Organizations Succeed With Talent Analytics

Topic(s): business strategy, job performance, selection, talent management
Publication: Harvard Business Review (2010)
Article: Competing on talent analytics
Authors: T.H. Davenport, J. Harris, J. Shapiro
Reviewed by: Liz Brashier

How many times do organizational leaders make “people” decision based on gut instinct? Whether it’s deciding which department needs attention, selecting a customer population to target, or trying to determine an organization’s overall health, experts (Davenport, Harris, & Shapiro, 2010) encourage us to make these critical talent decision based on analytics rather than “going with a gut instinct.”


In an article rife with illustrations of organizations that effectively use analytics to save money, increase profits, and retain the best talent, the authors offer six types of analytics to use when addressing talent issues:

  1. Human-capital facts focus on one piece of information regarding individual performance (e.g., turnover) that can be used to indicate organizational health.
  2. Analytical HR uses HR data to gain insight into which departments or functions need attention; by using the data to focus only on the areas that actually need help, managers can save valuable time and resources.
  3. Human-capital investment analysis allows an organization insight into which actions have the largest impact on performance.
  4. Workplace forecasts use metrics to make predictions about potential shortages and/or excesses before they actually happen.
  5. The talent value model uses analytics to determine what employees like most about the company, and then uses the data to increase retention.
  6. The talent supply chain operates in real time to help organizations make key decision about talent-related demands; this is the most complex of the analytics, requiring high-quality data and rigorous analysis.


So, how do we master talent analytics? The authors provide five suggestions for building competence in this area:

  • Data: Must have access to high-quality data.
  • Enterprise: The organization as a whole – and not just HR – must have access to employee data.
  • Leadership: An organization’s leaders must be on board with the approach.
  • Target: Consider which analytics should be used in particular situations, which areas need analytical focus, and which types of employees need the most attention to get the best use of analytics.
  • Analysts: As with any type of analysis, theory must be converted into practice. The organization must make use of skilled quantitative analysts, human resource management systems, and people skilled in employment law.

The authors also note that industrial-organizational psychologists are skilled in creating analytical initiatives and programs.


Davenport, T., Harris, J., & Shapiro, J. (2010). Competing on talent analytics. Harvard Business Review, 12, 52 – 58.