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Math Businesses IT

Data Mining Moves To Human Resources 262

Posted by Soulskill
from the incrementing-your-workplace-post-count dept.
theodp writes "Just when you thought annual reviews couldn't get worse, BusinessWeek reports that HR departments at companies like Microsoft and IBM are starting to use mathematical analysis to determine the value of each employee. At an undisclosed Internet company, analysis of (non-verbal) communications was used to produce a circle to represent each employee — those determined to generate or pass along valuable info were portrayed as large and dark-colored circles ('thought leaders' and 'networked curators'), while those with small and pale circles were written off as not adding a hell of a lot. 'You have to bring the same rigor you bring to operations and finance to the analysis of people,' explains Microsoft's Rupert Bader. Hey, who could argue with what Quants did for finance?"
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Data Mining Moves To Human Resources

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  • by DeadDecoy (877617) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @12:12PM (#27200861)
    I think if this is used purely to select 'valuable' people by-the-numbers it could be disastrous. If, however, it turns into a data mining exercise, it could enhance the ability of the HR department to ferret out resources and organize teams or research projects. The first thing they should probably do is test out the theory: HR alone, HR + data mining, data mining alone, to see if there is any empirical evidence for making such a move. Maybe they'd then find out that combined, the human + machine performs better because the machine can manage gobs of data more efficiently and the human is more capable of adding qualities that normally aren't encoded into bits. Overall though, it should be tested before implementing. : P
  • I'm not saying toss the engineers - what I'm saying is that there are a lot of cases where there's more than meets the eye. People can be compared to surface excavations - soil stability depends not just on the composition of the soil, but its' history, same as people. Unconsolidated soil is a b*tch to work with. So is soil that has a lot of organic matter (dead vegetation, etc). Try building a house on clay and watch your foundation crack when you have an unusually dry summer and the ground shrinks away from the footings. Some aggregates (gravels) also don't compact properly - we've had class-action suits over this. People are the same - they don't all respond the same way to pressure and changing conditions.

    This is why you shouldn't reduce some problems to a simple number - you end up with a less-than-optimal solution, whether it's wrt handling people or piles of earth.

    Now the REAL thing I find interesting is that this new "tool" doesn't propose how to improve the people who are supposed to be "bottlenecks". It would seem to me that the more efficient approach would be to not lose the investment that the business has already made in the person, and the need to duplicate that same investment in getting a new person up to speed on such things as the people, places, projects, and procedures. People ARE resurces, and as such, they should be valued, not just swapped out for another one because the latest craze says "do this because the numbers say so". The numbers only tell a part of the story.

Sigmund Freud is alleged to have said that in the last analysis the entire field of psychology may reduce to biological electrochemistry.

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