Human Resources Revolution - Empowered by Artificial Intelligence

Maria Hui, HR Director, Microsoft

Maria Hui, HR Director, Microsoft

In recent years, there have been multiple revolutions in the human resources (HR) spectrum; from focusing on in-house administration, moving on to outsourcing, developing strategic business partners capability, and now, leveraging the latest technology on artificial intelligence (AI) and bringing the impossible to reality. AI is transforming the way organizations operate internally and externally across different industries, bringing many positive disruptions to the existing practice. It is certainly more powerful and extensive than what we imagine.

While most of us broadly view AI as an intelligence solution for dealing with large sets of data, it is increasingly becoming more applicable in our everyday lives and influences how we react to it. Now the important question is—Are we going to embrace it and help shape the evolution, or are we good with being left behind the emerging trend of AI adoption?

The most obvious and common use of AI in HR is in the space of talent acquisition, which requires attracting and bringing in the right talent at the right time. For example, machine learning (ML) helps us to understand the traits of high performers who can also culturally fit in the corporation. From integrating AI algorithms for resume parsing, it helps to set criteria for selecting the best talents for interviews. AI can also be used to schedule interviews by screening the availability of all parties involved. Furthermore, chatbot is also widely used for handling enquiries from job candidates/ employees. Companies can even create an online simulation for new joiners to enhance their on-boarding experience and assimilate well into the company culture.

Talent development practice is another area we will have to digitalize and maximize the usage in to stay ahead of the game.

The use of digital data and computational power of AI will optimize the values of cross-team collaboration, insights around performance and development, and predictive analytics on recruitment and retention. With more information available around people’s skill and behavior, HR managers can learn more about their employees and the job market demographics more than ever. Training and development plans can be designed with reference to predicted critical skills for the future market; employees can easily get their tailored learning recommendations based on their job role, level, learning history, and other intelligence we find from various data sources. With more and more predictive analytics made available to us today, humans are enabled to make constructive business decisions accordingly.

"The most obvious and common use of AI in HR is in the space of talent acquisition, which requires attracting and bringing in the right talent at the right time"

Potential Risks and Limitations

AI is becoming one of the key enablers of digital transformation, but this is just the beginning. As HR professionals, we must start harnessing the exploration of what we can do with AI. Of course, we will also need to be wary of the potential risks and limitations of AI around transparency, privacy and bias, and how we can turn those into opportunities for the community.

Machines, like humans have bias. Machine learns whatever the data provides, but there could be prior human intervention that influences the input data and create bias elements. Take a simple example outside the context of HR: based on the history of medical research, having diabetes has a high positive correlation to the development of a heart disease and getting a heart attack. However, when we feed the data into the machine and try to learn the key characteristics of a patient that makes him or her having higher chance of a fatal heart attack, interestingly, being diagnosed with diabetes is not one of the top traits of people having a high chance of getting a heart attack. There is nothing wrong with the machine, just that, it is learning the bias due to prior human intervention. Patients with diabetes receive regular medical care, thus the preventive actions that are taken to lower the chances of a sudden heart attack is then reflected on the data.

Embrace the Reinventions of AI: The Real Drivers of Digital Transformation

It is now the time to unleash our innovative power and allow AI to disrupt our way of thinking re-defining our path of achieving productivity gain and reshaping new business models. Humans are now taking on new challenges of filling in the gap in areas that AI has limitations on. We are in the stage of needing to make decisions on when and how we utilize AI going forward.

Successful transformation comes with the growth mindset and a well-thought change management strategy and execution. Digital transformation comes a little easier to global technology companies, not because of the availability of high-tech solutions, but because of the culture of encouraging innovation and embracing changes.

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