Couple of months ago I got a new Google Home Assistant for my home office—yes, being an ardent fan of all Google technologies, I have happily chosen Google Home over Amazon’s Echo. In no time Google Home has quickly adapted to all our speech patterns giving each family member a personalized experience. It stays up to date with our calendars prompting reminders, keeps us updated on the weather forecasts, maintains grocery lists, and tells jokes. Well, the list of things our newest voice controlled companion helps us do is way too long and growing, and I am super excited to try the upcoming feature of being able to make a call directly from my Google Home. So as I watch my Dad, who is 101 years old (Don’t be surprised - it is not just the millennials who are adopting latest technologies) ask Google to play his favorite music or listen to my 7 and 4 year old curiously demand answers from Google to their interesting questions, I cannot help but think about how artificial intelligence is not something out there in the future, but is already here, now. It has not only touched our lives around the edges but has fundamentally changed how we work and live.
In the business world AI is taking over almost every field given its abilities to imitate human capabilities like problem-solving, learning, and perception. Software bots are automating finance processes, healthcare is being transformed by the use of analytics to identify patterns and help assist doctors in doing better diagnosis, manufacturing plants are seeing humans and robots work side by side and very soon any processes running without leveraging AI capabilities will pretty much cease to exist. The Human Resources department is not far behind. As an employee you are no longer having long wait times to get access to company policies, your company chatbot is right there at your service, at the same time as an HR employee you are not running between deadlines to ensure a seamless on-boarding experience for your new hires, your company’s pre-onboarding automation engine has taken care of majority of the formalities already. HR executives are quickly adapting to some of the emerging trends and not just automating but ‘Cognify-ing’ their day-to-day operations.
"In The Business World AI Is Taking Over Almost Every Field Given Its Abilities To Imitate Human Capabilities Like Problem-Solving, Learning, And Perception"
While leading the HR ‘futurification’ journey for businesses leveraging cloud, automation and analytics, we often come across the question ‘With AI offering wide range of possibilities, where do we start?’ Broadly a three pronged approach has worked to enable the transformation journey within businesses we have worked with thus far:
Simplify, people processes: HR resources & employees spend a lot of time on trivial administrative tasks which can either be easily automated or managed more intelligently. And while these seem trivial the cost of not doing these tasks right could result into significant loss of productivity. How many times have project deadlines extended because a key team member forgot to inform the group about his vacation until it was time to leave, when instead an intelligent system could have pre-read his calendar, sent out auto-notifications about his absence to all meeting participants right when he applied for that vacation?, Ever so often we see a new resource going through hours of administrative on-boarding process instead of spending quality time with his manager, when majority of those steps could be easily completed even before he stepped foot on the campus for his first day? 50 percent of the candidates don’t hear back from the recruiters, process steps can be automated to reduce the turnaround time and auto scheduling can be set up with the shortlisted candidates to reduce the effort for recruiters. The list goes on… Figuring out where your HR and employees spend their maximum time and providing say a personalized secretary who automatically takes care of tasks or nudges to do the right thing forms a solid foundation to driving HR transformation.
Cognify, make automated people processes ‘smarter’ - Finding the right candidates from the huge pool of available talent in the market is always a challenge for HR. We sure have figured out ways to automate the job application and interview set-up process but how about having AI programs learn the key skills required for a particular job position, read through a candidate’s profile / resume and pass on only the relevant candidates over to the recruiter? This will allow recruiters to spend more time talking to the candidates v/s just screening through the profiles. And taking a step further, AI models built using voice and facial recognition softwares could help even conduct a video interview and screen for second rounds as well! Identifying and implementing such cognification initiatives across recruiting, on-boarding and all the way up to employee exit is what will make the early adopters stand out from the rest of the market.
Futurify, become future ready - All these process automations infused with the smartness are inevitably going to create intelligent processes capable to run on their own, we already call them ‘bots’. So will bots take over all the jobs? Turns out, no. The best medical practitioner will not be a human or bot but both of them working as a team where the bot parses relevant data to help the doctor make better diagnosis. Similarly, the best HR professional will not be a human or the bot, but their team. A good HR will be assessed based on how well he or she leverages insights received from the AI applications & takes informed decisions to improve overall employee engagement. Being open and willing to work ‘with’ these technological changes instead of ‘against’ is the mindset we as executives need to inculcate within our organizations.
Technology advancements have always been beneficial for the humankind in the long run &Industrial Revolution 2.0 is going to be no different. Let us embrace the changes and prepare better for the future, now!