The Internet of People and the Changing Definition of People Analytics

Several years ago, the term “People Analytics” was equivalent to “HR Analytics.” It referenced the initiative many companies had underway to use Human Resources data to make better decisions.

Since that time, several changes in the definition of “People Analytics” have occurred. First, the land of sports analytics, propelled by the release of a movie called Money Ball in 2011 (book release was 2004), began to associate the phrase of People Analytics with predictive studies to maximize athletic team performance.

Next, in the last few years, universities have raced to implement classes in “People Analytics.” In order to get students to register for these classes, they found they could not market the class as anything related to Human Resources. In speaking with some instructors of these classes, rarely is there an HR person to be seen on the student roster. HR Analytics has no student demand. People Analytics does.

Further changing the definition of People Analytics is the introduction of wearables. These wearable objects gather data and send information to the cloud. I shall classify such objects as establishing the “Internet of People,” which I view as a subset of the “Internet of Things.” The concept of gathering information from wearables provided to your employees has become a hotly contested issue. Obviously privacy is a concern and employees will always wonder what decisions are being made about them in relation to this data collection. The mainstream media has perpetuated a view that data gathered from wearables is called “People Analytics,” further morphing the definition and attaching a negative view to this phrase.

Confused yet? You should be. In today’s publications, the meaning of People Analytics has been distorted so badly that you and the person next to you may envision something entirely different on this topic.

Perhaps it’s time for us to use the original definition of “HR Analytics” to separate our reputable use of employee and workforce data from the contentious wearables and sports analytics audiences.

Until next time,


Tracey is passionate about using data to solve business problems… all types of business problems. Specializing in multiple areas of business analytics, Tracey has helped well-known companies in the U.S., Canada, the UK and Europe use data to make decisions which impact the bottom line.

You can find Tracey on the web at:

Numerical Insights Web Site

Find Tracey on LinkedIn

Twitter ID: @ninsights

Interesting Books to Read

How to Turn Employees into Innovators

Without a doubt, my least popular article of all time was on the topic of innovation. So why would I dare mention that topic again?

Because it’s crucial to our success!

And by “our,” I do mean all of us. Whether you’re a small business like mine or a huge, global corporation, innovation is what keeps us ahead of the competition. I know that in three short years, my business has evolved substantially in order to meet ever-changing needs. Large, global companies must constantly innovate to keep up with the changing demands of customers.

So, if we’re in a department like Human Resources, how do we innovate? The same way everyone else does!

Generate ideas and test ideas until you either conclude it’s great, or it has no value.

If you need a bit of help getting started, there are several resources on the internet. I was reviewing a tool called KickBox this morning which was created by Adobe. It’s very impressive. The bonus news to report is that the site claims that the toolkit will be made Open Source in February. This means you can have it for free.

Briefly, here’s how it works at Adobe.

  • Employees are given a red box.
  • Inside the red box, is a 6 step process to guide innovation, a chocolate bar (for sugar motivation), a Starbucks card (for caffeine motivation) and a pre-paid card for $1000 so employees can test their idea.
  • If they make it through all 6 steps, they will be in possession of valuable information about a tested concept that they can then pitch to an executive to try get funding for the next phase.

So where will most companies fail in this initiative?

  1. They won’t carve out time for the initial meeting to happen (too busy with the day-to-day).
  2. They’ll add management approvals to the process (Adobe has none).
  3. They won’t trust their people to spend the pre-paid card on project-related items. (Remember that Google recommends that you give your people enough freedom to make you slightly uncomfortable.)
  4. They’ll add something else to the process to layer the creative employee in red tape, making it painful to participate. (One company I worked for made employees fill out so much paperwork just to log an idea that no employee would do it.)

So, go ahead and find your free 2017 toolkit and head down the path to innovation. I plan to watch the site for the February release.

Until next time,