Competencies in the Cognitive Era

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Competencies have been around forever, they’re foundational. In fact, they’ve been around so long that it can seem that everything that can be said about them, has been said. That is about to change, because they are a vital component of cognitive HR.  Let me explain why …

Over the past several months, I’ve been working with the team developing IBM’s new cognitive applications for human resources (HR), and it’s been an exciting and collaborative experience. We have dedicated two of our highly skilled industrial-organizational psychologists (Amanda Klabzuba and Hannah Hemmingham) to work side-by-side with our IBM distinguished engineers (John Medicke and Stefan Liesche), and offering management experts (Barrett Richardson and Wendy Tandon). One of the early insights from the team is just how important competencies are to the success of cognitive computing applications in HR.

We’re working on two specific cognitive applications for HR:

IBM Watson Recruitment (IWR), which helps recruiters do their jobs more effectively through requisition prioritization, social listening, and predicting candidate likelihood of success. This is accomplished using machine learning to score job applicants based on their application letters, resumes / curriculum vitae (CVs) and employment histories, with the flexibility to incorporate a variety of different psychological assessment selection tools.

IBM Watson Career Coach (IWCC), which helps employees take control of their career development using machine learning to offer personalised recommendations for jobs they may be interested in now, and careers they may want to work towards in the future. IWCC will then support employees in closing the gaps between where they are now and the competencies required for their target role, with tailored learning recommendations.

We realized, very early on, that strong competency models are critical to the successful application of artificial intelligence in human resources. Competencies are the taxonomies of knowledge, skills, abilities and other attributes (KSAOs) required for successful performance of different roles in a business. In the context of personnel selection, competencies help identify the most appropriate combination of selection tools to use when ranking candidate suitability. They also help identify similarities between jobs that we can leverage when recommending new opportunities in coaching situations.

We decided this message about the importance of competencies was too important not to share.  Chief Human Resource Officers (CHROs) need to make the upkeep of their competency frameworks a priority if they wish to leverage the benefits artificial intelligence can bring to HR management. As a result, we’ve written a new white paper to bring this point to life.

Entitled Competencies in the Cognitive Era, the paper outlines some of the ways that KSAOs are important to artificial intelligence in human resources. It focuses on the areas of selection, learning, and coaching. The take-away message is that firms cannot afford to let their competency frameworks fall into disrepair if they are to take advantage of cognitive computing in human resources. We hope the white paper illustrates the importance of strong competency models to AI success in HR.

Download the white paper: Competencies in the Cognitive Era

Executive Consultant, IBM Smarter Workforce Institute

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