Artificial Intelligence In HR: Balancing Tech And Touch

The critical success factor in the adoption of AI is accuracy in capturing data. The future lies in creating a balance between managing people and leveraging data to make the dialogue between employees and employers seamless


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The Pandemic has brought Digital Transformation to the forefront. While collaborative tools enabled us to work from home and stay in close touch with our colleagues, the next shift is around the corner with the advent of technologies like AI and ML. The pandemic is pushing the shift towards a hybrid work model in every aspect of business, transforming people management and the way we work. The enterprises today are at the cusp of digital transformation and adoption of artificial intelligence in the HR function will provide further impetus to it. Digital Transformation brings in agility, improve customer/employee experience and unlocks new value. The fuel driving Digital Transformation is Data; Data is the new oil.

A key driver to Digital Transformation is adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI). While there are many definitions and explanations of AI, the most simplistic and relatable is the one provided by Deloitte, as expanded further “AI is the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks, that normally require human intelligence”. Examples include tasks such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making under uncertainty, learning and translation between languages. This definition which defines AI in terms of tasks humans do, rather than how humans think, allows us to look at the practical applications in a real world.

The field of AI has given rise to a subset of cognitive technologies, which are getting better with time at performing specific tasks that only humans used to be able to do. The use of these Cognitive Technologies singularly or in combination is what provides the power of AI.

Some of these set of Cognitive Technologies are Machine Learning (ML), Natural Language Processing (NLP), Speech Recognition, Computer Vision, Robotics etc.

Some of the application of these technologies in HR and Business are further illustrated from a day to day applicability perspective.

Machine Language: It can be used in any field which requires analysing large amounts of data with speed and come up with predictive modelling. In HR it could be used for Predictive Talent Management and in business for Sales Forecasting etc.

NLP: It can be used in areas where large amounts of information needs to be gone through and insights and decisions taken. In HR, CV shortlisting could be an area if supported by appropriate algorithmic support. Getting insights from legal proceedings, customer feedback etc are other emerging areas. A chatbot uses the capabilities of NLP and ML. Many Digital HR applications use chatbots for employee query resolution.

Speech Recognition: The technology is like that used in NLP with the challenges of multiple accents, ambient noise etc. Some of the common examples of voice based chatbots are, Siri, Amazon Alexa, etc.

Computer Vision: The technology provides the ability to distinctly identify objects, images, scenes etc. A very common use in offices is attendance using face recognition. Advanced uses may include better medical diagnosis of x-ray images for treatment.

Robotics: It combines a combination of technologies like Computer Vision, Machine Learning, high tech sensors, actuators etc well engineered into a device, capable of replicating motor skills of humans, to operate in repeated high fatigue and hazardous applications. In factories repeated activities like lifting, loading and unloading etc which are mundane physical activities can easily be robotized.

Insightful adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) will transform efficiency, improve employee engagement, sharpen Talent management and make processes agile. The critical success factor in the adoption of AI is accuracy in capturing data. The future lies in creating a balance between managing people and leveraging data to make the dialogue between employees and employer seamless. Technology enablement coupled with empathy and human touch is the key to maintaining the essential cultural ingredient in every enterprise.

AI and the Human Factor:

The last fifteen months of the pandemic has taught us the importance of empathy and understanding towards each other whether in our personal or professional lives. The power of AI if used properly can be a great opportunity to facilitate objective and fact-based decision making with speed; juxtaposed with sound human judgement. We saw an explosive application of AI, being leveraged by socially conscious but tech savvy citizens, helping people connect to hospital beds, oxygen cylinders, medicines etc. The Aarogya Setu App by the GOI, is a brilliant example of leveraging AI to protect the citizens of the country.

The way out of the pandemic is going to be vaccination. While we are all racing with time to get our two jabs, the future may involve taking jabs on a regular basis as boosters to maintain our immunity. Vaccination and immunity status will be a paramount individual marker as people move around in public places, use mass transportation, travel across the world or avail various healthcare facilities. This provides a huge opportunity to use the power of AI to make the world a safer place.

The image of AI as a ruthless job cutting monster is an unfair representation of the power of future possibilities. It must be repositioned with a fresh perspective, as an opportunity to replace routine, repeated and programmable tasks so that our people can be elevated to higher order roles requiring multi-sensory judgement and execution. This will require reskilling and upskilling of people in certain tasks and roles which are being performed as of now. If well planned and executed this will be a worthwhile transition for a better future for all.

(The given article is attributed to V Krishnan, CHRO, Havells India  and solely created for BW People Publication)

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house


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