A few years ago I was addressing a lecture on the topic “an opportunity to review career options” to a huge gathering of graduating students in Kurnool. During the lecture, I mentioned about artificial intelligence as one of the emerging career options. I also told them about the free massive online open course (MOOC) offered by the Stanford University professor on “An Introduction to Artificial Intelligence”. In a very short span of time, the whole business community is talking about Artificial Intelligence. Now, business leaders are emphasizing more on automation, artificial intelligence and block chain technology as the new emerging technologies.
The famous Indian Information Technology companies are laying off people from IT roles since their work processes are getting automated. In such a scenario there is an important role to play by the industry HR leaders and managers of an organization. The HR managers are holding the key role of allocating the workforce to various projects. Now such processes are getting automated. Also, they were actively involved in employee training and development, job engagement and job enrichment earlier. Now it appears that the scope of HR managers is becoming narrow since machines, robots are going to deliver the projects. Predominantly HR managers were actively involved in the performance appraisal of employees. Since machines are replacing the human capital, the question of performance appraisals arises.
Also, they were playing a critical role in the recruitment process. Statistics across the world say that job recruitments have stagnated due to automation. It appears that automation is also impacting the HR function in an organization. The increase in use and dependence on technology by the corporates may undermine HR core principles such as motivation, employee satisfaction, 360-degree feedback, Psychometric tests, etc.. At the same time, they will be relieved from the long-term problems such as employee attrition, promotions, bonuses, increments etc. Presuming that such practices arise over a period of time, then a lot of changes are going to take place in HR function. It is the time for the HR managers to focus on the higher human resource functions, such as knowledge management, strategic redirection, managing cultural change, and developing employees.
Artificial intelligence is an emerging technology, which can be implemented across business domains such as IT, Finance, Education, Marketing etc. For example, top ranked global universities are using artificial intelligence technology to develop class material, assignments, tests and using them for class evaluations. Artificial Intelligence will help in the areas of customer relationship management and also in Information Technology companies.
It is observed that there is an increase in the demand for implementing block-chain technology in finance, insurance, and financial markets. The advantages of block chain technologies are plenty and also cost effective. Hence there is no clue as to how HR profiles and functions are going to change in such industries. Also, it will be interesting to see how the emotional quotient will help in an era of robots, driverless cars, etc. It appears that HR function is ready to be transformed in an era of digital innovations in the 21st century. And the key role for human resources to play is facilitating change. The change component is incredible, and we have to look at human resources for that.
The recent developments in these three technologies are bringing about rapid changes in business operating models irrespective of business functions such as Finance, HR, Marketing and IT. The development of block chain technology is emerging in the areas of finance and banking domain. In fact, ICICI Bank Ltd is the first entrant to complete the first block chain transaction in the recent past. This technology is going to transform traditional practices of finance & accounting domains. This technology helps in keeping financial disclosures transparent and more timely financial statements rather than quarterly, annually, etc. Truly it will help markets to be more efficient with transparent information.
Finally, it needs to be stated that HR function which is right now in a traditional mold, is soon going to see a big change, in the face of emerging technologies. Therefore it needs to be seen how the HR function will face this challenge. To conclude, we cannot manage HR in the traditional way, it is the time to reinvent HR function entirely.