By: Alexandra Pascu

For the majority of human resource professionals (HR), Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the white elephant in the room. We’ve heard about it, some might have even researched and read about it; yet we seem to be reserved when it comes to voicing thoughts, fears and, maybe even the opportunities, that we foresee for HR in the era of AI

Truth is, whether we like it or not the era has already started. AI is here to stay and it is going to make a big impact. Will AI take over our jobs?, will it enhance or replace the human element in HR? Shall we talk about it, or ignore it for the moment? These are all legitimate questions to ask, and there’s no better time to start considering our options than today.

To start with: What is AI?

Let’s start by agreeing what we define as AI. To put it simply, AI is the ability of a computer program or machine to think and learn from experience and perform human like tasks, pretty much being “trained” to behave like a human. You might be surprised to find out that you are already using AI in your everyday life. If you’re an iPhone user, you might have already asked Siri various questions, such as “Where’s the closest Starbucks coffeeshop?” and you would have received an instant answer. Video gaming is another common example and the list is growing longer every day with self-driven cars and personalized ads that show up on social media.

AI is estimated to impact all business practices by 2020. That’s only two years away, and up until now HR has been relatively slow in welcoming AI. However, we are now on the fast track towards reshaping the way we practice Human Resources with the help of AI.

What shall we expect from AI in the HR arena?

AI is expected to transform HR processes and employee experience, increase efficiency, reduce human bias and significantly enhance HR’s analytical capability leading to faster, more accurate and better-informed decisions.

There’s the inevitable debate and mix of opinions that accompany any big change, yet AI is gathering more and more adepts on a daily basis and HR professionals are starting to consider how to embrace the innovation and make it work in our favor and for the benefit of the organization.

Streamlining the multitude of possible applications in the HR arena and exploring different routes from the already expected enhanced data analytics capability; we can explore three expected AI applications that are starting to be consistently mentioned:

1. Enhanced Employee Experience

From recruiting to managing the day-to-day communication with employees, AI has something in store to help provide candidates and employees with an enhanced experience. Chatbots are a great example and probably, once again, you have already interacted with a chatbot while using your Facebook Messenger to book a flight or to order a gift. A chatbot is an automated, yet personalized conversation between electronic software and a human being.

Now imagine having chatbots available 24/7 to answer your employees’ common questions or engage with candidates and review their CVs in real time. One could basically access HR solutions from virtually anywhere around the world and get an instant response for something that nowadays might require hours if not days.

It is envisioned that the use of chatbots will be extended so as to provide employees with easy access to high quality and personalized coaching. Now, that is a game changer that will have a great impact on the experience and performance of employees! Or will it? Isn’t empathy required for a coaching engagement?

2. Targeted and personalized learning opportunities