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Talent management tools offer HR a makeover; data lake harbors info

Few people think of their companies' human resources departments as innovative forces shaping the course of business. Old stereotypes of being dowdy, bloated and bureaucratic have thrived since manufacturers first started forming HR departments in the early 20th century. But a new breed of software may just push those die-hard views into the grave. In this BizApps Today video report, editors Joe Hebert and David Essex discuss how talent management tools are transforming HR managers from paper-pushers to talent agents.

Essex, who co-wrote the cover story on talent management software in the August issue of Business Information magazine, says the technology helps HR staffs manage four main areas: recruitment, performance management, learning and development, and compensation management. At many companies, the first thing it does is drastically reduce the amount of paper used. That's what happened at OHL, a third-party logistics company in Brentwood, Tenn., that Essex cites in the video. In the past, its printers went into overdrive each year at performance review time. "Think of 5,000 employees who don't have a computer with a 13-page performance review -- that's a lot of paper," said Tia Smith, OHL's senior manager of global talent, in the Business Information story.

To change its ways, the company adopted new performance and learning management software, digitizing the reviews of all those workers. But the benefits didn't stop at paper cutting. OHL has also used the talent management system to streamline its career development process, identify top performers and better align compensation with performance on the job.

More and more organizations are following similar paths to integrate different HR functions and foster better collaboration between HR and other departments, Essex says in the video. Now comes the real test for many, he adds: integrating the talent management tools with existing HR systems that contain employee data.

Also in the video, Craig Stedman, another Business Information editor, discusses the August issue's "What's the Buzz?" section on the big data management approach known as the data lake. There's no water involved -- the data lake is a vendor metaphor for a data repository based on the Hadoop distributed processing framework. Stedman says it's meant to harbor all the streams of data rushing into organizations; data scientists can then either access the data directly or analyze filtered subsets pumped out to other data stores.

But the data lake isn't all R and R for IT teams, he says. Watch this five-minute video for more on whether it holds water or is just all wet -- and on whether talent management software would be a good addition to your organization.

Text by Jason Sparapani, managing editor for e-publications. Email him at and follow us on Twitter: @sDataManagement.

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