HR Tech is a part of Digital Transformation | Interview with Albert Loyola, HR Tech Consultant | Part 1
Technology itself is not going to be the “panacea” and solve problems and bring solutions by itself
1. Alberto, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to HRTechnation.com and share your ideas and visions with us!
What in your past career prepared you for what you are doing today? And what makes you unique in this landscape?
I started my career working for a consumer goods global organization where I supported business transformation and portfolio integration by leading change and rolling out the talent capability agenda. Then, I worked in the Oil & Gas having the chance to support M&A by designing talent and HR strategies where I led teams in the Middle East, North America, Latin America and Asia Pacific. I partnered with consulting companies to implement change strategy, HR tech, competency models and employee experience. All these experiences allowed me to create my own HR technology and artificial intelligence practice to work with clients to address their future workforce needs and lead change in the face of digital transformation. Having a global and multi-industry background my consulting practice focused on designing the roadmap that HR and organizations need to lead change in the age of technology and artificial intelligence
2. You’ve been advising to companies on transformation for quite a long time. What is the difference between your recommendations several years ago and now. For example, changes are taking place so quickly, how can anyone have a 5-year plan? How do you know one which technology to invest top $$$ when real AI isn’t here yet and will be soon? (Why not wait for example..)
In the past, organizational transformations faced a different business environment. Enterprises for the most part were static machines—big and efficient but slow and complex to drive direction to make fast decisions to design solutions to meet customer needs. Furthermore, innovation was a capability that was focus on specific task-force teams or functions but not implemented as part of the DNA of organization nor as a competitive advantage. Now we face an extremely volatile environment where technology is changing business models and changing the way we work while at the same time assisting business leaders to make better-informed decisions (analyzing a vast amount of data and search for patterns) to create customer experiences while boosting sustainable growth.
Managing change is a capability that organizations need to embrace to face digital transformation. Long-term planning must be shifted due to the rate of change around the world of work. Moreover, organizations need to develop a culture with the ability to succeed by responding more effectively and more efficiently than their competitors
Technology itself is not going to be the “panacea” and solve problems and bring solutions by itself. Technology needs to be monitored and trained. Furthermore, technology capabilities need to have a strong link with operating models, strategy, culture and capabilities.
Agile principles and innovation will play critical roles to create nimble organizations to develop new product and services. So, what’s the message: Change is happening faster and the larger the organization (in most cases) the longer it takes and the harder it becomes to adapt to change. Agility is critical to face the future of work and support business strategy
In order to identify which technology is the right for your organization, I would say first that technology itself is not going to be the “panacea” and solve problems and bring solutions by itself. Technology needs to be monitored and trained. Furthermore, technology capabilities need to have a strong link with operating models, strategy, culture and capabilities. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is till in early stages so organizations need to test and learn in the process how AI technologies will support business strategy, employee and customer experience
The IT function is the largest adopted of AI related to “machine-machine” transactions and some early adopters are bringing Artificial Intelligence in the workplace
3. And on that same note – the HR Tech applications market is inundated with over 20,000 applications to choose from – When you recommend changing an ATS in a company, for example, how do you know what to recommend – An ATS that has a chatbot embedded in it? or perhaps build one in-house? Or perhaps buy a third party chatbot to integrate with the existing ATS? How do you know on which of the dozens of “candidate experience” applications, for example, to recommend? They all basically do the same thing in different ways…Should they demo all of them? How to go about it?
One thing is clear: Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics process automation (RPA) and machine learning are changing the face of HR bringing cognitive technologies that will transform the candidate experience and leverage talent acquisition efficiency and effectiveness.
AI can help eliminate repetitive tasks, accelerate the search for talent, transform the employee experience and provide people-related data to support business growth and innovation.
Machine learning and Chatbots will simulate human behavior to redesign HR delivery models and value propositions. AI reacts faster in reviewing and processing data that might otherwise take many hours if performed by employees or be neglected entirely. Machines can provide services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, making HR agiler while supporting talent acquisition and allowing HR business partners to speedup HR transactional work.
However, chatbots are not designed to replace Humans. Instead, a key contribution of chatbots is the ability to process multiple data sources (including your ATS system) to find and assess candidates’ qualifications, make recommendations and provide shortlist potential candidates that fit best for the role. This is a great advantage since it allows to speed-up activities, create consistency and effectiveness in talent acquisition.
AI means making an investment and assessing team skills, job design, processes, and structure to design and implement an AI Technology strategy. This process starts with an HR-Technology capability map assessment to identify which processes will need to be transformed or enhanced with AI. However, before thinking to use AI to enhance HR and talent acquisition, organizations need to build the HR technology foundation. An ATS system is the first step to set up the basics and let talent acquisitions teams to be more effective creating candidate pipelines, talent communities and fill positions more quickly. And yes, part of the process is the experimentation so Demos are a way to learn about vendor’s services and capabilities
Before thinking to use AI to enhance HR and talent acquisition, organizations need to build the HR technology foundation. An ATS system is the first step to set up the basics and let talent acquisitions teams to be more effective creating candidate pipelines, talent communities and fill positions more quickly.
When we talk about chatbots we have to be clear that right now there are dozens of chatbots providers that can be integrated to your ATS system. I am not aware that ATS vendors have chatbot capabilities embedded their systems. However, the main point here is to make sure that HR has a clear picture how chatbots’ capabilities are going to support practices and deliver solutions. It depends on companies’ capabilities to define whether they design their own chatbots or work with one of the vendors available in the market.
4. What do you find is the greatest pain for HR in companies this day in age?
The main challenge for HR is that the majority of HR processes related to workforce planning, compensation (merit increase), performance appraisals, engagement surveys, talent assessment and succession planning are designed on a year basis. Many HR functions still operate like in the 90’s where talent practices cannot meet speed to market, technology, customer demands and a digital world that is creating a very dynamic market environment. They are more than an operational-executor parent within strategic approach to business
Planning was the core of Human Resources in the last 30 years. HR functions need to start moving away from a rules-and planning-based approach toward a simpler and faster model driven by feedback, network of teams and a culture of agility. Furthermore, innovation was a capability that was focus on specific task force teams or functions but not implemented as part of the DNA of organizations nor as a competitive advantage. In this scenario, HR role was just transactional and in the best scenario a business partner but focused on internal processes not on customer experience
HR needs to respond and become in a “business advisor function” to facilitate digital transformation and support the implementation of nimble methods that enable a customer experience that drives long-term growth. Moreover, people analytics, technology, and customer- centric cultures are allowing organizations to move from hierarchy structure to network organizations where decisions are made by cross-functional teams (accountable for the results) , interactive feedback, task-centered “sprints” and a culture that rewards innovation, decision-making and empowerment. HR have the opportunity to make the difference and design talent practices with market and customer mindset-approach
5. Companies undergoing digital transformation changes, especially in HR, what do you believe are the top 3 best practices you can mention to make this a successful transition?
AI HR Framework
HR will be augmented with AI technology that can deliver and enhance better candidate and employee experience. CHROs and senior HR leaders need to create an HR framework to develop an AI strategy for HR. That strategy should have a clear outcome: support innovation capabilities and use agile practices to reflect and support the new era of “speed” results and business models. Lastly, keep in mind that we are not replacing the human component in HR, HR is adapting to this fourth industrial revolution, where customers, clients, and candidates are connected with one click.
AI can provide support in HR transactional work related to talent acquisition, onboarding, training, performance and general HR administrative activities. This allows HR teams to focus on processes or practices that generate more value to people and the organization as a whole. Lastly, AI for HR can be used for more than just answering questions via chatbots—chatbots can be used to gather employee data to make more informed decisions and create more efficient processes that provide clear insights into the business.
HR Empowered by Design-Thinking
Innovation is a capability that HR needs to develop to adapt in a fast-pace environment where solutions need to be designed from the outside-in understanding customer and internal clients’ needs. This implies that HR needs to think and act differently. HR teams need to create an initial agenda, participants must work in cross-functional teams (using design thinking) to looked at areas where HR could change drastically in tangible, practical ways, such as with recruiting, onboarding learning and development, and workplace design.
Design Thinking can be applied to every aspect of HR , for example, the candidate experience can bring different expectations from the candidate perspective. Candidates are looking for an enjoyable application and interviewing process, access to learn about the company and clear communications about status and next steps. If hired, the onboarding, instead of provide general information about the company in 1 day, create an experience where technology (artificial intelligence is bringing a whole set of tools for HR) leverage onboarding activities to make sure the candidate has access to agenda, responsibilities and process-guidance.
We are entering the age of Agile so the focus for HR should be on delivering customer engagement and satisfaction, working in small teams (7-10) in short cycles, minimizing micromanagement and networked organizational arrangements rather than top-down bureaucracy and silos to solve complex problems. HR need to capitalize agile’s potential to help organizations to win in a very dynamic market environment.
HR teams need to understand, and be trained, what qualities are required to support an agile way of working, learn about agile methodologies and their impact in organizations (benchmark). In addition, to build an agile HR, HR need to embrace the same Agile principles as the business while acquiring new skills, top talent, more IT expertise and deeper knowledge about teams and network organizations
Lastly, HR needs to partner with IT, marketing and key business function to set up an initial plan and start with one practice on the time- it’s a long-term commitment- building it up practice by practice.
….Continue to read Part 2.
Alberto Loyola is Managing Partner with Ignite Organizations, a talent and organization consulting firm. He serves as a trusted advisor to leadership teams on future workforce strategy, HR technology capabilities and integrated talent and HR solutions, he enables clients to address their future workforce needs and lead change in the face of digital transformation.
Alberto is a People Technology Advisor & Speaker on the Future of Work, Employee Experience, Design Thinking and Artificial Intelligence in HR. His work has been featured on different business and HR tech magazines. Alberto holds a Master Degree from Cornell University, in Human Resources
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