AI Automation: Bots vs. Bodies – Who Wins and Why?

Peter Weddle

Spoiler Alert – Everyone Wins!

By David Bernstein, Head of Partnerships at AllyO

Over the last several years, we’ve seen an influx of bots enter the recruiting and talent acquisition technology space. Much like the innovation and automation witnessed by earlier generations, the push towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution is happening without haste or hesitation. For those working inside TA, this rapid shift initially sounded a call for alarm, with some thinking that automation meant obsolescence for physical human resources. And while this frenzy subsided somewhat, there are still questions about who wins in the battle of bots vs. bodies.

There is no doubt that bots supplant some of the work that bodies do today. We saw this with the move from hand to mechanized tools in the First Industrial Revolution, introduction of mass production via assembly lines in the Second and rise of electronics and information technology in the Third. But even amid this early automation, humans still managed to create new jobs, jobs that required more advanced thinking and strategic decision making, outside the purview of the machines – and likely what we’ll see more of in the years to come.

Certainly, no one can deny the impact of technology on the world of work. We’ve seen dramatic spikes in efficiency and scale, allowing for exponential increases in productivity and output and significant reductions in costs to build products and deliver services. With this, comes the decline in repetitive work and mundane tasks, and we see similar outcomes with the introduction of AI and automation as well. Companies that deploy these technologies solely to displace workers, however, will only realize short-term headcount cost savings, unable to leverage the significant performance increases that emerge from the marriage of when bots and bodies work together.

What is also undeniable though is the correlation between the rise in the utilization of AI and automation and the increase in the ratio of meaningful, purposeful work engaging our workers. What is continually apparent, is that technology is a massive economic driver – liberating workers from repetitive, linear tasks and creating the capacity for them to focus on imagination and innovation – and in turn, generating more societal and economic value than previously available.

A recent Harvard Business Review article pointed out the positive effects of these evolutions, explaining, “Reinvention is not only vital to optimizing work and automation within a single firm; it is also important for empowering organizations to participate in the social conversation about future job creation and work. By adopting a systematic approach to work automation, organizations can better shape these debates by more clearly illuminating the full array of benefits and costs, both within the organization and for society more broadly.”

Broadly speaking, that’s the point of revolution. And in TA technology, intelligent automation continues with what we’ve seen throughout history, shouldering the routine, administrative tasks previously done by people. The routine labor that takes away from the more meaningful aspects of work, because bots and bodies are good at different things. Machines are good at computation and doing things at scale; that’s the sweet spot. People are good at reading emotion, fundamental to relationship building, recruiting and HR. Empathy and persuasion remain the domain of humans, and for now, you cannot deliver a world-class recruiting experience solely by deploying a bot.

Today, we see AI and automation used to identify talent that would otherwise go overlooked in the recruiting process. Those candidates looking to change jobs, or aren’t doing an exact match of the opening in question, who might otherwise get rejected by an ATS. Conversely, it can also help candidates identify the career paths that someone with their skills, acumen and personality type might excel at, even if they haven’t considered so before.

These two applications alone enable businesses to shift, pivot and transform who and how they think about hiring talent. Combine this with the growing understanding of what AI, Natural Language Processing and automation bring to TA and you have an incredibly powerful value proposition for the TA tech industry to consider providing to its customers. With these technologies, TA tech is able to deliver high-value, engaging, hyper-personalized experiences to candidates tailored to their skills, interests and preferences. Not only will these offerings be a “win” to candidates by vastly improving their journey, but these will also lead to better hiring experiences for customers.

With all of this in mind, we in the TA tech industry find ourselves at the bots vs. bodies crossroads. If we embrace the technology, we’re able to leverage its many benefits: using AI and automation to personalize the talent acquisition process and develop upscale experiences that add exponential value to both candidates and employers. By leaning in and taking advantage of automation now, we’re also able to carve out a competitive, first-mover advantage, innovating further while retaining relevance. Resisting this change, we lose the opportunity to build a contemporary place for contemporary candidates.

Intuitively, we understand that TA is a relationship business. But the nuts and bolts and administration of the process are not recruiting, nor relationship building. Rather, it is a harmony between bots versus bodies that leads us to succeed. It’s in balancing the two that everyone wins and we will see a sustainable future for everyone involved in hiring.

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