Emerging Technologies in Human Resources 2020
Originally published Mar 16, 2020 on HR Technologist.
Technological advancements will make the work of humans considerably more interesting, challenging, and valuable in the new decade. Still, as AI and cognitive solutions evolve, companies will need to re-examine how they structure their teams, design jobs, and plan for future growth.
Welcome to the 4th industrial revolution, an age marked by a new interconnected hyper-instrumented world comprised of AI-powered digital assistants operating across the virtual, biological, and physical worlds. These systems will adapt together and unify, creating intelligent ecosystems.
We will see an unprecedented number of "big bang disruptions," the breadth and depth of which will herald the transformation of entire systems, creating and destroying full product lines, markets and ecosystems overnight. These disruptions are characterized by unencumbered development and unconstrained growth. The accompanying pace of technological development will exert profound changes in the way people live and work, impacting all disciplines, economies, and industries, including how, what, why, and where individuals produce and deliver products and services.
Routine activities and lifestyle necessities will become less necessary. Using cash, physical keys, driving cars, even physically shopping at a grocery store may become a thing of the past. The delivery of these anytime/anywhere experiences will force companies to radically rethink and retool everything they do internally. Human Resources must be at the forefront of guiding employees and executives through this change.
People teams need an immediate, intense focus on understanding emergent technologies, the value it creates in the current and future business model, and the culture and skills necessary to execute these massive changes.
ISACA recently published the results of a survey of more than 5,000 global business technology professionals to better understand their view of the future of tech over the next decade. The top emergent technology trends are cloud, augmented analytics, artificial intelligence, and the internet of things.
Here are the trends they've identified and what we believe the impact is on Human Resource organizations.
The rise of purpose-based digital assistants
The future of the employee experience (EX) requires real-time access to the right data at the right time- anytime, anywhere.
HR organizations managing employee transformation initiatives must employ user-centric approaches to design these deeply personalized and anticipatory interfaces. Next-generation augmented workforces will leverage role/purpose-based digital assistants to help navigate employees through making decisions based upon the explosion of data created in intelligent ecosystems.
Digital assistants will replace current knowledge management platforms/intranets, dashboards, and even manage the entire onboarding process!
Users will be able to ingest and process vast amounts of data, monitor their operations and workflows, reach effective decisions quickly, and learn from, adapt to, and even predict changes that may affect the business all using natural language interfaces to engage with their assistant. The digital assistant will be able to pinpoint areas in the companies where there are knowledge deficits, process insufficiencies, or gaps. Employees will have a much more personalized and automated experience with these digital assistants- creating more flexibility, adaptability, and resiliency.
These systems will directly contribute to increased customer satisfaction and employee happiness, improve financial performance, and overall productivity.
Next-generation training - The evolving relationship between AI, automation, and humans will have a significant impact on jobs.
People are anticipating increased opportunities and rising pay but are concerned by a potential decrease in job security. They do not believe that companies will be adequately prepared or resourced adequately for the challenges ahead.
In ISACA's Next Decade of Tech survey, 70 percent of respondents believe that enterprises are underinvesting in the technologies needed to navigate the changes that this next decade will bring. Even more strikingly, 81 percent of respondents don't think that enterprises are currently investing enough in the people skills needed to navigate the technology changes coming in the 2020s. Human Resources will need to need to address this deficiency in soft skills and business acumen. They must deploy next-generation training models, which result in a rapid up and re-skilling. Luckily, online courses, social and interactive platforms, and learning tools from both traditional learning institutions and upstarts make up what is referred to as the "personal learning cloud" (PLC). These customizable learning environments personalize content according to learners' roles and their organizations' needs.
Ensuring AI is an internal force for good
There is widespread concern that in a rush to deploy, there will be insufficient attention paid to AI's ethical ramifications. HR groups need to consider some fundamental design principles when using these next-generation digital assistants. AI should help automate tasks and free up employees' time so they can focus on more thoughtful work without getting in the way or creating new problems. In his article 5 Development Principles that Prevent your AI from Going Rogue, Nick Smith advises keeping these five principles in mind when designing and deploying AI.
AI Serves Its Intended Purpose. AI exists to solve a specific purpose. It should make tasks easier, increase efficiency, and save time. When AI is built without a clearly defined goal, it can quickly spiral out of control, making jobs more difficult, wasting time, and causing aggravation.
AI Is Unbiased. The usefulness of AI depends on the quality of the data that is used to "teach" it. Any bias present in the data will carry through to the deployed AI.
AI Knows Its Limits, and Ensures Users Do Too. Well-built AI knows what it is capable of and what it is not. There should be a clear indication to the user that the AI has reached the limits of its capabilities so that the user can act accordingly. The user also needs to know the boundaries of the AI. When humans rely too heavily on AI, the consequences can be disastrous.
AI Does What is Expected. AI is always collecting new data and adapting its behavior, and so there is a risk it will do something unexpected. Users must have confidence in an AI system and know that the information or outcome that they're getting is what's intended. When the AI makes mistakes, users must have the ability to correct it so the AI can learn and improve.
AI Communicates Effectively. AI must be able to understand less intelligent human users, including handling grammatical mistakes, irregular speech patterns, and slang. It must utilize other data sources to form a contextual response and must remember past cues.
Intelligent ecosystems will transform the way people work. Workers will need to learn faster and be capable of applying new skill sets rapidly.
There will be a higher value placed on people skills, business intelligence, independent thinking, innovation, and creativity.
Given the rapid growth in knowledge, discovery, and opportunity opened up by these advances, there is every reason to believe that the work of humans will become considerably more interesting, challenging, and valuable.
As AI and cognitive solutions evolve in sophistication, companies must re-examine how they organize work, design jobs, and plan for future growth.
HR must lead by partnering with designers, strategists, and technologists to help design the future employee experiences that will power businesses over the next decade of advancement.