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AI Powered HR - Not to Replace but to Enable People Driven Businesses

By Alen Brcic, Director of HR Technology, Novant Health

Alen Brcic, Director of HR Technology, Novant Health

In the light of your experience what are the trends and challenges you’ve witnessed happening in the HR Tech space?

I think the HR tech space is an exciting space to be in right now with all of these entrants that are trying to enter the marketplace. A recent review caught my attention, which stated that about 20,000 companies are now offering various different HR technology to support the people business, which is really incredible. Larger companies, enterprise clients such as Novant health and other larger companies across the several industries went with the approach to purchase the technologies that are enterprise-based system. So any kind of ERP, large scale HCM systems that were perceived as productivity boosters that had the power to increase work effiecincy.

However, I think there is also opportunities for smaller players to enter the market through interoperability through a different perspective with AI ML. Many of the smaller players that are entering the market are more developed and evolved. HR is still a people business technology. The optimal goal to leverage technology is to free up HR practitioners to create more personal relationships with their customers such as internal team members and external and potential candidates they want to recruit. To top it off, with so many different HR engagements, there are many transactional processes in place and many tasks are often repetitive. So the question is not about the different technologies out in the market place but how to leverage it to optimize HR processes to eliminate inefficiencies. This is where ML and AI play a pivotal role.

"We have opportunities to change how we deliver services, not just from an HR perspective but an organizational perspective"

Another concern in the industry is that AI robots would replace the people part of the process, which I believe to be untrue. AI is not here to take their job, it’s here to change the jobs and make the transactional aspect of the job easier. Instead of HR personnel reviewing a lot resumes, the screening process can be optimized using AI and they can focus on interacting with the candidates. On another front, people believe using an AI system for HR processes may make the process biased, as the algorithms are created by humans.

Alen Brcic is a digital transformation executive with 15+ years of entrepreneurship and leadership experience in the professional services and healthcare sectors. Recognized for demonstrating a natural aptitude for leading and empowering cross-functional teams, as well as for launching and scaling profitable enterprises acquired by investors, Brcic has a history of contributing to institutional growth throughout his career. Currently, as the Director of HR Technology at Novant Health, Alen Brcic delivers exceptional services and solutions to its internal and external customers, to support making healthcare remarkable.

How do we bring more people to the table with AI and then ultimately how do we challenge the machines and constantly recalibrate to make sure that their results that we decided 18 months ago are still valid. Because we know business strategy, business operations are changing at a lightning speed and social machine learning algorithms. And to do that successfully, you need the human interaction. You need people engaged and not scared to say machines are here to take our jobs. So I will be not cooperating to make this a success. But saying it, the help to the cell phone is a tool to help us communicate ML and AI is a tool to help us do our jobs better. So it’s a really exciting time.

One of the most important hurdle is really to get our stakeholders on board, who are HR practitioners. We have to conceptualize to them what AI means, that’s the first step. If we want a program without bias, if we want it to help us, we need the support of all of our HR team members. And the whole narrative, like I mentioned earlier, is AI is here to replace your jobs, to take your jobs. There is fear, uncertainty, and lack of understanding. I think as HR leaders if we are going to optimize our operations and really enable that more personalized service, that consumer-grade experience that we all experienced with the Amazon, with the Googles, we really need to be part of the conversation in AI and really explain to all the practitioners within the organization what their role will be in that new operating model.

The second hurdle, of course, is the industry is new. There is a lot of unknowns out there. There are practitioners who potentially misunderstand what AI does. Capabilities are being misunderstood, maybe not well explained and there is still a lot of resistance in some areas to say, is this really worthwhile and investment? Are we better off hiring, outsourcing, hiring more transactional team members or is this really a new trend. We know that to be competitive in the clinical industry, to be to find the best talent, we have to be the best service that there is. We have to engage our candidates, tell our story.

How do you see the evolution of the HR arena a few years from now with regard to some of its potential disruptions and transformations?

So technology is definitely one of the drivers, but I think it goes back to a bigger picture discussion. We used to look at talent and still in many, many companies, we are looking at talent as full time team members. We have to look at talent as a big spectrum. Employees, of course, are an important component, but we have to create easy ways to engage talent on demand. Whether they are freelancers, consultants, or even teams of people that we need to come in and accomplish a specific objective. We have opportunities to change how we deliver services, not just from an HR perspective, but an organizational perspective and to be able to do that, we really need as HR practitioners to get the technologies that support and alleviate all of the transactional work.

What would be the single piece of advice that you could impart to a fellow or aspiring professional in your field, looking to embark on a similar venture or professional journey along the lines of your service and area of expertise?

So we need to say what challenges is the business trying to solve for and how do we deploy technology to be an enabler and to bring in, retain and develop the best talent to ultimately deliver best services to our customers. What I believe is that technology does not replace humans but optimizes the way they work. Organizations need to ask questions such as

What does the business need? What can we deploy right now? And then what do we need to support that even further optimize and enable our HR practitioners to bring in the best talent to find the best style and engage them in and develop them and retain them. I feel it’s a great time for an individual to enter the industry as HR or technology professionals.

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