Art And Science
By Kathleen Yu | With AI being the next big buzzword that is set to change almost every industry, in all the hype it can be easy to be swept away about what it promises to do – predicting future behaviour based on past actions, optimizing incentives and learning paths for staff, or even automating tasks like setting interviews. Especially when using AI in people management, many leaders have been eager to create their own algorithms, only to see their projects fail to deliver.
At Rumarocket, we are at the forefront of developing AI to empower people and management decisions. Being in the trenches has shown us that an AI people analytics project cannot be treated as another tech project. It is a marriage between the art of human empathy and the science of data driven decisions.
Know Why You Need AI Too many leaders of large companies fall into the trap of wanting an AI just because it’s the latest technology. Many startups also spent resources to build an AI because it’s cool or marketable, when there’s an easier or cheaper solution available.
Understanding the business problem and how it affects the top or bottom-line is always the first step. This is particularly challenging for people managers, as most are not used to associating their decision with hard business numbers. However, this is essential as implementing an AI requires the support of many in the organization.
For example, recruitment is seen typically as an administrative function, but it is actually a strategic business function that can benefit sales, HR and even operations.
Business case: Recent new hires have not been meeting sales targets. We need a predictive algorithm to predict which job applicant will sell more before that person is hired.
The AI we implemented resulted in selecting sales staff that sold more in less time, benefiting everyone from Sales to HR Managers.
Leverage How AI Complements Humans There is an ongoing debate between proponents who say AI will be the solution to all problems and those who purport that human intuition can never be replaced by AI. At Rumarocket, we realized that our most successful projects usually leverage the merits of both to develop something better than each individually.
Top leaders with years of experience usually have amazing insights on how to incentivize and motivate staff to do their best and stay with the company.
However, the most common frustration among these exceptional leaders is that they cannot be everywhere at all times to look into each individual challenge, plus their experience is not scalable and is minimally replicable.
For one project, we created an AI using Neural Networks to predict if an employee is about to resign by combing through thousands of data points to identify behaviour patterns in employees.
While the insight of who is about to leave is interesting, it doesn’t answer what actions need to be taken to retain the employee. That’s where we leveraged top leaders, with years of experience in that organization.
Using the AI to identify the most common patterns of staff about to leave, we asked the top leaders what they would do. These recommendations are forming a library of resources that less-experienced managers all around the world can utilize. The algorithm also records the effects of each recommendation on retention and learns from it.
What Humans Need To Do The biggest misconception about using AI in people management is that it is like any plug-and-play software. When our AI managed to identify sales applicants that sold more products in less time, many of our client’s recruiters were distraught, fearing that our AI was going to take their jobs.
After sitting down with these recruiters, we realized they were not taking full advantage of the system. With an AI that can predict and evaluate the success of a candidate, the role of the recruiter has evolved from judging applicants (which humans are historically bad at) to a role that focuses on empathizing with the dreams and working aspirations of the applicant and selling how the company can help them achieve those dreams.
With this change, recruiters are now focusing on greater value-adding activities such as developing employer branding strategies, or using human empathy to create attractive packages to entice high-value applicants into joining the company.
About The Author Kathleen Yu is the Founder and CEO of Rumarocket in the Philippines and a leading authority in Artificial Intelligence for people management in Southeast Asia. She has impacted multinational corporations spanning four different regions, helping them implement successful AI projects. She is also the recipient of the outstanding ASEAN women entrepreneur award 2017. And she builds robots in her free time.