Dr. Tirath Virdee, Director of Artificial Intelligence, Capita Plc
We recently launched our thought leadership campaign “Human to Hybrid: The next workforce frontier” with the thesis that there is a new dynamic where humans will work in a fully digitised and technologically optimised environment, and increasingly work alongside robots and AI, over the next ten years. The research can be found at https://content.capitapeoplesolutions.co.uk/insights/wp-human-to-hybrid. The conclusion is that we are getting more connected and that we will make more use of technologies around data to make better smarter decisions.
The whole employee life-cycle will be disrupted by the implementation of digital identity in the form that can be realised using blockchain technology - be it private, federated or public. The current procedure to hire and onboard a recruit is lengthy. From conducting the interviews and checking qualifications to validating work backgrounds and gathering references– it all takes time. The possible uses of blockchain include: verifying and validating the skills and education of recruits; enabling a trusted record of upskilling and workplace performance, enhancing cybersecurity and fraud prevention; and managing secure and instant payments to employees. Many companies will use the blockchain as the fabric of their processes. Establishing a digital identity will have an impact on the entire hire-to-retire lifecycle. The push for hyper- and super-convergence of many processes and services in the cloud will require that AI and blockchain be intertwined inextricably.
In terms of AI, start with the recruitment process, for example. Knowledge mining coupled with voice and text analytics will enable us to automate the selection of CVs, sift through them and convolute them with legitimate content collected from social and professional media, apply psychometric profiles, rate candidates and match them to available positions, with the certainty of clearing all the hurdles to on-boarding. Many of the aspects of face-to-face interviews will be de-prejudiced and automated; this is because the AI-based system can learn from its mistakes and correct them much more quickly than humans can. With humans it is cultural; with AI it is based on the realities of the data.
It may sound fanciful, but we are already working on many pieces of this jigsaw. Companies like Unilever are experimenting with social media, online games and AI to further digitalise their recruitment process. Admittedly, we will still have a face-to-face interview with candidates but, in many cases, it will be interviewers who will be under scrutiny for their biases; the cam analytics will be about both sides of the table.
The on-boarding process will be greatly enhanced by chatbots that evolve and learn from their interactions with recruits and employees. Cisco, for example, organizes hackathons to build new HR products for on-boarding new employees and answering HR related questions from employees. Chatbots will be able to answer almost all generic and mundane questions related to policies, benefits, pensions, insurance, healthcare, and everything else besides. This will leave HR free to do the human things: sorting out grievances, enhancing talent and nurturing people.
Working in the background, AI will monitor data in the company’s ether, checking signs (through workplace analytics and all the data exchanging between the various digital task assistants) for heartbeat flutters and perturbations by complementing it with big data. It will be possible to predict when an employee is about to start looking for another job, perhaps, or whether an employee is in the outliers of performance and productivity norms. It is entirely possible that the HR systems will be able to tell when someone’s health has deteriorated, perhaps even before they realise it themselves.
HR is going to go through a disruptive (and possibly a constructive) transformation in which all employees have a digital passport based around mathematically-guaranteed identity and security, and this enables it to connect to all the devices and processes available in the hybrid workplace, making it much more meritocratic and fairer.