Today’s remote and anxious employee base, strategic workforce planning needs to become personal. This means understanding the current skills of every employee, knowing what the corporation and individual want or need to progress, and personalizing their career path. By embracing AI and Automation, managers and HR can enable this level of personalization and truly bring a meaningful employee experience to life.
Advancements in AI are spawning what Sofie Narinx, Cognitive Process Transformation Leader Benelux IBM, calls “intelligent automation”. Intelligent automation, she explains, “combines recent advances in AI and other technologies to manage and improve business processes. Intelligent automation is already transforming the way humans benefit from technology, and helping organizations create new personalized products and services. We see businesses leveraging automation all the time to improve effectiveness and the efficiency of operations and the end-user experience.”
Insights from the C-suite executives we talk to indicate an upswell in recognition of intelligent automation and the benefits it brings to their industries and organizations. Almost 60 percent of executives from our IBM Institute for Business Value Survey says advances in intelligent automation will expand organization capabilities, and 59 percent anticipate industry productivity improvements. Just under half (45 percent) expect their industry to benefit from increased insights from data, while 43 percent predict improved worker productivity.
Leveraging automation and AI throughout the employee lifecycle from hire to retire enables HR and process leaders to understand their workforce better and personalize the employee experiences. It does this, says Jeroen De Jongh Service Line Leader Cognitive Process Redesign Benelux at IBM by “enabling processes to perform in ways that optimize the amount of human support needed. This operational shift – moving the burden of processes from humans to technology – actually means humans are free to engage in higher-value tasks, making for more rewarding roles and careers.”
AI driving training and reskilling of the workforce
While executives recognize these benefits in intelligent automation, they also realize that millions of workers may require retraining or reskilling. In fact, according to our calculations at IBM, more than 120 million workers in the world’s 12 largest economies may need to be retrained or reskilled in the next three years as a result of intelligent/AI-enabled automation. Most executives don’t believe their organization, or their country is prepared for this.
This profound and urgent impact on skills requirements means that employees need to be reskilled and retrained to understand their new responsibilities alongside AI. This will require concerted effort and action across an extended network of entities, including industry, education, public policy, and economic development leaders.
At IBM, we very much speak from experience. With the rapidly changing digital business environment, IBM shifted close to 50 percent of our portfolio to new products and services – this forced us to tackle the skills challenge head-on. To manage such skills demands with the speed required by the market and at a company the size of IBM, we found personalization and AI were core to success. By using advanced analytics and AI, we can now create an employee digital footprint to infer current skills and skill depth, and the results are openly shared with the employee. Personalized, continual skilling recommendations are then served up in the flow of daily work.
IBM now signals the constantly changing skill demand by transparently sharing the roles and skills that are growing – and declining – in market demand and encouraging open manager/employee career conversations that go beyond performance to relevant skills and upskilling goals. Today, eight out of ten IBM employees are equipped with the skills required for the future, compared to just three out of ten less than five years ago.
All organizations will have to face this challenge sooner or later, moving beyond hiring and traditional training initiatives towards continuous, personalized career paths. Regrettably, our research report The enterprise guide to closing the skills gap found that many organizations are behind the curve. Half of the executives surveyed say their organizations are not pursuing any skills development strategies at all. Worryingly, in 2019 only 16 per cent of organizations had implemented AI in the automation of any of their processes.
Join the discussion
To address this urgent issue and discuss the strategies available to businesses, CorporateLeaders and IBM are hosting an intimate peer-to-peer virtual roundtable discussion for up to 15 HR, Learning, and Recruitment Leaders. During this virtual meeting keynoted by Frédéric Pierre, Director People and Culture, Euroclear , our experts Sofie Narinx, Cognitive Process Transformation Leader Benelux, IBM and Jeroen De Jongh, Service Line Leader Cognitive Process Redesign Benelux, IBM, will discuss an outside-in perspective with real examples of how automation, AI and digital transformation influence the HR function across the full employee lifecycle, from hire to retire.