Chief Human Resources Officer

North American Partner for IBM Global Business Services, Talent, and Engagement KickOff Roundtable Discussions on Using AI to Achieve a Consumer-grade Employee Experience

Duke Daehling, North American Partner for IBM Global Business Services, Talent, and Engagement, defined how HR can balance the human with the automated to the best business advantage.

Daehling introduced a session of roundtable discussions at the 2018 CHRO Leadership Forum held in San Francisco on November 7 by talking about IBM’s HR transformation and giving examples of how the company delivers employee-centric experiences.

“Transformation, to us, means a holistic shift in value. We set a new vision five years ago, when our CEO, Ginni Rometty, said, ‘We’re going to be a software and services, cognitive, AI, data-led organization.’ The problem was, at that time, IBM sold hardware. So, major transformation was necessary, which required a whole new strategy. We’ve created a $38-billion business over the last five years that didn’t exist before that. That’s transformation, and talent is at the center of this,” stated Daehling.

“The next consideration was how to create skills to convert on that strategy. We came up with a list of the 10 top-demand skills the company needed to help us accomplish this conversion. We had zero of them five years ago, and now the majority of our people have eight of those 10 hot skills,” he said.

Daehling noted that some 650 of IBM’s 1800 top-three bands of leaders are from the outside. “This changed how we lead, work, and inspire. We also changed our culture. Our engagement scores rose by 22%, and we’re growing and profitable in new ways,” he said.

Regarding the role of AI, Daehling stated that, in the last few years, IBM has deployed about 36 different apps that are AI, machine-learning/deep-learning inspired to help the organization attract, engage, retain, develop, grow, deploy, and serve. “Ginni Rometty said in February 2018 that $100 million of value has come out of our talent-centric, AI-powered HR department. Speed is a new competence in HR,” he noted, “and the consumer-grade employee experience has this as its benchmark: A customer’s last best experience becomes the minimum expectation for the next experience. Best experiences include choices and are transparent, fast, and easy.”

Daehling continued, “Disruption is everywhere—in business, in experience, and in talent. We need to keep in mind that change has never been so fast as it is today, but it will never be this slow again. The biggest change is around the experience expectations of your employees. These days, food finds us, movies find us, and cars find us, so we ask why this can’t happen with talent platforms and talent experience. We’re finding that the organizations that are leading in the talent space are moving from a resource-driven model to a platform-driven model, stripping out high-volume, low-value, transactional administration, and creating platforms that get you on the curve and allow you to stay there. This means moving from a slow, multi-step, manual process to a fast, seamless, automated process. The organizations that are doing this best are talent-centric and AI-powered,” he said.

In summary Daehling stated that, in the HR world, we should allow humans to do things that they’re uniquely qualified to do because of uniquely human traits—such as creativity, common sense, compassion—and automate the tasks machines can do better and at scale more quickly.

Daehling then asked the roundtables to discuss any or all of the following questions:

  • Is your team currently working with emerging technologies such as AI within the Human Resources function?
  • Are ethics in AI an important topic of discussion? If not now, will it become one?
  • Are there challenges in implementing AI, and is this something that’s top-of-mind for Human Resources leaders?
  • What implications will this have across organizations, such as in branding and legal?
  • Who’s investing in the employee experience, and what are the outcomes of that investment?
    • Is switching to an agile organization and recruiting approach an important step or something that a lot of organizations should be considering?
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