It’s no secret that I love technology. From the domination of mobile to the latest in recruitment tools and gamification, and how video and live streaming is having an impact on hiring and training—changes are afoot that many of us couldn’t have imagined 15 or so years ago. And I love it all.
The reason this “tech meets HR” marriage is so exciting is how quickly the technology evolution has disrupted HR and enhanced the way HR professionals get things done. Now there’s another big disrupter on the horizon, one that you would be wise to keep your eyes on: Artificial intelligence.
What is Artificial Intelligence?
In layman’s terms, artificial intelligence (or, AI as it’s commonly referred to), is an area of computer science where computers are “developed” to behave much the way humans do. There are three levels when it comes to AI, depending on how advanced the computers get, and the measuring stick is “human reasoning.”
Strong AI genuinely simulates human reasoning. These systems not only think, but can also “explain” how humans think and reason.
Weak AI includes systems that can “think” (computers playing chess against human chess masters, for example), but don’t tell us anything about how humans think, and the systems don’t really think themselves.
In-between AI includes systems that are informed by, or inspired by human reasoning. Examples include Google’s Deep Learning (driven by big data) and IBM’s Watson, a system that can answer questions by analyzing thousands of pieces of text, discerning patterns, and weighing evidence, a sort of “layered learning,” much like the way our brains learn. This in-between area is where most AI work is being done today.
Artificial Intelligence Meets HR
The biggest driver of AI’s impact in the HR industry is the massive growth of big data. Until now, we haven’t had access to simple software systems with which to track and analyze internal employee data (think sick days, vacation requests, hiring trends, workflow, etc.). Today, most businesses have undergone some degree of digital transformation, and rely on this type of technology. HR professionals are recognizing that this valuable data and the insights teased from it play a major role in reducing risk and driving decision-making, when it comes to talent management and organizational performance.
Here are four ways AI has the potential to have an enormous impact on HR.
- Personalization: It’s not news that people have very different styles of learning, and, with the many generations now filling the workforce, embracing modern training practices has never been more important. AI is helping to personalize corporate learning, by capturing meaningful employee data relating to a wide range of learning experiences and behaviors. The same machine learning computer algorithms that “learn and recommend” by analyzing your choices of where to shop or what to eat, will “learn and recommend” when it comes to employee training. In fact, these systems will continue to parse and analyze as more and more employee interactions occur, and be able to tweak training programs accordingly, making training more efficient, and training outcomes more effective.
- Workflow Automation: Scheduling, scheduling, and rescheduling. The bane of many of our existences, yes? Well, AI is poised to be a game-changer when it comes to workflow problems. According to a recent com article, the next few years should see software that automates hiring processes like “…interview scheduling, employee performance reviews, employee onboarding, and even the answering of basic HR questions.” I, for one, can’t wait.
- Improved Recruitment: HR is, by its very name, one of the most human-centric industries out there. But human beings are complicated, and it’s very difficult to get base-level data on individual people—enough to run an analysis on—especially when hiring. Enter predictive analytics using natural language. Still, in its (relative) infancy, the software driving natural language processes and predictive language analysis will help speed up recruitment by allowing you to weed people out faster, and with fewer mistakes.
- Better prediction models: AI will get to know your company almost better than you do. Whether it’s predicting future turnover rates, reduced (or increased) employee engagement levels, concerns about internal employee communications, project completion problems, and any other unexpected hidden issues that would usually take years to surface, artificial intelligence will (most likely) be one step ahead of you. And when it comes to cost savings and overall organizational efficiencies, that’s a very good thing.
The pace of technological change in our work worlds is happening so quickly that a recent World Economic “Future of Jobs” report estimated “…some 65 percent of children entering primary schools today will likely work in (jobs) that don’t currently exist.” And many of those jobs will probably be related to computer learning and predictive analytics. Human resources professionals need to start embracing big data today, so they can be prepared to embrace the incredible advancements in artificial intelligence of tomorrow.