Using AI in Human Resources Department

Elevate. It’s a word that is often used in the marketing sphere, especially in the current climate of AI (artificial intelligence) and cognitive learning technologies.

As HR leaders, the question that we need to ask is, what does it mean to elevate your HR function in an AI driven future, and what are the steps to get there.

What we’re examining today is a continuation from our previous article, “1 Thing I learnt at the HR Tech Summit, it’s not about Tech” where we looked at the core purpose of HR. If you haven’t read that article, I would highly recommend you take a minute to read that first as it will help set the mindset for what we are about to discuss, regarding what it means to have an elevated role in HR in the new climate of cognitive computing technologies.


Reality of Cognitive Computing

In many ways, AI is already a reality. The hype about a  whole new level of human-to-machine interaction is already an existing commodity in many of our day-to-day work and even personal life.   

It all sounds very distant, however it is not. Recent stories  of AI beating world’s number one Go player to studies showing how they’re more accurate in diagnosing various illnesses and disease etc. are prime examples of AI demonstrating their prowess of cognitive computing intelligence in our day and age. If you still think AI is a distant technology then think again to photography. Not the ones taken from a traditional DSLR but the ones on your phone. The Google Pixel 2 that came out in late 2017 is still prized as a phone with one of the best cameras in the market, while sporting only one back camera. Why?

All this is thanks to it’s imaging technology which uses computational photography to result in images that are on par with traditional cameras. Using AI technology and machine learning, the Pixel 2 is able to detect edges of the main subject and subsequently blurring the background to come up with stunning portrait mode photos that stimulates the effect achieved through professional camera lenses. Other major companies have since integrated AI technology into their phones,from imaging to security, to power efficiency; AI technology is being used in a way to elevate the platform of what can be done in the palms of our hands each day. These areas however, are not the only places where AI is making a difference nowadays.

google pixel 2 capability

google pixel 2 capability 02
Images in courtesy of Google


How far behind is your HR Department with AI?

IBM has developed Watson, an AI platform for business. Watson is a question-answering computer system capable of answering questions posed in natural language, developed in IBM’s DeepQA project by a research team led by principal investigator David Ferrucci. IBM Watson is a prominent figure in the AI world today due to it’s analytics platform.

Watson has already helped launch a few running solutions showcasing the ability of cognitive computing technologies within the organisation. CogniPay is one of the great example of a solution from IBM Watson that leverages the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning in HR context.

Essentially, what CogniPay does is it maps out a holistic view of an employee and provides insights to managers, acting as a cognitive decision support system. Unlike traditional means of calculating pay, where the company is looking at a maximum of 2 or 3 variables in a arbitrary manner, CogniPay is a more strategic HR solution in that it actually examines the data in providing a solution. Considering the individual’s skill set, their competitiveness in the market, compensation history , how crucial their current role is to the company objective, potential for future growth and many more. CogniPay is a more stringent approach towards compensation calculation.

Imagine what IBM Watson could do in the very near future. I wouldn’t be surprised if they can start analyzing human emotions through video-like interviews, with a list of questionnaires designed to assist HR in anticipating talent retention drivers and issues.

Another example of successful AI technology in our everyday is with Jill Watson, another solution powered by IBM Watson. Jill Watson was implemented as a ninth teaching assistant for an online course and the Georgia Institute of Technology, helping human TAs answer student questions for the course. The solution was so successful that actually one student had reported, “Just when I wanted to nominate Jill Watson as an outstanding TA, always there reminding us of due dates and posting questions to engage us mid-week, I find out she is a chatbot. I was flabbergasted.”


What does an “elevated” HR function look like in an AI reality?

There is much dispute over how AI is going to affect our future. While some say it will likely replace most if not all jobs, others believe that cognitive computing will possibly create more opportunities than it replaces. As of now, we cannot quite tell what the future will look like when AI is integrated into every nook and cranny of our workplace and society. With artificial intelligence still in its early stages, we can only have a “low resolution” understanding of the possibilities that will come and what it will be like  when cognitive computing technologies is in its prime.

That however, does not mean we can stay at the same place and blindly wait for whatever change is to come. On the face of AI and the changes that it will bring upon, the idea is not to just prepare, as AI is a constantly growing technology.

For HR professionals to really thrive and help move businesses forward, HR professionals must themselves be ready to move alongside the technology that is coming out and re-adjust their mindset and learning in order to keep up with the evolving AI technologies. With machine learning which is progressively improving, there is almost a greater urgency for people to shift their approach which is not as prevalent with other technologies in the past.

How far behind is your HR Department with AI - Wall E example-1Image in courtesy of Pixar

So what does an elevated approach to HR look like in the face of AI technologies?

First of all, it is to avoid the temptation to dumb down due to easy computer solutions. Like the future depicted in 2006 movie Idiocracy or the 2008 Pixar’s Wall-E, as computers becomes smarter, it can be tempting for humans to fall back into the comfort and shelter of all this technology. However as Dr. Alan Finkel, Chief Scientist for the Australian government puts it, we should resist this temptation to dumb down.

As computers become more and more powerful, it is important for humans to also grow in their understanding and intelligence. As of now, most studies agree that AI and machine learning will be best at specialist functions, on a greater level that will be way superior to humans due to the vast amount of data and resources that AI will have to get good.

Where AI falls short however, is with novelty and innovation that connects seemingly disparate concepts and ideas which is where humans can fill the spot. An article by Getting Smart on the future of human learning in a AI environment illustrates a very good picture of how we can elevate our roles.

How far behind is your HR Department with AI - learning rubrick

The article presents a new rubric of learning that is depicted in the charts above. Ultimately, what this depicts is a possibility of how humans can evolve to partner alongside cognitive computing technologies. Instead of the traditional approach of deeper understanding in one aspect and getting better at that one skill, it trains people to have a greater variety of skills  and a greater level of understanding through different mediums and approaches.

Fundamentally, this is what it will take for HR professionals to truly elevate their roles, by getting past the initial tasks and understanding and gain greater perspective on a situation that involved analysis, evaluation, and innovation.

While it’s exciting, the way of the future will not be an easy one, is your HR function prepared? Start streamlining your HR with Links HR outsourcing services. Links International is an industry leader in innovative HR outsourcing, offering an array of services from payroll outsourcing, visa application, Employer of Record (EOR)/ PEO to recruitment and more! Get in touch with us today for more information on how we can help elevate your HR function.

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