This article was updated on July 17, 2018.

When your business grows, it can be exciting but also expensive. If you maximize big data, however, you can have the best of both worlds: cost-effective growth. Data has always been out there, but until recently it's been too difficult to pull it all together. Thanks to advances in data aggregation technology, you can now fully leverage data to help your expansion easier and less expensive.

Here are some areas where using data can help you discover cost-effective growth opportunities:

Workforce Expansion

Wouldn't it be great if you could predict just how your workforce might grow? Or how certain aspects of your growth plan will change your bottom line? By using models based on your business data and market data, you can forecast fairly accurately where you should expand and how much money you can expect to earn. But that is merely the tip of the iceberg in terms of what big data can do for you.

You can use big data to, for instance, optimize your scheduling. You can look at sales and productivity levels and schedule just the right people at the right times. By harnessing your own data, you can make your scheduling efficient and productive — and ease managers' unenviable task of creating individual weekly schedules for staff.

Bolster Recruitment

Most think of social media as a way to interact, but your organization should look at it as a source of big data. TLNT reports that the Society for Human Resource Management found that 65 percent of organizations are hiring through social media. You can utilize this categorized intelligence to find your new employees. According to Forbes, when Hard Rock Cafe needed to staff an entire new location in Florence, Italy, in four weeks, they did it with Facebook and a recruiting app called Work4 Labs. The app collected data on local people who liked Rock and Roll, who the company then targeted with job ads. The strategy paid off and they hired the 120 people they needed in time.

Management Restructuring

Who are your most effective employees? The most team-oriented? The person who sells the most? The latter is one that businesses can easily quantify. Businesses have used sales data for years to assess their employees. However, with available tools and data you can now learn so much more: Who is collaborating? Who is truly productive? How much time are your people really spending in meetings?

Google, for instance, tracks just about everything. According to CBS News, they found that by simply having a manager who makes a new employee feel welcome on the first day, an employee will be 15 percent more productive nine months later.

With that data in hand, you can find out more information about how effective your employees are. Ryan Fuller, CEO of VoloMetrix writes in a column for Entrepreneur magazine that using data effectively can identify who is spending their time on which tasks. This can help you put the right people into the right jobs based on their knowledge, skills, abilities and interests.

Human Capital Management Technology

Frequently, businesses don't wish to invest in technology for their HR systems. Installing new software is costly and maintenance usually requires even more money. Finance may balk at expenditures that don't have an immediate and obvious return on investment. But gone are the days where your HR system simply tracked active employees and their pay rates. Today's HCM solutions must have the capability to connect numerous data points and analyze your workforce across multiple dynamics. For example, you can easily look at whether telecommuting has an impact on productivity and whether certain employees are better utilized working in-house.

This capability also helps to stop problems before they start. Transportation analytics firm Omnitracs uses their data to predict which employees are most at risk for accidents and other problems, allowing them to jump in and eliminate the risk.

HCM technology has changed dramatically over the last few years. You now have available and accessible big data at your finger tips. It's up to you to take advantage of its full potential.

Tags: Workforce Analytics HCM Technology Workforce Planning Midsize Business Research & Insights Articles HR