Predictive analytics is impacting all business disciplines, such as human resources (HR) and, specifically, talent acquisition and management. With the increase in data, recruiters face both an opportunity and a challenge. How do you deal with the plethora of people content? The big opportunity is to be able to mine that data and leverage it—to make smarter talent acquisition decisions. We're in an era where HR professionals need to incorporate deeper analytics and insight in the hiring process. This trend has brought us to content and data-driven talent acquisition decisions.

Predictive hiring is emerging as a critical discipline in HR, where the pursuit of higher quality talent is a major driver in all functions of the business. I speak to large and small businesses who explain to me that with high turnover, leaving job openings, and the need for higher quality people, hiring processes need to be faster while also being effective. Hiring the wrong person can critically impact the bottom line. Having deeper insights into candidates and the effectiveness of the hiring team is crucial for ensuring quality talent acquisition and the subsequent ongoing management of people throughout the employee life cycle.

Several of the traditional human capital management (HCM) and talent management technology providers have heralded that their offerings are now equipped with analytics and predictive capabilities. Providers, such as IBM Kenexa, Workday and emerging players such as HireVue, are all expounding how predictive their applications are for talent acquisition and management. The rallying cry we hear from HR professionals really boils down to getting better quality candidates in as fast a time as possible.

Traditional companies are facing tremendous talent competition from the likes of Facebook and Google, who have captured the imagination of millennials and the new millennial mindset that has transformed the view of the modern workplace. People are now more aware than they ever have been before about companies, their peers across organizations and the power they have as individuals. We are beholding a strong, contingent workforce, where people are now free agents and developing and controlling their own employment and career journey. More than any other time in history, a greater degree of analytics, insight and transparency is needed in talent management.

As I've attended many HR conferences throughout the year, I see providers positioning their strategies as being more people and employee centric. There has been a "people first" mantra throughout all of the events I have attended. What we are seeing are new and empowered workers who now realize they have more leverage than ever before. Consumerization has not only impacted customer-facing strategies but has now impacted talent acquisition. The role of HR is shifting from just acquiring talent and letting that be it to now involving some initial marketing of the company message to attract talent and then mentoring that talent throughout the employee life cycle, from hiring to succession. The modern HR manager requires far greater insights and predictive capabilities in order to make better decisions about talent and internal HR policies.

Getting real-time analytics that can lead to insights for better decision making is the holy grail in talent acquisition. Several providers are pushing the envelope in this regard with innovative offerings. Providers, such as HireVue, IBM, PeopleFluent, Saba and Workday, among others, are attempting to recast the hiring process from a look-back perspective to becoming more predictive with actionable insights from analytics. These insights will equip hiring managers with the ability to look ahead and determine best-fit candidates.

Business leaders are realizing that recruiting has the biggest impact on their business. Recruiters and hiring managers have to focus on the competencies related to specific jobs. They also have to factor in the wide range of feedback from relevant people in the hiring process, such as peers and managers. They then have to effectively process and mine all of this data to make efficient hiring decisions. Understanding the technology and the tools that are available to aid in this process is crucial. Talent acquisition and management is both an art and a science that involves a tremendous amount of data gathering and processing. Decisions have to be born from insights that are based on good analytics.

Dave Smith is the research director and lead analyst for collaboration at Aragon Research. Previously, Mr. Smith was a research analyst at Gartner, where he covered collaboration and web conferencing. Follow him on Twitter @DaveMario.