From self-driving cars to Siri, discussions about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its implications are entering culture and business in a major way. But what is AI?
Artificial Intelligence is the sweeping term for ‘smart’ computers, ones that mimic the cognitive functions of the human mind; like learning and problem solving.
Within this we can further define machine learning – a specific type of artificial intelligence that enables computers to learn and gather information without being programmed.
Think Facebook showing ads for things you might actually buy; or Amazon providing recommended reads. That’s computers teaching themselves.
What’s the link to HR?
Increasingly, HR and Benefit teams have budget for software that allows them to be demonstrably quantitative. They justify their investment in people by showing value on investment, through surveys and analysis, so it’s not too big a jump to imagine highly predictive analytics profiling the needs of their people before that investment.
The issue is that many leaders – from all disciplines, not just HR – debate whether the sharp, futuristic edges of AI will help or hurt their industry. Data privacy becomes an issue. But as companies like IBM and GE begin to implement AI into their hiring processes, the signs actually seem to be that AI is helping HR evolve, and making for more diverse and dynamic workplaces.
Findings by Deloitte confirm that people leaders are indeed embracing the idea; In 2015, only 24 percent of companies felt ready or somewhat ready for people analytics. In 2016, that number increased to 32 percent – a jump of almost one third.
As the trend grows, here are two key ways AI can help HR:
Employee engagement is about feelings and emotion, but AI can enhance the process so HR aren’t always just relying on gut instinct for what is arguably the most important issue in business today. The Wall Street Journal reports that Google, concerned with brain drain and Employee morale, use an algorithm that allows them to predict which employees may be unhappy.
By using data from reviews, promotions and pay histories, their HR team can reportedly track employee dissatisfaction and accurately predict who will quit before they do it. They can take action before turnover or culture becomes an expensive issue.
AI is already beginning to make the recruitment process more effective. SAP, the multinational software company, unveiled plans to use machine learning to filter out the unintended – but often common – biases that hiring managers may include in job descriptions. Their SAP SuccessFactors Suite helps to identify potentially biased language, and recommends alternatives that make descriptions more neutral and inclusive – and less likely to limit the talent pool.
For more on AI – and HR trends – watch our webinar recording, Wellbeing predictions for 2017.