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Processes may become automated, but people are still important
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HYDERABAD, INDIA—Workplaces will have to adapt once businesses start using artificial intelligence (AI), attendees were told during a panel discussion April 20 at the SHRM India Tech '17 conference and exposition.
It won't be the first time employees' jobs have changed because of technological advances.
"There was a time when everybody thought that the job of a [bank] teller would probably go away because you would have ATMs and people wouldn't want to come to branches," said Gaurav Ahluwalia, managing director of human resources for the investment bank JP Morgan Chase in Mumbai, India.
"That really hasn't happened. That job is still there. It has been redefined in a different way, where that person is doing more than dispensing money," he said.
Ahluwalia spoke at the session "Artificial Intelligence: A Real or Perceived Challenger," with Rajiv Krishnan, partner and leader of people and organization services at advisory services firm EY in India, and Vijay Sharma, co-founder and CEO of Belong.co, a predictive analytics hiring firm in Bengaluru, India.
"At the end of the day, there is still discretion. There is still judgment. There is still empathy, which you really can't take away," Ahluwalia said. "So, while processes have been automated and simplified due to software use, the element of human interface is increasing rather than decreasing."
[SHRM members-only toolkit: Introduction to HR Technology]
People want human connections, the speakers said, adding that AI will likely enhance the need for better interaction between humans, as SHRM Online pointed out in an article about companies using "bots" to aid recruiting.
"HR leaders—we forget the candidate is also a customer. AI can help us … [with] personalization. We can delight candidates at scale," Ahluwalia said.
People will also have to develop new skills, like bank tellers did to adapt to the proliferation of ATMs. That didn't happen overnight, and the need for new skills isn't pressing—yet.
"The adoption of AI is pretty low in India," Krishnan pointed out. "Firms that have taken it up are either very high-tech or large global corporations. Change management will be required.
"We're assuming that these algorithms, as they get more and more perfect, will cause a sci-fi nightmare scenario and we think, 'What kind of damage will it create?' " instead of considering how it will help HR work smarter, he said.
So far, AI has been deployed mostly by recruiters, the experts said.
"There is an eagerness to use it for business applications but how do you really control that? I think that will be the bigger worry," Krishnan said.
There's room, Sharma said, for HR to use AI in other areas.
"I think that's something we're excited to solve and try."
SHRM's HR technology editor Aliah D. Wright is attending the SHRM India Tech '17 conference in Hyderabad. You can follow her coverage and insights on Twitter @1SHRMScribe and by following the conference hashtag, #SHRMTech17.
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