Talent Acquisition

Demystifying Digital Transformation, Part 3

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This blog series began by discussing how digital transformation is forcing enterprises to rethink what talent and skills they require. We examined how technology and enhanced experiences can be used to find, engage, attract and onboard the right talent to drive business success.

We then looked at the rapid evolution of talent acquisition technologies. It wasn’t so long ago we were recruiting from a Rolodex and using fax machines!

With many of us having only just wrapped our minds around social media, job boards and CRMs, we are now entering a world where AI & Robotics is promising improved outcomes across the whole TA lifecycle, from workforce planning to onboarding.


AI & Robotics benchmark findings

The IBM Think Talent community, which consists of TA leaders and professionals, was eager to understand this rapidly evolving market better. So we interviewed 30 talent leaders from multiple industries to benchmark the adoption and ROI of these technologies. In the Summer, we hosted our “AI & Robotics: TA Reinvention or Hype?” workshop to discuss the findings. (A huge thank you to everyone who took the time to join us and especially to Kevin Blair, Michael Lake and Jon Stanners, who contributed awesome case studies on the day.)

As promised, here are some key learnings from the benchmark and workshop, as well as my point of view on how best to utilise technology to help you achieve your talent acquisition goals:

  • Out of the 175 use cases, 35% were talent attraction tools and 20% were screening and assessment tools.
  • The short- to medium-term focus among participants’ was looking into workforce planning tools (43% increase) and onboarding tools (125% increase).
  • The majority of companies are at the start of their technology adoption journey, so there are relatively few examples of proven ROI.
  • Companies are tracking varied measures of success (time to hire, quality of shortlist, recruiter efficiency gains, NPS).
  • Several companies reported concern from their TA team about adopting tools that may replace them.
  • The roles of recruiters and TA professionals are rapidly evolving, so the need for new skills (such as specialist sourcing and data and analytics utilisation) is too. Without new training and enablement, many TA teams will struggle to deliver the best talent possible and real value to their organisations.
  • Very few organisations have adopted enterprise-wide tools and none that deliver across the full TA lifecycle; a fragmented market with a huge number of start-ups is making it difficult to know what to focus on and who to partner with.
  • Huge investment in HCM systems is resulting in a reluctance by HRIT/CIO functions to attempt to augment other tools (especially at scale); thus, many use cases were pilots for the Early Talent segment.
  • Participants had many questions about D&I, such as, “How can AI remove human bias?” and about GDPR compliance (data privacy within sourcing and attraction tools in particular).


Two observations

My main conclusion from our AI & Robotics research and follow-up discussions is that technology alone is not a solution to enterprise TA challenges. Instead, organisations must:

  • Focus on the outcomes they want to achieve.
  • Put user experience at the heart of your solution. Use methodologies such as Design Thinking to re-imagine experiences and journeys and do this for all stakeholders (candidates, recruiters, HRBPs, hiring managers).
  • Only then consider selecting technology as an enabler to helping you deliver optimal experiences and to achieve the goals that will deliver the greatest business value.

Another consideration is whether to consider all of this with a lens on industry or talent segments?  Whilst there are synergies between many industries and having sector specific networks is valuable, I believe the most productive way to look at outcomes, experience, technology and TA strategy is by segment (such as Early Talent, High Volume Hiring, Core Professional Hiring, Critical Talent and Emerging Talent).

Whether you have been at the cutting edge of embracing digital transformation or remain skeptical of the benefits it will bring, the fact is more companies are adopting TA technologies. The data suggests that organisations that embrace it and develop the roles and capabilities of those that come into contact with it are setting themselves up for success.


“Demystifying Digital Transformation” is a three-part blog series about emerging technologies disrupting the talent landscape.

Client Solutions Lead

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