Nov 27, 2020

EY: Collaboration between humans and AI in HR

human capital
Georgia Wilson
5 min
Workforce, humans and AI collaboration
Business Chief EMEA discusses the rise of human and AI collaboration in HR operations with Ray Joyce and Steve Gill HR Services at EY...

In the last decade, the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) has been exponential. By the end of 2020, the AI industry is expected to have a total revenue of US$156.5bn, with 80% of emerging technologies having AI foundations as we enter into 2021. While the International Data Corporation (IDC) expects investment in AI to be impacted by the outbreak of COVID-19, the corporation still predicts that the worldwide revenue will surpass $300bn by 2024, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.1%.

With this in mind, Business Chief spoke to Ray Joyce, Global Talent Predictive AI Lead, HR Services and Steve Gill, Global Talent AI Lead, HR Services at EY to discuss the rise of human and AI collaboration in HR operations. 

Working in the industry, Joyce identifies two major trends that are currently occurring in the industry, “I think one major trend that is being shown at the present time is to provide HR and, in turn, organisations with greater insight to their data.” He highlights that harnessing machine learning at an organisational level helps identify trends in data which may not have been easily identified before. “From an employee perspective, the biggest trend is most definitely chatbots – which not only provide a fast and reliable place for an individual to have questions answered but also a safe environment, they can ask any question they like and get a personalised answer back in real time.”

While agreeing with Joyce, Gill does predict that the future will move away from using AI solely for insights in data and chatbots, and become more centred around automation. “This is already being seen in chatbots which are beginning to replace (in a limited fashion) Employee Self-Service portals and beginning to carry out transactions, such as a change of address. This level of automation will only increase as companies become more confident in allowing AI to complete tasks on behalf on an individual,” comments Gill, who adds that “for instance, a recruiter could raise a new requisition; as soon as this has been completed, the system has already reviewed the current talent pool(s) available and made recommendations on who would be a good fit – and more critically why. Process mining can review current HR processes and make recommendations on savings based on budgets, time and people.”

identifying that talent is the most expansive resource that an organisation has, and typically the most expensive. Joyce explains that, while the digital footprint that employees generate on a daily basis is significant, many companies do not always ‘know’ their people. AI allows talent teams to analyse the data in ways that they have never been able to in the past. With this insight also comes the ability to automate many tasks based on the data in a way that is not only consistent but also objective.” However, Gill comments that while this is certainly a benefit for organisations, “HR data is not always ‘clean’ - as any company that has done a data migration will know - so there may be tasks needed to ready the data. Once this has taken place, it will be of utmost importance that the rules and mechanisms used follow the organisation's inclusion, equality and diversity principles, so that trust can be achieved.”

While there are a lot of AI solutions out there, Joyce states that organisations must “see through the ‘sales’ and ensure that the solutions are tied to key metrics within the business case. Start small - but think big!”

Agreeing with Joyce, Gill explains that when it comes to developing an effective AI adoption strategy, it is important to “ensure that there is an ethics and bias review team in place which contains members of the HR team. Ensure that every step of the journey they are part of the team and understand the AI. Ensure HR knows that they own the solution and that it is their AI. In addition, do not plan or structure your strategy so that you have to have everything 100% accurate; AI needs to learn and to make mistakes, bring your employee base with you, let them have a say in what they want so that solutions are meaningful to them. It’s all fine having the most techy, whizzy solution, but if it is not what the employee or business wants, then basically it just turns into an expense and the budget could have been used elsewhere.”

Further to Gill’s explanation of an effective strategy, Joyce adds that “it is important that HR teams feel involved in the AI solutions. AI should not be ‘done to’ but ‘with’. Most of the data or processes that AI will change or replace will be owned by the HR or People teams and it is very important that the ownership stays with them. Letting the HR team have a say in how the AI will operate will help drive the adoption and take away uncertainty. It is important that content owners trust the AI to make the right decision or answer the question correctly, especially in an area like HR.”

Ultimately Joyce concludes that when it comes to the collaboration of humans and AI in HR operations, “An open mind is critical. Technology is changing rapidly and what may be true today can change tomorrow.” As a result, organisations need to be agile in their thinking. Joyce also highlights that emerging technology is not perfect to begin with, and there may be failures along the way. “Having strong stakeholders, a resilient culture, and accepting potential failures as a learning curve instead of a reason to stop will allow companies to keep moving forward, and then ultimately reap huge rewards.”

For more information on business topics in Europe, Middle East and Africa please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief EMEA.

Follow Business Chief on LinkedIn and Twitter. 

Share article

Jun 10, 2021

People Moves EMEA: Kearney, KPMG, Oliver Wyman, Skoda

Kate Birch
4 min
Consulting and sustainability take centrestage this week with executive movements at Kearney, KPMG, Oliver Wyman, Skoda, Syngenta and Laing O’Rourke

It’s been a busy week for executive transitions across EMEA and especially in the world of consulting, with partner/CEO announcements at Oliver Wyman, KPMG and Kearney, and in the role of head of sustainability, with new CSO appointments at Laing O’Rourke and Syngenta Group.

We round up the biggest executive moves across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Nick Studer announced as CEO of consulting giant Oliver Wyman

Set to take the top job at consulting giant Oliver Wyman next month, Nick Studer has been named CEO and Dual President of the firm’s economic and brand consulting subsidiaries NERA and Lippincott and will be based in London. Having been with Oliver Wyman for more than two decades, becoming partner in 2003, Studer has since served in a variety of international leadership roles, including head of Global Corporate and Institutional banking Practice, before becoming managing partner at the start of 2021.

According to Dan Glaser, CEO of Oliver Wyman parent Marsh McLennan, Studer has not just led many of the firm’s practices, but he “has been a leading voice for change and a major driver of our Inclusion and Diversity agenda”.

Delphine Bourrilly to lead Kearney in France

Seasoned consultant Delphine Bourrilly has been appointed leader of consulting firm Kearney for France, one of the firm’s larger locations in Europe, becoming fifth head of the Paris office. Having been with Kearney for more than a decade, most recently leading the Leadership, Change and Organisation practice across Europe, Bourrilly has an array of client successes under her consulting belt, including overseeing an operating model transformation at a large retailer. Prior to this, she spent five years at UBS. According to Geir Olsen, Head of Europe at Kearney, Bourrilly’s “talent, energy and charisma will be critical in leading Kearney through its next growth phase in France”.

Roland Villinger becomes head of corporate and product strategy, Skoda Auto

A consulting veteran, Roland Villinger has been appointed head of Skoda Auto’s corporate and product strategy, a newly created area for the Czech car manufacturer that combines two departments. Described by Skoda’s CEO Thomas Schafer as “an international experienced leader and proven digital expert”, Villinger most recently oversaw the implementation of Volkswagen Group strategy and was also previously chief strategy officer and chief digital officer at Audi AG. Prior to this, he spent 25 years at consultancy McKinsey including serving as a senior partner and running McKinsey’s operations in the APAC region.

Hanan Alowain promoted to Partner, public sector, KPMG

Becoming the second Saudi female partner in the history of KPMG, Hanan Alowain has been promoted to Partner in the firm’s Public Sector function. With 14 years of experience in human capital and social development in the Kingdom, including the last three and a half years at KPMG, Alowain is a Harvard Business School graduate with extensive experience both in the public sector, as director of research and development for the Saudi government’s Ministry of Labour, and the private sector, including as a partner at investment & development group Eradah.

Vicky Bullivant named Laing O’Rourke’s first-ever group head of sustainability

Seasoned ESG leader Vicky Bullivant is joining Laing O’Rourke as its first-ever group head of sustainability from Drax Group where she was head of sustainable business and responsible for developing the firm’s climate ambition, social strategy and community and charity policies. Having led the world’s first company ambition to be carbon negative by 2030, and the UK’s first energy company to commit to improving skills and education for one million people by 2025, Bullivant boasts 25 years of ESG business experience in highly regulated sectors, FTSE 100 companies, government and NGOs.

Bullivant spent eight years at Experian, where she was head of corporate affairs and community, nearly four years as head of corporate responsibility at Eon, five years as group head of sustainability at Rolls-Royce, where she turned around the firm’s performance in the Dow Jones Sustainability index, as well as sustainability heads at Tate & Lyle and Drax Group.

Daniel Vennard joins Syngenta Group as new CSO

Former global director at the World Resources Institute Daniel Vennard has been appointed chief sustainability officer for Syngenta Group. Based in Basel, Switzerland, Vennard will be responsible for developing and implementing the Group’s sustainability into its business strategy. Bringing extensive experience in the development of sustainability strategies and in launching global sustainability programmes that deliver growth and impact, Vennard most recently served as global director at the World Resources Institute, Vennard founded the Better Buying Lab bringing together scientists to develop, test and scale innovations that help consumers opt for sustainable plant-based food.

Prior to this he spent 15 years at Mars and Procter & Gamble in sustainability, corporate strategy and marketing and brings “creativity and remarkable expertise in sustainability” that will “help us further advance regenerative farming practices and help mitigate the harmful effects of global warming”, says Erik Fyrwald, CEO, Syngenta Group.


Share article