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Let’s use artificial intelligence to augment workforce

Monday October 7 2019

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Robots play football at the RoboCup 2019 event in Sydney on July 4, 2019. AI and machine learning are opening the door to a whole new world of possibilities for the human capital space. PHOTO | PETER PARKS | AFP 

LILLIAN NGALA
By LILLIAN NGALA
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We live in interesting times.

We have driverless cars, drones delivering medical supplies to rural areas and chatbots screening candidates for job opportunities. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is here.

But as with any technological advancement, the story is more complicated than simple displacement. And it does not come without a lot of fear about a large workforce losing jobs.

Understandably, there is no shortage of angst when it comes to the impact of technology on jobs. But technology, including artificial intelligence (AI), Big Data and Machine Learning, will only replace tasks, not jobs.

There is no question, some jobs will be lost. However, others will be created, and still, others will morph into something different.

There are a huge number of technology jobs that did not exist 10 years ago: state-of-the-art programming, data science and web security, just to mention a few.

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TALENT MANAGEMENT

And there is enough reason to believe that the need for people to create and manage new technology will progressively increase.

Ginni Rometty said: “Some people call this artificial intelligence, but the reality is this technology will enhance us. So instead of artificial intelligence, I think we’ll augment our intelligence.”

In the pursuit of sustainable growth, the HR professionals must champion the gradual shift to tech-enabled services that need less human intervention.

On the other hand, they have to oversee the emotionally excruciating layoffs. They are exposed to the dichotomy of balancing technology adoption versus workforce management.

As a practice however, talent management has, in the past few years, been impacted by technology transformation. HR professionals are increasingly harnessing the potential of tech in talent management.

DECISION-MAKING

HR practitioners, who were once confined to handling basic data work and routine record, are now exposed to an evolving mix of diverse workforce complexities, legal obligations and strategic management of the organisational goals.

These processes are time-consuming and costly. But thanks to technology, HR professionals have been given tools that reduce the time they have to spend on administrative tasks, allowing them to focus on issues that require more hands-on attention.

For instance, because of automation and AI, it is getting easier to identify and select competent candidates who are a great fit for the companies.

From automated resume screeners to online interviews, technology is providing new solutions for sourcing and recruiting employees.

AI and machine learning are opening the door to a whole new world of possibilities for the human capital space.

RELATIONS

Interestingly, we’re just at the cusp of what this technology can do to maximise productivity and performance. As such, little surprise that the HR tech industry is witnessing the most disruptive periods in decades.

Leaders should be thinking about which technology solutions will enable them to understand and know their talent-force better; to be able to describe the current capability of the business from a talent-force perspective. Some of these solutions will be industry-specific or even business function-specific.

Companies of the future are doing a much better job at utilising technology to fully understand their people, their skills and goals, and how all of that aligns with the institution’s strategy, objectives and aspirations.

It is all about developing a better relationship with their people by really knowing them, seeing beyond just what’s on their resume or job history.

PRODUCTIVITY

In the long run, the firm prospers right along with its talent-force. It’s the perfect partnership of human and tech capabilities.

Technology will continue to be integral to all business functions. HR must embrace tech to continually redefine their services towards driving productivity.

Change is inevitable, and we must carefully design how to respond to the change so as to remain relevant in the revolution of work.

Ms Ngala is head of human resources at Diamond Trust Bank. [email protected] @Lillianngala

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