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Building a Courageous Work Culture: Why it Matters

Sometimes, the biggest threat to an organization isn’t the most visible one. Emotions drive behavior, not logic. One of the most potent emotions is fear. As a result, one of the most significant challenges and responsibilities of leaders – at every level – is combatting fear and fostering courage. In themselves, in others, and across their entire organization.

 

 

Our Guest:  Karin Hurt, CEO, Let’s Grow Leaders

On the latest #WorkTrends podcast, I spoke with Karin Hurt, CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders; a training firm focused on human-centered leadership development. They help leaders resolve workplace ambiguity to drive innovation, productivity, and revenue without burning out employees. 

Mental health and wellness in the workplace has been a trending topic for several months. Psychological Safety sits at the core –  defined as “the belief that one can speak up without the risk of punishment or humiliation.” 

After working with both leaders and supervisory level employees at the same companies, it became clear to Karin that there was a lack of Psychological Safety in the workplace. As a result, Let’s Grow Leaders partnered with the University of North Colorado for a research study to understand when employees were holding back ideas, what kind of ideas they were holding back, and what was preventing them from speaking up.

When asked more about what inspired the study on Psychological Safety and innovation, Karin had this to say:

“We were working with leaders across a variety of industries all around the world, and we were having conversations at the senior-most levels of these organizations. And we were hearing things like, Why don’t more people share their ideas? Why don’t people speak up? And then we would be doing training at the supervisor level of these same organizations. And we would hear things like, No one wants my ideas. Nothing ever happens anyway so why bother? And we thought, are you working for the same company?”

Why Employees Don’t Speak Up?

It’s important that leaders are trained to be exceptional listeners. It’s also important for leaders to create an environment of trust. Why do employees hold back? Karin further explains:

“When we dug underneath and found out why they were holding back these ideas, 50% said nothing will ever happen anyway. 49% said they weren’t regularly asked for their ideas. 67% said my manager operates around the notion of this is the way we’ve always done it. 40% said they lacked the confidence to share. And this one was really the most surprising. 56% said they don’t share ideas because they’re afraid they won’t get the credit.”

Steps to Building a Courageous Culture

An employee’s lack of confidence can stem from many experiences and roles. The result – trust and confidence barriers. As a leader, steps can be taken to break through these barriers:

“So it starts with navigating the narrative. And that is really getting very clear about how you feel about speaking up at work. And then, it’s creating clarity that you really do want people’s ideas. Third, cultivate curiosity, which is where you proactively go out and ask people for their ideas.

It’s not enough to ask. Karin further explains:

“So we talk about responding with gratitude, thanking people for their ideas, information, telling them what’s going to happen next or not happen next and why.”

Building an infrastructure of courage starts from the top down. Don’t just change the narrative; live it. 

I hope you enjoy this episode of #WorkTrends. To learn more about building a courageous culture at work, contact Karin Hurt on LinkedIn.

Myth Busting Common Video Interview Concerns

Video interviewing—whoever has gone on one knows that it is a different beast, both for the candidate and the recruiter. Aptitude Research reported less than 60% of US companies used or planned to use video interviewing in their HR processes. At the height of COVID-19, a Gartner study revealed that 89% of organizations have used video interviews to hire talent. This number is expected to rise even more as video interviews become increasingly popular. For this reason, it’s important for employers to understand the benefits of video interviewing and get more comfortable with it.

 

Our Guest: Sean Fahey, CEO, VidCruiter

Sean Fahey is an award-winning business leader, serial entrepreneur and CEO of VidCruiter. His company is one of the fastest growing in remote recruitment in the market. After years of firsthand recruitment experience, he’s on quest to share everything he knows about the evolution of video interviewing.

Sean started us off by explaining the basics of video interviewing in the recruiting space and its many forms:

“The most popular would be like a Teams, or Zoom, or a Skype type interview. We have that solution here at VidCruiter and we’ve repurposed it to be recruitment specific. The most popular type is called an asynchronous interview or an on-demand or prerecorded interview. This is where a candidate records themselves on their own time at home and recruiters watch this recording on their own time in the future. This allows recruiters and hiring managers save a lot of time.”

The Myths of Video Interviewing

Candidates prefer in-person interviews for a fighting chance at securing job. However, it’s becoming evident that video interviews produce greater results for employers. There is a lot of good happening behind the scenes that candidates don’t realize. Sean explains:

We often hear candidates say, ‘I’d rather meet with you in person or talk to you.’ ” The purpose of this tool is not to eliminate the in-person interview or a video conference, it’s the step before that. The benefit of a prerecorded interview is that you can now open the pool up to whoever is remotely qualified. So, you’re giving a chance to 20, 30, 40, 50 candidates to showcase themselves. This tool enables more people to have real conversations, more people to see your profile, and more people to be interviewed. The goal is not to eliminate the in-person or the video conference that you’re going to have after, it’s to facilitate who will go there first.”

How Video Interviewing Mitigates Hiring Bias

People assume that video interviewing increases hiring bias, but in actuality, it’s quite the opposite. The pre-recorded method, for example, allows candidates access to an identical question and answer experience. Sean further explains how video interviews mitigate small talk, a common contributor to hiring bias.

“It’s hard to avoid small talk, but small talk has the potential to create bias. Video interviewing reduces hiring bias by treating everyone identically. Another component of the bias reduction is the ability to share video interviews with multiple stakeholders. More than one decision maker can watch an interview and determine who they want to meet with next. The third component is how the evaluation process is done. More than one person can be part of the evaluating criteria. VidCruiter’s tools and other vendors within the space have what’s called ‘structured interview evaluation guides’ built into on-demand or video interview solutions. This way, when recruiters vet through candidates, they have the proper evaluation metrics and guides to make the right decisions.”

Artificial Intelligence and Video Interviewing

Sean expects that artificial intelligence will make a significant impact in future digital recruiting:

 “If you talk to Siri, Google Voice, or Alexa, what percentage of the sentence would you say did it captured properly? Sometimes it’s 100%, other times it’s 80% or 90%, but the point is, they’re the leading provider of that kind of technology in the world. AI is performing in terms of predicting where candidates should apply in a chatbot or predicting the best recruiters. However, in terms of analyzing a candidate, it gets kind of risky.”

How to Prepare for a Video Interview

The interviewing process has changed drastically over the past two years. Candidates are less likely to meet potential employers in-person, and more likely to suit up for their webcams. This could be a new and daunting experience for most, which is why Sean left us with tips to best prepare for video interviews.

“The best thing that you could do is practice. You can get an interview coach or you can get someone to sit with you and ask you some questions to prepare. I’ve found that the most successful candidates are detailed and they have more examples to support their responses to questions.”

How Companies Can Improve Their Video Interviewing Experience

There are ways for recruiters to improve the recruiting experience for candidates so that they feel like they’re being interviewed by real people and not lifeless computers. Sean fills us in on a few tips that will have candidates happily complete the vetting process, rather than give up midway.

“If you’re a recruiter, record a video in your home, on your phone, in your car, or in your office asking the interview questions. Have different managers from your team record themselves and have staff members of the same role give testimonials on their experience working at your company. This is even a better experience than a traditional interview because the candidate is able to meet more people in your team.”

I hope you enjoyed this episode of #WorkTrends, sponsored by VidCruiter. To learn more about video interviewing and recruiting in today’s climate, contact Sean on LinkedIn.

 

 

 

 

Image from Marvent

Why We Must Unlock the Power of AI for Small Businesses

For all the attention large enterprise organizations get, small businesses have a tremendous impact. According to U.S. census data, companies with fewer than 500 employees make up more than 99% of all businesses. They also account for more than half of all economic and employment activity. This means it is time to unlock the transformative power of AI for small businesses.

Many of the most exciting artificial intelligence (AI) tools available today are targeted at larger companies. Sometimes, much, much larger. While some of that is by design, it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, given the promise and potential of AI, companies that develop these tools should focus on how they can bring them to the small businesses that power such a significant portion of our economy.

We know it won’t be easy.

The Good (And Not So Good) Reasons Small Business Has Limited Access to AI

Unlocking the power of AI for smaller businesses isn’t just a matter of flipping a few switches in a tech solution. There are a variety of reasons why — some good and some bad — so much AI innovation has been focused on the top 1% of businesses.

Let’s start with one of the bad ones: the SaaS business model.

The economic and employment activity associated with large enterprise organizations is gigantic. Getting a big enterprise customer might be worth dozens or even hundreds of companies with fewer than 500 employees. For SaaS business models that depend on growing recurring revenue, often based on the number of employees or users, this model makes sense — at least for them. After all, think about how much easier it is for AI builders to target and service the Fortune 100 or 500 than it is to target millions of smaller businesses.

Although that may make sense from a pure business perspective, it keeps a growing class of buyers from benefiting from the innovation available to larger firms.

A second, less bad reason: Many AI tools are imagined as a way to solve big company challenges. For example, an AI chatbot that interacts with potential customers on your website and answers their questions sounds nice, right? But is it worth the large-scale investment for a company that sells $500,000 a month to a handful of customers? Probably not. Another example: Do organizations need an AI warehouse logistics solution if an employee can jog across their storehouse in 30 seconds? Again, probably not – or at least it isn’t worth the investment required.

While there’s obviously room for niche solutions, many of the limitations are driven by a lack of imagination. But there’s one area that’s ultimately challenging for smaller businesses to compete with…

The One Big Challenge for Small Business: Data

Larger organizations have one key advantage: data – usually, lots and lots of internal data, an incredibly relevant factor to AI.

Even more than just the sheer cost or the possible value AI could deliver to organizations, many tools simply aren’t a good fit if you don’t generate a lot of data from which to learn. For instance, it’s much easier to apply machine learning to a database with millions of customer orders across thousands of different product offerings. This large data set gives a recommendation engine a much richer data set to pull from.

It’s not just the initial setup, either. AI runs better when you are pulling in more real-time data. After all, how can a machine learn about predicted order flow if you’re not taking in hundreds or thousands of orders a day?

For small businesses, the lack of big data is a significant hurdle. But it doesn’t mean there aren’t solutions that can be applied to smaller organizations.

6 Ways Companies Can Cater AI to Smaller Businesses

Although there may never be an AI inventory solution for a small parts manufacturer, there are other areas where AI can serve smaller organizations well. It starts with solution providers and smaller organizations working together to consider their needs and then determine what’s truly possible. Here are just six ways AI companies can better serve small businesses:

1. Focus on finding solutions for more targeted needs

Instead of replacing a major part of the business, how can AI help streamline painful parts of your workflow? You may not be able to get a full AI assistant, but a tool that schedules meetings can be helpful even at smaller organizations.

2. Apply AI insights where internal data sources are not available

There’s an incredible amount of external data out there to drive AI insights. For example, it doesn’t require any internal data at all to leverage a recruiting process for small businesses that uses publicly available information to determine when a small business should reach out to a candidate.

3. Use AI to bring new expertise that a leaner team may not have

AI can also bring expertise that only an experienced team could deliver. For instance, an AI-driven programmatic ad-buying solution could supplement a team with more expertise on broader brand-building campaigns.

4. Be able to ramp up a solution quickly

Small businesses don’t have months to get up to speed. Instead, AI could help those businesses focus on consumer-friendly solutions that can get someone using their platform with very little ramp-up time.

5. Look for organizations that offer different pricing models

Traditional SaaS models are great for SaaS companies – but it’s not always the right model for smaller businesses that only see the top dollar amount on a long-term contract. A flat-rate or shorter-term contract – perhaps with on-off capability – can get people to opt-in to a more affordable, more practical AI solution much quicker.

6. Provide built-in support

You can’t support small businesses the same way you support large corporations. That means including tutorials and walk-throughs with the product is critical. Affordable, all-inclusive service and customization plans would also appeal to smaller businesses.

AI for Small Businesses: They Deserve the Power of AI

The next hire, sale, or customer experience touchpoints are all so important to small businesses. The impact of each on the budget of a small business, as a proportion of their expenditures, is enormous.

Enterprise organizations will always be able to make use of the latest and greatest AI technology. It’s time to apply that same energy to finding solutions for smaller businesses, the lifeblood of many communities across the U.S.

No, it won’t be easy. But by working together, we can help unlock the power of AI for small businesses.

 

Image by Peshkova

ATS + AI: Using Talent Intelligence to Unlock the Potential of Candidates

What is talent intelligence? And how can it help drive the right candidates into your company’s talent funnel?

An applicant tracking system provides the foundation for many corporate talent acquisition departments. These applicant tracking systems do what the name implies: they track applicants. They also store information such as resumes, perform keyword searches, help companies with government rules, etc. And to that end, they do the job.

And yet, many companies need more. 

The reality is that companies design ATSs to hire people who’ve done a job similar to one that’s open today. But for the companies whose businesses are changing rapidly, hiring someone based on specific experience isn’t sufficient. Take, for example, this quote from the recent 2021 HR Tech Market report from the analyst Josh Bersin: 

“I recently interviewed the head of talent acquisition for a large pharma company. She told me that the science of genetics is advancing so fast that they can no longer recruit for specific positions or jobs. Rather, her teams now look for people with advanced scientific expertise and recruit them into jobs needing these skills. This is a big trend in AI, machine learning, and cyber, where the core disciplines are advancing so fast that companies can’t hire for specific positions.”

Like this pharma company, many employers need to be future-ready. They need to hire for jobs that haven’t been created yet. So they need to hire people for potential and capabilities – not experience. Their ATS is not enough.

ATS + AI = Talent Intelligence

A system of talent intelligence, on the other hand, is designed to hire for potential. It considers an applicant’s “adjacent skills” – enabling them to succeed in an open role.

Here are some of what companies can do by pairing an ATS with artificial intelligence:

Add Deep-learning AI to Searches

Adding the deep-learning capabilities of AI to searches helps bring people with the potential to do the job to the surface. By identifying adjacent skills and delivering far more relevant profiles, an employer increases the number of qualified candidates in their talent pipeline.

Use AI to Enable Talent Rediscovery

AI helps find people in a “Talent Network,” which includes past applicants, employee referrals, and “silver medalists” who may not have been a fit before but are now. We’ve found that companies that pair AI with an applicant tracking system find that roughly one-third of new hires coming from past applicants.

Building a Talent Network

A Talent Network is more than a database of past applicants. It can include employee referrals, ex-employees, and even current employees. In fact, we’ve seen from our customers that a Talent Network averages roughly about 200 times the number of employees at a company. So, as a rule of thumb, if you have 10,000 employees, you have something on the order of a 2 million person Talent Network when pairing an ATS with a capable AI platform. And more data equals better search results and more qualified candidates.

Make Matches

With AI, companies can see who the strongest matches are for any job, regardless of whether these matches are past applicants, ex-employees, passive/sourced employees, or referrals with the potential to succeed. This saves time and improves quality of hire. Postmates turned to a talent intelligence platform and saw a 46 percent increase in strongly matched candidates between September 2019 and September 2020.

Focus on Skills, Not Jobs 

An AI platform understands the capabilities, including current skills and learnable skills, of every individual. Without this, with just an ATS, companies often default to “who has done the exact job we’re hiring for” based on antiquated keyword searches.

Personalize a Career Site

Within a career site powered by talent intelligence, candidates can immediately find the right job for them. They’ll also understand the reasons why that job is a fit for their qualifications and potential. This improves engagement and measurably lowers drop-off rates. Companies can also add a chatbot to improve the candidate experience and handle employee queries more efficiently.

At AirAsia, for example, the percentage of recruiting website visitors who eventually applied for a position rose 35 percent after adding talent intelligence to its career site. At Dexcom’s career site, 40 percent of career site visitors now apply for a job, and 42 percent upload a resume.

Improve CRM

Rarely does an applicant tracking system come equipped with the kind of technology you find in leading sales and marketing platforms. (Heck, many of the CRM systems made for the talent industry are lacking as well.) The ATS-AI combination, though, nurtures candidates in a pipeline based on their interests and delivers content of interest to them. Veterans, for example, can receive blog posts or company information about a company’s work with veterans and the military. Nutanix has seen a 70 percent open rate with some of its targeted campaigns. 

NextRoll decided to sponsor the Grace Hopper Celebration, an annual event that draws thousands of women who want to pursue a career in engineering. It sent emails to all women engineers in its database of potential candidates, saying NextRoll would be at the conference. “We got an incredible response that greatly exceeded our expectations,” Global Head of Talent Jody Atkins recalls. “People came up to us and said they received our email and wanted to seek us out. That was really rewarding. And it helped our employer branding, which was the goal of going to the conference.” 

Conference sponsors received an electronic book of resumes from all attendees. In the end, NextRoll uploaded more than 10,000 resumes.

NextRoll has also tailored contacts with individuals identified as high-potential candidates. “You have to engage people multiple times if you want to attract them to your company,” Atkins says. “Our engineers are encouraged to write blogs, and we use Eightfold to identify the subset of people in our database who would be interested in the subject of each blog.”

Improve Diversity

Companies like Postmates also have seen huge improvements in the diversity of their job applicants after combining AI with an ATS and hiring for potential. Postmates increased Black, Hispanic, and female applicants sharply, the latter by 91 percent between September 2019 and September 2020. 

Run Virtual Events and Hire Virtually

Virtual and in-person events are just so much more effective with the AI-ATS combination; it allows companies to spend their event time on the people who are strong matches for your jobs. AirAsia said that “Virtual Event Recruiting improved our recruiter’s efficiency and the quality of candidates through AI-enabled candidate matching. It was a single place to review and manage registration, assessment, and candidate experience.”

Schedule Interviews 

When asked to break down how they spend their days, many recruiters will tell you they wished they were doing a lot more… recruiting. Instead, recruiters get bogged down coordinating schedules. Adding an AI-based interview-scheduling system to an applicant tracking system frees recruiters up to do what’s most valuable and more fulfilling:

  • AirAsia cut recruiters’ coordination time by about 48 percent
  • Conagra  told us it has given “time back to recruiters to allow them to be true advisors to our business leaders.”
  • COIT Group said it has “freed up the recruiters to focus on the part where the human element’s important and allow them to go in and eliminate having to spend all day looking through that database for pockets of gold.”

Measure Results

Augmenting your ATS with the right platform offers ready-to-use, real-time reporting for diversity, CRM, recruiting pipeline, and other talent functions. So, with some legacy systems, a company may just see that it has a “diversity problem” if it can determine how many women, to take one example, work at different levels of the company. You can hone in on the problem with talent intelligence: are people from under-represented groups dropping off at the screening stage? The interview? Not accepting offers? In which departments/managers is the problem the worst? In the end, identifying the specific problem helps get to a solution.  

Pair Your ATS with AI

The bottom line is that, for the most part, an ATS actually does do what humans designed it to do. By definition, it’s a system of tracking and storage that relies on keyword matching based on the candidate’s experience. However, it is not a talent intelligence system – one that provides the ability to hire based on adjacent skills, as-yet untapped potential, and capabilities. 

Pairing an ATS with AI – and creating a talent intelligence platform – can dramatically increase your return on investment. And it can drive the right candidates into your talent funnel. Yes, even for jobs that didn’t exist until now.

 

Image by MNBB Studio

HR Automation: Understanding the Limits of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence has been infiltrating the business world for the past several years and has also played a major role in HR automation. Today, companies across all industries are using AI to automate a variety of job tasks and replace human capital. And by the mid-2030s, PwC estimates, 30% of all jobs will be automated.

The COVID-19 pandemic only promises to accelerate this trend. Now more than ever, business units are looking to boost their efficiency and save money through automation ‒ and HR is no exception. Automation has the potential to help HR teams recruit, hire, and train employees — and many organizations already use AI-driven software to carry out these tasks.

At first glance, it might make sense to hand some of these repetitive responsibilities to computers instead of humans. But as the executive director of an organization that teaches tech skills and works with companies on talent solutions, I believe these HR functions should remain largely human-driven.

HR automation can — and often does — go awry. Amazon’s HR team experienced this back in 2018, when it was using an algorithm to automatically review résumés. Unbeknownst to them, their AI was penalizing job applicants whose résumés included the word “women.” This bias went on for a solid year before the company noticed, causing the elimination of countless qualified candidates.

This cautionary tale illustrates why HR teams should be wary when implementing automation into their workflows. After all, AI might look like an enticing, cost-effective tool for screening candidates and building teams. But it can also cause your company to waste time and resources.

The Invaluable Human Element in HR

HR is all about humans. It requires a level of knowledge, nuance, and critical thought that simply cannot be replicated by even the most sophisticated AI solutions. As this technology continues to evolve, HR practitioners must remain vigilant about their use of automation. They also must ensure they appropriately devote human minds to the tasks that require them.

Looking ahead, HR teams can play a key strategic role in helping their companies prepare for the automation revolution. Here are three ways they can do so:

1. Futurecast for the Workforce of Tomorrow

According to the World Economic Forum’s “Future of Jobs Report 2020,” automation could displace 85 million jobs and create 97 million new jobs by 2025. No industry will be immune to this massive redistribution.

What skills will your company need one year from now, five years from now, and 10 years from now? HR professionals should steep themselves in market research and trends, and they should start proactively hiring for those skills today. Companies that conduct this analysis early and often will put themselves at a considerable advantage in the future.

2. Identify Opportunities (and Inevitabilities)

HR teams should keep a close eye on where automation is heading in their industries and how other companies are using this technology effectively. They should help their companies identify which positions are solid candidates for automation, which tasks should be driven by humans, and which jobs could be flat-out eliminated.

As jobs are automated and redistributed over time, companies will find themselves continually needing different skill sets across each department. HR practitioners should keep a watchful eye on how their teams are changing and continuously reassess the human skills that matter most. Creating and executing a reskilling program that trains existing employees in these skills will only serve your company well.

3. Evaluating Candidates for Reskilling and Upskilling

After developing an automation road map, HR teams can start reskilling and upskilling high-performing employees for the jobs of the future. First, they should identify adaptable workers who demonstrate a passion for learning new skills. They should encourage these individuals to pursue new roles after their jobs are automated, then provide them with learning opportunities.

This reskilling program must be crafted and carried out by human intelligence. It requires a series of interviews and heartfelt conversations, as well as a keen eye for soft skills. AI might be able to quickly sort through résumés and search for keywords. On some level, AI can also identify people who are qualified for the job — on paper. But AI cannot assess a candidate’s soft skills or persuade them to change their career path. Even newer technology that can detect facial expressions and vocal tones during video interviews cannot accurately assess a candidate’s fitness for a job. Traditional human-to-human interaction is the only way to uncover someone’s intangible attributes and their openness to reskilling.

HR Automation: Proceed with Caution

Automation remains poised to completely transform the industrial world. This incredible technology is forcing millions of companies to rethink their inner workings. It is exciting to imagine the multitude of ways companies can use AI to become smarter and more efficient. And yet businesses should proceed with caution when implementing it in the HR realm.

Team-building is a delicate process, and as we know, automation can present many drawbacks. Leaders must delegate vital HR tasks to human intelligence, not computer code. To help companies cope with the rise of automation, HR teams must use their critical thinking skills to assess the technological landscape, understand talent gaps, and identify opportunities for reskilling.

 

 

Michael Dziedzic

[#WorkTrends] How AI is Reinventing Talent Management

How will AI transform talent management? How will it impact talent acquisition?

One of the biggest challenges in talent management today? Enabling our employees to develop within our organizations — helping them grow and learn new skills so they don’t feel the need to opt-out and move on. 

In today’s world of work, employees expect companies to provide an opportunity for growth. In fact, a recent study noted in Forbes shows 78 percent of employees surveyed during the pandemic believe employers should help them become better off than they were before. 

Many quality organizations, in response to this growing work trend, are more intentionally providing continuous learning opportunities for team members. They are turning to technology to facilitate upskilling and reskilling and to improve internal mobility. And in 2020, that means using AI to first provide actionable insights — and then again leveraging the power of AI when executing the talent management vision.

Our Guest: Brad Sutton from Eightfold.ai

In this week’s episode of #WorkTrends, I am joined by Brad Sutton from the Strategic Accounts team at Eightfold.ai, a talent intelligence platform for enterprises that leverage AI to hire, engage, and nurture talent. Together, we talked about how AI is transforming the talent management game — from recruiting to team building to succession planning. As we learned, AI is also proving to be a powerful ally in retention engagement initiatives as well.

Brad shared an example of a company struggling to change their talent game: “They had 100 people taking inventory of their people’s skills. They spent a lot of time and money, only to learn that once you go through an exercise like this, it’s just one snapshot in time. Those skills expire after two to five years; many are out of date soon after a thorough people skills analysis project is over.”

Brad added: “So, organizations don’t necessarily know what skills each person has mastered today.  And, internally, we don’t do a good job of understanding all the things we’re each capable of tomorrow.”

There has to be a better way, right? To provide growth opportunities within an organization, we must know the full potential of each leader and team member. Brad agrees: “If your company’s not telling you, ‘Well here are the opportunities that you have here,’ or if somebody’s not advocating for you, it’s hard to find that next opportunity inside the organization.”

So, people opt-out. They choose to move on. And, during their subsequent job interviews, their skills, capabilities, and potential are thoroughly discussed. Rather than let that happen, Brad says we can rely on Talent Intelligence.

Talent Intelligence = Talent Management

“At its core, Talent intelligence is understanding the skills and capabilities of the people inside your talent network. Your talent network is every employee, everybody within your HRIS, and anybody who’s ever worked for your organization. It also includes alumni, referrals, and candidates. Often, this talent network is 100 to 200 times the size of your organization. AI looks at that huge talent network, then understands the skills and capabilities of each person. It allows us to know who has the potential to do something else, and learn something new.”

I learned from Brad that AI can help us assess, in real-time, who is ready to grow — perhaps even before we realize an opportunity for growth exists. 

“That’s what Talent Intelligence does,” Brad says. “It understands what you’ve done, and what you can do.”

Brad and I discussed how AI-driven talent intelligence can make a difference in many other areas, including reskilling and upskilling, retention of top talent, and a topic always near and dear to my heart: diversity and inclusion. Be sure to catch the entire episode. You won’t want to miss a minute!

#WorkTrends Twitter Chat: Wednesday, 10-28

Be sure to take advantage of the opportunity to engage with Brad on our next #WorkTrends Twitter chat, Wednesday, October 28 at 1:30pm Eastern. Brad will help us answer these questions:

  • Q1: Why do organizations struggle with talent management?
  • Q2. How can leaders make their talent management strategies more effective?
  • Q3: What strategies can promote smarter talent management for the future?

See you there!

 

Find Brad on LinkedIn.

 

This podcast was sponsored by Eightfold.ai.

 

Editor’s note: To better meet the needs of our valued community members, the #WorkTrends podcasts and also our Twitter chats have evolved! Check out the new FAQ page and #WorkTrends Podcast page. Then let us know how we’re doing!

 

Adrien Olichon

[#WorkTrends] The Inspiring Power of AI-Driven Collaboration

How can AI-driven collaboration help extend our company culture to the remote workplace?

You don’t want to miss a single episode of #WorkTrends…  subscribe to the podcast now!

At TalentCulture, we have always been a remote workplace. So lately, I’ve found it really interesting to work with companies that are experiencing this for the first time. It’s been fun, and inspiring, watching them pivot so quickly — and to see them function so well within the digital workspace we already knew so well.

For these and so many others, the many actions and interactions that happen within organizations have shifted to remote. Communication, meetings, feedback, managing, planning — all now happen virtually. It’s been really exciting to see work teams make the transition and thrive, especially in the HR space. In the last few months, I’ve often felt the urge to virtually pat HR teams on the back as they realize they can, in fact, run HR remotely. As they do, they’re not just learning a new way to operate.

They are learning that Artificial Intelligence, or AI, plays a huge role in how they manage, monitor, measure, and lead their efforts.

Our Guest: Guibert Englebienne of Globant

That is why I invited Guibert Englebienne, the Chief Technology Officer & Co-founder of Globant, on this week’s edition of #WorkTrends. I wanted to talk about how AI-driven collaboration enables us to manage our work and engage our people in entirely different ways. And how the best forms of AI enable us to work together efficiently and creatively from anywhere in the world. 

I first asked him what makes today’s workplace so different from past versions. His response quickly left me impressed with Guibert’s passion for his work, and for helping HR teams: “Technology has accelerated the world we live in today. That fast-paced competition has made companies focus on delighting consumers. Now it’s time to delight employees as well.”

“The pandemic forced us to digitally transform the world overnight. Organizations suddenly found themselves in a broadly remote working environment. That creates a lot of challenges,” Guibert added. “It was natural, at some point, to start asking, ‘Is our team okay?’ and maybe even ‘Is it there?’ When we were at the office, we could see each other’s eyes. We could see if someone was okay. And very suddenly, that all went away.”

The Power of AI-Driven Collaboration

As we’ve talked about many times within the TalentCulture community, the human connection isn’t all that went away. We also lost our connection to our company cultures. Guibert agreed, “We knew we needed to continue hiring and growing without the ability to live and breathe our culture. So, we at Globant set out to digitalize our culture.”

As Guibert admitted, this was a real challenge. “Soon, though, using AI-driven collaboration, we realized we had created a social operating system that allowed for a more human organization. One in which we each connect to more people. We get to know them better. And at the same time we create a lot of collective intelligence for the organization, which allows us to be more adaptable.”

A Human-Centered Operating System

Guibert went on to tell us exactly how Globant created this human-centered operating system. He also shared how AI plays a major role in creating a culture that inspires while also helping decide exactly what kind of organizational culture we want to build. The conversation, while it left my head spinning a bit, made me realize just how far we’ve come since the pandemic started and just how far we can still go. You don’t want to miss a minute of this episode of #WorkTrends!

We’re not done talking about AI-Driven collaboration yet, though. Please join us next Wednesday, October 7th at 1:30pm for a special #WorkTrends Twitter chat. During what is sure to be an inspiring conversation, Guibert and the Globant team will help us answer these questions:

Q1: Why do organizations struggle with team collaboration?

Q2: How can AI-driven tools help boost creativity?

Q3: How can leaders use AI-driven tools to boost company culture?

I’ll see you there!

 

Find Guibert Englebienne on Linkedin and Twitter.

 

This podcast was sponsored by Globant.

 

Editor’s note: #WorkTrends podcasts and also our Twitter chats have evolved to better meet your needs! For details, check the new FAQ page. And to see upcoming event topics and guests, check the calendar listing on the #WorkTrends Podcast page.

 

Edward Jenner

#WorkTrends: Transforming the Healthcare Benefits Experience

Now more than ever, employers feel a mandate to take good care of their people. And that responsibility is bigger than how best to empower a remote workforce. It is more complex than deciding the right time to bring them back on-site. Today, how we enable our employees to take care of themselves, and their loved ones, is a front and center issue.

You don’t want to miss a single episode of #WorkTrends… subscribe to the podcast now!

Are we providing the wellness benefits our employees need? Do they have access to the right providers? Is preventative care and testing available? How are employees making the decision on what plan to pick — and who is helping them make those decisions? And what kind of experience do we want our employees to have while choosing the right health plan, and providers, for them?

Healthcare Benefits: A Timely Conversation

This period just before open enrollment is not a great time for employees to be left without answers to these questions. So for this episode of @WorkTrends, I invited Justin Holland, CEO and Founder of Healthjoy, to shed some much-needed light on healthcare benefits.

In speaking with Justin, I learned how much healthcare has changed over the last few decades. I also discovered just how important it is to properly educate and enable employees before asking them to choose health benefits. “It’s really easy to run through an open enrollment presentation and forget about the impact of the decisions being made,” Justin said. “So our goal is to give employees the tools and framework they need to make the right decisions for them.”

Justin also confirmed how I have felt about open enrollment: That having a day or two to make major decisions just isn’t enough. “Open enrollment is obviously a very important time to educate employees on benefits. But there’s 364 other days a year they’re utilizing those benefits,” Justin said. “Our vision is that healthcare education be available at the right place at the right time. Because when a kid is sick at 2:00am and you’re going to the ER, chances are slim you’re going to remember what was said in that open enrollment meeting six months ago.”

Healthcare Education and Empowerment

Justin added: “Healthcare education and empowerment needs to be relevant during those touchpoints. At that moment, we’re all accountable — employee and employer, provider and platform — for the health and wellness of the family.”

During our conversation, Justin and I also talked about the rising cost of healthcare. We discussed how employers can provide healthcare benefits to freelancers and independent contractors. And we touched on how healthcare might look after the COVID-19 crisis is behind us. The timing of our conversation couldn’t be better. After all, chances are good your company is about to start an open enrollment period, or is considering a change to employee benefits for 2021. So please listen in!

Healthjoy sponsored this episode of #WorkTrends℠. And I’m so glad they did. I’m sure you’ll learn a lot from our 20 minutes or so together. I did!

 

Find Justin on Linkedin and Twitter.

 

Editor’s note: Have you heard about how #WorkTrends podcasts and Twitter chats are changing to better meet your needs? For details check the new FAQ page. Also, to see upcoming event topics and guests, check the new calendar listing on the #WorkTrends Podcast page.

 

Photo: Andy Kelly

#WorkTrends: The AI-Powered Leadership Coach

If there’s a silver lining to this global pandemic, it may be that we’re all getting a lot more familiar with AI, data and AI-driven analysis. When researchers and policy makers explain the forecasting changes based on a constant influx of new data, we get it. We even have our own favorite go-tos: Poynter, NYT, and Muck Rack among them. 

So when Meghan M. Biro and WorkTrends’ guest Kevin Kruse sat down to talk about the future of work and life, they both touched on the universal sense — at least within HR — that our predictions about leaning on digital tools in the near future are coming true in a way we never could have anticipated. Kevin is the founder and CEO of LEADx — which created the digital leadership tool, Coach Amanda. He’s also passionate about how innovation can improve work cultures. 

Discussing how he saw AI’s potential as a coaching tool, he told Meghan, “I’ve been writing some articles just like everybody around — top tips for leading remote teams … the same tips for leading the teams if they were in the office. It’s just more important than ever before, you know, having a cadence of communication, having authentic leadership, caring about your people.” In other words, it may be a machine, but it has to take a human approach.

Meghan asked him whether or not he thought AI coaches could replace humans. In some cases, Kevin noted, they’re providing coaching for organizations that don’t have the resources or the bandwidth to provide human trainers. But in other cases, they’re a tool that works right alongside — adding value to the leadership already happening. What AI-driven digital leadership coaching provides is a whole platform that covers a lot of bases, including starting someone on their own leadership coaching journey. Coach Amanda is virtually human and an “accountability buddy,” added Kruse, giving others access to the tools they need to become natural leaders themselves.

Listen to the full conversation and see our questions for the upcoming #WorkTrends Twitter Chat. And don’t forget to subscribe, so you don’t miss an episode. 

Twitter Chat Questions

Q1: Why do many organizations struggle with leadership coaching? #WorkTrends
Q2: How can AI tools help develop leaders? #WorkTrends
Q3: What can leaders do to help organizations develop better leadership coaching? #WorkTrends

Find Kevin Kruse on Linkedin and Twitter

The Role of Artificial Intelligence in the Hiring Process

As artificial intelligence evolves, we’re going to increasingly rely on it for boosting the hiring process. In Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, author Max Tegmark asserts that the “rise of AI has the potential to transform our future more than any other technology.” So it is, as we already see in hiring. AI is already saving HR teams time and money while attracting the best candidates in these key ways:

Solving the Sourcing Process

A recent study found that 46 percent of companies struggle with finding and attracting the right candidates for their open positions. AI programs can search online resumes and social profiles to find the best candidates for each job based on specific traits. They can also relay personalized messages to promising candidates and do it in scale — something human recruiters could not do alone. 

AI is being taught to overcome human biases during sourcing and screening. The key is teaching the program on data that presents as gender-neutral and training it to ignore other identifying information that might trigger biased decisions. An organization may end up with a pool of applicants far more diverse than if the HR team itself had sourced them.

Enhancing Employee Experience

Once your AI program sources and contacts candidates, AI can lead them through the recruiting funnel quickly and efficiently, ensuring the candidate experience goes smoothly.  Recruiter chatbots can provide real-time answers to candidate questions, offer quick feedback and suggest next steps. They can provide links to promising job descriptions, clarify company hours and location, and schedule interviews. 

Having a good experience during this phrase is a big deal, as is borne out in a study by CareerBuilder: 58 percent of candidates are likely to have a negative opinion of a company if they never get a response to their job application.67 percent are likely to have a favorable view of the company if they get frequent updates after they applied. Instead of dead air, a chatbot fills the space — and furthers the process.

Screening Boosts

AI-powered conversational tools can also give the screening process a boost. Since these tools are always learning, they’re ideal for when going back for a second look at candidates who applied in the past. AI tools can store essential data on all applicants, saving time and effort when you’re ready to reach out to them again. Companies that use AI tools have reduced their cost per screening by 75 percent.

Using technology to screen talent also saves time and effort for candidates. When CVS Health began using the Virtual Job Tryout assessment, it was looking for an automated screening tool to shortlist candidates quickly. The company processes over one million applicants per year: saving time on the hiring process is critical to the recruiting team. 

By offering job simulation inside hiring platforms, CVS enabled  candidates to virtually try out some of the tasks in a potential position. Depending on their performance, they might be invited  go proceed to the next step in the recruiting process. Or they might decide the position wasn’t a good fit, saving themselves and the company time. CVS Health found this tool screened out half a million applicants right away, saving 40 years of hiring manager time.  The tool also brought a measurable improvement in performance, training, new hire retention, and operational outcomes.

Assistance with Interviewing

AI in HR provides a simple way not only to reach out to possible candidates, but also screen, rank, and shortlist their resumes based on the traits most relevant to your company. Then, once you have a list of people you’d like to interview, the chatbot can act as the scheduler.

Certain AI tools can also help you conduct a later-stage virtual interview before inviting a candidate to come in person. Conducting a video interview with preset questions, you can run an AI program to analyze candidates’ facial expressions, tone of voice, mannerisms, and word choice. 

This technology will make it more likely you’ll end up with new employees who fit your company culture, which is why major brands like Google, Facebook, and Apple have been using this technology for years. And now even more companies use it, including Capital One, Allstate, ThredUp, Hilton, and AT&T. 

Onboarding

AI is also improving onboarding procedures — by, for instance, automating repetitive or tedious tasks like conducting background checks, putting together documents about benefits, and creating offer letter templates. AI can also help organize, print, and deliver all onboarding paperwork. 

The same can be said of training documents — another time-consuming step when the HR team has to do it manually. Instead, AI-powered tools can ensure all new employees receive copies of the paperwork that spells out company policies and log-in information.They can track when documents have been read, prompt an electronic signature, and schedule meetings to go over the information further when necessary. 

And all can happen 24/7 from anywhere, which means employees can start training or getting answers to their questions any time and from any device. It also allows the HR department to focus on tasks that cannot be automated or done outside of business hours. 

Why Use AI in HR?

From sourcing and screening candidates to interviewing and onboarding, AI is undeniably changing HR’s capabilities. A report from Deloitte in 2017 notes that 38 percent of survey respondents believed AI would be widely used at their company within three to five years. In 2018, that number rose to 42 percent,. It’s still climbing.  

72 percent of executives believe AI will offer significant business advantages in the coming years, while a LinkedIn study found that 76 percent of hiring managers believe AI will be at least somewhat important in the future. As Eric Sydell, EVP of Innovation at Modern Hire, summed it up, “AI is a perfect way to recruit the best talent that will excel at your company, as it uses huge volumes of data to predict outcomes better than any person can. Not only does AI save HR departments time, but it also gives candidates some insight into whether they even want the job.” 

 

 

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Why You Need To Start Training Your Recruiting Teams for AI-Related Hiring

AI is here to stay. You are going to need to hire AI talent no matter what your industry is — and now is the time to start preparing your organization to do that effectively and efficiently. It’s just not going to happen on its own.

Once upon a time in recent history, businesses made the switch to PCs, email, networks, the Web — and experts in information technology became vital for any company. Now we’re racing headlong into another evolution as AI transforms business applications. We’re going to need people who are experts in AI. It’s that simple.

Even if you don’t know you’re going to be hiring AI architects, AI product managers, software engineers and AI ethicists, assume that you will. We all know that innovations don’t wait. They just happen, and it’s up to us to be there.

It’s best to accept that AI will be a part of how your business functions, if it’s not already, and start planning your investment in AI-skilled hires now. You don’t want to wind up with a substantial hole in your roster or your operations due to all the talent being snapped up. Here are three steps to take now to start preparing for the robot revolution.

Start Training and Building Infrastructure Around AI

AI, machine learning and big data are all transformative tools, which means your recruiting team needs specialized training in how to effectively hire for positions related to these technologies.

Or, take it a step further and consider AI-dedicated recruiting teams. We’re already grappling with recruiting, hiring and retention. Most HR teams are still mired in day-to-day tasks that should not still be on their plates — not when there are countless new platforms and service providers who can take over.

A team that’s dedicated to recruiting for AI roles is going to have to be very fast and very efficient. It will also need to be extremely focused in terms of pinpointing the hard skills and training for a specific AI job position — and also very smart about identifying and discerning the right soft skills. It will need to make sure the outward-facing materials are truly aligned with the organization and free of bias.

One way to accomplish this is to redesign the recruiting team so they’re not all looking for talent, but are instead more task-oriented, so the focus is divided among people and hopefully speaks to their strengths. Here are a few possible recruiting functions that could pop up in the very near future.

A Q&A czar — This person or team is the landing point for questions the chatbot sends to a human (please have a human on hand to answer questions as well as chatbots).

Initial pre-screening — This function works with cognitive assessment and screening tools to identify the best potential candidates in terms of both hard skills and soft skills

Skills specialist — Once the first tier of potential candidates is identified, this function takes a much closer look at the technical and functional hard skills, then assesses key soft skills such as problem solving and situational challenges that match each candidate better with the requirements of specific jobs.

The decision team — This team combines all the information and feedback on each candidate and takes it to the next level in terms of a hire. They’re also the team that interfaces with the hiring organization.

Let the Chatbots Help with Recruiting

As we head toward filling AI roles, here’s an irony: Our concerns about machine learning and AI may hurt ourselves even more in the next few years. Tighten up your recruiting and hiring processes with automation, self-service, and other future-facing tools. Let the chatbots help. It will free your team to ramp up on how to find the best AI talent — how to screen for training, skill sets and experience.

We need to be better and smarter about how we recruit, hire and manage our hard-won talent. Many of us are looking at the solutions presented by machine learning and AI. It’s not that I want you to lift the needle off that record. But no one wants to be caught off guard, waltzing to the possibilities of sentiment analysis and virtual teams, while your competitors are searching for tech talent to fill their brand-new AI-related jobs.

We need to make sure we’re still in control of the hiring process, but that doesn’t mean rejecting innovative technologies because we feel like they’re too opaque. Automation and self-service are vital for today’s candidates — this is how they interact with all the other aspects of their life, and it has to be part of the candidate experience just as it’s part of the consumer experience.

They also provide a far better and clearer picture of how candidates are responding, and how they’re behaving during the recruiting and hiring process — vital information that helps HR departments learn and improve.

Get Outside Help If Necessary

If you can’t train up your team, bring in reinforcements. You need specialized experts on board who know the difference between Hadoop and PySpark — just a for instance. You also need to know where to find AI talent, how to attract them, how to get them to say yes, and then, how to keep them.

Consultants are one way to do it because hiring for AI roles is not in everyone’s wheelhouse and requires very specialized awareness of training, tech and tasks. Bringing in outside services are another: use the tools developed and administered by organizations that are highly advanced in background screening, in self-service platforms, in video interviewing channels, in tools that can be integrated with your existing hiring software.

Companies that are smaller and not entrenched in AI are not necessarily going to want to do this alone. They’re also not going to have the resources to commit to automation or self-service tools. But those tools are vital, and your organization is going to have to integrate them one way or another in the coming years.

Transparency 4.0- Why AI in the Workplace Will Force Us to Tell the Truth

Are we ready for AI and robotics in the workplace? First, we need to be more aware of its presence and power in general, and then we probably need a major adjustment in our natural survival instinct to shade the truth when it suits us. We may be heading into the Workplace 4.0, but we’re still thinking in terms of us and that. But that has a binary relationship to facts: either it happened or it didn’t. It’s one aspect of the transformation we need to prepare ourselves for a lot more; we’re going to have to tell the truth.

I was considering this as I self-checked out of a big box store the other day. In front of me was a man wearing a Fitbit who was busy multitasking. He was coaching his kid on his smartphone on how to use Alexa, and without paying attention, he double-scanned a bottle of milk. When the clerk came over to cancel the transaction, the man claims he didn’t swipe it twice. “The scanner says you did,” the clerk said.

While we’re nearing the functional tipping point in using AI and automation, are we ready for the honesty shift? Recently, a fitness tracker and Alexa were involved in solving murders, surely an unintended consequence — at least from a consumer standpoint. A Connecticut woman’s fitness tracker gave police the evidence that backed up their hunch about the lying husband. He said they were struggling with an intruder, but the tracker proved him wrong: it had tracked her on that fatal day walking around the house. A man in Arkansas mistakenly asked Alexa some very incriminating questions about cleaning blood off an object after committing murder in a drunken rage. Alexa doesn’t just listen; she gathers the data. And the data doesn’t forget or lie.

The point is the devices are smarter than we think. They are designed not to lie — so while we can, let’s get better at telling them the truth. This is where the workforce is going to have to adapt the most. We’re going to have to get used to being honest, or we may lose our jobs in more ways than one.

According to McKinsey Global’s recent report, some 60% of occupations and 30% of tasks could be handed over to robots. The kinds of jobs we’ll likely see automation taking over from humans will be those that entail physical tasks in structured, predictable environments — such as manufacturing, retail, hospitality, and food service as well as those involving data collection and processing. Of some 2,000 job tasks we do globally, McKinsey found that nearly half — about $16 trillion in wages worth—could be automated using technology that already exists.

That probably means that certain single-skill jobs are going to go out the virtual window. It also may mean we will finally start to appreciate the other skills we tend to have, our soft skills — our social perceptiveness, empathy, and communication. We’re need to start understanding the value of natural intelligence differently. Same as we want organic produce, we may post job descriptions that specifically require “NI” versus “AI.” But certain ways we operate will be incompatible. The more interdependent we are with cognitive machines, the more exposed we are.  AI and robotics may free us to be “more human” in our jobs, and enable us to flex our soft skills more frequently, but it’s not going to give an inch where we live.

The new workplace is going to shift the concept of transparency to reality, whether we want it to or not. And this may change our work culture in ways we don’t yet understand, forcing some interesting management approaches.

Let’s think about this. Not only do organizations need to reconsider how they design jobs, structure work, and strategize for the future, they also should have a transparency policy that understands we’re only human.

Photo Credit: jillpostema Flickr via Compfight cc

This article was first published on fowmedia.

Will a Robot Take Your Marketing Job

Are you panicked yet that artificial intelligence (AI) will soon put you out of work? Could a robot take your marketing job? Some of the brightest minds in Silicon Valley are warning of massive job displacement across the economy in the next decade.

But there remain good reasons not to be terribly alarmed. At least, not for a while.

First, the bad news: according to ThinkGrowth.org, “Between 9 percent and 47 percent of jobs are in danger of being made irrelevant due to technological change (in the next 15 years), with the worst threats falling among the less educated.”

Some panelists at SXSW this spring were even more apocalyptic. Bill Gates said, “AI is the biggest threat to the human race. I can’t believe more people are not worried about this.” Steve Wozniak added, “Fast machines will eventually get rid of slow humans.”

There’s no question the nature of work will continue to change, of course. Automation has been gradually displacing human labor since before the industrial revolution. And AI will expand the range of tasks machines can perform, through “smart” automation.

Yet the future for workers may not be so bleak after all, particularly in skilled trades and in creative professions like marketing. Here’s why.

Robots Can’t Make It Alone—Even in Manufacturing

Robots have been used in manufacturing since 1959. And it’s true, automation in general, and robots in particular, have had a significant impact on factory employment. The number of U.S. workers employed in manufacturing fell 39 percent from its peak in 1977 to 2012. Five million factory jobs have disappeared since 2000, partly due to trade but primarily due to automation.

However, those trends don’t quite tell the whole story. The U.S. has actually added one million manufacturing jobs since employment in the sector bottomed out in 2010. And growth is continuing. According to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

“In February (2017), employment in manufacturing rose by 28,000. The manufacturing diffusion index increased from 50.0 in January to 65.4, its highest level since November 2014. A value above 50 indicates that more component industries gained jobs than lost them.”

Factories are having trouble finding workers—at least finding those with the right skills. In Minnesota, for example, “nearly 5,000 manufacturing jobs are unfilled — a number that will likely grow as more and more employees move into retirement.” And nationwide, Bloomberg projects, “Over the next decade, 3.4 million manufacturing jobs are expected to become available as baby boomers retire and economic growth spurs work opportunities… but a skills gap could result in 2 million of those jobs staying unfilled.”

How is it possible that employment may grow and factories may face (human) worker shortages even as robotics and AI technologies advance? Simple: Automation increases productivity (which increases societal wealth) and makes the U.S. more competitive globally. We’ll need more workers and more robots.

Driverless Vehicles Roll Forward Slowly

A recent U.S. government report—Artificial Intelligence, Automation, and Economy—predicts driverless automated vehicle (AV) technology may eliminate 2.2 to 3.1 million existing U.S. jobs. But any such job losses that occur won’t happen immediately or abruptly. They will be spread out over time.

Further, the report concedes that certain types of drivers (e.g., long-haul truckers transporting goods) are more likely to be replaced than others (school bus drivers transporting children, for example). The study also notes, “New jobs will also likely be created, both in existing occupations—cheaper transportation costs will lower prices and increase demand for goods and all the related occupations such as service and fulfillment—and in new occupations not currently foreseeable.”

And those projected job losses assume AV technology will become reliable and trusted. Though great progress has been made (driverless vehicles are being tested in several cities beyond San Francisco, Detroit, and Pittsburgh), some of the hardest work remains. As the expression among software developers goes, the first 90 percent of a project takes 90 percent of the time; and the last 10 percent of the project takes the other 90 percent.

AV technology will need to work nearly flawlessly before adoption becomes widespread. Business Insider has reported that lawyers are “salivating” over self-driving cars because they are “going to get a whole host of new defendants,” with deep pockets, in the event of any crashes.

Development of AV technology that works dependably regardless of weather, daylight, and other conditions remains challenging. As Gary Marcus, a best-selling author, entrepreneur, and professor of psychology at NYU, pointed out in TechCrunch regarding AI, “look for example at a driverless car, that’s a form of intelligence, modest intelligence, the average 16-year-old can do it as long as they’re sober, with a couple of months of training. Yet Google has worked on it for seven years and their car still can only drive —  as far as I can tell, since they don’t publish the data —  like on sunny days, without too much traffic.”

Still, robots and AI already have displaced some workers and will continue to expand into new jobs, particularly those that deal with things rather than people. It will likely be a long time before robots are trusted to care for children, or adults with special needs, but they’ve already been running warehouses for years.

Public policy will need to address those job losses, for example with displacement assistance and retraining programs. But standing in the way of AI and robotic progress would be counterproductive (literally); by increasing productivity, they raise living standards across society. Schemes like a robot tax are a bad idea.

So, Robots Can Weld and They Can Drive—But Can They Market?

Technology has eliminated wide swaths of employment in the past, from telephone operators and electric typewriter repairers, to photo technicians and video rental store cashiers. It’s now threatening various types of clerks, professional drivers, even insurance underwriters and appraisers.

But AI is more likely to change how marketers work than to replace them. It will supplement the efforts of human workers rather than take their jobs. Why?

First, consider one type technology already in wide use: marketing automation software. Despite the label, these applications don’t “automate” marketing; they merely enable marketing professionals to set up sequences of email messages which are then automatically sent out using (human) defined sequences and branches.

There are marketing professionals, agencies, and consultants who specialize in optimizing the use of marketing automation systems. In the words of Marketing Week, marketing automation platforms “don’t destroy jobs, they just change what jobs are needed.”

Second, there are several distinctly human characteristics essential to marketing that will likely prove vexing to reduce to mimic with silicon.

Interpretation: An AI-based tool like PaveAI can evaluate 16 million possible correlations within Google Analytics then produce a report showing the most significant findings. But it still requires a human to interpret the results.

For example, knowing that the highest conversion rate correlates with visitors who land on your home page on a weekday during business hours is about as unsurprising as any data point could be to a B2B marketer. But discovering the lowest conversion rate associated with a particular section of your website visitors often reach through organic search is far more interesting, and actionable.

Sentiment analysis presents another type of problem. Words like bomb, sick, mad, bad, and beast are generally considered negative terms to associate with your brand; yet all have, within recent memory, had a positive connotation in slang. People get that (hopefully). Machines will likely struggle.

Creativity: Marketing is an almost uniquely left brain and right brain profession. Data analysis, where AI can help, is of course vital.

But emotion plays a significant role in every considered purchase process, impacting both consumer and B2B buying decisions.

The creative side of marketing appeals to our emotions, and that side requires distinctly human creativity. It’s difficult to imagine, for example, even the most sophisticated AI systems coming up with something like E*TRADE’s invest in vests commercial.

Originality:  AI can help marketers optimize current channels, but it won’t develop radically new ideas. For example, AI can help optimize and personalize email content—but AI never would have come up with the idea of using email for marketing in the first place (that was Gary Thuerk of Digital Equipment Corporation).

AI may help with optimizing messaging and timing on social networks. But it couldn’t have spontaneously computed Oreo’s famous dunk-in-the-dark tweet… Or suggested creating a profile for KFC’s famous founder on LinkedIn. And it certainly wouldn’t have invented a sporting event to support brand content marketing, as Red Bull has done with Crashed Ice.

Perspective: Not every question, in any realm of life, has a clear-cut answer. Even when looking at the same underlying data, reasonable and intelligent people can disagree, based on their beliefs, assumptions, experiences, and definitions—in short, based on their perspective.

For example, is it possible to accurately measure the ROI of social media marketing efforts? AI could provide an answer—and with the right data sources, even perform the calculations—but it couldn’t provide the perspective on the answer that a human thought leader provides.

In marketing content, it’s often the perspective that’s as interesting as the answer. It’s difficult to imagine an AI system weaving a narrative from a unique or interesting perspective. It’s even harder to imagine AI writing this post.

Persuasiveness: Great marketing in any form—text, visual, video—combines logic with emotion to move buyers to act. AI has logic literally at its core, but trying to teach AI to understand human emotions has so far been an enormous challenge.

Robots: The New Job Creators?

An analysis by The Economist on the impact of robots and AI on employment suggests not only that the fear of massive job losses is likely overblown, but that in some cases automation may actually increase the number of jobs for humans. A study of the American job market from 1982 to 2012 found that:

“Employment grew significantly faster in occupations (for example, graphic design) that made more use of computers, as automation sped up one aspect of a job, enabling workers to do the other parts better. The net effect was that more computer-intensive jobs within an industry displaced less computer-intensive ones. Computers thus reallocate rather than displace jobs, requiring workers to learn new skills. This is true of a wide range of occupations…

“So far, the same seems to be true of fields where AI is being deployed. For example, the introduction of software capable of analyzing large volumes of legal documents might have been expected to reduce the number of legal clerks and paralegals, who act as human search engines during the ‘discovery’ phase of a case; in fact, automation has reduced the cost of discovery and increased demand for it. Judges are more willing to allow discovery now, because it’s cheaper and easier… The number of legal clerks in America increased by 1.1% a year between 2000 and 2013.”

The analysis also reiterates that almost every new wave of technology in the past has raised the specter of mass unemployment, only to end up creating more jobs than were destroyed. The term “technological unemployment” sounds like a concept Gates or Wozniak may have devised. The phrase was in fact coined by economist John Maynard Keynes in the 1930s. The total U.S. labor force more than doubled in the following five decades.

In marketing, AI will take over routine and data analysis-intensive tasks, but also create new opportunities for human employees—for example, in training and teaching AI systems. AI is already being used in areas like personalizing product recommendations and more granularly targeting advertising.

But AI requires human training, testing, and teaching both during the implementation phase and on an ongoing basis. Both human testing and human judgment are needed up front in terms of preparing AI platforms for the real world and determining when they are ready to go live.

Harvard Business Review article points out the level at which AI systems are “good enough” varies widely by application; a mistake by Alexa or Siri in understanding speech and ordering the wrong item is annoying. A mistake by a self-driving vehicle may be fatal.

Once live, AI platforms—just like a human graduating from college and entering the workforce—need continued training over time to increase their capabilities and stay current with changing tastes and technology.  And that means people, as explained in VentureBeat: “AI’s advancement up the value chain is only possible with the aid of human intelligence.”

Historically, technological advancements have always ended up creating more jobs than they destroyed. Today may prove to be different, but for now, it appears robots are more likely to be workplace assistants rather than job terminators. As a marketer, you probably don’t have to worry about robots or AI taking your job. But you will need to be prepared to work with these technologies to do your job better.

Photo Credit: The Adventurist and MOCIST Flickr via Compfight cc

This article was first published on V3Broadsuite.

AI: 5 Ways to Reenvision the Workforce Before the Next Big Wave

What do you do when you’re not ready? Either get ready or wing it. So, imagine that waiting outside that door is your brand new team. They’re nice and shiny and, per the paperwork, each is extremely well qualified. In fact, they are specifically qualified to do their job. Because they are robots.

Let’s not get all I, Robot here. But I’m watching a new wave of artificial intelligence (AI) heading towards today’s world of work, and you’re probably watching it too. You may be wondering when we’re going to have to face this new trend. “Trend” is not actually the term I’d use to describe such a profound and inevitable shift, but that’s what Deloitte calls it in their 2017 Human Capital Trends study. They’re certainly not wrong, but the reason this is more than a trend is that it’s not going to go away.

We’re now in the early stages of adoption — including denial, curiosity, and a whole lot of “not ready.” As Deloitte reports:

  • 41 percent of companies report they have fully implemented or have made significant progress in adopting cognitive and AI technologies within their workforce.
  • 34 percent are in the midst of pilot programs.

Well, I recommend graduating to acceptance. And here are five ways to prepare for the world of work 4.0, or as we like to call it, Here Come the Machines:

  1. Get leadership and managers in gear. Deloitte’s study also found that a mere 17 percent of global executives believe they’re ready to manage a blended workforce of people, robots, and AI. (Remember when a blended workforce meant multigenerational?) That’s the lowest readiness level for a trend in the five years of the Global Human Capital Trends survey, according to Deloitte. The first blind spot is how to actually run things with this new shift — tasking, decision making, workflow, time to execute, who checks what, and the analytics to track how it’s all working.
  2. Leverage its strengths to fix your weaknesses. Jobvite’s CEO, Dan Finnigan, has an interesting take on AI. A Jobvite survey found that 56 percent of the job seekers it polled are concerned about being outsourced or replaced by robots. Instead, as he says, AI and machine learning can help us be better recruiters, and help job seekers find positions that fit. Chatbots are already used in sourcing and hiring that (or, who) can answer potential applicant questions, and increase the odds of their turning in a resume. Chatbots can also screen for skills, measuring responses and engagements in ways humans may overlook. What we need more of, as we know in this era of Big Data, is intelligence. What we need less of: bias. AI can offer a bias-free, objective layer in recruiting and hiring: there are a lot of interesting takes on that.
  3. Seam it into existing functions. This is related, but not entirely the same thing: how can you tap into AI, robotics, and cognitive tech to augment your existing processes? Use AI in your L&D (learning and development) to capture meaningful employee data, and better tailor the learning experience to each user. In terms of work functions, if you can shift a battery of tedious tasks to machines, you not only free up your people, you may also be able to leverage machine learning to find out how to make these tasks far more efficient, with a better outcome.
  4. Don’t underestimate the value of humans. You can free your workforce from some of the mind-numbing busywork, enabling them to take on more supervisory roles. And, raise their skill levels in the process. Another byproduct may be better work/life balance — since people are freed from in-house tasks. As Deloitte’s 2016 report on millennials found, 16.8 percent of those surveyed listed work/life balance, and 13.4 percent listed the opportunity to grow, as key factors in assessing job opportunities. The two will remain a key concern as the workforce becomes even more dominated by this generation.
  5. Bolster the people side of your organizational culture. It’s critical that companies be transparent and positive about what’s happening here. Some in the workforce will see clear benefits to letting machines take over certain jobs, while others may feel downright devalued. At the cusp of change once again, focus at your workforce: Do you recognize them on a regular basis? Are you soliciting and taking their feedback? If not, get on that. Yes: the best recognition software is actually made possible by AI. But it’s going to help: We want to be appreciated, praise has a direct correlation to engagement, and whatever can make it work, I say go for it.

Our view of work is going to change in ways we still don’t understand. As the World Economic Forum (WEF) reported, some 65 percent of children entering primary schools today will likely work in roles that don’t even exist yet. Certainly, we can anticipate how AI and cognitive technology will change office and administrative functions, manufacturing, and production roles. But we also need to envision learning instead of simply data; tasks instead of jobs. And it’s happening soon. According to WEF, by 2020, there will be a new normal. Get ready.

Photo Credit: martinlouis2212 Flickr via Compfight cc

A version of this was first posted on fowmedia.com

3 Ways Recruitment Automation Will Change Recruiting Forever

The growing need for recruitment automation tools has fueled the recent popularity in AI for recruiting.

With hiring volume predicted to increase next year but recruiting teams remaining the same size or shrinking, interest in recruitment automation will only get stronger.

In 2017, finding top talent will depend on a recruiter’s ability to intelligently automate their workflow.

Recruiting teams are also facing increased pressure to demonstrate data-based KPIs. Talent acquisition leaders are increasingly measuring their recruiting teams by quality of hire in addition to time to fill.

According to LinkedIn’s data, the most important recruiting KPIs are:

  • Quality of hire is the top priority for 60% of talent acquisition leaders
  • Time to fill is the top priority for 28% of talent acquisition leaders

Advances in technology have transformed finance, sales, and marketing departments and industry experts believe recruiting technology will be the next big adoption.

By streamlining some aspects of the recruiting workflow, experts predict recruitment automation will enhance a human recruiter’s capabilities.

Here are three major ways recruitment automation is changing recruiting.

1. Recruitment automation for resume screening

One of the most promising applications of recruitment automation is for resume screening due to three main reasons.

  1. Manually screening resumes is still the most time-consuming part of recruiting.
  2. Up to 88% of resumes received for a role are considered unqualified.
  3. A recruiter spends on average 23 hours screening resumes for a single hire.

Although screening resumes is still the biggest bottleneck in recruiting, technology to address this problem has only recently become available.

Powered by AI for recruiting, intelligent screening software automates the resume screening process. Designed to integrate with an ATS, the software learns what the job requirements are and then learns what qualified candidates look like based on previous hiring decisions.

Using employee data on performance and tenure, the software figures out which candidates went on to become successful and unsuccessful employees.

This type of recruiting software can also enrich resumes by using public data sources about previous employers and candidates’ social media profiles.

Intelligent screening software applies the knowledge it learned about employees’ experience, skills, and other qualifications to automatically screen, rank, and grade new candidates.

Recruitment automation applied to resume screening promises to be a boon to reduce time to hire because it automates a low-value, repetitive task that most recruiters hate to do anyway.

Automated resume screening allows recruiters to re-focus their time on higher value priorities such as talking to candidates to assess their personalities and culture fit.

2. Recruitment automation for pre-qualification

In the current candidate-driven market, candidate experience can make or break whether a top candidate accepts your job offer. Recruitment automation in the form of chatbots holds the promise for improving the candidate experience.

CareerBuilder’s data found 67% of job seekers have a positive impression of a company if they receive consistent updates throughout the application process.

Recruitment automation in the form of chatbots allows human recruiters to provide these consistent updates in real-time by asking pre-qualifying questions related to the job requirements and providing feedback, updates, and next-step suggestions.

By automating repetitive tasks such as answering the same questions about a job, chatbots enhance the pre-qualification capabilities of a human recruiter without additional strain on their time.

3. Recruitment automation for interviews

Recruitment automation for interviewing augments recruiters’ capabilities by allowing recruiters to conduct interviews anywhere any time.

Digitized interview technology records candidate interviews and assesses factors such as their word choices, speech patterns, and facial expressions to predict how well a candidate fits the role.

Recruitment automation applied to interviewing promises to improve quality of hire by providing additional data points on how well the candidate fits the job requirements or company culture.

The takeaways for recruitment automation

Industry experts believe recruitment automation will augment and enhance human recruiters’ abilities, rather than completely replace them.

Recruitment automation is changing recruiting in three major ways:

  1. Automated resume screening that reduces time to hire by saving recruiters the hours spent manually reading resumes.
  2. Automated pre-qualification through chatbots that enhances the candidate experience by providing continuous, real-time feedback.
  3. Automated interviews that improve job fit by analyzing candidates’ words, speech patterns, and facial expressions.

As the adoption of recruitment automation continues to increase, the recruiter role will change.

Talent acquisition is a marketing role, not a sales one. ~ Maren Hogan

Industry experts predict that by reducing time to fill and improving quality of hire, technology will enable recruiters to become more strategic by freeing up time to spend on proactive hiring and workplace planning.

Ironically, recruitment automation will enable recruiters to become more “human” as their skills in candidate engagement and persuasion become more important to compete for talent.

This article was first published on Ideal.com.

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Send in the Robots: The Good and Bad of Automating Your Hiring Process

Futurist and tech billionaire, Elon Musk, believes we may not be far from a time where robots and various forms of artificial intelligence (AI) will perform most jobs. He cautions that a day will come when there will be few jobs a robot will not do better than a human being.

But this reality is still years away.

In the meantime, we need people to fill an increasing number of jobs—today. And we can use AI to our advantage to automate the more tedious tasks of HR, speed up the recruiting process, save companies money and enable them to be more competitive in the race to attract top talent.

Sound incredible? It’s not. It’s very real. Of course, like any technology, AI also has some downsides. Let’s take a look at the positives and the negatives of AI in three areas of recruiting that are most likely to face digital disruption this year.

AI Takes Over the Tedium of Resume Screening

What if you could take one of the most difficult, time-consuming aspects of HR and automate the process to do it faster and more effectively than any human being could accomplish? More than half (52 percent) of recruiting managers say finding potential applicants in giant talent pools is the most challenging part of their job.

Finding a single qualified candidate from predictive screening, which shares the traits of successful hires with just a glimpse at a resume, can take up to 23 hours of a recruiter’s time.

“Candidate screening is a process better handled by algorithms that can effortlessly, accurately, respectfully, and predictively screen thousands or millions of candidates per day (or hour) for business success,” states Greta Roberts, writing for SalesForce.com. These powerful algorithms accomplishes this feat by filtering for keywords and other factors that match those of successful past hires.

Some job seekers fear that AI software won’t view candidates as individuals or will misunderstand aspects of their resume. But when a recruiter makes a decision after a 6-second glimpse at that same resume, he or she isn’t necessarily taking time to think about the person behind the buzzwords either.

AI programs don’t get tired and overlook important indicators that someone may be the right person for the job. In fact, the more resumes AI reviews, the better it gets at finding top candidates. The numbers are in and the case for AI is compelling. According to recruiting software firm Ideal, companies that have adopted AI for recruiting software who use it have seen a:

  • Performance increase of 20 percent
  • Revenue per employee grow by 4 percent
  • Employee turnover drop by 35 percent

Chatbots Keep Prospects Looped In

AI-powered chatbots are already being used in the food service industry to assist customers with placing orders, and in retail to answer questions and manage some customer complaints. It’s easy to make the leap to chatbots that can schedule interviews and answer job candidates’ frequently asked questions. From an HR director’s perspective, it’s all about being able to deliver the information candidates need, when they need it, in their preferred format.

Certainly, no one reaches out via chat interface with the thought, “I really hope I get to speak to a robot today!” But it definitely beats being ghosted by an HR director after you thought that first interview went so well.

And recruiters who spend less time sending follow-up emails can now focus on the high-touch areas of their job, such as connecting with candidates after they’ve passed the initial screening process, slam-dunked the first and second interviews, and now require some personalized attention to convince them to sign on.

Streamline Onboarding with AI

It’s important to make new employees feel at home with a personalized tour, but so many aspects of onboarding simply don’t need the expertise of an HR director. Enter Jinie, an HR chatbot that can help walk new hires through those first confusing days on the job, share information about programs and policies, and answer common questions.

However, to gain widespread adoption, these bots need to be:

  • In a familiar format—perhaps integrated into existing communications platforms like Slack
  • Secure enough to transmit sensitive HR data
  • Seamless, so the experience feels more like speaking to a human being than a bot

Will AI Replace HR?

Clearly, AI can streamline and simplify many aspects of HR. But HR directors and recruiters won’t be replaced anytime soon.

AI can handle screening applicants, initial outreach, schedule interviews, and even manage aspects of the onboarding process. For example, Wendy, an AI chatbot developed by tech startup WadeandWendy, can complete the first interview on behalf of the HR team.

By automating these tasks, HR professionals are freed up to step in when their strategic expertise is required, and to oversee the entire process for quality control. After all, AI is only as good as the data we feed it. Biases can (and do) creep in—all based on what we, the human users, may inadvertently teach the AI algorithms over time.

As an HR professional, you take extra care to ensure you evaluate all candidates on equal footing, in the same way, you will have to oversee the use of AI to help provide unbiased decisions—and to make the final calls on hiring and promotions.

If you could save time and money by implementing tools to help you do your job more efficiently, wouldn’t you? For HR departments, those tools exist and improving every day. When it comes to streamlining your HR processes, it may just be time to send in the robots.

A version of this was first posted on Converge.xyz

What Technology Can Teach Us About The Employees Of The Future

What if you could hire Google as an employee—or even your Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)? Though artificial intelligence (AI) is in its early phases, the real allure is not that it could, someday, be just like a human being, but that it could be more than a human. After all, even the smartest person in your company doesn’t have the wealth of information that Google does, all available in a microsecond.

While humankind will likely never reach the speed or accuracy of AI in performing certain tasks, employees of the future will need to function in similar ways. They will need to pull from a broad range of knowledge to find the right answers, deliver results quickly, offer a variety of solutions to a single problem, be adaptable, consider the whole market or subject before offering a suggestion, and be consistent in their performance.

Is this too much to ask? Not if they rely on technology to help. And in many ways, the capabilities of today’s technology provide a glimpse of the traits required in tomorrow’s best leaders and employees.

Technology: The Ultimate In Agility

The capabilities of today’s emerging technologies offer organizations a model of the traits employees of the future will need to succeed—and agility sits at the top of the list. No one expects human employees to have the same speed as AI algorithms. But when employees have the agility that enables them to adapt quickly to new advancements, they can leverage new technology to their own benefit, as well as their employer’s.

Artificial Intelligence and Changing Expectations

Often when we talk about the benefits AI offers businesses, employees start to, quite understandably, become concerned about their job security. AI does have a lot of value for businesses, but the robots aren’t coming to take everyone’s job. AI is, however, changing the expectations of employers and the capabilities that organizations will look for in their employees and leaders.

For example, if you’ve ever used Apple’s Siri to pull up a list of recommendations for a restaurant or coffee shop near you, you’ve taken advantage of AI’s ability to quickly deliver a variety of answers to a query.

Human employees of the future will need to be able to do much the same thing in response to customer or employer requests. Even—especially—when requests get more complex than just the best place to get a latte and doughnut, employees of the future will need to sift quickly through relevant information from a variety of sources to present a number of different possible solutions. After all, we have Google, Siri, and Alexa for the simple stuff; human employees will need to fill in where technology falls short, combining their own intuition and experience with the vast database of knowledge available to find answers.

Keeping Pace With Technology

In an increasingly technological global economy, human employees and business leaders must keep pace with advancing technology. But this has gone without saying for quite some time. More importantly, mid-to-late 21st century employees will need to adapt quickly to new developments, recognize potential digital disruptions before they take place, and adopt technology trends with lightning speed. Anyone who is not an early adopter need not apply for the most competitive positions. Even finding the best jobs will require using the latest technology, and those who prove to be on the bleeding edge of social media, search, communications, collaboration, and productivity tools will catch the attention of prospective employers.

Human Employees Vs. Digital Assistants

Digital assistants have already changed the way business leaders and employees interact with AI technology. Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, the AI residing in the Echo device, are probably the most well-known examples, but there are others as well. While digital assistants don’t seem likely to replace human employees completely, human employees of the future will need to find synergy with digital assistants to maximize their productivity.

What Will Employees Need And Want?

In considering what businesses will look for in the employee of the future, we should also think about what will attract the most qualified employees to businesses. Millennials will make up a significant chunk of the workforce for some time, and the generation coming behind them, generation Z, is already even more technologically tuned in. Organizations need to be prepared to meet the needs and expectations of this new generation of workers to continue to attract top talent.

Like the millennials before them, these employees will want flexibility from their employers to learn—and work—on the go. They expect that training and development will be tailored to their needs and learning styles. This generation of people, who grew up learning in computer labs, taking tests on computers, and researching on their tablets, will want an experience tailored to their needs and their physical locations—wherever they might be.

They’re also social learners, and will want to collaborate in the work place to forge connections, share ideas, and grow both personally and professionally. Fortunately, the workplace of the future will be uniquely suited to meet these needs, with AI technology guiding the way.

A version of this was first posted on Forbes.com

 

AI and Chatbots: Getting Their Sensitivity Training

Earlier this year, Microsoft dipped a toe into the Artificial Intelligence space with an AI-powered chatbot that it set loose on Twitter. Designed to pass for a conversational teenager, responding to queries and mimicking casual, playful speech patterns familiar to Millennial and Gen Z users, it was supposed to be cool. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before Tay, the Microsoft-labeled “AI fam from the internet that’s got zero chill” devolved into a racial slur spewing monster.

Of course, the curious case of Tay was somewhat of a fluke, a science experiment gone rogue, hijacked by internet trolls bent on exploiting the software that ran her. Nevertheless, Microsoft’s negative run with Tay highlights an interesting problem facing chatbot developers as well as those who will adopt artificial intelligence technologies for customer service and marketing purposes: How do you make sure your AI chatbot not only stays on the rails, but also operates in a manner that’s sensitive to your customers’ needs?

That’s what Fraser Kelton hopes his co-founded, MIT-born, machine-learning startup called Koko will solve. “We’re working toward providing empathy as a service to any voice or messaging platform,” says Kelton in an article with FastCode. “We think that’s a critical user experience for a world in which you’re conversing with computers.”

Kelton’s not wrong. In fact, it wouldn’t be too far off to say that an empathy injection from Koko is something even the most recognizable AI smartbots are sorely in need of. A study published in JAMA found that smartphone AIs like Siri, Cortana, and Google Now severely underperform in responding to queries involving physical ailments, depression, and even sexual assault. Writer Sara Wachter-Boettcher relates her own experience on her Medium blog, reporting that when she asked for help with rape, sexual assault, and sexual abuse, all she received from Siri was one of her pre-programmed snarky remarks telling her that sexual abuse “is not a problem.” Apple responded almost immediately by reprogramming Siri to send users mentioning sexual assault and rape to RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline.

Koko’s three-person team just received their first major round of funding, and are hoping that they can circumnavigate these situations before they ever happen in the first place. The concept is that Koko’s empathy API would be able to connect to any third-party chatbot and imbue it with the ability to recognize speech patterns or vocal cues indicative of mood, as well as to adjust responses appropriately. Sharp responses when somebody is frustrated or angry could trigger the chatbot’s doling out of calm, patient responses, so as not to incite further emotion, while languid or playful language might be met with more creative or humorous responses.

Many see this as a critical endeavor—a stepping stone or a building block for customer service—AI that may someday be indistinguishable from a living, breathing, human being. I’m definitely in this camp, as AI and machine learning are getting more sophisticated at a rapid clip and there is so much possibility there, and the implications it has on business, on customer service, on processes and simplification, and on our personal lives—is exciting as hell.

Not everyone is crazy about chatbots, and Teckst’s Matt Tumbleson expressed his opinions in an article on VentureBeat, saying that though the buzz around chatbots is growing, his team speaks “on a daily basis with customer service leaders from Fortune 500s who believe chatbots add more problems than they solve.”

Tumbleson argues that conversation trees and nuances in vocal communication are simply too complex for bots to replace customer service agents completely, though he does believe that they can act as great supplements. Automated, rote tasks, such as sending a blanket update to users and responding to the same generic question is a perfect task for bots, in his opinion, while the truly human matters of connecting with another individual on an emotional level is best left to… well, humans.

While Tumbleson is right about the current state of chatbot technology—it’s not yet where it needs to be—it’s hard to say whether he’s right about bots being able to replace humans in conversation. Koko aims to remedy what Tumbleson claims is holding back customer service bots from full serviceability, and, if successful, will bring us one step closer to a world where software is indistinguishable from personality.

One thing is for sure: as A.I. software becomes more affordable to produce, we’ll see more and more Siris, Cortanas, and Alexas. Whether replacements for customer service or supplements to them, we certainly won’t be interacting with chatbots any less in the future–the least we can do is teach them to respond with empathy and manners.

A version of this was first posted on Futurum.xyz

#WorkTrends Recap: How Artificial Intelligence Can Change HR and Recruiting

Are robots coming to work? Not entirely, but something that is going to be a game changer is about to take over the world of HR. Artificial Intelligence or AI is coming to an HR department near you and maybe sooner than you think.

Artificial intelligence is going to do for HR what the car did for transportation. It’s going to transform how we look at data, what data is worth considering and help us to interpret the intricacies of big data.

This week, I hosted special guest Jessica Miller-Merrell, founder of Blogging4Jobs, to discuss this timely topic.

Jessica and I discussed ways AI has already impacted HR. She also shared her predictions for the future.

Here are a few key points that Jessica shared:

  • AI has the potential to make work easier for our teams
  • AI can remove the unconscious bias from hiring and find candidates that might otherwise be overlooked
  • You need data for AI to be effective

Did you miss the show? You can listen to the #WorkTrends podcast on our BlogTalk Radio channel here:  http://bit.ly/2fhS10Y

You can also check out the highlights of the conversation from our Storify here:

Didn’t make it to this week’s #WorkTrends show? Don’t worry, you can tune in and participate in the podcast and chat with us every Wednesday from 1-2pm ET (10-11am PT). Next week, on Nov 9, special guest host Tim McDonald will be joined by Elaine Orler, chairwoman of the Talent Board, to discuss recruiting trends and predictions for 2017.

Remember, the TalentCulture #WorkTrends conversation continues every day across several social media channels. Stay up-to-date by following our #WorkTrends Twitter stream; pop into our LinkedIn group to interact with other members; or check out our Google+ community. Engage with us any time on our social networks, or stay current with trending World of Work topics on our website or through our weekly email newsletter.

 

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#WorkTrends Preview: How Artificial Intelligence Can Change HR and Recruiting

Robots are taking over the World. Well, no not really. But something that is going to be a game changer is about to take over the world of HR. Artificial Intelligence or AI is coming to an HR department near you and maybe sooner than you think.

Artificial intelligence is going to do for HR what the car did for transportation. It’s going to transform how we look at data, what data is worth considering and help us to interpret the intricacies of big data.

Join, me and my special guest Jessica Miller-Merrell on Wednesday, November 2 for a LIVE podcast at 1pm EST as we discuss this hot and timely topic.

How Artificial Intelligence Can Change HR and Recruiting

#WorkTrends Logo Design

Join me, TalentCulture #WorkTrends Host Meghan M. Biro, and my guest Jessica Miller Merrell as we discuss artificial intelligence and its impact on HR.

#WorkTrends on Twitter — Wednesday, Nov 2 — 1:30 pm ET / 10:30 am PT

Immediately following the podcast, our team invites the TalentCulture community over to the #WorkTrends Twitter stream to continue the discussion. We encourage everyone with a Twitter account to participate as we gather for a live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1: How will artificial intelligence transform big data into capturable information? #WorkTrends (Tweet this question)

Q2: How will artificial intelligence bridge the gap between HR and other company departments? #WorkTrends (Tweet this question)

Q3: How will artificial intelligence improve the recruiting and candidate experience? #WorkTrends (Tweet this question)

Join Our Social Community & Stay Up-to-Date!

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Why We Need a Conversation Before Fearing Jobs Being Lost to Automation and Robots

Before we can address the question of what jobs will be created for humans as automation takes over current roles, we need to focus on a question that most people are not asking. We have so many people talking about the future of work and yet, work has evolved so much over the last few decades that we no longer have an understanding of what work is. Is it having a job? Is it getting a paycheque? Is it contributing to society? What work will look like is an important question we need to ask before we focus on skills and jobs. What kind of world do we want to live in, anyway?

What if purpose mattered?

In the current western world, we like to segment everything into neat little boxes, and in that process, meaning is lost. While businesses come out of peoples’ passions to create something in the world that others would find valuable, we’ve turned people into consumers that need to be sold and marketed.

From an organizational perspective, too often we lead with structure instead of purpose. For example, most organizations claim to hire the best and the brightest, and yet most of their efforts focus on transactions like recruiting and onboarding instead of shepherding people throughout their time with the organization by providing them with ongoing information sharing and the ability to feel like they are valued every day.

What if we asked new questions and created conversations?

In this business journey, we have lost our way. The first question we need to focus on is how work fits into our changing lives. Work is not separate from life, nor is it more important, although many people define themselves by what they do (i.e. their title and organization affiliation). At a recent talk, I was asked how we could help people on the verge of retiring who feel that they will no longer be able to share with people who they are. The answer is simple: This is an opportunity for us to take our voice back and see life as an adventure, of which work is only a small part. What if we created sessions where people can talk openly about who they are in the world and why they are here that focuses on making a life instead of making a living?

What if fear of automation and technology is not new?

The automation of the auto industry brought job losses. But some of these are “jobs” that are better off without human involvement, like elevator operators or factory work. They illustrate the need for us to ask ourselves new questions, like whether it would be more valuable to society and our world if we had more people feeling like the work they do is valuable and makes an impact.

One of the biggest changes we face today is the need to let go of fear and focus on what we can create. When we create people-centric organizations, we start designing work differently. We stop putting band-aid solutions on antiquated systems that are cracking. We can either buy into our fear and rush into creating tips and tricks for people to “save” their ability to “work” or we can create forums where we have open conversations on what our world, society and lives look like and, as a result, what role work has in our healthy lives. These conversations are popping up now on the edges and not in the mainstream, where fear unfortunately continues to guide the conversation.

What if there is only H:H (Human to Human) instead of B:C (Business to Consumer)?

When we create thriving 21st century organizations that are people-centric, we will not worry about jobs. We will remember the purpose of our organizations: to create projects and initiatives to deliver them, and to bring in people to co-create with and thrive.

The skill that is needed here is a “what do we want to create on the planet?” mindset. We need intuition, imagination and creativity. We need people to understand that we are in the human-to-human experience and purpose-driven era, where business is a force  of good that does not threaten humanity or our planet with constant loss and fear.

This cannot happen in a world where furniture is an asset on a financial spreadsheet and people are deemed a liability.

What is the bigger focus?

The bigger question to ask is, when do we start valuing people more than shareholder value that requires constant layoffs and shuffling the deck chairs so the ship won’t sink?

In the words of Bryan Welch, CEO of B the Change Media from my upcoming book,

“We are on the verge of a revolution in business. Consumers are becoming more aware every day of the availability of information and their own power to understand the value systems that govern businesses and to demand that the businesses they patronize share their values. What’s about to happen is that people are going to start exercising that power. Businesses are going to need to do good in the world to earn the patronage of their customers. As this occurs, business will become the most powerful force for good that human society has ever seen.”

We’re facing both a choice and a huge opportunity for the future of humanity and our world. Are you ready for creating people-centered organizations where robots, technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are not part of the equation?

A version of this was first posted on itbusiness.ca

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Artificial Intelligence and HR: The New Wave of Technology

It’s no secret that I love technology. From the domination of mobile to the latest in recruitment tools and gamification, and how video and live streaming is having an impact on hiring and training—changes are afoot that many of us couldn’t have imagined 15 or so years ago. And I love it all.

The reason this “tech meets HR” marriage is so exciting is how quickly the technology evolution has disrupted HR and enhanced the way HR professionals get things done. Now there’s another big disrupter on the horizon, one that you would be wise to keep your eyes on: Artificial intelligence.

What is Artificial Intelligence?

In layman’s terms, artificial intelligence (or, AI as it’s commonly referred to), is an area of computer science where computers are “developed” to behave much the way humans do. There are three levels when it comes to AI, depending on how advanced the computers get, and the measuring stick is “human reasoning.”

Strong AI genuinely simulates human reasoning. These systems not only think, but can also “explain” how humans think and reason.

Weak AI includes systems that can “think” (computers playing chess against human chess masters, for example), but don’t tell us anything about how humans think, and the systems don’t really think themselves.

In-between AI includes systems that are informed by, or inspired by human reasoning. Examples include Google’s Deep Learning (driven by big data) and IBM’s Watson, a system that can answer questions by analyzing thousands of pieces of text, discerning patterns, and weighing evidence, a sort of “layered learning,” much like the way our brains learn. This in-between area is where most AI work is being done today.

Artificial Intelligence Meets HR

The biggest driver of AI’s impact in the HR industry is the massive growth of big data. Until now, we haven’t had access to simple software systems with which to track and analyze internal employee data (think sick days, vacation requests, hiring trends, workflow, etc.). Today, most businesses have undergone some degree of digital transformation, and rely on this type of technology. HR professionals are recognizing that this valuable data and the insights teased from it play a major role in reducing riskand driving decision-making, when it comes to talent management and organizational performance.

Here are four ways AI has the potential to have an enormous impact on HR.

  1. Personalization: It’s not news that people have very different styles of learning, and, with the many generations now filling the workforce, embracing modern training practices has never been more important. AI is helping to personalize corporate learning, by capturing meaningful employee data relating to a wide range of learning experiences and behaviors. The same machine learning computer algorithms that “learn and recommend” by analyzing your choices of where to shop or what to eat, will “learn and recommend” when it comes to employee training. In fact, these systems will continue to parse and analyze as more and more employee interactions occur, and be able to tweak training programs accordingly, making training more efficient, and training outcomes more effective.
  1. Workflow Automation: Scheduling, scheduling, and rescheduling. The bane of many of our existences, yes? Well, AI is poised to be a game-changer when it comes to workflow problems. According to a recent com article, the next few years should see software that automates hiring processes like “…interview scheduling, employee performance reviews, employee onboarding, and even the answering of basic HR questions.” I, for one, can’t wait.
  1. Improved Recruitment: HR is, by its very name, one of the most human-centric industries out there. But human beings are complicated, and it’s very difficult to get base-level data on individual people—enough to run an analysis on—especially when hiring. Enter predictive analytics using natural language. Still, in its (relative) infancy, the software driving natural language processes and predictive language analysis will help speed up recruitment by allowing you to weed people out faster, and with fewer mistakes.
  1. Better prediction models: AI will get to know your company almost better than you do. Whether it’s predicting future turnover rates, reduced (or increased) employee engagement levels, concerns about internal employee communications, project completion problems, and any other unexpected hidden issues that would usually take years to surface, artificial intelligence will (most likely) be one step ahead of you. And when it comes to cost savings and overall organizational efficiencies, that’s a very good thing.

The pace of technological change in our work worlds is happening so quickly that a recent World Economic “Future of Jobs” report estimated “…some 65 percent of children entering primary schools today will likely work in (jobs) that don’t currently exist.” And many of those jobs will probably be related to computer learning and predictive analytics. Human resources professionals need to start embracing big data today, so they can be prepared to embrace the incredible advancements in artificial intelligence of tomorrow.

A version of this was first posted on Converge.

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As Long As We’re Still Hiring

“Ain’t that the way that it’s always been?
Standing at the water’s edge waiting for the fog to clear
Tackle or touch, you sink or you swim
And hoping that he’s really got the power to save us from these sins
Everybody sitting around waiting for the sun to come again
They’re waiting for the sun to come again…”

—Brandon Flowers, “The Way It’s Always Been

 

Mom DispatchThe shift in public safety best practice was dramatic. Prior to early 1983, the Visalia, CA police and fire dispatchers managed a manual process consisting of writing addresses on slips of paper when taking 911 calls. Plus, tracking police officers whereabouts manually via radio communication was tedious work.

My mother, the dispatch supervisor at the time, came home stressed night after night because of the new computer-aided dispatch system being implemented and all the bugs that entailed, especially way back then. Not only that, her stress became compounded and complicated by end-user indifference and resistance – some of the other dispatchers and officers. Every single time there was a glitch; an “I told you so” response was what she usually heard.

But she embraced the changes that did eventually improve public safety delivery. In fact everything she learned about computers, databases and related technology systems were on the job at the police department. This experience led to other technology jobs including Motorola.

While this disruptive technology didn’t displace many if any city employees during my mother’s tenure, and in fact headcount actually grew due to the need to maintain the new technology system, technological advancements today do displace workers. Think of it as the John Henry syndrome, an Industrial Revolution folklore about a steel-driving man who had to compete against a steam-powered hammer in blasting holes in a mountain for a railroad tunnel. He won, but then he died, not the most uplifting tale about progress. This economic metaphor was covered in detail by one of my favorite business podcasts called NPR Planet Money with a “man vs. robot” series.

Good for those who are in-demand and have the skills and experience not yet undermined by a disruptive technology. Or those who have the means to retool and learn marketable tech skills like the trend of liberal arts or social science college graduates going to coding boot camps and spending thousands of dollars for a few months of tech development.

In fact, one of the NPR Planet Money episodes pitted a business news writer against a software algorithm to write a Denny’s restaurant earnings update, and the algorithm won. As a writer, this makes me worry about my own longevity, and according to an Economist article titled “Rise of the machines,” Kensho’s [quant] system is designed to interpret natural-language search queries such as, “What happens to car firms’ share prices if oil drops by $5 a barrel?” It will then scour financial reports, company filings, historical market data and the like, and return replies, also in natural language, in seconds. The firm plans to offer the software to big banks and sophisticated traders. Yseop, a French firm, uses its natural-language software to interpret queries, chug through data looking for answers, and then write them up in English, Spanish, French or German at 3,000 pages a second. Firms such as L’Oréal and VetOnline.com already use it for customer support on their websites.

Unfortunately, we are losing more and more jobs to the “machines” – how many in the near future is debatable – although the Economist article references a paper from the Oxford Martin School, published in 2013, that concludes up to half of the job categories tracked by American statisticians might be vulnerable.

Because of all this is why we have disruptive HR technology empowering the adaptive ways we have to recruit and hire. Today’s hiring economy is highly complex, confusing and competitive. It’s like a classic high-performance engine we keep tinkering with, tuning up, swapping out old parts for new, with a lot of sweat and tears, even trying to converting it into a hybrid or an electric-powered vehicle, through every boom and bust cycle, especially the latest.

When I first entered the HR and recruiting technology market over 16 years ago, I went to work for a company called Tapestry.net. Our pitch was this:

Tapestry.net sources Interested, Qualified Applicants for software developer, IT, and Asian-language bilingual positions. You pay only for those candidates who you decide meet your specifications and who have agreed to an interview. You’re in control. Sophisticated artificial intelligence quickly predicts the likelihood of a match between interested applicants and a particular position.

It was cool. It was ahead of its time. It was disruptive. And unfortunately it became a dot.com demise before it really took off. Time and again we pushed our artificial intelligence proprietary matching system. I’ve seen hundreds companies of the past 16 years who claim their technology will help companies identify and screen the right applicant for the right position quickly and effectively, if not automatically. And there’s truth to that; there are many quality products and services that accelerate sourcing, recruiting and hiring.

Ah, but the humans in HR and recruiting strike back. In most of my previous jobs, I’ve hired dozens and dozens of employees – from higher education to high-tech to HR tech to marketing and PR. I’ve played recruiter, hiring manager and human resources, and it’s always been clear to me that the heart of hiring is a human one, and no amount of technology will permanently displace those involved in HR and recruiting.

It’s true that the next 5-10 years will bring unprecedented change to the workplace and the role of Human Resources. According to Alexandra Levit, a Future of Work speaker, New York Times writer, author of They Don’t Teach Corporate in College, and a recent guest on the TalentCulture #TChat Show, there will be those disruptive HR technologies that will influence the form and function of HR in a myriad of ways including how and where we work today, how we recruit and hire, and how we train and develop the workforce.

Not every technological disruption will be adopted nor will it transform business for the better, but the fact remains that empowering a better workplace and workforce is continuous. And in the midst of all this disruption, there’s been an online dialogue of late about what we call recruiting and HR and how the various iterations are deemed too pretentious, clinical, or even distasteful and aren’t reflective of how the “heart of hiring is human.”

But after all of the above, who cares what we call it as long as we’re still hiring.