As technology evolves in leaps and bounds, as does the role of the CIO – so much so that it is unrecognisable from five years ago, when CIOs believed the most important skill they needed to possess was simply technology “know-how.” But the CIOs of today understand that full tech integration is necessary for and a major component of corporate strategy and success. The implementation of technology within workforce processes has recently required CIOs to oversee both IT and HR functions, as dependency between the two departments has become increasingly critical for business efficiency. In fact, a survey by Deloitte indicates that 64 per cent of HR executives expect that AI technologies will become a more regular part of HR, particularly over the next 3 years. AI and automation have truly arrived and are on par to not only add efficiencies in the workplace, but to disrupt the business world moving forward.
And yet, many industry leaders still remain resistant to bring supporting technology systems into play, oftentimes because tech integration is expensive, and upskilling can be time-consuming and have an ROI that isn’t entirely quantifiable. But the benefits outnumber the drawbacks, as 61 per cent of business leaders expect the share of roles requiring collaboration with Al to increase in the next three years, and 54 per cent label human-machine collaboration as important to achieving strategic priorities.
Typical HR duties, particularly those related to onboarding, have long been processes that are constantly repeated – with each new person that is hired (oftentimes a daily process depending on how large the company is). And with repetitive processes comes the ability to automate. Incorporating AI into onboarding processes bears the gift of time – the ability of an HR executive to kickstart a series of onboarding processes, and move on to work that requires additional brain power, thought and analysis, such as data capture and analysis around what increases employee engagement and retention.
Despite distinct separation in the past, IT and HR are stronger together than they are apart; while separate at their cores, the services offered by both departments meet in the middle when it comes to case management, self-service and onboarding. The technology offered by IT providers will indubitably support and automate HR in the future in the following ways:
Case management – Where IT departments have ticket systems to fulfil employee requests, HR departments have “case management” – simply put, this is how many organisations manage employee requests and inquiries. Within IT departments, automation provides a way for employees to submit requests or forms which are then automatically forwarded to the right IT agent. Automated technology provides a way for IT to then fulfil requests as they come in and update the employee's requests in real time.
Similarly, in HR departments, by utilising automated ticketing systems for case management, workflows push employee requests through to the proper HR representative, eliminating the need for a processing system that eats up extra time on both ends. Requests are resolved with automated systems more accurately and quickly than through a manual process.
Within case management, knowledgebases exist to reduce the amount of inquiries HR departments receive. A knowledgebase is a self-serve online library of information about a product, service, department, or topic; by using one, employees obtain specific articles via basic searches and any forms associated with their search will be automatically presented. For instance, if an employee is looking for information on tax forms, the knowledgebase will not only provide information that answers their question but also a form the employee may need in the future. This removes the excess time it takes an HR professional to answer the question and send the form.
Self-service portals – IT departments have implemented self-service portals so employees can not only help themselves, but also save valuable time for IT departments as a whole.
Automating user onboarding
Just as IT has a self-service portal that works with them directly, HR departments could implement the same technology to help employees regain hours of time with a self-service option that provides directions to common questions – such as tax filing procedures and PTO requests. Self-service portals offer a customer-like experience that today’s employees have become used to and, in many cases, even prefer.
For instance, chatbots, programmed with previous data to automate and build on previous responses based on keywords, can help employees immensely. If the chatbot struggles to understand an employee, the system will reroute them to an HR or IT representative for further assistance. While chatbots lack the human traits of empathy and compassion, they are typically programmed to connect an employee with another human before deeper problems arise.
Onboarding and Educating New Employees – IT departments work to onboard new employees on existing technologies on a daily basis; with new employees joining all the time, IT departments have systems in place to automatically generate employee accounts, manage training, ensure new employees meet program milestones and direct them to automated services for FAQs in the future.
IT departments can assist HR in integrating automation and AI to save money and time and efficiently collect data, reduce processing errors and provide better security. With onboarding workflow automation, paperwork is checked for errors instantaneously, company policies are extracted and streamlined for effective onboarding tasks and keystone onboarding meetings are scheduled by a machine.
IT can also automate the employee onboarding process by using a knowledgebase to help them become familiar with company policies and ensure that departments across the company are in alignment before and during the process, so no deliverables are shared out of turn.
The adoption of AI and automated technology may seem intimidating to integrate into a pre-existing business model, but it is rapidly becoming a necessity for enhanced productivity – even for the most reluctant industries. As CIOs look for the best ways to reinvent their businesses, the ways in which IT can support HR have the ability to drastically change a business model through case management solutions, self-service functionality and onboarding automation.
John Prestridge, CMO and Senior Vice President of North America, EasyVista