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By Kari Syrjä with assistance from Philipps and Shell Talent Intelligence leaders
Market and competitive intelligence cover many areas, but one of the critical yet sometimes neglected areas is the focus on people. A particular subsection of this is Talent Intelligence.
This blog dives deeper into Talent Intelligence. What is it? Why is it important? We’ll uncover the answers to these questions and give some ideas about using it optimally.
The best part? You do not necessarily need any new Talent Intelligence software. Most likely you have most of it with your current Knowledge management setup. It just needs a more structured approach, where you can multi-use existing tools from a Market & Competitive Intelligence domain for instance.
What Is Talent Intelligence?
Talent Intelligence is the process of collecting and analyzing information about talented individuals in a specific industry to determine how to identify, attract, place, and retain them optimally while enabling them to make an impact in the workplace. With this intelligence, companies can create talent strategies in pursuit of a competitive advantage.
Unsurprisingly, it is a way of analyzing information about talent. It’s getting the right people to the right places with the right timing. When doing so, companies can have a broad or narrow focus. They could conduct studies on broader phenomena such as the generic external movement of masses and immigration, so-called “brain drain” movements. Alternatively, they may opt for a narrow focus such as internal performance reviews.
It can involve research on individuals, groups, or entire labor markets, and is used to inform strategic decisions about talent, which may even impact your company location strategy, as well as internal people aspects, such as retention and succession planning. In other words, similarly to market and competitive intelligence, Talent Intelligence is a way of using people and data to inform strategic company decisions.
From a management and internal company perspective, Talent Intelligence refers to the information and insights that business leaders can gather about the talent within their organization. Does that sound familiar? If it does, you may think of a Human Resources department with its Employee/People Analytics or People Insight records concerning a company’s internal talent.
Today, many consider Talent Intelligence to have an external focus that helps to find the best-fit candidates. In that context, it can be divided into macro and micro levels. Whereas Macro-level Talent Intelligence provides external insights about the labor market and talent availability to help inform strategic company decisions, micro-level intelligence is more tactical and used by recruiters and headhunters. All this requires data.
What Does Talent Intelligence Consist Of?
From a micro-level recruitment perspective, Talent Intelligence can be, but is not limited to, the following:
- Researching candidates’ work history and accomplishments: Recruiters can use Talent Intelligence to gather information about a candidate’s past job experiences, skills, and achievements, which can help them assess whether the candidate has the necessary qualifications for a role.
- Identifying top talent in a specific industry or field: Talent Intelligence can help recruiters identify individuals who are considered experts or leaders in a particular industry or field, which can be useful when looking for candidates to fill specialized roles.
- Assessing cultural fit: Talent Intelligence can provide insights into a candidate’s values, work style, and other personal characteristics, which can help recruiters determine whether a candidate would be a good fit with the organization’s culture.
- Identifying potential challenges or areas for improvement: Talent Intelligence can also help recruiters identify any potential challenges or areas for improvement that a candidate may have, which can be useful in the recruitment and onboarding process.
What Are The Benefits Of Talent Intelligence?
Business leaders use Talent Intelligence to inform their decisions about how to allocate resources, identify areas for improvement, and attract and retain both internal and external top talent. It helps leaders to understand the strengths and weaknesses of their workforce, and how to align the skills of their employees with the needs of the business.
To put it simply, the benefit of Talent Intelligence is the ability to match the right people to the right places. A better understanding of these matters enables leaders to build strong and effective teams that create faster and have a better impact on the short- and long-term development of the company.
The ultimate benefit enables your company to perform faster and better in the present while anticipating and addressing both tactical near-future changes and the strategic long-term needs of the company.
How and From Where is Talent Intelligence Captured?
As a Talent Intelligence expert, where should you look first?
It can feel overwhelming to gather information about thousands (even hundreds of thousands) of individuals’ skills, and abilities. Use the information gathered to identify and evaluate the potential ideal candidates matching the organization’s employment or development opportunities. Conceptually, this challenge is not much different from the early warning alert scanning provided by the market and competitive intelligence platforms. After all, it is all about organizing data flows. Relief; You do not need to scan the whole internet manually.
Gathering Individual Data
Typically, the required information would come from a variety of sources, including resumes and CVs, job applications, performance evaluations, aptitude tests, and assessments of skills and knowledge. Talent Intelligence may also be collected through interviews with the individuals themselves, as well as with their colleagues, supervisors, and other people who have worked with them in the past.
In some cases, signal spotting can be automated through the use of data analytics and machine learning algorithms that analyze patterns in an individual’s work history and performance data to identify their strengths and areas for improvement. Yes, in fact, most advanced HR systems do that work for you -with the assumption that the underlying data is correct.
Keeping European Union GDPR legislation in mind, individuals’ acceptance must be collected, and data erased after a certain timeframe. In other words, Talent Intelligence needs to be kept fresh and dynamic domain, not something to be left in records to become outdated and misleading.
But what if you lack internal records? What if you want to look outside of your company and identify those key players for your company?
You can gather publicly available information about individuals. This may include information such as their professional history, education, accomplishments, industry involvement, and other relevant details that are publicly disclosed.
Talent Intelligence searches can be conducted online, using tools such as search engines, social media platforms, and public databases. The specific types of information required depend on the needs and goals of the person or organization conducting the search.
The most common sources of external Talent Intelligence tend to be:
- Professional networks and social media platforms: These can be valuable sources of information about the skills and experiences of potential candidates. Apart from Linkedin (obviously), consider open and closed online platforms from Quora to Mastodon, from Guild to Reddit. Who are active in Discord groups and who in Twitter? Which one is most relevant for your industry?
- Traditional (non-online) industry associations and professional organizations: These organizations often maintain databases of professionals in their fields and may be able to provide information about the skills and experiences of potential candidates. For example, SCIP in the Competitive Intelligence domain or Junior Chamber for leaders under 40. Online directories of these various organizations can be a useful source of information about individuals in a particular industry.
- Educational institutions: Universities and other educational institutions may have databases of alumni who are available for employment and may be able to provide information about the skills and experiences of these individuals. Look up their Alumni associations and events.
- Recruitment agencies and headhunters: These organizations specialize in identifying and evaluating potential candidates for employment, and may be able to provide valuable Talent Intelligence to organizations. Warning: Using a Talent Intelligence-specific consultant usually comes with a big price tag.
- Professional references: Once you know your target, asking for references from individuals who have worked with potential candidates in the past can be a valuable way to gather Talent Intelligence.
- Public records and online databases: There are many online databases and public records that can provide information about the skills and experiences of potential candidates, such as court records, government databases, and news articles.
- On a more strategic macro-level, open-source information about salaries and labor costs can be useful. As well as living costs, such as real estate costs and even inflation on food prices, these costs are not trivial as they do impact companies’ reality on how to attract and retain talent. These can be tracked easily with market intelligence tools.
Once you start searching, do not rely only on one web search engine. In addition to Google, others such as Bing or DuckDuckGo can give additional, and different, answers too. Do not limit yourself to the power of one. Ask Youtube, ask ChatGPT. Diversify your search. These will help you to find publicly available information about individuals.
Challenges with Talent Intelligence
The practice of using data and analytics to inform talent management decisions has the potential to create a significant impact on an organization. However, there are several challenges to Talent Intelligence that can prevent companies from realizing their full potential.
Some of these factors include:
- Lack of (clean) data: Talent Intelligence requires access to relevant and accurate data, but many organizations struggle to collect and maintain high-quality data on their employees.
- Limited analytics capabilities: Analysing and interpreting data requires specialized skills and tools. Without sufficient analytics capabilities, organizations may be unable to extract meaningful insights from their talent data.
- Resistance to change: Implementing it may require changing long-standing practices or processes, which can be met with resistance from employees and decision-makers.
- Limited buy-in from leadership: Talent Intelligence initiatives require support from leadership to be successful. Without buy-in from leadership, these initiatives may struggle to get the resources and attention they need to be effective.
- Ethical concerns: Talent Intelligence raises several ethical concerns, such as privacy, bias, and discrimination. Who wants to be observed and do we even have a choice? Organizations must be mindful of these issues and take steps to address them ethically.
Some methods of gathering Talent Intelligence, such as conducting interviews or surveys, may produce results relatively quickly, while others, such as analyzing large amounts of data or conducting experiments, take a longer time. First-party data processing can be automated, and live interviews shared near real-time. Nevertheless, the more data you need to collect and the more complex the analysis, the longer it will take for results to materialize.
How Much Does Talent Intelligence Cost?
The cost of Talent Intelligence depends on the methods and resources used to gather and analyze the information. For example, the cost may include the salaries of employees or contractors who are responsible for collecting and analyzing career certifications, track records, and education data, as well as the cost of any tools or software that is used to process and visualize it.
In addition, there may be costs associated with collecting and storing such data. It can be storage fees or subscription fees for databases or other sources of information. Costs will depend on the specific needs, as well as the scale and complexity of the data collection and analysis efforts.
In other words, apart from the cost of time to conduct a Talent Intelligence analysis, specific records and systems can be expensive to implement and maintain, and the benefits may not always justify the costs.
Before you consider acquiring any Talent Intelligence system, ask whether the same job can be done by tweaking your existing knowledge management approach. After all, it is all about sorting and filtering data from various sources. Advanced market and competitive intelligence platforms — such as Intelligence2day®— which might be utilized elsewhere in your organization, can be used for the same purpose without any need for new tools.
Getting Started With Talented Intelligence
Despite the above warnings of complexity, costs, and ethical issues, you still want to try Talent intelligence, but how do you do it?
To get started with Talent Intelligence, consider the following steps:
Define your goals: What do you hope to achieve through Talent Intelligence? Are you looking to fill specific roles, identify potential leaders, or understand the competitive landscape for talent in your industry?
Identify your sources: There are many different sources of information that can be used for Talent Intelligence, including social media profiles, resumes, job boards, and professional networking sites. Consider which sources are most relevant and useful for your purposes.
Gather and organize data: Begin collecting data from your identified sources and organize it in a way that allows you to easily analyze and interpret it. This may involve creating a database or spreadsheet or using specialized software tools.
Analyse and interpret the data: Use the data you have gathered to answer your defined questions and achieve your goals. This may involve statistical analysis, trend identification, or other forms of data analysis.
Communicate your findings: Once you have drawn conclusions from your analysis, it is important to communicate your findings to relevant stakeholders in a clear and concise manner. This may involve creating reports, presentations, or other materials to share your insights.
The output of Talent Intelligence can take many forms, depending on the goals and needs of the stakeholders. You can make recommendations to stakeholders about how to best use the available talent. These recommendations may include suggestions for specific hiring, development, or improvements to the talent management process itself.
Companies use Talent Intelligence in different ways. While some analyze and predict workforce trends, skills shortages, and the impact of technology on the job market to make better workforce decisions, others are more focused on talent acquisition and succession planning with analytics based on performance. As scary as it sounds, Talent Intelligence may impact your career moves far before you even know it yourself.
It is good to understand that most companies have not yet embraced Talent Intelligence fully. While specialist software firms are growing up in this specific domain, it is basically searching and categorizing information in a knowledge management way, which can also be done with existing Market and Competitive Intelligence platforms such as Intelligence2day®.
The forerunners can exploit the benefits of Talent Intelligence faster, but none of the systems can help them if they are not internally aligned and collaborative first. Talent Intelligence can be confusing since organizational structures in HR tend to differentiate entry-level, generic recruiting, and senior executive C-level recruiting. Many professionals with Talent in their title can be offended if they are considered recruiters, as depending on the company structure, Talent might mean education or performance appraisal reviews or HR system management with people insights reporting.
Overall, the output of Talent Intelligence should clearly communicate the findings of the analysis in terms of actionable recommendations for stakeholders.
Another blog topic for later exploration is if you could put Talent Intelligence to work for yourself, as the rise of artificial intelligence within the field is developing towards virtual assistants that can help proactively with learning and development to optimize your career.
What is your opinion? Is Talent Intelligence a friend or a foe? Is it something you want to work with? Because, regardless of what we think personally, it is here to stay, and each and every one of us is being analyzed — right now, right here.
In strategy discussions, there is an old saying: “If you can not win them, better embrace them”. Is it time for you too to try some Talent Intelligence?