Does Big Data affect Organisation Design? | Part 2 of 6

*This blog post is the second in a series of 6. If you haven’t already, please read part 1 here – “The key challenge in Organisation Design isn’t big data; it’s People Data”.

Proposition 2: Our process for Organisation Design is unlikely to change because of Big Data

Proposition 2 is a tougher nut to crack. I have asked many academics and businesspeople how they thought Big Data would change the process of organisation design. Only a few possible examples have come out, for example crowd sourcing of ideas for change (a new source of data), data mining text for ideas for change (a new use of unstructured data) or very fast readjustment of the organisation in response to changing market conditions (a new use of higher velocity of data). These are organised below into two tables, separating genuine ‘big data’ examples from examples that are ‘people data’ issues. The purpose of the tables is to test the idea that there is a difference between data elements that change the structure of organisations and data elements that change the process of designing organisations.

Where ‘Big Data’ might affect Organisation Design:

What makes it big data?


Change to the structure?

Change org design process?


Volume of data

Crowd sourcing of ideas for change in products or processes, e.g. Sainsbury’s Colleague Feedback Panel, or via “Tell Justin”

Potentially by altering the products or services provided


The data is mostly being used for product and service re-design, which could indirectly impact the shape of organisation needed

e.g. Sainsbury’s Colleague Feedback panel has 3000 members; Sainsbury’s Tell Justin programme: >30,000 ideas in 5 years to 2010

Variety of data

Data on behaviour, capabilities, personality profile, performance, absence, ENPS, NPS, mood, text, image data etc.


Potentially could affect allocation of people to roles, not design of roles

Many data types used historically for individual performance assessment and development are now available for analytics of large groups.

Could impact the allocation of people to roles

Velocity of data (1)

Staffing in response to changing external demand levels


Potential refinement via continuous right-sizing

The organisation does not have to restructure itself formally. It uses a more effective right-sizing process to allocate staff where needed

Velocity of data (2)

Internal Fast Feedback, as opposed to annual surveys

No – is about quality control, not structure change

Not until data is linked to structures, clients, skills or processes

Monthly data on management performance allows more rapid intervention. Fast Feedback can help respond to managers’ training needs; does not affect organisation structure or the process of designing it

Velocity of data (3)

Ability to respond real time to customer needs / security issues

Only if org needs new structures to respond

No – the designing process is unchanged

Structural change required if org cannot “increase its clock speed” through current structural forms

In other words, the conventional categories of big data (volume, variety, velocity) will greatly affect how organisations do their business. Taking them one by one, however, there seems to be little impact on the process of designing organisations.

Updated: *This is the end of part 2, please subscribe or visit our blog for the third part, What is Big Data and what is People Data?.

** Text updated on 2nd September 2013.


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Giles Slinger

Giles Slinger

Product Management Director
Director at Concentra, with responsibility for OrgVue packages. Former economic researcher and management consultant. OrgVue is an inspirational product because it brings transparency to organisations. It helps show where people are and how things are going. I’m fascinated by how employee engagement is generated and how it helps organisations. I wonder whether if we could visualise engagement from one month to the next, could we manage relations with our customers and people better?
Giles Slinger

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