AI can be used to free up staff to focus on the softer skills that machines can’t replicate

You could say we’ve entered a golden age of computers, where the sheer volume of data and vastly improved computing power have created the perfect conditions for developing artificial intelligence.

What does the rapid growth of AI mean for HR? In short, it’s squeezing the profession on both sides. It’s not just the industries it supports – from banking and professional services to legal and marketing  – where jobs are being lost to automation, it’s also happening within HR itself.

It’s easy to be alarmed but the disruptive power of AI has many benefits too, such as cutting out the drudgery of routine tasks in favour of more valuable, human-facing activities. In our research, we’ve identified no less than 28 uses and 300 AI-based products that can be applied across the employee lifecycle. We found that hiring tools, which are offered by more than 100 vendors, are the single biggest area for the deployment of AI. 

As recruitment is rule-based, high-impact and, at times, laborious, it’s a perfect fit with AI, which is adept at solving rule-based problems. A great example is video interview analysis, which, CognitionX research shows, is currently used by around 600 firms to screen job applicants. What brands from Hilton to Mercedes-Benz have learned is that machines can do the heavy-lifting by scrutinising interviewees for them. Candidates’ text and writing style can be examined in increasingly sophisticated ways too.

AI is not without its risks and responsible companies must ensure the tools they use are based on reliable, unbiased data. Using only existing staff as a yardstick for your next hire can be dangerous. If an algorithm learns from the same, unvaried source material, it will deliver the same, uniform candidates again and again.

Ultimately, as the amount of AI solutions continues to grow, it’ll pay to stay ahead of the curve. Those who do, and deploy AI in a measured, responsible way, will be able to increase the capacity of existing staff by freeing them from the shackles of paperwork. This will enable them to focus on the softer skills that AI can’t emulate, like empathy, which ultimately will put you in the best stead to win in an increasingly man/woman and machine age.  

Goldstaub is a co-founder of CognitionX

This article was originally published in Work. magazine, Spring 2018.