The Infinite Loop – Data to Insight to Action: How HR Powers the Intelligent Enterprise

Suppose your business is struggling to recruit more high-demand talent and stem off high turnover in the meantime. You cannot keep up with demand and your competitors are turning your missed opportunities into their wins. Your revenue is on a down turn. Your customer relationships are suffering. And most likely, your existing workforce is burning out and becoming disengaged.

It’s a reality that every HR organization – in varying degrees – experiences from time to time. It’s a highly visible matter that strikes the bottom line and threatens productivity, giving CEOs and the rest of the boardroom a reason to be concerned. But unfortunately, many HR leaders are missing out on looking at the issue holistically with in-depth analysis and with an end-to-end perspective of long-term employees, new hires, and job candidates.

According to the Harvard Business Review (HBR) report, “HR Analytics Busting Silos and Delivering Outcomes,” sponsored by SAP, HR organizations have a distinct opportunity to drive the leadership agenda strategically and proactively. But first, they need to step “beyond automation of HR processes and operations and [take] a top-down approach to start with business challenges, identify workforce drivers and measures that impact the results, and engages the total workforce through positive experience toward meeting objectives.”

Busting Silos to Turn HR into the Intelligent Enabler of Business Success

Ever since the first customer meeting at this year’s SAPPHIRE NOW, it was astounding to see how many HR organizations are moving beyond administrative activities to focus on strategic business objectives. However, most of them were still struggling to ask the right questions to determine whether staffing levels are adequate, a training program is improving performance, or a specific skill will be needed to support future business needs.

So, what’s the next move for these organizations? It’s quite simple: HR must establish itself as the heart of an intelligent organization, where the entire function is inextricably linked to the enterprise and injecting information and insights in a continuous loop. This system bridges the entire life cycle, from recruiting and onboarding to HR and payroll, time and attendance management, learning and development, performance and compensation,  succession, and extending to alumni engagement.

The Framework for the Intelligent Enterprise Suite

For years HR has been capturing a large variety of data from across the complete employee experience. To draw value from this treasure trove of data, HR can leverage integrated analytics to make connections between how people work and how the business performs. Finance, manufacturing, supply chain, environmental health and safety, customer experience, and other business data can then be pulled into this insight-driven ecosystem to guide every function through a common language and vision. In return, HR specialists can model and anticipate risks such as employee attrition, benchmark top talent to set standards and guidelines for hiring and development, and find links between employee performance and business results such as customer loyalty and profitability.

Amplifying the Strategic Value of HR for the Greater Good of the Business

When the entire HR organization acts as one continuous, intelligent loop as an extension of the enterprise, the employee experience has the potential to be nothing short of magical. For example:

  • Staff movement is more coordinated and measurable
  • Business and talent strengths are known
  • Skill gaps are closed
  • Communication flows throughout the enterprise
  • Process bottlenecks are eliminated
  • The workforce culture promotes the best interests of business through the lens of the employee

In return, the entire HR function can better balance priorities between administrative and value-add activities, and is ready to handle evolving workforce and business dynamics no matter where they occur. The organization can rigorously consider the workforce drivers and implications of every decision, especially when talent supply, workforce culture, and the succession pipeline are under the CEO’s microscope.

Connecting HR with an Enterprise Analytics Vision from SAP

So, how does this all come together to serve the enterprise? SAP Analytics Cloud helps businesses make end-to end decisions with confidence, bringing together data across all areas of your business including finance, human resources, operations, sales, and marketing. The SAP Analytics Cloud delivers business intelligence, planning, and predictive capabilities within one product, leveraging the power of SAP HANA for performance and scalability, to allow you to:

  • Connect data from all of your SAP solutions – on premise, cloud, and hybrid
  • Blend data from non-SAP sources to create meaningful business stories
  • Provide a beautiful, modern, flexible analytics user experience
  • Simulate and predict what might happen
  • Plan and collaborate on a course of action
  • Implement decisions through actions that deliver immediate business value

SAP SuccessFactors has led the market globally for decades through the artful combination of deep experience in HR combined with unique technology to transform raw people data into a single version of the truth and to build the industry standard for HR metrics and benchmarks.

SAP SuccessFactors’ vision is to fuse its deep HR domain expertise with the equally robust analytics technology from the SAP Analytics Cloud. This will facilitate the easy blending of HR and talent data with data from finance, operations, sales, marketing, etc., all within one user experience.

Importantly this new capability will support the full business, guiding the board and senior executives, line of business leaders and local managers, HR business partners, analysts, and planners.

A Peek into Our Lab for a Preview on What’s to Come

The new solution will deliver summarized key performance indicators for live, real-time decision support:

Facilitate deep understanding of your company performance through smart insights and SAP SuccessFactors’ extensive content library:

Allow users to fluidly navigate their company metrics and analyze hot spots requiring attention and intervention, or recognize good performance and share this with others:

Forecast, predict and plan across multiple variables bringing together people performance and business outcomes:


The best-run companies have two things in common – good leadership and talent that is connected to their company’s purpose to drive phenomenal results. Shatter old mindsets to turn HR into a data-driven powerhouse for the future of your workforce. Read the SAP executive study, “4 Ways Leaders Set Themselves Apart,” created in collaboration with Oxford Economics.


Kouros Behzad is director of Solution Management for Workforce Analytics and Planning at SAP SuccessFactors.