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Human resources technology — leveraged by nearly every organization in some capacity — is changing rapidly, thanks to technological advancement in artificial intelligence (AI), semantic matching capabilities, and people analytics. As Josh Bersin noted in Deloitte’s recent Perspective report, the number of organizations using people data to predict business performance has increased by 29 percent from 2015 to 2016. The percentage of companies employing predictive modeling has almost doubled over the past three years, and access to people data is having a profound effect on the way we experience work and how companies hire and retain top talent.

SaaS and mobile applications that leverage people data can improve the employee experience and streamline hiring, onboarding, and training processes. In the HR industry, organizations are leveraging people analytics, automation, and AI to better the employee experience and make more strategic hires and overall business decisions. Technology is being used to recruit, retain, and transition employees more efficiently and effectively. In the future, AI and technology will continue to improve our ability to create a cohesive company culture and employer brand through our ability to identify talent and design customized workplace experiences to meet individual needs.

While automation may lead to fewer jobs in some areas — Forrester Research predicts AI will replace 16 percent of American jobs by the end of the decade – I think technology’s greatest impact will be its influence on the types of jobs people will perform in the future and how current jobs evolve to require some level of technological understanding. Instead of focusing on technology as a predictor of job loss, employers must prepare for the future by determining what training and skills employees will need to optimize the benefits of better technology.

Recruiting is getting smarter

The most visible aspect of the disruptive nature of technology is the change in how companies are identifying, recruiting, and hiring employees. Most notably, IBM recently introduced IRIS by Watson, part of the Watson suite of tools. It uses machine learning to rank the priority and complexity of jobs and help recruiters prioritize the most difficult to fill positions first. The system doesn’t replace recruiters, but helps ensure they are focusing their efforts in the right areas at the right time.

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The Watson suite includes a sourcing tool and gives a fit score to prospective employees based on their cover letter, resume, history, time between jobs, and other factors. The tool allows talent teams to quickly narrow the candidate pool to a manageable number of top prospects.

Other tools in this space are using AI technology to conduct background checks based on machine learning data to predict multiple attributes of a potential employee. These types of background checks will augment the traditional background checks.

As companies focus more on providing a superior employee experience, they are focusing their efforts on making sure the employees they hire are a good fit for the company culture. AI applications help companies gather and compile information from work samples, social media posts, and even word choice to understand personality traits and match potential employees to company values. Good&Co, which was recently acquired by Stepstone, matches a candidate’s personality against their peers and high performers in the company to determine whether they’d be a fit, long before the interview takes place. Similarly, the vendor Entelo reaches out to a network of technical and design candidates and intelligently scores them based on their social interactions on professional websites. These companies, and many others, are gathering information from sources other than just the resume and cover letter.

The increase in the virtual workforce has given rise to more video interviews and opportunities for companies to further scrutinize potential employees’ facial expressions and micro expressions using AI applications to determine personal attributes, prejudices, and engagement.

Leveraging AI to improve the employee experience

Once companies have identified suitable employees for job openings, advanced technology can help create custom learning plans for individual employees. Learning management systems, combined with AI, determine a path for professional development based on existing skills, knowledge, additional skills required to do the job, and employee interests to provide a professional development program that both meets the business goals of the company and the personal goals of the employee. Axonify, for example, leverages people data to offer “micro-learning” opportunities individualized for the employee’s specific interests and attention span. Using various sources of data about an employee, AI can make predictions about the level of employee engagement and make suggestions based on the factors that will make the biggest difference for a particular employee.

When partnered with personal contact with the HR department and members of management, technology can improve a range of employee processes and needs, including career and job transitions. Instead of replacing the need for employee reviews, technology applications can help guide employees and their managers through meaningful assessment exercises that lead to more targeted and productive conversations.

Similarly, technological solutions, whether offered internally or through an outplacement provider, can make internal job search, job recommendations, internal interviews, and employee moves easier and with success rates not available through most internal programs. For example, RiseSmart provides companies with a complete system of record for real-time outplacement and performance tracking and analysis while giving employees the advanced technology they need to effectively identify and land jobs that match their individual preferences — technology and solutions previously not available in the outplacement industry.

A combination of technology and personalized services can make a layoff, restructuring, or department resizing less costly and damaging to a company’s brand — and to the affected employees. In today’s job market, organizations can’t simply eliminate their workforce without financial, legal, and social consequences. Outplacement and redeployment solutions that include the technology to track and manage employee transition rates and alumni sentiment is becoming invaluable for companies hoping to protect the employer brand.

In addition, employees expect a certain level of technological capability and the ability to manage their own time and career transition trajectory. Outplacement solutions that improve time-to-land efficiency rely on a technological component to enhance and supplement the personalized services commonly associated with employee departure solutions.

While the HR market will continue to evolve thanks to technological advances, using AI and people analytics wisely can undoubtedly improve recruiting efforts and the employee experience.

Sanjay Sathe is the CEO of RiseSmart, an outplacement company.

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