Welcome to the second article in a three-part blog series on the role – and potential – of AI in Human Resources, specifically Learning and Development (L&D).We sat down with Erik Duindam, Head of Engineering for Everwise, who recently published a white paper on AI’s potential for L&D. Erik provides informed and informative thoughts on the direction of AI in learning and development, and we’ve worked to capture his thoughts and share them with you. The previous article addressed AI as a transformative force in HR, and the next article discusses how AI can help facilitate learning experiences–our experience is that facilitated experiences outperform purely instructor-led or self-directed ones.
AI may not be ubiquitous yet but it is expected to cause a ripple effect across every sector and department over the coming decade. AI has already begun to eliminate tasks, create new roles and alter organizational structures. HR leaders will have to respond with effective and adaptable L&D programs that will not only help train employees in this new environment but also lead to a measurable return of investment (ROI).
Identifying skill gaps
Creating L&D programs where employees at all levels can learn and grow is critical to retaining and attracting top talent. And yet, one of the biggest L&D challenges is determining where employee skill gaps exist, according to McKinsey & Company. This is becoming even more difficult as career paths and companies continue to evolve with technological advances.
Deloitte Human Capital Trends 2018 found 21st-century careers are no longer narrowly defined by jobs and skills. Instead, they are defined by experiences and learning agility. More than 70% of organizations already have career paths that do not follow traditional organizational hierarchies. The problem is that L&D programs haven’t changed to reflect that shift. Only 53% of organizations offer collaborative learning and experiences that help talent grow in nontraditional career paths.
So how can HR departments offer more effective L&D programs? They can start by collecting more data for AI to process. According to a 2016 McKinsey & Company report, unleashing the power of collective intelligence is critical to the digital-learning transformation. Employees learn through collaboration and can be empowered to share knowledge across the company. That practice can be used to identify skill gaps and measure performance. Gathering information through surveys around employee sentiments, day-to-day progression, problems, thoughts, et cetera will be useful in the prediction process.
“If HR can get the data in an effective platform, L&D could prove the effectiveness of their programs and make much better decisions,” says Erik Duindam, Head of Engineering for Everwise. “It would make L&D a much more important part of the business.”
Predicting skill gaps and measuring ROI
According to McKinsey & Company, the lack of learning-related metrics is among the most pressing challenges in skill-building programs. Those metrics help measure the effectiveness of learning solutions and build capabilities in a sustainable way. More than half of executives say their companies link skills employees acquire in learning programs with individual performance. Yet, only 13 percent calculate the quantifiable returns on their learning investments.
Identifying skill gaps and effectively measuring the effectiveness of learning programs both require an ongoing loop of data collection, interpretation and optimization. AI can be used to automate this loop and self-optimize the process based on machine learning models.
HR leaders can tie learning and learning programs back to business results by comparing historical data with changes in the organization. They can measure ROI by comparing how employees and teams develop with the learning programs they’ve completed. And by analyzing an employee’s experiences, projects and training programs, machine learning models can predict what skills the employee should work on in the future.
This is what IBM Watson Analytics is already doing. Watson Analytics is a platform for business analytics and intelligence (BI), which uses predictive machine learning models and cognitive capabilities to draw business conclusions from large amounts of structured and unstructured data. IBM now predicts skill development needs and future performance of employees.
AI models have been trained to understand all these data inputs. They can interpret and structure the data automatically. They can help enhance and optimize learning experiences. Understanding the relations between all the data is critical to understanding how employee performance relates to the larger business performance.
To learn more, read our white paper on “The Role of Artificial Intelligence in the Evolution of Learning & Development.”