By Debbie Bolla
Are robots taking over the workplace? At HRO Today Forum in North America, a group of HR leaders offered perspectives on their experience with artificial intelligence, automation, and machine learning, and how it has—and will—impact the workforce.
“Technology is here right now. What is HR’s job?” asked Nancy Hauge, CHRO of Automation Anywhere. “It’s about defining our leadership role as this workforce changes. Internally, we’re going to recruit for digital colleagues. Soon, we’ll have 3 million digital colleagues deployed across the world.”
Rebecca Sinclair, Chief People and Communications Officer for American Tire Distributors (ATD), said she was brought on board to transform the 5,000-person organization—and AI and machine learning aided in her efforts. “It’s about changing business, producing outcomes, generating revenue,” she said. “We now have sellers that are 85 percent participating in this individualized AI learning experience. We are producing data analytics—validated results that contribute 17 percent to the sales revenue of our company.”
Cindy Fiedelman, CHRO of Digital Realty Trust, also said that she was in the midst of a three-year journey, implementing new approaches and HR systems. She explained that while these technologies will replace many of the task-oriented jobs of HR generalists, they will play an important role in what the future of HR looks like. “If automation can drive [doing meetings in person] and bring data for people to have more conversations, there will still be the same baseline skills that HR will need. But they will need to use those skills much more and they will be forced to get out from behind the computer.”
In recent weeks, bias has been a hot topic when it comes to this technology—is automation the cause or the solution? “I don’t view it as the cause, I view it as the solution,” said Roger Gaston, SVP of HR for Gates Corporation. “You take the emotion out of the work. Machines sometimes make mistakes, but we touch information so many times. Every point of contact is a point of failure or bias. We should get the touches down to zero and get the information to a place where it can be processed in an unemotional way.”
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, automation: Whatever you call it, these technologies are here to stay. Where will they take your organization?