Better Together: Setting the Data Standard in Global Workforce Mobility

In the newest issue of Mobility magazine, D.H. Coburn writes about how standardized data can allow the industry to focus on creating an exceptional relocation experience.

Standardized data that can be readily accessed, analyzed, and shared by corporate clients, service providers, and vendors should be just like the plumbing in a house, says Worldwide ERC®’s Industry Innovation and Transformation Committee chair Robert Horsely. In “Setting the Data Standard” in this month’s issue of Mobility magazine, D.H. Coburn writes that this plumbing analogy is used to describe the talent mobility industry’s need for an efficient, integrated, and standardized system of collecting and sharing data related to employee mobility.

This connectivity of data standards should be a given that allows the industry to focus on the bells and whistles adding up to an exceptional experience for the relocating employee. That’s why, since early 2021, Horsley, IBM’s Horst Gallo, Worldwide ERC® president and CEO Lynn Shotwell, and a group of CEOs and other top executives “have been tackling one of the most vexing issues facing the mobility industry: the lack of a standardized data taxonomy and exchange convention—the plumbing, as it were—for gathering data and sharing it throughout the talent mobility ecosystem.”

Without the ability to seamlessly share data among service providers and vendors, the relocation experience can become an exercise in repetition, wasted energy, and frustration for everybody involved. “The value of an association is that it can bring competitors together to solve common problems,” says Shotwell, who counts the data standards initiative among several key goals aimed at delivering value to members.

Improving the speed and efficiency of the relocation process—along with the ability to use data analytics to improve the relocation experience—are key goals of the data standardization initiative. Committee member Horst Gallo, vice president of HR talent management for IBM, says, “We need the ability to share data freely, with proper security, so that we spend time on data analytics, not the collection of data.”

Coburn identifies another, separate effort to standardize data and bring the mobility industry into the digital age is being spearheaded by former Worldwide ERC® chair Sue Carey, SCRP, SGMS-T, vice president of corporation relocation strategies for Baird & Warner. Carey is leading a group charged with updating Worldwide ERC®’s broker market analysis (BMA) form, developed decades ago in one of the association’s earliest attempts to standardize data collection.

“It’s like putting together the many parts that produce an automobile, where specialists are involved in the engineering of each component. But in our business, we’re dealing with people, not products,” says Carey. “We’re dealing with lives, with families, people who are moving because they need to for their career—and their families might not all be on board. What we do is very personal, and that’s why it’s so important to make it the easiest experience we can for someone who is going through a change that has anywhere from 15 to 25 moving parts to it. I believe we would all benefit from data organized so there’s fewer people they need to talk to [and] so that we’re delivering a very coordinated, highly skilled experience.”

When all is said and done, making life easier on the relocating employee is the ultimate objective.

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