The future is very much here. For the longest time the businesses have flirted with the idea that technology might just be the answer to all of their problems - and now, as we venture into the age of artificial intelligence, they might just be right. Today, businesses have the opportunity to harness its ground-breaking technologies and gain a competitive advantage like never before.
One man who understands the power that AI can introduce to the workplace is David D’souza, CIPD’s Head of London and one of the foremost commentators on the subject of AI and its capacity to engage workforces in the search for talent.
Described by Workplace Insight magazine as "One of the UK’s most influential HR and workplace commentators,” David has curated two bestselling HR books as well as being a regular contributor to a number of HR publications.
Prior to joining the CIPD David worked as an independent Organisational Development Consultant, having held previous roles as Head of People Development at Metrobank and in various HR roles for an international FS firm.
Putting that experience to good use, he shares with us his thoughts on the current state of AI and how the future is shaping up:
What experience will you bring to the panel and why should guests take note?
I've been working in HR for almost all of my career and have been lucky enough to end up in positions that allow me to speak with different business and functional leaders about the future of work.
I’m in the trenches, soI know the day-to-day experience and challenges people encounter, as well as understanding the potential for technology to transform the business landscape and beyond.
At this point in time I'm more interested in the questions than the answers, so I'd like people to leave thinking harder about the challenges ahead, rather than thinking that I know the answers.
What are some of the main points you'd like to get across at the event?
I think the key point I'd like to get across is that we have some degree of choice and we have a duty to make those choices with care and a sense of accountability. Technology will fundamentally change work and education over the coming years - but it will only have a negative impact if we fail to think and act responsibly. We have access to tools that will change the world, but it is up to us to shape and guide what those changes may be.
I'll be talking about the Jurassic Park Problem 'just because you can doesn't mean you should'.
What are some of the pros and cons associated with AI technology in the HR sector?
The pros are that it should make information more accessible and give us, as the technology develops further, a far more strategic and evidence based approach to our work.
The cons are that it could easily lead to organisations thinking lazily about what the HR function is there to do and reducing investment as traditional HR tasks are automated.
The key is to using technology to replace rather than augment our work - to free us up to add more significant value - and to do that we need to be leading the business case and helping scope the implementation strategy. We need to not let the opportunities blind us to the risk, whilst not letting the risk blind us to the opportunities
How do you see AI impacting HR in the future and what could that mean for businesses?
There are applications throughout the lifecycle. From improving diversity of hire to creating bespoke curated learning journeys that provide a more personalised on demand experience for people as they progress their careers. For businesses it means they have an opportunity to make improvements that will improve productivity, efficiency and creativity.
The challenge is making sure that a greater availability of numbers does not mean people are simply reduced to numbers. We all lose if that happens.
How will AI affect recruiters?
There are aspects of recruiting that are ripe for improvement - reduction of bias and candidate contact are two of the key ones. Recruitment will be impacted in different sectors and at different levels of seniority in different ways, but I think one thing that is clear is that technology will play an ever more integral part in terms of efficiency, likelihood of making the right selection decision and also reviewing the success of previous hires to improve the process for future decisions.
In what ways will AI help engage the workforce?
One of the areas AI can really help with is making a more fluid employee experience that is based around and supports the individual. Whether it is helping orientate a new starter with the company culture, flagging up information for people that is relevant to their current work or simply advising people to remember to book holidaythere are a myriad of use cases for technology that can help us bridge known gaps.
Internal communication is key and it's easy to imagine communication becoming more bespoke - with one message translated into multiple forms depending on the seniority and length of service of the recipients.
The opportunities are boundless.
The ‘AI - The Future of Talent’ event will be held at the LinkedIn offices in London on Thursday 18 May 2017.