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AI and the Future of HR

Hosted by: Standard Chartered Bank Danone

Digitalisation and AI are top of many HR Leaders’ agendas, but the meaning and execution of digitalisation and AI can differ greatly between organisations. ChapmanCG gathered intel from a number of big players at an HR networking event to explore how HR leaders and their teams have introduced technology within their businesses, and where it is adding most value, both internally and externally. Our generous hosts for this HR Leaders networking event were Bhawna Gandhi and Ellen Ruan Lan from Danone, with presenters including Wee Ling Ho from SAP.

Different Geographies, Different Approaches to Digital and AI

Given that there are estimated to be around 100,000 qualified experts in AI globally, it came as no surprise to hear that the companies in attendance were each at different stages of maturity in their digital transformation. What was interesting however, was that even within the same organisation, different geographies were integrating AI at a different rate. One commonality was that they all started small, with a function such as Talent Acquisition to screen a high volume of applications, or in a specific geography such as South East Asia.

As an example, Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) has recently migrated their TA function to Bangalore and implemented a powerful AI system to screen applications. They are also using technology in their workforce planning to make sure the organisation is future ready. Firstly, they identified the skills needed for the employees to stay competitive in the digital era, before looking at the skills inventory. This system doesn’t have an AI function, so they still rely on supervisors, but Charlotte felt that using AI would help them make objective decisions without any bias and bring more diversity to the organisation.

The Inside and Out Approach

Elsewhere, MasterCard has developed a ‘talent card’ for all employees and identified and captured skills for each individual employee. Although they have adapted a tool for OD, they still rely on individual connections, as the system can only record skills such as IQ, problem solving and numerical skills, but can’t measure skills such as creativity and imagination – yet.

As is the case with a lot of companies, GE uses very advanced digital tools in dealing with their customers, and are working on delivering the same level of sophistication to their employee systems. Apart from helping to collate a massive amount of data, the area that HR uses AI most extensively is in Learning & Development, where the system helps to identify which training programs each employee should attend.

What became clear as the discussion went on was that in the majority of organisations, business takes the lead in experimenting with AI, with HR then follows suit. Businesses are using robotics to give standardised answers to reduce human interface, which naturally causes anxiety among employees regarding job security. As such, it is the organisation’s duty to manage this change and upskill their workforce effectively. Another area of concern is AI’s capability in responding to queries satisfactorily, although this is improving all the time, and with it we are seeing a more confident regard for AI working alongside us.

SCB has data of frequently asked questions globally on their system. They feel the purpose of the organisation is to serve both their internal and external stakeholders effectively and use technology to help them better understand their customers and to support them more quickly and efficiently. They also use analytics to bring organisational intelligence to HR in areas such as gap analysis and future capability.

MSD is also at the beginning of their journey in using AI. It is no doubt taking the HR team out of their comfort zone, but they are already becoming more agile and able to complete multiple tasks at greater speed and efficiency.

In Summary

The content of this interesting discussion highlighted a number of takeaways that can aid people in managing this significant organisational change:

  • Without guiding principles, the use of technology can quickly go wrong
  • Customer experience should remain at the heart of the use of any technology, so it is important to keep the human touch
  • When looking to introduce any new system, make sure you take people on the journey with you
  • Provide context to the introduction of technology, as there will be fear of job losses and resistance to change – don’t expect immediate adoption
  • There are normally a lot of factors to consider, so go small and slow. It often takes about a year for a new model to settle down.

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