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Super-Human resources

How much do you rely on the ability of Netflix to predict your next favourite TV show – or rather, the technology being used? How much do you already trust software – like that created by that IBM Watson to smash its human competition in Jeopardy? Enough to entrust it to determine who you should be hiring?

Technology

Marcus Lambert

CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER

For over 20 years, Marcus has built a global reputation as a technology innovator. Today, he architects and delivers world- class products and projects that solve real business problems.

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Before you answer, consider that we are witnessing a revolution in the application of AI – with advances in fields as varied as medicine and marketing, to name just a few.

Only yesterday JWT (J. Walter Thompson) one of the world’s largest and most established advertising agencies announced the introduction of a “blind recruitment” approach in its next round of entry level recruitment, in order to help mother brand WPP agency improve its diversity. Leaving aside the claim to be pioneering such an approach (something Omobono’s own Behaviourist would be happy to contest) it’s a remarkable declaration, and remarkably simple to deliver.

Entire industries are being transformed by the ability of machine learning to gather colossal caches of data, and derive fresh insights, at a rate and scale that teams of mere humans could never accomplish.

AI can combine the expertise and intuition of a veteran executive in human resources with the virtually limitless data sets available to talent recruitment. Increasingly sophisticated machine tools can gather and weigh gargantuan tracts of information and use even more complex analysis to render sound judgments about the requirements of a particular role, and whether or not a candidate is the perfect fit.

HR professionals may be wary about relying on AI to make key decisions about recruitment and hiring. But the fact is HR has been relying upon online tools and increasingly advanced software to optimise the process of finding and retaining top-notch talent for years. We’ve come a long way from the neatly indexed Rolodex and resumes printed on cream-colored paper. Everything from the application process to the management of benefits and salaries has been streamlined thanks to innovations in IT. The integration of AI with HR is the logical progression of these advances.

As we become more comfortable conversing with bots that do everything – from reserving our rental car to fielding our tech support needs – you can expect to see the management of benefits and payroll processing entrusted to increasingly sophisticated programs that can handle employee queries, track absences, and measure performance. But AI has far more to offer HR than automating the day-to-day processes. Where I suspect AI will have the most profound impact will be in its ability to find the perfect fit between role and candidates.

Any recruiter will tell you how vital it is to hire the right person on the first go. A mistake or oversight during the application and screening process can lead to HR having to rehire and re-train for the role with unpredictable and unwelcome costs.

Current academic research suggests that businesses that gain a deeper understanding of human behaviour (through insights driven by neuroscience and actions shaped by behavioural psychology!) will increase their recruitment success by as much as 87%

AI will empower recruiters to make use of software that can parse not only a candidate’s resume but their entire online profile, which might include previous accomplishments noted in trade periodicals or social media gaffes that could explode in scandal down the line.

In this way, AI can build a much more complete profile of a candidate than could ever be gathered from a single resume or series of interviews. And, by making increasingly accurate predictions about the likelihood of someone’s success and fit within a role, HR departments can reduce error and save considerable time and costs.

It’s not just about hiring the right people though. AI can already improve job postings, ensuring you attract the right applicants to begin with. The vast bevy of job postings available online is a fertile data set for what it reveals about the way certain candidates respond to specific keywords and phrases. We now have software that can sniff out bromidic, overused buzz phrases (like “team player”) that might turn off a potential hiree or other language that caters to, or re-enforces, implicit bias — such as phrases that are more or less likely to attract members of a specific gender.

Working with greater speed, scope, and complexity than a human recruiter, an AI screener can reach out to the ideal applicant, and put together a complete profile of a candidate with insights about their track record, their strengths, weaknesses, and goals.

In brief, not only can AI make corporate recruitment decisions as well as a human — it can likely do even better.

Hugh Beardsmore-Billings, Senior Copywriter & Behaviourist, Omobono

“One leading American institution recently predicted that AI will replace over 80% of HR within the decade (think that’s bad? For accountants the figure rises to 95%)”

However, there will always be a place for human involvement in all this technological advancement. “There’s no doubting, or stopping the rise in AI,” says Hugh Billings, Behaviourist for Omobono. “Yet human interpretation and interaction are more essential than ever. On-going academic research shows that the hardest human traits to mimic – and therefore the most enduring – centre on ‘creative expression.’” – in other words our emotions. “That’s why, we make such lousy robots.” And that’s also why AI can never replace humans completely. “No matter the capability of computing power, emotions are beyond purely logical processes. AI can tell us what’s going on, but not always why – and most of all, not what you need to say and do, to change human behaviour. For that advantage, business will always need to resource super-human creativity too.”

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