From Formula One to Human Resources: The Impact of Big Data

Chris Mark

Analysis by Raghu Pant, SAP Performance Benchmarking

What can possibly be in common between the fastest racing cars of the world and the HR departments of organizations? As F1 cars speed around the racetrack, they produce voluminous amounts of data on vehicle performance characteristics:  engine RPM, torque, lap times, speed, and so on.

Race strategy, race testing (pre-season and trials) and race control all produce and leverage data in a big way. While the driver has the ability to fine tune many aspects of the racecar, the real difference lies in how race teams analyze the vast amounts of real-time data, and compare it with historical and predictive models to simulate drag and transform the outcome of races.

Similar to F1, HR departments can tap into huge amounts of data generated by employees to identify factors that drive people productivity, engagement, innovation and business execution. With this ‘people data,’ organizations can build training, succession, leadership and compensation plans to focus their investments on the right skill sets. The challenge for HR, however, lies in managing structured (e.g., from enterprise systems) and unstructured (e.g., from social media, email, etc.) employee data to get a better understanding of their workforce.

SAP’s Performance Benchmarking group recently analyzed the results of companies with “high” vs. “low” maturity of their Enterprise Information Management initiatives for HR. The survey found that 72% of companies recognize the high importance of a strong data-management capability in HR, but only 25% have the capability in place.

Data Management for HRAs organizations look to win the race for talent, the management and use of structured and unstructured employee data by HR will go up. The challenge for HR departments will be the ability to correlate the HR and people data with business strategy execution to make the organization more successful. Or in other words, do their homework off the track to perform on the track like the great F1 teams.

SAP’s Performance Benchmarking program is a strategic service sponsored by our Value Engineering organization. Originally launched in 2004 the program has more than 12,000 participants from more than 4,000 companies and studies available in 12 languages. Participants receive—free of charge—customized and confidential benchmarking comparisons against industry peers as well as aggregate analyses. To participate in the SAP benchmarking program, go to the Value Management homepage.


Chris Mark

About Chris Mark

Chris Mark is the Executive Director, Design & User Experience at SAP. His specialties include business strategy, program management, management consulting, go-to-market strategy and strategic planning.