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Why graphs will form the basis for a new HR industry

Global HR influencer Josh Bersin recently singled out graph databases as the basis for a new wave of HCM technology over the next 5-10 years. Neo4j’s Amy Hodler examines the claim and considers some real-world examples

Source | | IDG Contributing Editor

HR relies on clear structures to manage reporting processes, authorisations and tasks, and role allocation smoothly across an organisation. As a result, having an overview of complex org charts and a flexible framework to respond to change is indispensable.

Something that will assist in this vision is graph technology. The technology, which is primed to find connections between datapoints, was identified as the potential basis of a new wave of human-centric HR applications by respected HR analyst Josh Bersin in his latest annual report on HR technology.

Bersin identifies people analytics as the fastest-growing sub-domain of the HR profession—he says 25% of companies are hiring into this role. People analytics means creating an HR database that reflects relationships and roles, not just an org chart, and Bersin has called out graph technology as a promising way to achieve that:

“In today’s businesses, people have jobs and job descriptions, but these don’t typically reflect the work that is actually done. More and more of the focus today is on role and project, which leads to the need to look at someone’s real business capabilities, not just their job title, level, or experience… every individual in the company is no longer a node on the hierarchy. We are each nodes in a network, connected to many other people, projects, information, and history.

“[Graph databases] are vastly more powerful for modeling how people work in networks, how people search for data and objects, how people communicate and build different types of relationships (peers, team-mates, bosses, subordinates). These products essentially store this information into a graph of the company, which can evolve over time.”

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