Alison Owen
by Alison Owen

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The recent furore surrounding high profile data slip-ups by giants like Facebook and MyFitnessPal has confirmed one thing: few of us really understand the vast scope of what data can do. 

That it presents huge opportunity, certainly, and ‘big data’, well we all definitely want that, but it’s when data sources combine that new and powerful knowledge is born. This is evidenced by the Facebook / Cambridge Analytica case, where different data sources were mapped to enable precision targeting for a highly persuasive, personalised marketing campaign.

Individual pieces of data - seemingly innocuous on their own - when combined using technology become far greater than the sum of their parts. Data mapped together using end-to-end business technology create a rich, largely untapped and highly granular source of information about individual lives.

So what impact does this have on the recruitment industry? First, look at where it starts…

Feeding the apps

So far we’re only scratching the surface. The information gathered by the apps we all happily feed our data to builds up a 360 picture of every individual’s lifestyle. The next step is to layer data on data and interpret the findings to draw meaningful conclusions.

The MyFitnessPal data hack, for example, saw at least 150 millions users’ names, encrypted passwords and email addresses stolen. No financial information, but maybe what the hackers got was enough. 

Any app that knows your location - and fitness apps that plot your running routes definitely know your location - track your life to the minutest degree. When you get up, when you leave the house, where you work, where you park your car every day, when you go for a run, when you’re at the gym... Now think it out: the app knows exactly where you work and, if you’ve not already told it, can build a pretty accurate idea of what you do for a living. Combine this with showing if you go to the gym straight from work - and are therefore likely to have a laptop or a set of tools in the boot of your car - and you’re building an incredible level of detail.

Building a data ecosystem

And if your gym membership has lapsed, and the app gathers that instead of your 20,000 steps a day, you’re now covering less than 5,000, then maybe your life insurance company would be interested in your presumably shortened life expectancy and increase your premiums since you represent a higher risk.

You ticked the box that you park your car in your garage overnight? If your app spots this as a lie, your chance of a successful insurance claim immediately drops to zero. You frequent the same pub every evening? Likely you’re drinking more than your RDA of alcohol - and your premiums may be affected.

But what it offers us is a highly compelling proposition for targeted new product development and personalised marketing - a full data ecosystem that businesses can tap into.

So how does technology support data gathering?

Many devices support voice or facial recognition which means that we’re giving away even more details about ourselves. Take this one step further in the world of recruitment, where video interviewing is now common, and you can connect a face to the details a person shares in a typical interview, such as their name, job title, career history, etc.

Blend this data with a person’s Facebook profile - which has now introduced facial recognition tech - their friends, holidays, hobbies… and it would in theory be possible to build up a detailed picture of their life. Under the GDPR legislation, taking the step of rejecting a candidate because of their online footprint could land you in serious trouble, and even looking at publicly available material that an individual has published freely may not be deemed appropriate. Food for thought, and certainly something to bear in mind in the conflicted climate where data is abundant yet heavily protected. 

Changing the role of the recruiter

New end-to-end technology is changing the norm by bringing new integrated systems to the market.  These systems deliver information flow and, because of this level of integration, collate and allow for meaningful interpretation of data across an entire business to give recruiters a data goldmine. 

This new access to data analytics allows recruiters to increase their role as strategic business partners to their clients. By drawing on and interpreting the wealth of data at their fingertips, recruiters can analyse candidate behaviour patterns and, critically, forecast hiring needs to be first to the table with the right candidate. 

The new data protection laws will bring a new dimension to data capture and, particularly, to data sharing.  At Volcanic, we take data protection very seriously. For advice on data security and how your recruitment website can support your GDPR compliance, get in touch.


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