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

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Twitter ID: @ninsights

Interesting Books to Read

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