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Cloud Computing

Technology’s Human Touch

How advances in AI and machine learning can humanize our work lives

By Emily He, Senior Vice President, Human Capital Management Cloud Business Group, Oracle

Winter 2019

The proliferation of technology is reshaping our work lives in many important ways. It’s boosting productivity, fostering collaboration among peers, and forging closer relationships with customers. But there’s also a downside: We sometimes feel overwhelmed by a flood of data and rigid user interfaces (UIs) that don’t shield us from information overload.

More and more, customers tell us they want simplified ways of interacting with enterprise technology. The good news is that artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural-language UIs are delivering these simplified experiences we’re all craving. In short, technology is helping make our work more human.

Technology as a humanizing force may sound like an oxymoron, but we’re seeing numerous ways that engaging with digital tools mimics human interactions. Consider how we ask our smartphones where the Dow closed today and immediately hear the news, good or bad. Later, our phones may proactively inform us that the freeway we usually take is clogging up and that we should give ourselves extra time to get to our next meeting.

Technology as a humanizing force may sound like an oxymoron, but we’re seeing numerous ways that engaging with digital tools mimics human interactions.”

Now, similar benefits are coming to enterprises. Interactive, AI-enabled digital tools, such as those in Oracle Human Capital Management Cloud, will increase productivity and decrease labor costs, according to a survey of HR employees and managers conducted by Oracle and the research firm Future Workplace. For example, rather than typing instructions into onscreen forms to gather data about which employees have been trained in a particular skill, managers and HR professionals can simply converse with their computers for a more efficient and human experience.

This can open up time for more-strategic and more-creative activities—which, for business leaders and HR staff, may mean tailoring career paths for employees. After synthesizing data about someone’s aspirations and past experiences, they can tap AI and machine learning for recommendations about professional development courses and other resources to help an individual move his or her career in the right direction.

Successfully adopting humanizing technology has other implications for enterprises. Millennials prefer to work at companies known for embracing new technology. Organizations that can promote themselves as digitally innovative workplaces that streamline access to information gain a hiring edge over technology laggards.

Organizations that can promote themselves as digitally innovative workplaces that streamline access to information gain a hiring edge over technology laggards.”

Mindful of these opportunities, how can organizations best use AI, machine learning, and new UI designs as a humanizing force? They’ll need to tap into a broad range of internal and external datasources to gain insights into user behavior and preferences that enhance employee experience. As a result, it’s important to capitalize on the expertise of a technology partner that has a thorough understanding of how to manage data and develop successful data strategies.

Emerging technologies offer exciting opportunities for improving and humanizing our work, but we must also be mindful of risks. A common concern throughout HR departments is succumbing to unconscious bias that may seep in when serving diverse groups of people. We must extend this concern to our use of technology. After all, machine learning works by monitoring our behavior, so we must be sure that our digital tools aren’t perpetuating any flaws in hiring or management activities.

To do that, we just have to remind ourselves of something we’ve always known: Technology is a tool that works best when it enhances rather than replaces human insights and actions.

Action Item

Plot your path to smarter HCM in the cloud.

Photography by Bob Adler/Getty Images