Questions on the rapid development of artificial intelligence and tech in the HR industry
Recently, the HR and recruitment industries have been bombarded with messages about the value of tech-based solutions that can overcome the pitfalls and pain caused by traditional approaches to market challenges.
And yes, we are guilty of reiterating that message! We stand behind it and believe that the future is very bright for those who embrace the opportunities that HR tech has to offer.
However, with all this talk of AI, VR and other acronyms and technical jargon, it can be difficult to understand what it all means to the daily working life of an HR or recruitment professional. Here, we attempt to answer five pressing questions on the topic.
1. What are automation and AI and why should I care?
Automated solutions take the legwork out of the manual HR and recruitment processes that have been conducted in the same, laborious way for decades. AI uses machine learning to simulate human intelligence with computers, or - as we have all come to understand it - robots. But, while there are many industries and roles that are genuinely under threat of extinction due to these smart technologies, anything recruitment and HR related is not one of them. If anything, theses roles will be augmented by the use of technology.
There’s been a lot of noise around the topic of AI in particular, but this is a great example of the negative impact that our cultural perceptions can have. AI isn’t all about robots, it is about enabling a machine to “learn” and improve on a task over time, but an HR professional or recruiter's job doesn’t end at the insight an AI solution spits out, it must then be accurately balanced with human instinct and intuition.
2. All I hear is “big data this” and “data-driven that” - but how should I be using data?
HR and recruitment professionals have always had access to a vast range and volume of personal information about potential and existing personnel and, even as the amount of data we’re exposed to has increased, the teams handling it have been expected to continue to manage it in the same way they always have.
Today, not only are there better and more secure ways to handle data, there are also more insightful methods of collecting and analysing it. The so called “data-driven” solutions that make this possible, ensure you not only meet data privacy requirements but that you are also using the information gathered to make informed decisions, rather than relying on a ‘gut feeling’. HR tech solutions exist to offer this support for almost every recruitment and HR task. Knowing which solutions are best for you and your business starts with an understanding of the questions you should be asking before investing.
3. How could real-time and demand-driven tech help me?
In the demand-driven environment we live it, which has grown with the introduction of mobile taxi booking apps and food delivery services, our stakeholders want to feel like they have our support all the time, any time and in real-time. Ever feel like you’re being asked the same questions day in, day out? Perhaps you’ve tried introducing a downloadable PDF to the company intranet to try and answer all those internal FAQs?
Well, a chatbot could be the answer to the constant internal interrogation, as well as external queries. A chatbot can be programmed to provide answers to the questions from colleagues, clients and candidates that regularly pop up. It uses machine learning (see above!) to develop an understanding of the types of questions people will ask, how they’ll ask them and the answer they are looking for, in real-time and without any input from you or your team. Other approaches, that require less of a process overhaul and might work well as a short-term solution internally, include tech-based communication and project management platforms such as Slack and Wrike, that enable dispersed and busy teams to collaborate and communicate without the need for scheduled meetings or phone calls, thus maintaining momentum, increasing efficiency and improving productivity.
4. How can virtual reality help a human-driven profession?
For a profession that centres on the human touch, it can be difficult to comprehend how virtual reality (VR) - the use of technology to simulate an environment and immerse the user into a 3D virtual world - could support or even improve the job of an HR professional. But just imagine the efficiency and value that could come from an interview process that places an overseas applicant in the “room” and allows them to engage with you, or the opportunity to offer learning and skills development for technical roles that require more than an online learning course, or even the boost to your employer brand that could come from enabling candidates to experience your office before even setting foot through the door. All of these things can be achieved with VR and, while we might not all have access to VR headsets just yet, organisations are already overcoming the lack of consumer-friendly tools to support the technology, but investing in affordable and simple cardboard headsets that can be easily shipped out and quickly set up.
5. Using wearable tech for HR - isn’t that a bit ‘big brother’?
The thought of introducing wearables to the workplace might seem a little, well, creepy to some. And yes, monitoring, analysing and recording the heart rate, water intake and steps of every employee, would be a bit intrusive, but there are ways that wearables can be applied to a professional setting. By making the program optional, you can promote employee well being through the use of wearables that encourage them to stand up and move around a little more.
However, you could also use smart, wearable technology to ensure the safety of remote workers or those that spend much of their time driving, as well as using it to encourage productivity by offering guidance in how to complete a task more efficiently. Of course you need employee buy-in to make this approach a success and, as such, a robust strategy behind the decision to introduce them. But the opportunity in wearable technology is massive and we are really only just seeing the tip of the iceberg at the moment.
Navigating your way through the jargon and hype that surrounds the introduction of new technology solutions can be a massive challenge. So we hope this brief Q&A goes some way to answering the questions you’ve been too embarrassed to ask, or alleviating the fears you had about introducing current trending technologies to your workflow.