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HCM and the Quantified Organization

Fitbit and similar wearable technologies (and their supporting apps) fuelled the emergence of the “quantified self,” a term coined by Gary Wolf and Kevin Kelley, editors at Wired Magazine. The term refers to people’s ability and desire to monitor their bodies so they can better understand their physical condition and, ideally, use that information to improve their overall health and well-being.

What does the quantified self movement[1] have to do with HR?

More than you might imagine. Managing employee health and well-being, for example, is one obvious application and many organizations have already connected those dots.[2]

More recently, the concept of the quantified self has been used as a lens, by Sierra-Cedar, in the analysis of their 2014–2015 HR System Survey. Researchers wondered whether organizations that “gather more data, share that data openly, and leverage it in processes and decision making”[3] have a better understanding of organizational health and are able to translate that awareness into improved business results and better financial performance.

Sierra-Cedar hypothesized that this heightened use of data might represent the true value inherent in HCM Technologies, since the competitive advantage created by early adoption of these technologies has already started to dissipate with wider adoption.

They asked, in effect, whether it was possible to identify the “quantified organization” and, if so, whether those organizations would out-perform their peers.

Digging back into their data, they parsed the following practices to identify organizations that exhibit data-driven decision making practices.[4]

They Get the Basics Right

  • Focus on process standardization
  • Attend to process maturity
  • Consider a complete platform solution combining Integrated Talent Management on your HRMS

They Create a Strategy and Culture that Supports Performance

  • Create and consistently update an HR Systems Strategy
  • Implement an Enterprise Integration Strategy
  • Migrate to an enterprise Business Intelligence solution
  • Implement a Culture of Change Management

They Innovate with HR Technologies

  • Adopt and integrate Workforce Management, Talent Management, and Business Intelligence Applications
  • Adopt Social-enabled processes
  • Adopt Mobile-enabled processes

Having sorted-out the companies to be dubbed quantified organizations, Sierra-Cedar analysts proceeded to compare the performance of these companies to the performance of companies that did not meet the quantified organization criteria. First they compared performance across the three areas defined above.

Foundation and Basics

Analysis showed that quantified organizations have more HR process standardization and greater levels of HR process maturity.

Strategy and Culture

Organizations that prioritize strategy and culture strive to create an environment of common understanding that permeates throughout the enterprise. Researchers found that quantified organizations favored enterprise-wide HR strategies and fully integrated technologies. They were also more likely to cultivate a change management culture incorporating dedicated change management practices into all significant technology changes.


When it came to assessing innovation, Sierra-Cedar researchers found that quantified organizations showed higher levels of adoption of:

  • Integrated technology suites that incorporate workforce management, talent management and business intelligence solutions. Comprehensiveness of the deployment and the level of integration were identified as the innovative factor in this category. The study showed that quantified organizations are seven-times more likely to adopt comprehensive, fully integrated systems.
  • Social-enabled technologies (three times the adoption rate).
  • Mobile-enabled technologies (twice the adoption rate).

The Bottom Line

To determine whether the practices of a quantified organization translate into improved business results; researchers analyzed each company’s return on equity (ROE), a widely accepted measure of financial performance.

This is what they found: companies identified as quantified organizations had 79% greater ROE than their non-quantified counterparts.

Just as the convergence of data, technology and human health has resulted in new ways of managing our physical well-being, the intersection of data, technology and organizational health is poised to change the business performance equation. When used effectively, data can fuel the ultimate feedback loop, leading to organizations that effectively synthesize information from multiple sources to arrive at holistic, regenerative solutions. The most interesting takeaway is that this shift can only happen once the human component of an organizational data eco-system is factored into the calculation.


To experience the impact of integrated HCM with a social twist, try NetSuite TribeHR today.


Image credits: all images sourced from Sierra-Cedar’s whitepaper, The Quantified Organization: Creating Data Driven HR

[2] According to ABI Research, 13 million wearable devices will be integrated into corporate-wellness plans over the next five years. Cited in Using Wearable Devices to Help Promote Employee Wellness by Lisa Evans

[3]   Sierra-Cedar 2015–2016 HR System Survey, 18th Annual Edition

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