Can a Bot Be Your Next HR Manager?

Can a Bot Be Your Next HR Manager?

October 18, 2016

Bots are a type of computer program that is used by websites and business. We have been seeing bots in many aspects of our lives, from medicine and transportation to how electricity is distributed.

While a chatbot program seems simple, it can do a huge variety of repetitive tasks quickly.

This in turn increases productivity and efficiency in any economy or businesses. With the speed of technological advancement and progress in coding of chatbot programs, could a chatbot become a key part of your HR management?

Digital HR

As a baseline benefit, the digital HR movement has made it possible for more and more of the daily and repetitive HR tasks to be automated. More work is being done to create bots to speed up these HR administrative tasks. There is already a bot named Wanda that is a digital assistant. Wanda can complete or alter paperwork like timesheets.

If you are worried about a chatbot becoming confused with a multiple step process like filing a request with different people, there is no worry. Many chatbot programs are designed to work with other programs or other bots to make the process run smoother.

A startup called Talla is working on chatbots designed to help new workers onboard and be more productive. The company uses advanced machine learning and natural language processing techniques to create software that is smarter than the average bot.

Talla recently launched a simple prototype bot for managing to-do lists on the workplace communications platform Slack. So far, about 600 companies have added the chatbot to their Slack channel and are using it.

Chatbots can motivate

Studies have found that a chatbot can be programmed to send immediate alerts if an employee is not reaching the numbers that were desired. This alert motivates the employee to stay engaged with their work.

On a positive motivation angle, a chatbot could be programmed to distribute just-in-time rewards to employees who achieve targets. An employee receives an earlier or longer break if an hourly sales target is achieved.

The HR AI … no ex-machina yet

Though the first chatbots were developed decades ago, an ongoing AI boom has renewed interest in them and kindled hope that a new generation of bots could be far more intelligent and useful. All sorts of companies are launching bots on platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp. The popularity of workplace chat systems like Slack means that more chatbots could soon find their way into many office spaces.

The future for a chatbot to be an HR manager is still a reasonably long way away though.

One challenge is ensuring that chatbots understand what people mean when they say something. There has been dramatic progress in many areas of AI of late, but language understanding remains a huge challenge. HR functions like recruiting, is a hard problem for machines.  Most models of language generation do not yet integrate everything humans know and do to be persuasive.

Aside from the technology, moral questions need to be considered. It is exciting to think and stretch our imaginations as to the possibilities for HR. As an example of the driverless bot, the bot make a bunch of quick decisions that can drastically reduce traffic fatalities. The bot improves the efficiency of a city’s transportation grid and helps solve carbon emissions.

However, what are the values that we are going to embed in the bots? There are many choices that you as a human have to make on the spur of the moment. If you are driving a car, you can swerve to avoid hitting a pedestrian. But, then you might hit a wall and kill yourself. What would the driverless bot do? It is a moral decision that a human being would make for him/herself. So, what would be programmed in the bot? Who would make that decision?

In addition, our flaws makes us human. Our kinks, our nuances create art or a new invention.

Humans learn from mistakes. So, we have to then assume that if a system is perfect, then it is static.

Part of what makes us who we are, is that we are dynamic. Our businesses are dynamic in order to grow as well. One of the challenges is where and when is it appropriate for us to have things work exactly the way they are supposed to, without the kinks and nuances that make for a dynamic organization?

 

About AKT View

At AKT, we pride ourselves in being technologically innovative and thought leaders. Our blog offers fresh ideas and insights on digital HR from our global experts, to help you keep ahead of the curve.

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