Human Resources

The AI Revolution Comes to HR

Charasporn Uppawong
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The AI Revolution Comes to HR

The effective application of artificial intelligence, as we’ve argued at length elsewhere, has already begun to reliably distinguish forward-looking businesses from those still coasting on the momentum of previous successes. Of course, this level of operational advancement remains difficult to achieve, as the integration and scaling of AI solutions represent a long and complex journey — though it is well worth the investment when implemented skilfully.

Artificial intelligence comes in various forms, from the relatively simple automation of repetitive tasks, to the pattern recognition of social media algorithms or self-driving automobiles, to the broad language models of ChatGPT and the like. Yet at bottom, AI is just a fancy term for software that processes information quickly and helpfully.

As we will see, HR managers across industries therefore have much to gain by embracing AI, as the deluge of information they typically deal with can be sorted, managed, and analysed at high speed through tailored software solutions.

Moreover, these AI tools enable an increase in quality — not merely because their output is accurate and insightful, but also because they ease the burden on your HR professionals, who might otherwise burn out from overwork and repetition. By handling standard administrative tasks with ease, AI allows existing staff to take on more creative and forward-looking projects, raising the value ceiling for your HR department as a whole.

Still, the smooth and successful integration of AI within an organisation’s HR department is by no means guaranteed. Effective transformation requires careful planning and decisive execution at the strategic, technical, and cultural levels. Let’s look at each of these in turn.

AI Strategy and Roadmap

As with other forms of transformation, the first step with AI implementation is to assess your organisation's HR needs and objectives. To that end, we recommend bringing in an external consultant to help identify areas where AI can bring the greatest improvements in both value and efficiency.

The possibilities here are vast, and prioritising them correctly will depend on the shortcomings of your current system. AI can be embedded in your recruitment efforts, by (for example) serving as a chatbot that can answer basic questions from prospective applicants 24 hours a day. This type of software can be integrated into your organisation’s website, its social media profile, or both.

Other roles for AI could include a dashboard to help your organisation keep track of progress toward its hiring objectives, or current employee movements by department. Additional HR tasks can also be automated using AI technology, such as the sorting of potential candidates for current and future job vacancies, as well as the optical scanning and AI-powered processing of their CVs.

Successful prioritisation of objectives allows for the development of a sensible AI strategy moving forward, including a detailed roadmap which is tailored to the organisation's HR goals. At this stage, it is important to define key milestones and implementation plans in order to coordinate the forthcoming transformation efforts and properly communicate expectations to outside partners.

AI Vendor Selection and Implementation

With strategy in place, it is time to evaluate potential AI vendors, as well as the technology solutions that align best with your HR requirements. Your outside consultant should have the experience and industry knowledge to assist in this important step of vendor selection and contract negotiations.

Both the consultant and vendor company will then provide implementation support and project management for your AI solutions. By referring to your detailed strategy and roadmap information, they will begin customising the AI software so as to fit your organisation's HR processes and workflows.

Change Management and Training

Before replacing manual processes with artificial intelligence software, your organisation and its consultant will assess the expected impact of AI implementation on the HR department and its workforce. With some tasks requiring less time and fewer employees moving forward, it will be important to reallocate the department’s resources toward other areas.

The success of these reorganisational efforts will depend on the development and application of change management strategies. Here, as in the previous stages, planning and preparation go a long way toward ensuring the smooth adoption of AI solutions.

Perhaps ironically, it tends to be the human element that gets in the way of successfully deploying AI solutions for HR departments. It is therefore essential to design and deliver training programmes which will upskill your HR professionals on AI concepts, tools, and best practices, helping them adapt to new workflows and processes enabled by AI.

Apart from the practicalities of using AI on a day-to-day basis, a key emphasis of these training efforts should also involve reassuring existing employees that the coming changes will benefit them as well as the company as a whole. Rather than replacing most of your existing HR staff — an understandable concern for many in the business world — AI will empower them to replace many of their repetitive administrative tasks with more creative strategic work that will help shape the future of the company in the months and years ahead.

This combination of clear understanding, improved competence, and increased motivation will help your newly empowered HR team maximise its effectiveness through the use of tailored AI tools.

Overcoming Indecision

As with any new technology, the biggest challenge often comes down to figuring out where and how to begin. For many companies, the newness of AI/automation technology suggests that either its popularity is a passing trend, or its benefits remain relatively untested. This mindset leads to inaction, whose primary outcome is to let one’s competitors get a head start. Later, as new iterations of AI software make the technology even more advanced, the perceived difficulty of adopting it also increases.

Yet one of the most salient features of today’s AI software is its versatility. There is never a bad time to adopt it, and benefit from the myriad advantages it brings, provided the transformational onramp is constructed and navigated skilfully.

If your organisation would like to learn more about AI in the HR space, or begin its transformational journey, our experienced team at Grant Thornton in Thailand can help. Contact us today to get started.