We talk a lot about talent acquisition at HRO Today—during sessions at our forum events, in magazine articles, in the webinars and research with our global HR association members, for example. Why wouldn’t we? After all, we’ve been hearing “it’s all about the people,” “the candidate experience is important,” and “employees are your biggest asset” for many, many years now. I don’t disagree; people are at the heart of the world of HUMAN resources. But as processes, protocols, daily life, people, and technology continue to evolve, business and HR must as well.
Last year, a cell phone store in Tokyo staffed their entire store with robots. This sounds cool, but it’s only one company and one store staffing with robots. Should we be impressed? Should we take notice? Yes, yes, yes! Today, there are more than 10,000 of these humanoid robots working in the region, not only in cell phones stores, but also in fast food restaurants, on cruise ships, in homes, and elsewhere. Imagine the impact this will have on the workplace. What types of jobs will be available to people in the future? How will this change company culture? Will HR need to add a new question on the job requisition that asks hiring managers if they would like a human or a robot?
There are many things to consider as we work to improve and streamline HR processes that hire, retain, and train our talent; we should also consider what impact this will have on workforce planning. We’ve been hearing about artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and even virtual reality for a while now, so this is not something new. In fact, the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) created a six-foot tall robot named Shaky in the 1960s. I had the pleasure of speaking with Claude Fennema, one of the researchers at SRI. Claude worked on and with Shaky between 1960 and 1972 to create and develop his skills. Shaky became the first robot to perform intelligent acts. Fennema’s team was a real stimulus for the tech industry and gave rise to many new AI projects. Its research paved the way for the search technology used in GPS devices today. Fennema then went on to work for the research lab at 3M, and he and his wife started the computer science department at Mount Holyoke College. The point of this story is that AI technology was bound to catch up with HR sooner or later and impact the workforce and ultimately the world we live in. Fennema is retired now and living in Florida; Shaky is also retired and lives at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. Technology continues to work and progress thanks to them both.
There is a lot to think and talk about and to learn as we all work to keep up. Stay tuned as HRO Today embraces the topics of AI, chatbots, robotics, and the continued impact of technology on HR. We have sessions already planned for our upcoming forum events and thought leadership councils (TLCs). We also have panel discussions scheduled with our global HR association and committees that will evaluate and discuss how robots and AI may impact HR standards and practices.
Technology is an industry that has disrupted HR many times before—with the creation of the early ATSs; the rise of social media in recruiting and marketing; video interviewing; the launch of the CRM; and so much more. It has always managed to remake itself, even when the critics were most skeptical. So how will it work out this time? Who will be the superheroes and villains, and what will the next technology twist reveal? Join the HRO Today Services and Technology Association and plan to attend our HRO Today forums. We’re all living it. We might as well take a driver’s seat in this together.