Decision intelligence platforms may be the next big data analytics trend to support HR leaders' efforts to improve employees' work experiences.
Decision intelligence platforms use cloud computing and artificial intelligence to leverage data science, social science and management methods to design, map, align and evaluate decision models and processes.
The appeal of using technology to assist with decision-making has grown in recent years. The pandemic ushered in new and unpredictable circumstances that forced many employers to make complex decisions. This period also saw an increase in automation and a further demand in artificial intelligence and cloud computing adoption, which are drivers of decision intelligence platforms.
During the pandemic, HR managers had to take action on many parts of the work life cycle, such as deciding if staff will work remotely or from the office, how many workers will be furloughed or laid off, how to handle vaccine mandates, what sign-on bonuses should be offered, and what salary rate will cushion the blow of inflation.
Now, investments in decision intelligence technology are on the rise. According to research and consulting firm Emergen Research, the global decision intelligence market size was pegged at $10.3 billion in 2020, and the market is expected to have a compound annual growth rate of 13.7 percent by 2030.
Research firm Gartner Inc. polled 132 IT leaders to examine the role of data and analytics in organizational decision-making. The survey found that 65 percent of respondents said the decisions they make are more complex than just two years ago, and 53 percent said they face more pressure to explain or justify their decisions.
Leading up to the end of 2019, companies were focused on very lean, efficient and effective processes. The pandemic shattered that.
"There were no supply chains, no availability, people could not move, people were sick, people had to wear masks. Suddenly, everything changed, and all these very effective, efficient processes just fell apart. Then they asked themselves, 'How can I reorganize?' Well, if you don't know how you make a decision, you can't modify that decision," observed Erick Brethenoux, distinguished VP analyst at Gartner.
For HR executives, the benefits of decision intelligence could be a game changer, he added.
For example, Brethenoux said, there are many factors a recruiter must consider when hiring a candidate, and there are many AI techniques that can be used to help clarify the decision-making process.
Recruiters will want their AI tools to use rule-based techniques to determine if candidates can work legally in the U.S. and if they have the proper visas or clearances to work in certain federal government jobs.
The recruiter can also use propensity modeling in machine learning to build predictive models that can forecast whether a candidate will accept a job based on their past behavior.
In the last stages of the hiring process, the employer can use optimization algorithms to evaluate the possibility of the candidate taking the job.
"Maybe it's going to be remote work and only a few days working in the office, maybe it's going to be an incentive, and maybe the incentive is not a monetary incentive, but it's to work on a pro bono project. The HR manager is going to have to tailor their offer to what the person is most likely going to accept," Brethenoux said.
The Business Case for Decision Intelligence
Not only has Gartner declared decision intelligence to be one of the top strategic technology trends for 2020, but the research firm also predicts that by 2023, one-third of large organizations will be using decision intelligence platforms for structured decision-making.
Companies such as FICO, Pyramid Analytics, Peak and Aera Technology have spent the last few years improving their decision intelligence platforms.
Fred Laluyaux, chief executive officer at Aera Technology, sees decision intelligence platforms as critical for employers who want to use the technology to capture information that helps them function effectively.
At a time when millions of employees are leaving their jobs month after month during the Great Resignation, Laluyaux said it is important to capture critical information that helps companies' operations, even when employees leave their jobs.
As an example, "if your job is to make sure that there is enough product on the shelf, you will learn over the years that when the price of gasoline crosses a certain threshold, consumer habits will change," Laluyaux said.
He added that customers may buy the same brand but less of the product, or they may buy a cheaper brand and still consume the same volume.
"All this knowledge is in people's heads, and when you have done the job for a long time, you can do a very good job at leveraging that knowledge to make decisions," he said.
What decision intelligence platforms are good at, Laluyaux noted, is building knowledge about a company's systems, which can be anything from how to procure raw materials for factories to how to optimize shipping mechanisms or processing data that give a clearer picture of how to work with vendors.
He added that when people leave their jobs every two years, it's harder to make the right decision if the company hasn't captured critical information that helps current employees gain insights, make predictions and ultimately make the right decisions.
"The impact of decision intelligence on the future of work is huge," he said. "You remove a lot of the inefficiency because it's data-driven, software-driven and it's all logic-driven. It analyzes the data in real time and it provides a better environment for the information worker."
Nicole Lewis is a freelance journalist based in Miami.