Any modern, savvy and on-trend business owner undoubtedly has the evolution of tech at the forefront of their thoughts (amongst the many other issues occupying their minds, of course). The challenge for us all, however, is knowing where to invest resources. Every leader is researching an array of bottom-line-impacting software developments tailored to their industry, but there’s one area that is all too often overlooked: the use of tech in people processes.
Added to this is the fear that many have of robots, which is stunting progress. There’s a real perception that robotic processes, artificial intelligence (AI) and tech developments will remove the human element of many roles, potentially eradicating jobs. There are also some who remain wary of these developments simply because they are considered to be a relative ‘unknown’ in the corporate world.
For CEOs, allowing a fear of robots to stall progress or channelling your tech investment into customer-facing objectives alone isn’t a successful long-term strategy. Taking a wider view and using bots and AI in your hiring processes as well is now business-critical. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has highlighted that there is a stark gap between supply and demand of talent. There are currently 6.7 million job openings across the US, but only 6.4 million available candidates to fill these roles.
For a CEO of a growth company, this is concerning news. After all, without the resources to deliver against upcoming demand, expansion plans will come to a standstill, or worse, retract. It’s here that robotic process automation (RPA) comes in to play. In essence, RPA involves using software with AI and machine learning capabilities to carry out high-volume, repetitive tasks that are time-consuming for people to carry out, providing a more streamlined hiring process for all involved.
Let’s pause here and remember that we all, personally and professionally, interact with robots and AI on a daily basis, we just perhaps aren’t fully aware of it. For example, whenever we shop online or engage on social media, we are, in fact, interacting with artificial intelligence – how else do you think Twitter can recommend people to follow or Amazon suggest other products that might interest you? The important point to consider here is that these processes are actually making our experience better by providing a more personalised journey that is adjusted to meet our preferences.
When we further consider that technology is changing what candidates expect from your organisation, with individuals now demanding a more ‘consumer-orientated’ experience, the need to embrace RPA becomes increasingly crucial. If we are all interacting with this technology as consumers, and having a positive experience as a result, adopting similar approaches to the likes of Amazon and Twitter is undoubtedly beneficial. And in a fast-paced environment, speed is critical to recruitment success. The idea of a hire taking 30 to 60 days is no longer deemed acceptable by applicants, in fact, having no communication two-weeks after the initial application stage can see an applicant become disengaged or worse, snapped up by the competition. But this process simply can’t be sped up efficiently without some form of tech integration.
If businesses are able to provide a more personalised and streamlined experience to candidates, they will be in a much better position when it comes to offering a job to the ideal individual and ensuring everyone leaves the process with a positive view of the organisation – a particularly crucial point for consumer-facing companies where these applicants could also be customers. And the investment doesn’t need to be a hugely innovative and costly change either. For example, at Alexander Mann Solutions we’ve developed a number of robots, each with their own specific tasks, which have improved the candidate experience significantly. Our bot, ISSAC, for example, is an interview scheduling assistant who completely automates the processes leading up to the interview itself, providing candidates with speedy responses and freeing up the time of hiring managers, allowing them to develop the right relationships with more engaged individuals.
It’s certainly clear to me that businesses can see great results from RPA and the integration of AI and robots in the talent acquisition process. I’ve worked with multiple organisations that have benefited from this. But the challenge is always making that first step – or leap as it may feel to some. As I have argued before, tech is a fantastic enabler and needs to be viewed as this, rather than a detractor. It reduces administrative burdens on hiring teams and managers, increases cost efficiency, provides a streamlined process for the end user and, crucially, allows humans to be human and develop those meaningful relationships that will be hugely valuable long-term. And who doesn’t want that in their business?