Business success starts and ends with a company’s talent. Every organization knows this but not every organization masters the art of creating a company culture that effectively leverages their employee’s skills. Market leading companies define strong cultural values, hire to fulfill that mission and treat employees as well as they treat their customers.
It’s time to reevaluate your talent management strategies.
The three main talent challenges a company must master – acquisition, retention and retraining- haven’t changed. However, the mix of how a company spends its resources is changing. Most organizations spend a large chunk of their time and resources on talent acquisition at the expense of other areas.
While improving hiring is essential, it’s only useful if you can retrain these employees and enrich their skill set over time. It can take months, if not a full year, for a new employee to reach their full productivity potential. Given the overall talent shortage, it’s also unrealistic to expect Human Resources (HR) to fulfill a bulk of the upcoming positions with outside talent.
With the rapid change in workplace technology, reskilling of a company’s existing employee base must become a board level imperative with dedicated resources. According to IBM’s research, as many as 120 million workers in the world’s 10 largest economies may need to be retrained or reskilled as a result of AI and intelligent automation . Digital literacy is critical for the modern workforce. With low unemployment and a competitive job market, talent retention and upskilling represent strategic areas that most companies should reevaluate.
The evolving nature of HR technology
While the strategic emphasis of human resources has changed, there’s another wave of change ahead. The technologies and methods that companies have access to for attracting, retraining and educating talent will dramatically change over the next few years. The rapid development of artificial intelligence (AI) solutions promises to disrupt the workplace status quo and upend existing HR functions. Leading companies are looking to AI to support functions from candidate discovery to designing individualized employee education programs.
Technology vendors and consultancies are racing to provide new AI-enhanced talent solutions to support workplace transformation. IBM has deployed products in the cognitive field for years with its Watson solutions. Now IBM’s Global Business Services group has introduced a new set of talent and workplace transformation solutions called the IBM Talent & Transformation service. It’s a new business designed to help companies navigate the coming challenges and opportunities associated with AI and automation. IBM’s offering provides new services, AI tools and related training initiatives.
AI can complement employee skills, redefine tasks, and increase productivity, but that requires training, development and new ways of working. The company’s talent solutions offer a range of products that can be purchased individually or combined, including:
· Watson Recruitment: Analyzes an organization’s employment history and external data sources to determine key attributes for success in any given role and then uses AI to surface the most qualified candidates without bias.
· Watson Candidate Assistant: Sifts through job-seekers’ employment and educational experience, infers skills and matches a candidate to openings that are the best fit with recommendations that might never surface with traditional applicant tracking systems.
· Watson Career Coach: Serves as a virtual coach and infers employees’ skills, interests, and eminence and provides personalized advice to lay the path for career opportunities.
· Watson Talent Frameworks: Defines the competencies and skills needed for a successful talent strategy today, and future-proofs organizations for tomorrow’s workforce in ways customized to their specific industry and needs.
· Adverse Impact Analysis (AIA): Leverages Watson AI to analyze, identify and address unconscious bias across an organization’s employment history related to gender, race, age, education and previous employment.
· IBM AI Skills Academy: A new service offering and educational program, will help businesses plan, build and apply strategic AI initiatives across the enterprise like evaluating AI roles and skills, building the necessary skills, and creating an organizational structure in support of AI strategy. The curriculum covers areas essential to AI initiatives, including deep learning and machine learning frameworks, applying algorithms, open source technologies and data visualization, and will ensure that businesses make decisions less on “gut” intuition and more on data-driven analytics.
Additionally, IBM offers the IBM Garages to help organizations develop agile practices, test ideas and scale solutions. Within the Garage, IBM experts sit shoulder-to-shoulder with client employees to develop new ideas, then rapidly test, discard or advance those ideas. IBM said other companies including Ford Motor Company, Travelport and McLane are already working with various IBM Garages.
Not IBM’s first rodeo in advancing HR practices.
In true IBM fashion, the company first applied these methods technologies and learnings to drive its workforce transformation. The company used AI personalization to guide employees in development, measure flight risk for proactive retention and use bias reduction capabilities to flag bias in recruitment efforts. In IBM’s press release the company stated: “When applied to IBM’s HR function, these services drove more than $300 million in benefits to the company, $107 million in benefits in 2017 alone, and resulted in a significantly better candidate, employee and manager satisfaction.” While the service is new, IBM has completed more than 1,000 HR transformation projects globally through its consulting engagements or by companies outsourcing talent acquisition, talent development or HR operations to IBM. Companies like Citizens Financial Group Inc and Ernst & Young LLP are working with IBM Watson Talent solutions. IBM’s talent solutions intend to marry skillsets such as behavioral science and industrial-organizational psychology with analytics and artificial intelligence solutions.
Similar to the movement in IT, human resources departments are shifting from a service function to a strategic transformation engine for the organization. IBM’s new offerings aim to help companies make the transition by combining technology and services for a customized solution. The concept of purchasing off-the-shelf HR AI products without services is appealing, yet wrought with opportunities for failure. Every organization is unique and most organizations will need assistance in defining what they are trying to accomplish, integrating data from a variety of HR solutions and developing new educational roadmaps. IBM’s offering showcases how important it is to have a mixture of people, process and technology to assist in the creation of leading HR strategies.
The offering looks good but the challenge for IBM lies in convincing companies that the offering will be cost competitive and deliver better results. A company must also believe HR transformation is a strategic imperative that deserves more attention, executive support and funding.
The startup ecosystem also has a role to play in breathing new life and excitement into the HR industry. There are many fresh ideas in the space for recruiting, candidate engagement and education. Instead of focusing on how AI will replace jobs, there’s a tremendous opportunity to use AI to improve an employee’s job. Hopefully, new AI-driven talent services will help companies deliver better workplaces.
I’m a technology industry analyst and strategic advisor at Lopez Research. I’m the author of “Right-Time Experiences: Driving Revenue with Mobile and Big Data” published by John Wiley and Sons and the co-founder of the Emerging Technology Research Council. I help companies u… MORE
Maribel is a speaker, technology industry analyst and the founder of Lopez Research. She’s the author of the Wiley book “Right-time Experiences” Twitter:@MaribelLopez