Cognitive HR

Ask Watson: Key Takeaways from IBM HR Summit, London 2017

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My key takeaway from the IBM HR Summit in London were that organizations, and HR functions in particular, are either in the throes of, or are considering a change in strategy given the demands of the automated future of work that we are all facing.  This was reinforced throughout by a number of sessions where the focus was on the transformation of the workforce’s experience.  This was highlighted at the opening session by IBM where the emphasis was on the role of emerging and evolving “cognitive” technology can have on how employees interact with the organization as they are on-boarded, seek out options regarding their career, access “fit for purpose” learning and provide instant feedback to the organization regarding their insights.

The solutions whilst futuristic are actually here today and are being used by some clients as they seek to reinvent the role of HR and ensure that “added value” activities are their focus rather than continued distraction with time consuming operational activities.  This was a feature reinforced by Mike Haffenden and the CRF team in their session that focused on how HR can make an impact. The conclusion for me seems to revolve around HR making a mindset and behaviour change in conjunction with new enabling technology.

The employee experience was a strong theme throughout driven by the demands of the future of work; engagement alone it would appear is not enough anymore and whilst not wanting to complicate matters the trends from Tap’s Solutions, EY, IBM and the excellent panel discussion was that simple focused improvement activities with the involvement of the employees is the way to drive a better experience – the days of leaders and managers “knowing what is best for their people” are gone.  These high involvement strategies whilst culturally challenging, in some cases, are key to sustaining momentum and change.

No conference would be complete without analytics being mentioned and the key aspects for me are that data will become the new currency that organizations have to get better at collecting and managing. EY provided a great example of their analytics journey focusing on the engagement initiatives that they have focused on over the past few years but even with their great data capability it was clear that data was merely the driver of tangible action and change None of the automation opportunities (such as Cyber Security talent, the Cognitive HR function) will happen without data and the role of HR will evolve with a greater need for insights and future data based perspectives as outlined by KPMG. Watch the video streams now. 

The conference, and the excellent workshops, reinforced that the future of work is actually here now and is disrupting the way that organizations are having to respond to external changes that are impacting on their business. Whilst some of these aspects are not controllable, the one element that is achievable is to control the work conditions that all our employees have to operate in – making your organization an even better to place to work is going to be a continual challenge but one that the conference attendees certainly seemed up for!

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