Analytics of the people, by the people, for the people


Yes, it’s a slightly grandiose title: it might make a few people smile; it’ll probably make many more sigh. Some may even consider it Lincolnesque(!), but the People Analytics & Future of Work (PAFOW) conference that took place on 1-2 February in San Francisco definitely deserves such a lavish title.

In my three years first attending and now co-chairing PAFOW, the conference has always stood out from the crowd as being the richest for content, shared learning and participative collaboration amongst delegates. That is down to the environment of trust and curiosity that has been created by Al Adamsen and the PAFOW team. The latest edition of PAFOW was the best yet, and every delegate I spoke to during and after the event concurred with that sentiment.

As ever, Al created a panel of speakers that represented a veritable who’s who of the people analytics space and an agenda that ably demonstrated how the field is both broadening and deepening its reach. Whereas in prior years, the focus of people analytics has very much been on creating business value, PAFOW confirmed that the emphasis is now almost as equally on creating value for the employee (hence the ostentatious title of this article!).

It is an exciting time to work in the people analytics space. Interest levels have never been so high, and with Josh Bersin revealing in his speech that 69% of large organisations now have a people analytics team, growth may finally be set to become exponential. As the perfect storm of technology, rising employee expectations and digitisation converge, so the opportunities (and challenges) facing people analytics teams become more substantial.

Figure 1 represents my synopsis of the main opportunities and challenges that were discussed at PAFOW. This is not an exclusive list as many other opportunities and challenges exist in our space, but it does represent a healthy proportion and provides a basis for summarising the key themes that emerged at PAFOW.


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