Purpose According to the significant growth of literature and continued adoption of people analytics in practice, it has been promised that people analytics will inform evidence-based decision-making and improve business outcomes. However, existing people analytics literature remains underdeveloped in understanding whether and how such promises have been realized. Accordingly, this study aims to investigate the current reality of people analytics and uncover the debates and challenges that are emerging as a result of its adoption. Design/methodology/approach This study conducts a systematic literature review of peer-reviewed articles focused on people analytics published in the Association of Business School (ABS) ranked journals between 2011 and 2021. Findings The review illustrates and critically evaluates several emerging debates and issues faced by people analytics, including inconsistency among the concept and definition of people analytics, people analytics ownership, ethical and privacy concerns of using people analytics, missing evidence of people analytics impact and readiness to perform people analytics. Practical implications This review presents a comprehensive research agenda demonstrating the need for collaboration between scholars and practitioners to successfully align the promise and the current reality of people analytics. Originality/value This systematic review is distinct from existing reviews in three ways. First, this review synthesizes and critically evaluates the significant growth of peer-reviewed articles focused on people analytics published in ABS ranked journals between 2011 and 2021. Second, the study adopts a thematic analysis and coding process to identify the emerging themes in the existing people analytics literature, ensuring the comprehensiveness of the review. Third, this study focused and expanded upon the debates and issues evolving within the emerging field of people analytics and offers an updated agenda for the future of people analytics research.