HR Tech Update: Artificial intelligence and the future of HR

HR TECHNOLOGY: The Fifth Industrial Revolution has put the need for learning and development front and centre as existing jobs disappear over the next five years, while new jobs emerge.

It’s now the responsibility of both employees and employers to adapt to these changes or risk losing their place in the business ecosystem.

Artificial intelligence (AI), a key component of the expected 5th Industrial Revolution, will play an important part in HR.

AI, in learning and development specifically, is seeing employee training and upskilling move away from hours-long seminars to a more modular learning method.

Modular learning focuses more on learning outcomes, and is often geared towards shorter classes. AI can help with course creation, either by automatically compiling findings on the internet or prompting updates based on industry movements.

AI can even provide the program, materials and a schedule that is personalised for each employee, allowing HRs to integrate learning into workflow.

Modular learning allows individual workers to select courses that best suit their path, but determining that path may be difficult for employees and employers alike.

Turnover goes up in organisations where employees don’t see a future in career development. Talent or career pathing, backed by AI, helps to smooth out this pain point for both parties. The training metrics will reveal which employees need more training.

Some AIs can help identify possible career paths based on an employee’s training history and needs, like Oppty’s career roadmap assistance.

While there is upside to the use of AI in HR, there are those who question whether it is truly worth the cost, given that technological advancements come and go.

Then, there is also the question of quality data. Many AI applications have fallen victim to “garbage data”, which puts the efficacy of any results into question.

Amazon for example, had to scrap a secret AI recruiting tool that was found to show bias against women.

Data management is also an issue, as organisations usually have plenty of data which isn’t organised for machine learning. As industry 5.0 data management practices are still in its infancy, HRs may drown in a sea of information without real value.

Startups operating in AI and HR often only have a singular focus on their HR function, suggesting solutions in their specific area without taking the company’s overall ecosystem into consideration.

AI progresses in three phases. Weak AI for example, can only do tasks it’s programmed to do and can’t perform beyond its limitations; the most common in our daily lives. Strong AI can process intellectual tasks that a human being can, while super AI will surpass even human intelligence.

This kind of "Super AI" doesn’t exist yet, but the day it does is probably the day when AI investment in HR will be a necessity rather than a nice-to-have. Even then, AI will likely only succeed if there’s strong integration between humans and machines.

HR Tech Update, by Chief of Staff Asia's Technology Editor Ellia Pikri, appears every Thursday from 6:00am.

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