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ponedeljek, 03. junij 2019

Comtrade | AI is the new HR

Are you fascinated by the latest word du jour – AI – too?

A lot has been said and written about AI in the past couple of years, it reminds me of the TV shows about the Victorian era, when electricity was discovered. Electricity was one of those phenomena that completely changed the society (and the world). At first some people were very skeptical about it, some were cautious, others were curious. But there were also those who saw great potential and business opportunities attached to it. They started inventing things that use electricity. One of those inventions was an electrified tablecloth in which you could stick a lightbulb and create wonderful dinner table arrangements. Obviously it was a bit flawed – it only worked until someone would spill a glass of water on the table and electrocute the whole dinner party.

Even though not all inventions were widely adopted nowadays we can’t imagine the world without electricity. The same will happen with AI. Eventually. Truth be told, AI will replace most if not all the jobs, including bankers, judges, CEOs, and yes, you – HR managers. When will this happen, you ask?

Like with many other things, AI grows exponentially. Therefore many people believe it is bound to take over our jobs in 3 to 5 years from now. There were also certain serious studies published that show it will happen by 2050. Personally, I don’t have the answer to this question. I believe it depends on the pace people are willing to adopt the use AI in everyday lives. However, since it is in our nature to resist the change, I doubt it will happen anytime soon.

In the meantime we should explore the option of AI solutions working with HR professionals and other employees as well. A side note: I use AI as a hypernym for all types and disciplines of Artificial Intelligence such as: Machine Learning (ML), Natural Language Processing (NLP), Computer Vision, Robotics etc.

AI is what we make it to be

Basic concept behind AI is that it can learn. And who is a better person for the job to teach the AI about HR stuff than you? It will be up to HR professionals and managers to identify what are the KPIs for star performers as well as underperformers and then train the ML models to recognize them. Based on the data about employee fluctuation you would be able to create a predictive model that will help you identify people who might quit soon. Selecting a right candidate for the job doesn’t have to be a gut feeling or decision to choose the ones that look good on paper. An AI-powered chatbot can help employees get answers to many HR related questions regarding company procedures and policies, enter absence request or sign up for a workshop you’re organizing.

And there is no such thing as one size fits all. People are specific to every organization, every environment, every company structure, line of business, geography, demographics, political and economic situation. As I’ve mentioned before, AI loves data, so the more relevant data you can include in the equation, the better results you get and create more value for your company.

Why do you need a good HCM system for AI? 

For one, AI is a data-hungry beast. In order to be able to build AI models, one needs to have lots and lots of historical data. HCM systems offer a good and structured way to collect, keep and analyze all the data regarding employee skills, knowledge, trainings, career goals, development plans etc. Such system also offer a great way to implement and keep track of company policies and procedures.

However, just having an HCM system in place is not enough. There needs to be a company-wide, top-down, all-hands-on-deck readiness and willingness to accept that people are the most important part of any organization, and that HR department must play a crucial role in shaping the future of the company. Having the annual career and performance discussions with employees for the sake of checking all the boxes is a waste of time and money on the HCM system. Instead, the focus should be on building a company culture in which all the employees see the value in using the HCM system as a tool for their overall benefit. In my opinion the mission of the HR department should be to create such an environment.

With great power comes great responsibility 

Even though it might be very tempting to teach AI how to get some of your annoying colleagues or maybe even your boss fired, it is of the utmost importance to follow the highest moral and ethical norms when dealing with AI.

There is a lot of discussion about the ethics and AI. We are witnessing a lot of misuse of AI for different political and economic purposes. There are more and more frauds being performed using AI. Racial, religious, gender and other types of discrimination and extremism are on the rise, being aided by AI as well. Many will use that as an argument against AI, but we must not forget that it is always a person or persons that made AI do the things they wanted it to do.

Fortunately, there are many initiatives from different universities, companies, non-profit organizations, commissions etc. that are trying to form a consent about rules and regulations that will help us make sure we build and use AI in a safe way. At the end of the day, our internal moral compass should deliver and help us keep our integrity.

The future is now

Instead of worrying about AI taking over your job start thinking about different ways how AI can help you become better and more productive at work. But not just you. Help guide and educate all the people in your company about AI, and together you should find ways to include AI in day-to-day business. And who knows, maybe in 3 to 5 years you’ll be writing a blog about how AI changed your job and even life.

Aleksandar Semeraj, Business Development Manager at Comtrade SII

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