The first conversation with artificial intelligence (AI) was not meant to be significant. Joseph Weizenbaum created ELIZA, the first chatbot, to prove the innate superficiality of a conversation between machine and human. Compared to today’s technology, ELIZA was little more than a toy. The bot was built with basic pattern matching and substitution technologies. There were no clever algorithms or built-in contextual cues. Weizenbaum was surprised to find people warming to the pseudo-chatter of his bot.
Fast forward fifty years. Alice has mastered heuristic pattern matching, Watson won jeopardy, and Siri got positively saucy. Bots are everywhere. They are helping consumers order pizza, make reservations, and customize fashion advice. They are counseling veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, making people laugh, and even debating the existence of God with each other.
According to a recent Oracle study, 80 percent of businesses either already use or are planning to use chatbots by 2020. The chatbot has revolutionized the way businesses connect with consumers. It is automated, effective, and – perhaps most importantly – evolving. Current trends suggest that the melding of powerful, automated AI with quality human experiences won’t end with the customer.
AI is beginning to contribute to the inner workings of businesses themselves.
Combining smart machines and human resources, companies are using AI to find, hire, and retain their workforce. Children’s Mercy Hospital has been using a video-based analytics platform called HireVue Assessments to screen new hires for nearly seven years. With the help of this platform, the hospital can build teams 65 percent faster. Hilton, who uses HireVue across more than 90 countries, boasts a nearly 30 percent reduction in turnover and has seen its hiring process shrink from six weeks to six days.
How does it work?
The software screens potential new hires according to both verbal and non-verbal cues. Keywords, facial expressions, and body language are all prime targets for assessment. The aim is to help human resource managers parse down their options in a uniquely people-based way. Employers can choose compassion over keywords without sacrificing efficiency.
“We have no intentions of replacing humans,” HireVue representative Diana Kucer told Fox News. “We’re trying to augment decision-making and allow human decision-makers to make better decisions based on very objective data.”
Hiring isn’t the only way AI is transforming human resources. Employees will soon expect a contextualized, data-based experience from their employers in much the same way consumers do. Workday is a platform that prides itself on unifying human resources and finance. Employees of affiliated organizations can log in to personalized workspaces in the cloud. They can access their personal details, pay stubs, and tax information at the click of a button, twenty-four hours a day. They can order supplies, approve employees’ orders, or manage budgets. With approval, they can do these things without ever contacting another company employee.
Hewlett Packard moved their system to Workday when faced with an estimated $110 million upgrade to their draconian human resources system. Moving to cloud-technology allowed for automatic updates and up-to-date technological compatibility. When combined with the benefits of data-driven decision making, the results have been remarkable.
“We immediately saw a strong benefit from the Workday deployment in our ability to categorize organizations and data in a common way,” says Mike Dallas, senior vice president of HR for Hewlett Packard. “We could access that information in real time, and develop predictive organizational structures that combine talent management, workforce planning, and other areas fundamental to our HR practice.”
Education and Training
Training is another area of workplace AI disruption, one in which CommercialTribe serves as a fine example. Using video recordings, role play, and data, the CommercialTribe platform promises to upgrade a company’s sales team. One client turned to CommercialTribe after discovering that 75 percent of his sales team couldn’t effectively deliver the company’s sales pitch. CommercialTribe was able to identify the features of a successful pitch and train the team to implement those features using their SaaS platform. 57 percent of the company’s representatives improved their pitches. Not bad for a company with a growing client base and under fifty employees.
similar results. With only two months to train an all-star sales team of 135 instructions, Sean Cataldo, Director of Global Sales Enablement, turned to CommercialTribe. Using the video-based interactive platform cut down the one-to-one time needed to train the team, allowing Veritas to launch on time with consistency and success.
Cataldo can’t say enough about the platform. “CommercialTribe for us is the cornerstone of the next generation of our enablement program,” he says. “CommercialTribe allows us to make messages available where and when sales needs them, and enable sales to watch and practice in an efficient way and critique themselves. They helped us pilot and scale out a new enablement initiative that we are now rolling out to our global team.”
Vision of Disruptive Technology in the Workplace
Within human resources alone, recruitment, unification, training, engagement, performance management, and risk assessment are all being reimagined. What workplace picture might these advances paint?
The most clear and documented impact is efficiency. SAP’s chief innovation officer tells the Wall Street Journal that “recruiters spent 60% of their time reading CVs.” That is 60 percent of a person’s salary that can be automated. Depending on your source, a bad hire can cost 30 percent of an employee’s annual salary, or 240,000 USD. The cost of office morale aside, bad hires are expensive. Using AI to hire the right people, monitor their performance, and keep them actively engaged in their work will positively impact a company’s bottom line.
Improving the employee experience may also keep workers engaged in traditional employment. According to Forbes Magazine, 70 percent of workers are disengaged. Last year, the percentage of American workers freelancing grew to 35 percent. Though economic stagnation is undoubtedly a cause, many workers are choosing the flexibility of freelancing over the perceived red tape of traditional employment. The en masse interactive renegotiations made possible by harnessing the power of AI and concentrating on workforce retention may strengthen a disengaged workforce, which is the most exciting thing about enhancing our places of work with streamlined technology solutions.