Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto

HRO Today

By Elliot H. Clark

When you start a column off with a title from a Styx song, you are really dating yourself. Nonetheless, it seemed appropriate. HRO Today has recently completed a research report, sponsored by Alexander Mann Solutions, highlighting the rapid integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into HR technology and infrastructure. Within the study, there are several interesting findings which will be presented in detail at the HRO Today Forum North America.

First, let’s define AI. For years I have joked that artificial intelligence was something you got from politicians and online pundits. But now that software has come of age, it’s time to recognize it for what is really is. In a basic sense, AI is the ability for software to learn by observation without needing to be programmed for specific outcomes. For example, the “self-driving” car of the future does not get programmed to stop at red lights—it just does. The software observes millions of traffic patterns and learns what to do when the traffic light is red. Of course, my concern that it will accelerate at yellow lights shows I may not be a good role model for a robot, but you get the general idea.

AI will be increasingly incorporated in HR transaction management and employee relations. In fact, it’s already present in several talent acquisition products. HR has long been chided as being “resistant to change,” “not a fan of technology,” and “uncomfortable with metrics.” I could go on, and perhaps at some point in the dim and distant past, that was true—but no longer. Today’s HR suite has the responsibility to drive quality and measurable outcomes efficiently and cost effectively, and our research shows that they are succeeding.

To conduct our study, we surveyed 150 companies of varying sizes and industries. We found that 59.6 percent of those surveyed were satisfied with the results of their AI-enabled technology, versus only about five percent that were disappointed. Another 35 percent reported it was too early in the deployment to know how they felt. We asked where HR thought it was most important to use AI, and the top result was candidate assessment. The survey also asked what objectives HR was looking to achieve in the adoption of AI. Of course, cost savings and increased speed led the list in talent acquisition (yawn, they always do), but the third ranked goal was improved candidate experience. That is interesting because it suggests that the 24-hour availability of human voice and online chatbot problem-solving is not only accepted to candidates but embraced. Ironically, companies that have not implemented AI cited candidates’ discomfiture as a reason. Clearly, the organizations that have implemented tools powered by AI have not found that to be an issue.

Additionally, organizations that have invested in systemic approaches to measure AI outcomes seem more pleased with their results than companies that do not have the tools to interpret positive or negative impacts. The importance of measurement cannot be overstated, and it’s surprising that so many companies have implemented AI-driven solutions without giving thought to the validation of its effectiveness. The survey reported that AI is currently being leveraged more frequently by larger organizations than smaller companies. This makes sense as larger firms have greater budgets, but as AI is incorporated into more HR products, it will quickly become available to companies of all sizes.

The report has a host of great data points about the adoption and areas of best deployment for AI. I would encourage you to download and review it in its entirety, as it will provide useful information to help fund and implement future AI projects.

Robots are here to stay even if the ‘80s greatest hits songs are long forgotten. To download the report, click here.

Posted May 31, 2018 in Enabling Technology

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