AI’s greatest threat: bias
Stop worrying about artificial intelligence (AI) becoming our overlord and focus on the real threat it represents—bias—argues Thomas Koulopoulos. In this Inc. article, he cites a recent UNESCO report, which explored gender bias in digital assistants such as Siri, Alexa and Cortana. “Marketers who decide what resonates best with users most often claim that a female voice is much more engaging and marketable. They’ll also claim that the personalities of their assistants are meant to come across as intelligent and funny,” he writes, but adds that we should ask, “What sort of social norms are we trying to perpetuate or create in the increasing interactions we and our children have with digital assistants?” Koulopoulos also posits that the issue not just about gender bias but a general social context. “There are numerous global differences, some nuanced and some pronounced, that shape what’s culturally acceptable as we go from one part of the world to another,” he writes. “The bigger question, at least in my mind, is, should digital assistants be created with one set of values and norms that are exported from Silicon Valley and expected to be used around the world, or should they be fine-tuned to localized behaviors, even the ones we consider aberrant?”
Three ways AI is improving EX
Artificial intelligence (AI) is making the employee experience better than ever, claim two leading HR experts. First, more organizations are in the process of voice-powered AI to create a better EX. “People want to use a conversational style to engage with their application” said Emily He, Oracle’s senior vice president of marketing, human capital management, in an interview with TalentCulture. “For example, expense reports approval is a really cumbersome process. Now, with the AI app, I can say, ‘Approve all expense reports below a certain amount.’” AI is also driving internal talent mobility by creating a platform similar to LinkedIn, where employees can share credentials and other information that allows AI to match them with potential promotions. “Sometimes it’s jobs that the individual may not have thought about themselves,” Jeanne Meister, founder of Future Workplace says. “This gives the employee working inside the company the opportunity to understand how their skills plus their aspirations can lead to a new internal position.” Both Meister and He also highlight AI’s track record in streamlining the hiring process with chatbots. “Hilton (the hotel chain) began using chatbots in 2015, and the program has shown marked results,” Meister says. “They have increased their net promoter score for the candidate experience to 80 percent—and also increased the diversity of the talent pool.”
AI is not a panacea; finding the right fit is key
Citing Accenture research that predicts AI technologies have the potential to increase profitability rates by 38 percent by 2035, Gary Fowler advises companies to make better-informed decisions about AI, instead of treating it like a panacea for all business challenges. “There is no one-size-fits-all artificial intelligence solution that can help every business, and it’s easy to get caught up in the AI craze without objectively estimating the value a solution can offer,” he writes in this Forbes blog post. “Before taking a step toward AI implementation, ask the following questions: What areas of the business will benefit the most from the implementation, and what new opportunities will the implementation offer?” Fowler recommends prioritizing implementation of AI solutions and customizing the new technologies to each business unit. “This is especially important when it comes to the people in your business,” he writes. “As companies implement new technologies, human capital and AI solutions will likely begin to converge and require leaders to make decisions about the distribution of tasks performed by the employees and the machines.”
Machines deserve respect in the workplace, too
As machines driven by artificial intelligence (AI) such as robots, chatbots and digital assistants become more common in the workplace, it’s time to ponder the ethical concerns surrounding them. Kate Darling, a research specialist at MIT’s Media Lab, explains why we should care about our interactions with machines. “We certainly don’t need to worry about the chatbot getting offended or hurt,” she told Forbes Insights. “[But] it could say something about us if we’re unkind to robots. The open question is whether negative behavior towards lifelike robots is a healthy outlet for people or whether it’s desensitizing.” Darling claims that human-AI interactions are not yet an HR issue; if anything, people are over-attached to machines. “One company using AI-powered chatbots to schedule meetings says that people send thank you notes and flowers to their assistants,” she said. For Darling, showing respect to machines is just good etiquette: “I’m not arguing that we need to treat machines like people, but what’s the harm in being nice?”
Transitioning to a hybrid AI-human workforce
A successful transition to a combined human and artificial intelligence (AI) workforce is both a priority and a concern for business leaders in the United Kingdom, according to new research. Capita People Solutions surveyed 500 leaders of medium- and large-sized businesses, and more than 2,000 employees. Of the leaders surveyed, 72 percent identified the workforce transition as a priority in the next five years, and 93 percent said they needed to start proactively managing the shift this year. More than half (51 percent) of the employees surveyed said they would leave their organization if it did not manage the transition or continue to offer opportunities for progress. “Investing in AI and automation is not enough to build a sustainable or productive hybrid workforce; organizations also need to ensure they have the skills, cultures and processes in place to work alongside this technology,” Erika Bannerman, executive officer at Capita People Solutions, told Personnel Today. “That means business and HR leaders listening to their employees and engaging in a meaningful dialogue around these future workforce dynamics, being open and transparent about their vision and plans, and motivating and engaging their people to thrive in this future world of work.”
Study finds workers not afraid of AI, but want reskilling
Workers in the developed world seem to be getting more comfortable with the concept of artificial intelligence (AI), but would like more opportunities to update their skills, according to a new study. Wakefield Research was commissioned by Genpact to survey 4,000 workers and 500 executives of large companies in Australia, Japan, the United Kingdom and the U.S. Here are the key findings: 62 percent of those surveyed say they expect to work comfortably alongside robots in three years; just 28 percent of workers say they worry AI will threaten their jobs; 53 percent of executives surveyed say their companies are already providing the reskilling and training that workers need, while only 35 percent of workers say reskilling is available at the companies where they work. “Our very clear view is that people working with machines, or what we sometimes call human in the loop, is the future. But if employees are saying they aren’t seeing enough education opportunities, then companies, as well as governments and educational institutions, have to work together to teach them,” Tiger Tyagarajan, Genpact’s CEO, told Techonomy.
Three financial-services predictions for 2019
In this Financial IT article, Stuart Rye, Director of Business Development for Fujitsu, shares three predictions for what to expect from the financial services industry in the new year. 1. Getting industrial with automation. Rye believes that it’s time for banks and insurers to take experimentation with automation to the next level. “We’ll likely begin to see more and more conversation around automation versus intelligent automation, with emphasis on the ‘intelligent’ aspect,” he says. 2. Cashing in on the multi-cloud challenge. “The popularity of multi-cloud platforms will increase next year as more IT leaders find it enables them to deploy applications and workloads in the environment that best suit their individual requirements for compliance, flexibility and simplicity,” Rye says. 3. Increased spending on cybersecurity. Rye argues that the trust customers place in financial services institutions is dependent on their belief that the organization is capable of managing and keeping their assets safe, which will put pressure on firms to increase spending on cybersecurity.
One-third of UK workers want robots to replace bosses
According to a new report, which surveyed more than 1,000 professionals in the United Kingdom, one-third (34 percent) of employees believe a robot would be better at decision-making than their current boss. However, that does not necessarily mean that leaders are likely to be replaced by robots anytime soon. “Robots are unlikely to take on the job of decision maker—the reality is that they are simply not yet suited to such complex tasks and will instead work side-by-side with humans,” Gordon Wilson, CEO of Advanced, told Verdict. The study also showed that automation is becoming a reality for many British workers: 72 percent have already adopted automation technologies, 65 percent say they would be happy to work alongside robotic technology, and 35 percent want to see artificial intelligence become a regular part of their daily working lives. “Leaders need to step up, to provide the clear direction that people need and take charge of the intense technology change happening as a result of the digital era,” Wilson said.
Leadership in the age of robots
“Robots are never sick and they are never in a bad mood,” making them a palatable option for employers, writes Soulaima Gourani in this Forbes Leadership Strategy op-ed. But, she is also quick to point out that it’s up to the leaders to ensure human employees continue to evolve with technology. Here are four ways she believes employers can better integrate humans and robots in the workplace: 1. Engagement. Involve your staff and let them help decide in which kind of technology the company should invest. 2. Upgrade. A great leader must make sure employees are skilled, educated and motivated to use and work with technology. 3. Creativity and inspiration. Make sure the workforce is ready and trained in social skills, decision-making, innovation and creativity. 4. Trend mapping. For a company to evolve with the times, a great leader must be able to read, understand and translate the industry trends.
The future of work with AI
“The current wave of artificial intelligence (AI) will lead to an autonomous enterprise and before long we won’t be able to imagine doing work any other way,” argues Chuck Hollis in this Forbes BrandVoice blog post. He describes the autonomous enterprise as an organization where many decisions are made with the help of machine learning, resulting in better, faster and higher-quality decisions. Hollis dismisses the concerns about AI making most of the current workforce obsolete. “Spreadsheets didn’t put accountants out of work; it helped them do more work in less time,” he writes. “When we invent better tools, the nature of work—and our lives—usually changes for the better. The same will be true as our organizations start using machine learning wherever human decisions are made, making our organizations more autonomous and vastly better at decision-making in the process.”
Using AI to refine employee performance
“Using artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance the customer journey is the concept that’s gotten the most of the media coverage thus far. However, one of the most important things to remember about business is that a stellar customer experience starts on the inside,” writes Manish Dudharejia in this Entrepreneur article. He believes AI tools can be game-changers for both predicting and improving employee performance. During the hiring process AI can be used to screen candidates for key traits. In order to improve employee performance with AI, Dudharejia recommends tracking performance metrics to identify top performers and weak spots. “These detailed insights can then be used to create a gold standard that employees need to be held to,” he writes. “This might relate to time management, email habits, approaches to multi-tasking and other factors. Furthermore, these clear standards of achievement can essentially eliminate bias in the workplace.”
Five ways to evaluate AI systems for HR
With the proliferation of artificial intelligence (AI) systems and tools available to recruiters, it is important to assess how well they work, argues Felix Wetzel in this Recruiting Daily article. He highlights five features that can help recruiters evaluate AI systems: 1. It displays a human-centric functionality that can analyze resumé keywords in semantic context. 2. Built by experts, it features an easy-to-use interface and fits neatly into the recruiter’s workflow. 3. It’s designed to be transparent in order to create trust and eliminate concerns about regulation. 4. It puts the user in control, not the algorithms, and puts a greater emphasis on decisions and activities. 5. It mitigates bias with a diversity of data sources and linear models. “As a next step, I would insist on a trial, so you can use the system and experience the performance and results for yourself within your company’s and industry’s context,” Wetzel writes.
Human + machine = collaborative intelligence
We would be remiss if we didn’t highlight Accenture’s Paul Daugherty and James Wilson’s latest article in the July / August issue of the prestigious Harvard Business Review. “Companies benefit from optimizing collaboration between humans and artificial intelligence (AI),” they write. Their in-depth article is a distillation of their book, “Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AI.” The article outlines the five principles that companies can utilize to make the most of this collaboration: 1. Reimagine business processes. 2. Embrace experimentation / employee involvement. 3. Actively direct AI strategy. 4. Responsibly collect data. 5. Redesign work to incorporate AI and cultivate related employee skills. “So far, however, only a small number of the companies we’ve surveyed have begun to reimagine their business processes to optimize collaborative intelligence. But the lesson is clear: Organizations that use machines merely to displace workers through automation will miss the full potential of AI. Such a strategy is misguided from the get-go. Tomorrow’s leaders will instead be those that embrace collaborative intelligence, transforming their operations, their markets, their industries, and—no less important—their workforces,” they conclude.
AI and the Future of Work
In this Forbes BrandVoice blog, Rob Preston shares the top insights from Oracle HCM Dallas on the power and potential of artificial intelligence in HR. 1. The huge value of AI: AI applications can help recruiters identify and rank candidates that are most likely to fit in, stay and perform at the company by analyzing data shared by each applicant. 2. Don’t let AI get lost in in translation: Preston mentions how Accenture automated 17,000 jobs in the last three years without any layoffs. He quotes keynote speaker Jacob Morgan: “The organizations that are going to win are the organizations that are going to use AI to explore new opportunities, to augment humans, to help humans, not replace them.” 3. Old impressions die hard: Getting past the fear of AI is crucial to maximizing the performance of the younger generation. 4. Catch the wave before it wipes you out: AI, machine learning and other technologies are coming fast and companies need to catch up fast or die, Preston writes.
How AI helps with the hiring process
Artificial intelligence (AI) is not something that is on the horizon for HR; many recruiting programs already utilize it in order to get a competitive edge in a tight job market, argues Meghan Biro in this TalentCulture blog post. “There is no reason for any organization to shy away from AI’s capability — whether a big Silicon Valley firm or a small and lean startup,” she writes. “And leveling the playing field and reaching the same candidates as a larger organization, let alone a direct competitor, is just a matter of knowing how to use AI.” Biro highlights the five best practices of AI in the hiring journey: 1. Use AI to help find talent in specific locations by “geofencing.” 2. Make vital first connections with candidates using data collected via AI. 3. Tap virtual assistants to begin conversations with prospective candidates. 4. Use predictive analytics to make sure the candidates are the right fit. 5. Keep the hiring process moving with virtual auditions and video interviews. “AI enables hiring teams to make and maintain radically better connections with talent, garner a far better sense of fit over a whole spectrum of criteria and, frankly, be more human than we’ve been in a long time,” she writes.
New AI startup aims to help HR departments
Three former Google employees have formed Spoke, a new artificial intelligence startup that promises to ‘make life easier for HR departments, IT workers and office managers everywhere,’ Inc. reports this week. The software will be able to answer employees’ basic inquiries across multiple channels via chatbot, based on information it learns about a given company. “For new employees, that could mean a searchable home for tax forms and employee handbooks,” writes Kevin J. Ryan. “For the whole staff, it could mean a bot that knows everything from the guest wi-fi password to how to input travel expenses to the company policy or rolling over sick days from year to year.” He reports the company will launch the software in March with 100 companies, ranging from nonprofits to tech startups. “The software is designed to be more than just a source of information; it also can handle facilities requests, such as meeting room and equipment reservations, and can pass requests on to office managers when necessary,” Ryan writes.
Pivoting the workforce to seize AI-driven growth
In addition to partnering with the WEF on the reskilling initiative, last week at Davos we also released our own Accenture Strategy report, “Reworking the Revolution.” The report identified a disconnect between workers’ embrace of artificial intelligence (AI) and their employers’ efforts to prepare workers. While a majority (54 percent) of business leaders say that human-machine collaboration is important to their strategic priorities, only three percent say their organization plans to significantly increase its investment in reskilling their workers in the next three years. Stronger commitment to AI could boost revenues by 38 percent and employment by 10 percent by 2022, the report found. “Business leaders must take immediate steps to pivot their workforce to enter an entirely new world where human ingenuity meets intelligent technology to unlock new forms of growth,” said Ellyn Shook, Chief Leadership and Human Resources Officer, Accenture. “Workers are impatient to collaborate with AI, giving leaders the opportunity to demonstrate true ‘applied intelligence’ within their organization.”
AI as means to enhance employee experience
Continuing with more predictions of the latest emerging trends for 2018 is Rick Rider with this RT Insights blog post on how artificial intelligence (AI) will begin to shift enterprise as companies begin to adopt it to remain agile. “The stakes for the tasks being carried out by AI in the enterprise are often much higher – and come with significantly greater risks. As such, enterprise AI must be adopted quite differently than consumer AI,” Rider writes. “Integrating AI into enterprises is imminent, and those businesses that fail to embrace this type of technology risk becoming extinct. The question is no longer whether to use AI in business, but rather, which specific tasks are appropriate for this technology and what are the best practices for making it most valuable for your business?” Rider recommends businesses adopting AI to focus on data storage, security, feedback and citizen developer toolkits. “AI in the enterprise a relatively new phenomenon, and it should not be treated simply as an extension of consumer-facing AI,” he writes.