Will AI Deliver the Long-Awaited Tech Revolution for HR?

Matthew D Owenby, Senior Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer, Aflac Inc.

Matthew D Owenby, Senior Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer, Aflac Inc.

When many hear the words artificial intelligence (AI), their first thoughts often jump to the images Hollywood has given us of robots. From the good guys like R2- D2 to the original bad-boy robot himself, the Terminator, Hollywood has given us plenty of robots to analyze. But for those of us in the human resources realm, the question remains: Is AI really providing new growth opportunities?

"Whether its candidate screening, or ChatBot onboarding, these new AI tools are extremely promising and have the highest probability of impacting the productivity of staffing teams"

Technology changes are all around us in HR, but the issue continues to be determining which ones will actually work. Back in the mid-to-late ‘90s, HR practitioners found themselves in the world of “digitization.” While the move to a human resource information system (HRIS) moved us out of the dinosaur age of pen and paper, the majority of these HRIS platforms have consistently overpromised and usually under delivered.

While the smart HR leaders remained skeptical throughout the past decade, others weren’t so fortunate. As a result, they spent fortunes, devalued the functions’ credibility and got tossed. Even today as we consider our options for “end-to-end” HRIS solutions, very few seem truly so, and almost all of them require near-constant monitoring by an HR team. We are perpetually reminded by these system barkers that “the system is only as good as the information within it,” but who has time to babysit?

As I survey the damage to credibility that these end-all HRIS systems have done to our profession, I wonder where we can go from here. Enter AI. I have spent a considerable amount of time over the past 18 months reviewing what’s new and how it will all work, and I can definitively say that AI is the most likely candidate for a transformative HR tech revolution.

There are countless new AI systems either in beta or in production that actually work and deliver the goods they promise, particularly in the staffing/hiring element of our jobs. Whether it’s candidate screening, ChatBot onboarding, or simply automatic candidate collection, these new AI tools are extremely promising and have the highest probability of impacting the productivity of our staffing teams.

Right now, we are spending a lot of time deciding whether or not we are going to be leveraging the current suite of AI tools, particularly when it comes to talent acquisition. We are examining whether to use AI in our ATS, or to drive candidate quality and candidate filtering in a way that is not possible based on current staffing levels. We are also considering using a chatbot to assist after all of the paperwork is signed to improve the onboarding process. The chatbot would act as an education concierge, offering candidates company knowledge based on their experience with the organization. There are very exciting products on the market that leverage AI and have the ability to actually improve HR.

It’s clear that these new AI-based platforms can help provide prospective candidates a better overall experience, allowing humans to provide better one-on-one support. Perhaps the most impressive element these systems deliver is connecting qualified people with positions faster and with increased levels of accuracy. While I’m still skeptical whether or not AI is the tech revolution for which HR has been waiting, it appears we are finally at the gate of real HR tech that can actually drive business value. Perhaps equally as important, AI can help our employees, managers and leadership teams become more efficient and proficient. May the (AI) force be with you!

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