Automation and artificial intelligence can be powerful tools for business. We’ve been lucky enough to catch a few debates on this topic recently and it’s left us wondering whether it’s a help or a hindrance in the people management space. In particular, we’ve heard some really thought-provoking points around the morality of using artificially intelligent technology to help us make decisions in business.
Where are we now?
AI and automation is happening all around us. Whether you’re aware of it or not, your life is most probably touched by artificial intelligence in some way; Alexa, Siri, Netflix, Amazon, Tesla are all examples of products that include a form of AI.
While AI is becoming more embedded in our everyday lives, in the business world, commercially available solutions seem to be more in their infancy. When we talk about AI within business, or AI for HR, we’re looking at solutions for things like recruitment, training, and understanding data.
Where might we go?
The media often leads us to believe machines will become more intelligent than humans, being able to control cognitive and creative tasks alike. The idea of robots taking our jobs is a real concern for many, but realistically, AI is most likely going to take care of the ‘grunt’ work for us – the more routine, mundane tasks – freeing HR teams to be more strategic in their work.
Take recruitment as an example. There are a number of AI chatbots in the market that can do the initial candidate screening and even schedule interviews, allowing the humans to invest more time and resource on candidates who are most likely to succeed.
In its current capacity, and with future developments, artificially intelligent technology also provides us with the opportunity to learn more about ourselves, our teams, and our businesses. By helping us analyse and understand data better than ever before, AI can help us make more robust and informed decisions. And perhaps this is where we need to exercise the most caution.
How do we mitigate risks?
Where AI is used to help decision making, we need to be aware of who is actually making the decisions. By this we mean, making sure human values are brought in and that we are not entirely reliant on data. AI should be used as an enabler, empowering the HR team and the business; so that the ultimate choice remains with the human, and not the machine.
HR’s role also needs to focus on organisation design when it comes to AI. It’s about replacing tasks or making them easier. The real power of AI lies in freeing people to do other tasks, allowing them time to learn new skills that become more important as the business changes and develops.
The final area to be mindful of is communication. When a business decides to implement something like an AI technology, it’s important to communicate clearly about what it is, how it will help the business, and how it can help an individual in their role. Focusing on these benefits will help to reduce any of those potential concerns employees might have around losing their jobs to technology.
There will always be people for and against using artificial intelligence in business. But there is a place for it and it has huge potential for driving efficiency and allowing us to make more informed decisions. As long as we don’t lose the human input, of course.