Data and technology have grown, yet productivity lags. Why have HR teams struggled to demonstrate efficiencies? David Enser delves into the challenges and merits of AI in HR.
Growth in rich data
There has been a sudden growth in the availability of data in HR programmes and yet HR teams haven't quite learnt to efficiently manage all of the data that they have! As yet, this growth hasn’t resulted in a noticeable jump in terms of productivity in delivering against a strategic HR agenda. Data and technology have grown yet productivity lags and, up to now, there have been few demonstrable efficiencies in HR terms.
For a long time, data has been used as the basis for crafting and shaping HR stories but, in my view, the real change is yet to come. For me, real change will come in the form of the fourth industrial revolution – true connectivity of all things, mass data and explosive growth in artificial intelligence (AI).
Demographic data and HR policy analytics are useful but, by marrying performance and skills data (where permissible) with metadata as a by-product of the explosion in data gathering, we can highlight possibilities that simply previously did not exist.
Where does AI fit into HR?
Resourcing strategies, talent acquisition, site strategies; do we grow or reduce a particular company's operating location based on the cost of siting those employees and those skills in that location? How many travellers and assignees will we need to service a project as a consequence of talent availability already on location? All of this data is ready and available to use by HR teams.
Offering international careers will always be an important and innovative way to attract and retain employees, but greater scrutiny will come based on data as to whether an assignment is truly in the interests of the company or the individual – and the reward will reflect that. The notion of measuring ROI will no longer be based on a set of arbitrary measures but a true comparison against the needs of the company in that moment, for those skills, in that place - wherever that is.
Finally, AI is already a mainstay at your friendly local customer service centre. There are great possibilities for AI in both HR as a whole, as well as in the management of international employees. AI can answer basic questions – no surprises there – a useful tool for any HR team. But, consider the Japanese insurance firm making staff responsible for complex insurance calculations redundant and replacing them with AI – could this be goodbye to balance sheets calculated in excel or clunky online tools that require significant manual data input in advance?
AI chatbots can build rapport at the same time as answering questions – potentially smoothing expats’ fears as they prepare themselves and their family for assignment overseas perhaps? AI can even help in conveying complex information through targeted learning – a useful option in trying to upskill large groups of employees on complex topics such as HR policies and practices.
Truly transformative technology undoubtedly comes from a backbone of data and I, for one, am excited about the possibilities.