Numbers are honest. Sometimes, brutally so. Anything that can be measured is mapped to a number. Right from the number of man hours needed to bring a software project to completion to the number of productive hours spent by a unit of the organization. However, there is one thing that numbers can’t do by themselves – make decisions. That job, thankfully, still rests with people. Imagine a world where the right people are armed with the right numbers. Imagine a world where the honesty of numbers meets the intuition of man. Imagine a world where you have all the information you need to quantify things like employee productivity. Our assessment tools bring this world as close to reality as is possible in this day and age.
One thing all managers, recruiters and executives complain about is the fact that their decisions are made based on very abstract and often intangible and unquantifiable attributes. The gap between feeling and fact, intuition and reality is what our assessment tools seek to fill. Let us look at recruitment, for example. It is pretty obvious that the quality of your organization would be a direct function of the quality of recruits. Recruiters often face one glaring problem – how do we make sure that he/she is the right person for the job, which is a big deal, given that that’s what their job is – to find the right people. The first step towards understanding whether an individual fits the requirement is toassess the individual.
Humans assess and size each other up very quickly. We’ve developed immense stereotypes about each other that have grown over thousands of years. However, human assessment based on human perception can be extremely dangerous due to the perception being impacted by elements such as bias. Given the way things are at this point of time and given the fact that we’re unlikely to nominate a machine as CEO/president in the near future, it would be safe to assume that we can’t change ‘who’ makes those assessments. What we can change, is ‘how’. Assessment tools drive out human perception and bias and replace it with a set of objective indicators. You could assess whether or not a candidate is fit for a job by looking at his EQ or personality tests. You still get to make the decision. But you now have the ability to make an informed and objective decision.
You could argue that standardized as well as customized tests have been around since the beginning of time. You could also argue that we have always used some objective measures to arrive at decisions. So what’s different about assessment tools these days? There’s a huge list, actually. But let us start out with a couple of benefits you stand to gain out of these tools. To start with, you could actually conduct these tests online. Great, but that only makes it easier for collection of data. It isn’t building any intelligence into our systems, you may ask. The answer to that is simple, really. It isn’t just collection of information that’s easy, but also storage and retrieval. Online tests enable you to create huge repositories of data – which you could use for modelling something, or even use as a baseline for a different entity.
The biggest benefit of collecting such information or running such tests online is the fact that these tests can then be analyzed via a variety of techniques, which can again be customized. You can slice and dice across data, look for outliers, look at measures of central tendency and what not! This information can lend several perspectives and would form an immense repository that would hold you in good stead later. What’s more, given the fact that we’re moving into a cloud based environment, all this information is stored on the cloud, making it accessible to any place with an internet connection! Have multiple branches that span across continents? No problem, as long as you have an ISP who is willing to give you an IP address that you can use to get on to the internet. If you can read this blog, you can access your data. As simple as that.
Most organizations are reluctant to move from traditional assessment methodologies onto more tool and automation based methodologies. This is mostly because there’s a huge paradigm shift in the manner in which this information is collected and analyzed. One thing that most organizations fail to realize is the power of sample spaces. With online assessments, you can increase your sample space massively, especially in a cloud-based environment. A greater sample space would mean that you have more data to work with and this brings down the probability of surprises (read shocks) that would arise as a consequence of your decisions.
To sum all of it up, it does appear that the future of decision making lies via assessment tools. They act as great enablers and ensure that your decisions are tied to something tangible, something quantifiable and something measurable. Imagine a cricket match where the teams don’t really know what their scores are. They’re just playing along with some vague idea of what they need to do in order to seal victory. Contrast this with the bare minimum information that you would need in order to succeed – runs, wickets and balls. Information is truly paramount. It manifests itself as data that can be mined to create new information. This new information can be fed back into systems and results can be observed. These results go back into the system again as further information. Once you set the information cycle in place, you can rest assured that you will be making decisions based on observable, well defined parameters. Information systems have revolutionized the way we view data and make decisions. The world is headed towards a second IT revolution. The world is moving to a space where data can be accessed anytime, anywhere and from any device. The world is moving towards the cloud. You should too.