The development of new technologies is generating rapid changes in Human Resources.
It is clear that, as long as there is work, there will be Human Resources functions both in companies and in all types of organizations; that has not changed, and predictably will not. What is certain is that the irruption of new technologies is inevitably transforming this professional field, creating new needs and specialized functions that must be covered by innovative profiles.
To understand the impact that technological development is having on Human Resources, we spoke with Margarita Bravo Sanz, Director of the University Master’s Degree in Talent Selection and Management organized by the University of Malaga.
How new technologies are transforming Human Resources
In such a competitive environment as that of companies, where having profiles trained in the latest advances can make a difference, much attention is paid to the ways in which technology allows to simplify processes and streamline work.
Margarita Bravo directs one of the Masters that are committed to creating that updated profile of Human Resources professional: specialists who can make use of resources such as Machine Learning, Big Data, and others. This time we spoke with her to explain to us how this new wave of professionals is preparing.
How is the development of new technologies changing the recruitment process?
Technology transforms our life. We are also witnessing a process never before known regarding the continuity and speed of these changes. Digital technology is everywhere: mobile devices, expert systems, cognitive computing, or social networks in an interconnected world are good examples of this.
In my opinion, we still do not know where this “digital tsunami” is taking us but it is clear that it requires us to change work styles and procedures if we want to be competitive professionals. Professionals who ultimately have to contribute to improving people’s work experience.
The identification and selection of talent from the hand of robotics is here. Artificial intelligence and “Machine Learning” manage that talent saving time in recruitment and selection phases. The use of Chatbots to automate the recruitment process is also intensifying. And the use of specific software and data-based App, designed to work in teams, and used on mobile and social networks, are not left behind in this environment.
Today not only our CV is analyzed, but also our digital identity or the information that exists about us on the Internet, which is usually a lot. User networks are in turn a meeting place where companies pour their image and where they can interact directly with candidates or access professionals who are not actively seeking employment. We bear in mind that certain profiles such as those related to information and communication technology, the so-called IT, sometimes require different search and recruitment strategies because there is a great demand for their profile in the job market .
In short, we can assure that a transformation towards the digital world is underway in the field of Human Resources, although it must also be considered that these changes occur in an uneven way. There are many companies that, even being aware of the implications of the technological revolution, are not capable of reacting because they cannot or are not prepared and in this sense I am convinced that it is the Human Resources professionals who have to promote this transformation , since companies will only be innovative if they are capable of transforming with and for people.
In Human Resources, is it difficult to find a balance between the use of new technologies and human work?
As I pointed out before, Human Resources must play a key role in the transition to a new system based on transformation and technological development.
In my view, technology is still an instrument. Of course, a powerful instrument that changes our way of working, that provides speed, information, solutions, etc. and that it is going to leave many jobs in the gutter as we now understand them. However, digitization will not be possible without alienation from culture and talent.
The key must be to take advantage of those “human skills” and combine them with the best robots and automation techniques. A human will always add value to the vision of a machine. After all, organizations are groups of humans and the future will always depend on many subjective factors understood as a way of being, feeling, thinking and doing.
In the University Master’s Degree in Talent Selection and Management, among other things, Machine Learning is discussed. What exactly does it consist of?
Machine Learning (ML) is an area within the field of artificial intelligence (AI) that has been defined as the ability of machines to learn by themselves automatically. When we say learn we are referring to a computer that has access to massive amounts of data (Big Data); the data can come from different sources and be of different types: images, sounds, videos, texts … so that they can be stored digitally and can be incorporated into a learning algorithm.
From Big Data, the algorithm is capable of establishing behavior patterns and even making predictions about future trends of behavior in specific areas.
Machine Learnig employment is found in our day to day. Search engines like Google; voice assistants such as those incorporated in our mobiles: Siri or Alexa; social networks like Facebook or Twitter; recommenders that determine what we would like to see or buy: Spotify, Youtube … In turn, the ML is facilitating the way for medical diagnosis and personalized treatment based on particular health data of the subjects. We also find it in natural language processing (NLP), in smart cars and in Talent management. The list can go on and on.
Machine Learnig affects our lives and cannot be ignored personally or professionally. From the approach of continuous updating of contents that is part of the DNA of the Master in Talent Selection and Management, we consider that the training of the Human Resources psychologist must necessarily face the new scenarios that arise with modern technologies and the way in which that these are manifested in the labor market.
What kind of competitive advantages can companies have that have HR experts who master these new technologies?
Today’s organizations cannot afford to have HR professionals who do not lead current thinking practices.
A few days ago an article was published (El País, 12/25/2019) in which it is revealed how a University of Helsinki decides to launch a free AI course that has had an overwhelming response. It has been followed by more than 1% of Finnish citizens and by about 200,000 students from 110 different countries and will soon be translated into more languages. This gives us an idea of the importance of incorporating technological knowledge also to non-programming experts.
Human resources departments face a double challenge: on the one hand, to transform and digitize the activities of the department itself, and on the other, to lead the process of change towards a new work culture. In this work environment, the role of the psychologist as a specialist in human behavior and expert in intelligent software occupies a strategic and advantageous position that organizations must take advantage of if they intend to be competitive.
What are the aspects of Human Resources in which the development of new forms of software will never be able to achieve human performance?
Artificial intelligence is still in a development stage and there are still obstacles that can only be overcome thanks to the intervention of people. No one can guarantee that AI can do everything. Furthermore, if we do not place people at the center of technological development, the consequences can be dire.
Voices are being raised that warn about the need to control new forms of technology, because an algorithm can also be imperfect and potentially be as racist, sexist or prejudicial as the people who program it.
We are heading towards a society in which more and more elements of our life are going to be replaced by machines. I want to think that what none of them will be able to supply are deeply human values, those that have to do with interpersonal relationships and self-control.
Finally … which are the areas of Human Resources in which the most promising technologies are being developed and which cannot be used today?
In a few years we will be facing a completely new relational context in organizations. One of the great trends in Human Resources is being the active promotion of ecosystems and organizational networks with an “Agile mentality”, with the capacity to transform leadership models and enhance the participatory experience of employees. In this context, chatbots and conversational voice technologies advance at a very fast pace, but technological development is open in many ways, the development of “middlware” software that acts as bridges between data and applications, especially on the network, is unstoppable.
In sum, the convergence of robot and human in the field of action in Human Resources will continue to be unpredictable but also exciting.