We’re more machine now than man: HR and the digital journey

2 minute read

Recruitment, learning and employee engagement are the main focus of digitisation in human resources, according to a report by HR Exchange Network

Sian Harrington

Man and machine

Recruitment is the HR artificial intelligence (AI) technology of choice in organisations with more than 1,000 employees but it is suppliers of e-learning technologies that will make hay in 2018.

While nearly a fifth of HR and talent professionals with direct influence on their organisation’s budget plan to invest in AI in the next year, 45% plan to spend on e-learning. With a quarter also planning to invest in learning management systems, learning appears to be the overall winning HR technology when it comes to digital transformation.

2018 HR technology investment

Video, mobile and social learning are most likely to be utilised by respondents to an HR Exchange Network survey. Mason Stevenson, editor at HR Exchange Network and author of the report Disruptive tech transformations: human resources and the digital journey, says learning is now the key differentiator for the most important companies in the world.

Only 14.5% are using AI in their learning, however. This technology is more likely to be used in recruitment, talent management and rewards and recognition. But nearly 68% of HR and talent professionals are not using AI at all. The report suggests that the combination of AI with virtual reality (VR) may increase it use in learning.

AI technologies

‘With the addition of AI, which is going to come fast and going to evolve very quickly, we can imagine a world where you have a character that is entirely powered by a computer... essentially a VR robot that understands what you’re saying and can respond accordingly,” says Pinky Gonzales, director of VR and online learning at Industrial Training International.

UPS uses VR technology to train drivers long before they step foot in an actual truck. Meanwhile, Walmart puts new associates in training scenarios, allowing them to experience situations they will most likely encounter. One of those includes a training simulation for Black Friday.

Learning technologies

Overall, nearly 80% of respondents said working practices within their organisation had been impacted by the digital transformation. Technology infrastructure (53%) and data application (51%) have also been affected.

 “People are engaged more with their devices than ever before. Smartphones, tablets and laptops are extensions of who we are. In some ways, we’re more machine now than man,” says Stevenson.

“HR professionals are right in the thick of it as c-suite leaders push toward a digital transformation. Digital transformation is the process by which a company moves from a paper world to an electronic world and now it’s a necessity. Companies have to make the change in order to stay ahead of, or at least with, competitors. We’re talking about the changes in working processes, technology infrastructure, employee skills, and the application of data.”

Jaclyn Lee, senior director HR and head of HR technology and analytics at Singapore University of Technology and Design, adds: “The future of work is becoming more agile and responsive with purpose built networks and new employment relationships evolving. digital disruptions and social networking are altering how organisations hire, manage and support people, and technologies are changing the way companies operate.”

There is no let-up in the popularity of the employee engagement survey, with nearly 71% of respondents using technology here to engage with employees. Employer branding is also becoming more important to organisations, with 71% of respondents saying it is very important.

Employee engagement technologies

There is some reassurance for employees concerned about the impact of all this technology on their jobs. As Larry Brand, chief human resources officer at Elkay Manufacturing says: “There’d have to be some type of really epic game changing type of technology, at least in our company, where we’d actually send good employees out the door. We would repurpose them and figure out how to manage that through attrition.”

There’d have to be some type of really epic game changing type of technology at least in our company where we’d actually send good employees out the door

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