Koren Ichihara is a psychologist, not a statistician. But she took the stage Monday at Predictive Analytics World in Chicago to talk about the value of analytics in her job as Senior Analyst for HR Analytics at Sears Holdings Corp.
With 4,000 stores, 250,000 employees and a corporate family that includes Kmart, Sears is the nation’s fourth-largest broadline retailer. Every year, more than half of US households shop with at least one of its brands.
Gaining insights about which job candidates to hire, how to keep them and how to develop leaders within the workforce gives Sears a competitive edge. Ichihara and other Sears analysts use JMP to analyze its human resources data. The graphical depiction of analysis results in JMP makes outliers and trends easier to see and understand. Ichihara also finds the software easy to use.
“One of the nice things about JMP is that you put in your variables, and it tells you which (statistical) test you’re going to need,” she told an audience of more than 200 conference attendees.
Ichihara’s team uses JMP to:
Uncover what factors – for example, prior sales experience and tenure at a prior job – best differentiate high and low sales performance.
Determine whether to promote from within or hire externally for a particular position.
Establish a formula for starting pay that has boosted retention by more than 50 percent for one job category. “The amount that we’re saving outweighs the amount that we’re paying extra,” Ichihara noted.
It doesn’t take a background in statistics to understand the advantage of such analytic discoveries. And data visualization is key to helping Sears and other businesses unlock these insights — or, as they say, to see “fresh insights from their people data.”