The average Human Resources (HR) team is sitting on a data gold mine, which is the theme of my new book ‘Data-Driven HR’. There’s recruitment data, career progression data, training data, absenteeism figures, productivity data, personal development reviews, competency profiles and staff satisfaction data, just for starters. Plus, in addition to traditional HR data sets, companies can now collect so much more data – scanning social media data, for instance, or analyzing the content of emails to gauge employee sentiment.

Using HR data can be legally and ethically challenging, but incredibly valuable – probably the greatest asset the HR team has. Why? Because when HR data is used to improve decisions, make employees happier, and optimize processes, it adds value to the company.

In the past, a lot of HR data went unused or, if it was used, it was put into charts and tables for something like a corporate performance pack. Now, in the era of big data and analytics, companies are turning their data into insights, such as predicting when employees will leave, where to recruit the most suitable candidates from, how to identify and attract those suitable candidates, and how to keep them happy once they become employees.

All this means that HR data is more valuable than ever before. So it’s no wonder that a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit found that 82% of organizations planned to either begin or increase their use of big data in HR before the end of 2018. This has given rise to ‘intelligent HR’ as a bit of a buzz phrase.