Top 11 Predictions That We See Impacting HR and Talent For 2017 – Prediction 3


Research Report Bersin by Deloitte


Real-time feedback, pulse surveys, text and narrative analytics, and network analytics tools will become mainstream in 2017

Prediction 3: Real-Time Feedback and Analytics Will Explode in Maturity

This leads me to my third prediction. Driven by the need to understand and improve engagement, and the continuous need to measure and improve employee productivity, real time feedback and analytics will explode.

The feedback tools market (see Figure 5) is now more than $300 million in size and growing at more than 100 percent annually.21 Most major HR software tools are now embedding pulse survey tools, activity streams, and other techniques for feedback.

Most new performance management tools are including these features as well. Let me give you a few examples.

  • A large healthcare provider (more than 300 hospitals around the U.S.) has just replaced its annual engagement survey with a weekly pulse survey (one question per week). The senior vice president of HR told me, “… they are amazed at what information, issues, and new ideas have surfaced.” The company is already delivering weekly dashboards directly to line managers and is now looking to add similar feedback tool to patients at the bedside.
  • A large airline is adopting pulse surveys across its entire employee base (from customer service agents to baggage handlers), and for the first time deliveringengagement and feedback dashboards to line managers. Not only is this central to the company’s new customer focus, it is likely to be used for performance management, leadership development, and even customer service.
  • A fast-growing marketing software company (3,000-plus employees) sends pulse surveys to its entire sales team every week. The senior vice president of sales told me, “… I can tell Friday night from the feedback survey exactly who is going to perform well the following week and who needs extra coaching.”
  • A large educational institution going through downsizing used a rapid feedback tool to gain immediate feedback from employees after a layoff was announced. The CEO and HR leaders discovered some problems with the program within 24 hours; the next day, the company was able to respond and modify the program to better meet the needs of employeesNot only are dozens of exciting new vendors selling pulse survey tools with analytics backends, but these tools are becoming smarter and smarter. Several of the vendors have real-time analytics (you can see groups that are unhappy in real-time), text analytics engines (all open feedback questions can be analyzed and grouped by topic), and built-in action plans.The exciting thing about the feedback market22 is that it goes far beyond measures of employee engagement. The new world of performance management (discussed later in this report) is now built on “always feedback.” Tools like Slack, Outlook, and Gmail now have plugins to give people feedback. New feedback apps are being used to rate meetings, benefits, and even new product announcements.

    For 2017, I think it is critical for companies to build a strategy to automate and instrument your entire range of employee experiences—and develop what I like to think of as a “feedback architecture.”

Figure 7- Enterprise Feedback Architecture - Sources by Bersin by Deloitte, 2016.


2017 is the time for you to build a plan and roadmap for feedback systems (and tools) throughout your employee lifecycle.


Every part of your employee experience (from candidates looking for a job; new hires going through onboarding; employees at work on a daily basis; and performance checkins, reviews, and exit surveys) all bring together information you need to understand your entire “employee experience” (discussed later in this report). While none of the HR vendors in the market can cover this entire range of applications as yet, it is coming soon. So, 2017 is the time for you to build a plan and roadmap for feedback systems (and tools) throughout your employee lifecycle.

Growth of People Analytics

As real-time feedback data grows in volume, and your company focuses more heavily on issues like culture, engagement, and external brand, your analytics team needs to keep up. CulturePath, for example (a Deloitte tool that helps companies to diagnose their business culture), produces data at an individual team level that can be matched directly with engagement, turnover, and other metrics. You will need an analytics team to bring all of this together.

We have been studying HR and talent analytics for a decade now and, this year, the improvement in maturity is striking.

Figure 8- People Analytics Maturity Grwos - Sources by Bersin by Deloitte, 2016.

This shift means more than simply becoming better at statistics and data management. I believe in 2017 we will see analytics move from a niche group in HR to an important operational business function.

Here is why. As all of this data becomes available, the people analytics team becomes central to almost everything we do in management, leadership, and HR. Every program designed, every incentive rolled out, and every structural change or organizational challenge faced should be informed by data. So, in 2017, we should stop thinking of “people analytics” as a team of statisticians producing reports and retention models—this team is now becoming a general purpose data and consulting group to the entire company. Here are a few examples.

  • A major manufacturer can now predict unplanned absences, and has adjusted the pace of performance reviews and other management practices to directly reduce absence at key times of the year.
  • A large energy company has reinvented its leadership model by studying the pattern of high performers in Asia to find that the career trajectory and academic background they use in the U.S. no longer applies.
  • A fast-growing telecommunications company in India now uses real-time dashboards to measure candidate flow, candidate quality, and time to productivity for all of its hiring in more than 100 different sales and business locations.
  • Several banks now use proprietary risk analytics models to identify communication patterns, and potential threats of compliance risk and fraud, based on patterns of communication and past history.
  • A large consulting company (Deloitte) instrumented its employees in a series of cities to determine ways to design conference rooms, windows, and work environments to help to optimize productivity and employee happiness.
  • A major services company now gives its employees a mobile app that recommends what office, location, and parking spot they should take to optimize their work environment, based on their preferences.
  • Another services company now gives its employee a “nudge” app that monitors their travel, time billed, and miles flown to help them to cut down on excess stress and overwork, without alarming their managers.
  • A food service company analyzed its highest retention customers, and found that the behaviors of the highest-performing teams do not focus on sales or service, but rather on safety and accident avoidance.
  • An energy utility found that an accident it incurred could have been predicted if the company had more carefully used text analytics to monitor employee feedback in emails and surveys over the prior years.

As you can see, the realm of people analytics has moved far beyond “engagement analysis and retention modeling” to business analytics—to understand what we know about our people that can help us to improve performance, reduce risk, or cut cost.

As part of this maturing of people analytics, we see other changes in 2017. These will be further explored in our upcoming new People Analytics Maturity Model23.

  • Analytics skills are now available to HR, but most companies struggle to find people who can interpret data, visualize data, and define real interventions that take advantage of data.
  • Analytics teams are becoming more “federated” within the organization, so business partners and line managers can now gain the demonstrated benefits of analytics through prebuilt dashboards that measure what matters (which has been determined in advance through modeling).
  • HR tools and platforms are becoming better at consolidating and analyzing data, but most analytics projects are still done by hand.
  • Data management continues to plague most large companies, despite the wave of investment in new cloud systems. A focus on data governance, security, and a sound data dictionary are more important than ever.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) is now becoming commonplace, so it is no longer necessary to just “model a problem”—many software tools now “prescribe or recommend” solutions. One vendor, HireVue, for example, can view interview videos, and determine when someone is likely to be lying, exaggerating, or perhaps is just not a cultural fit. Its reliability is good enough that major companies are now replacing dozens of interviews with such AI / analytics tools.


Other Predictions:

Prediction 1: Organizational Design Will Be Challenged Everywhere
Prediction 2: Culture and Engagement Will Remain Top Priorities
Prediction 4: A New Generation of Performance Management Tools Will Emerge
Prediction 5: A Focus on “Human Performance” and Wellbeing Will Become a Critical Part of HR, Talent, and Leadership 
Prediction 6: Focus on Employee Experience Will Overcome Process Design in HR
Prediction 7: Digital HR and Learning Will Help Us to Reinvent L&D and HR Systems
Prediction 8: The Leadership Market Will Start a Steady Process of Reinvention
Prediction 9: Diversity, Inclusion, and Unconscious Bias Will Become a Top Priority
Prediction 10: The L&D Function Will Continue to Struggle
Prediction 11: The Future of Work Is Here and HR Is in the Hot Seat


  • Global Human Capital Trends 2016: The new organization—Different by design, Deloitte Development LLC and Deloitte University Press, 2016,
  • This information is based on our ongoing research on the topic of employee engagement.
  • Feedback Is The Killer App: A New Market and Management Model Emerges,” / Josh Bersin, August 26, 2015,
  • This information is based on our current research on the topic of people analytics, the report for which is due to be published in 2017.

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