insights into strategic employer brand recommendations you’re on the right path to add true value for your organization.