3 Core trends that will shape IO Psychology. Volume 1: Big Data

The world-of-work is changing rapidly and constantly, in line with worldwide trends in technology and social evolution. IO Practitioners need to stay ahead of these developments to remain relevant to the businesses they serve. So, in this article, number 1 of a 3-part series, we look at how Big Data will shape and influence the work of IO Professionals into the future.

What is Big Data anyway?

In its annual review of IO Psychology trends, the Society of Industrial and Organisational Psychology (SIOP), identified Big Data analytics as an emerging factor that will continue to shape the future of the profession. But Big Data is a term often quoted, seldom fully understood. What does the IO Practitioner of today need to know about this trend?

Simply put, Big Data refers to the analysis of large volumes of data, often from a variety of sources, with the aim of generating insights that would have been difficult to obtain otherwise. Big Data analysis has become possible because of:

·         Improvements in data management systems (previously unrelated data streams can now be combined)

·         Speed of data processing

·         Novel statistical and visualisation techniques that deal with data differently

You probably already consume Big Data without even knowing it. If you’ve ever planned your route based on traffic volumes and patterns, you’ve used Big Data analytics employed by geolocation services. The same is true for clicking on recommendations in your social media accounts or sites like Amazon. In a fundamental sense, Big Data analytics are already part of everyday life.

What can Big Data do for IO Psychology?

One of the key benefits of Big Data analytics is that vast quantities of information can be brought together, analysed, and represented in ways that can generate new insights into old questions.

In a recent application of Big Data, a technology company used demographic, performance and physical movement data (captured by wearable sensors) to better understand problems they experienced in delivering projects. What they found: a subset of highly experienced staff members were oversubscribed by less-experienced employees during pressure times. This insight led to a reshaping of how employees interacted when delivering large projects.

The promise of Big Data analytics is large for the IO discipline. It could well revolutionise the way organisations make decisions about their employees, talent pools and talent practices.

What’s the catch?

Using Big Data in our profession does not guarantee success. As with any analytic project, IO professionals must ensure that they’re working with clean, well-sourced data and that they have a clear idea of the questions they want answered.

No one technique, Big Data or otherwise, is likely to be an IO panacea. But the opportunities that Big Data + IO Psychology offer should certainly excite our profession.

What to do next?

Consult sources such as SIOP for IO-centric views on Big Data. For free education in Big Data analytics, check out datacamp.com. Technical information on Big Data analysis can also be found in books such as An Introduction to Statistical Learning (2015) by Gareth James.

At tts, we’re serious about developing our profession and supporting our IO clients and partners by pushing forward the boundaries of what defines us and the businesses we serve. If you’re interested in some of our other enablement solutions, why not drop us a line at info@tts-talent.com or visit us at www.tts-talent.com.


Next month, we will investigate the second trend IO Practitioners need to be aware of: Artificial Intelligence.

September 12, 2017