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People analytics and Social Physics

1. Introduction

People analytics is a rapidly growing area of business intelligence and big data technology that uses snippets of people-related data to optimize business outcomes and solve business problems. Experts within the field, including Ben Waber and Alex Pentland, contend that people analytics tools can be effectively applied across all parts of the modern enterprise in order to transform operations and workforces [1].


2. People analytics applications

Effective People Analytics: How Do Organisations Measure UP? [2].
People Analytics @ Google by Helen Tynan, Director of People Operations at Google [3].
Trends in People Analytics: PwC's Trends in People Analytics report highlights recently published 2015 PwC Saratoga US benchmark data[4].
How Google Is Using People Analytics to Completely Reinvent HR [5].
Talent analytics and big data - the challenge for HR: Oracle Research report, November 2013 [6].


3. Social Physics

MIT professor Alex "Sandy" Pentland studies how ideas flow through groups and the effect that flow has on productivity, something he calls "Social Physics" [7], [8], [9].

Social Physics: How Good Ideas Spread - Talks at Google by Sandy Pentland [10].

Social physics refers to the quantitative study of human society [or] social statistics [11].

Pentland described his coined term, "social physics" as quantitative science that describes reliable, mathematical connections between information and idea flow and people 's behavior - how ideas flow from person to person and how they shape norms, productivity and creative output. Coupled with new tools into collect and analyze big data on human interaction, the science of social physics yields insights on how large groups of people make decisions across disciplines, including health, finance, and politics [12].



  1. Wikipedia, People analytics
  2. McKinsey & Co, Effective People Analytics
  3. Helen Tynan, People Analytics @ Google
  4. pwc, Trends in People Analytics
  5. John Sullivan, How Google Is Using People Analytics to Completely Reinvent HR
  6. Oracle, Talent analytics and big data - the challenge for HR
  7. MIT Media Lab, Social Physics
  8. Alex Pentland, Social Physics and the Data Driven Society
  9. MIT Media Lab, Social Physics - Papers.
  10. Sandy Pentland, Social Physics: How Good Ideas Spread - Talks at Google
  11. GovLab Wiki, Social Physics
  12. Brookings Institution, Social Physics: How Human Social Networks Spread Ideas
  13. James W. Pennebaker, Social Physics: The Metaphorical Application of Principles of Physics to Social Behavior
  14. Yi-Fang Chang, Social Synergetics, Social Physics and Research of Fundamental Laws in Social Complex Systems
  15. Trevor J Barnes, Matthew W. Wilson, Big Data, social physics and spatial analysis: the early years
  16. Yijun Liu and Wenyuan Niu, Social Physics: An Interdisciplinary Way to Explore the Mechanism of Public Opinion
  17. Arthur Iberall, On The Development of a Social Physics
  18. Bill Hillier, Between Social Physics and Phenomenology: explorations towards an urban synthesis?
  19. Katarzyna Sznajd, Social physics or sociophysics?
  20. Gerardo Iñiguez González, Statistical Physics of Opinion and Social Conflict
  21. J. Doyne Farmer, Martin Shubik, and Eric Smith, Is Economics the Next Physical Science?


© Nikolai Shokhirev, 2012-2017

email: nikolai(dot)shokhirev(at)gmail(dot)com