Using Data Analytics in Global Mobility
BGRS shares key insights from a select group of clients about how today’s global mobility leaders are using big data to drive organization success.
Today’s top organizations are using data analytics in many ways – to make decisions, improve performance, and meet their business objectives. At the same time, Human Resources functions are leveraging analytics to craft global programs that add value across the business. Data related to global mobility programs continues to grow, along with the potential to further a program’s success and the wider company.
To learn about how today’s global mobility leaders are using data and analytics in their organizations, BGRS asked a select group of clients how they are tapping into big data’s potential to drive their organizations’ success. We wanted to understand:
- What business questions are they asking?
- How would they characterize their approach to utilizing data analytics?
- What challenges are associated with their approach?
This article will explore the range of responses shared by respondents, representing diverse organizations and leaders.
Data Analytics and Answering Business Questions
Mobility program data can encompass demographics, policies, cost, quality, performance information, among others. Many global mobility leaders are exploring ways to use that rich program data, and most are already utilizing some form of data analytics to answer key business questions.
Not surprisingly, as organizations are pushing to more closely align mobility with talent management, global mobility leaders indicate they are using data analytics to answer questions related to mobility’s role in the broader talent picture. Some global mobility leaders say they are interested in understanding the impact of international assignments on future employee’s performance.
- Do international assignees ultimately perform better in their jobs than employees who haven’t been on assignment?
- Are employees with international experience promoted more often or at a faster rate than those without?
Tracking the performance of employees who go on assignment over time can yield insight into the effectiveness of global mobility as a driver of talent development in an organization.
Other global mobility leaders are using data analytics to explore attrition and retention. Uncovering specific issues in the organization regarding retaining international assignees can help source root cause and strategies for improvement. In addition, a deeper analysis of retention-related data for international assignees may yield valuable insight about the relative success of a mobility program’s policies and processes, and ultimately the company’s ability to protect its overall financial and talent investment in globally mobile employees.
Mobility Program Cost
An uncertain global economic outlook, combined with the increasing demands on Human Resources functions to support business success, has meant that cost continues to be a primary concern for global mobility leaders. First and foremost, global mobility leaders use data analytics as a basic cost management tool to gain visibility into their true assignment costs. As the pressure to reduce cost has become normalized, many global mobility leaders also utilize data and analytics to uncover additional opportunities to reduce their spend, by asking:
- What do specific benefits cost?
- What is the utilization?
- What is the cost value impact?
Understanding estimated and actual assignment costs is a basic requirement for achieving optimal cost results. It also facilitates internal discussions concerning the business case for overall spending levels or within specific categories.
For other companies reducing benefits without seriously affecting the integrity of the program may not be an option. Many global mobility leaders are analyzing broader metrics to optimize the company’s overall mobility investment. Once the business knows and understands the wider cost picture, it is easier for mobility leaders to parlay the discussion toward enhancing the overall value of international assignments.
Mobility Program Design
Global mobility leaders, like their business peers, are tasked with constantly evaluating the design of their mobility programs. Using quality or employee satisfaction scores can be an indicator of policy effectiveness, organizational process success, supplier performance strength, and/or in-house service levels. Alternatively, utilization data coupled with spending reports and/or demographic data can be used as an index of a mobility program’s flexibility to meet both the needs of employees and the business. Many leaders are using this information to identify how they can enhance their mobility programs, and assess their program’s overall competitiveness.
A Reactive Approach to Using Data Analytics
According to our survey, nearly three-quarters (71%) of companies have a reactive approach to using data analytics for global mobility. Instead of proactively using data and analytics to drive their department’s objectives or support the wider talent agenda, global mobility leaders are primarily responding to requests for data from the business or producing data-driven reporting at the request of senior leadership.
Roadblocks to A More Proactive Approach
Global mobility leaders aspire to proactively use data analytics to get to predictive decision making; however, the reality is that most companies remain in a state of evolution. Most cite common and continued challenges that keep them in a reactive mode.
Lack of Technology
A lack of technology, or a lack of integrated technology, keeps many global mobility leaders from using data analytics in a proactive manner. Data across multiple internal systems, or housed with several different suppliers, may effect limited access or usability. For others, their internal HR platforms, payroll, or accounting systems makes it difficult to gather all mobility related data centrally. Performance data may reside in the HR system, while compensation data sits in payroll, with some assignment costs being paid at the local level.
Absence of Defined Processes
Global mobility leaders also indicate that an absence of defined processes hamper the proactive use of data analytics. An under developed framework can cause data ownership challenges. Carefully determining who is responsible for data capture is often a crucial foundation. Data ownership is ultimately important to ensure data integrity and reliable conclusions.
Resource constraints are another common theme hindering a more proactive approach to using data analytics. Pulling and analyzing data for valuable content is a challenge for many under resourced teams, especially in a time of heightened cost consciousness. Dedicating resources to proactively track and analyze information is often not viable without having to deprioritize other core responsibilities.
Inability to Interpret the Data
Related to resource constraints, global mobility leaders also indicate that sometimes a lack of ability to interpret the data also keeps them in a reactive approach. Often their team members do not have the right skillsets for analyzing and interpreting large sets of data. Furthermore, even if the data is accurately analyzed it also takes a certain set of skills to make that information understandable and actionable to help the business and senior leaders make informed decisions regarding mobility as a whole.
While global mobility leaders understand the benefits of using data analytics proactively, they are constrained by today’s business imperatives. Ultimately, there are some potential negative outcomes to only using data analytics reactively.
- Overall lack of preparation – Global mobility leaders will be uninformed and unable to provide the best guidance and decision making to their organizations regarding talent mobility in the future.
- Unable to anticipate future state – Only examining historical data ignores the important opportunity to focus on the future. Analyzing key metrics and data can inform a business’s future state considering upcoming trends and move patterns.
- Demonstrating value – Data is a critical component of speaking the same language as the business. By not driving their own data agenda, global mobility leaders are confined to responding to requests and relying on more anecdotal evidence about how mobility can contribute to the success of the broader organization.
Moving the needle from reactive to proactive and being able to continuously improve mobility’s value proposition will take a concerted effort. Mobility leaders should assess the current state, look for ways to move into the future, and capture the power of data analytics for their programs’ benefit.