250px-DataTNGEvery now and then, conversations with multiple people and different times come together. I was sitting in a meeting yesterday when someone said: “When all you are selling is a commodity, data is the new competitive differentiator.”

We were discussing how to make a business case for some changes to their ERP system. That piled on a conversation I had recently with Mario Laudi about his new firm HireFully and his attempt to help people make better hiring decisions. This added to another conversation with Carmen Jeffrey at i-identify about how hirers normally do reference checks. And then there was Tuesday’s post on People Analytics.

And it hit me. Where’s our data?

If we set out to buy a new machine for the use in production, we make a business case, establish our need for feeds and speeds, rate suppliers against those metrics and when we have actually implemented whatever it is we bought, we then use metrics to evaluate production.

But what about people?

What metrics are we using to determine that we really need someone? What metrics do we use to evaluate potential hires? How do we apply metrics to reference checks? How do we evaluate them when they’re working?

In a world of Six Sigma and Five Nines Reliability, where data is the new competitive tool, what metrics are we using to hire and manage people? Where’s our data?