Machines As Talent: Are You Ready To Coexist?

Machines As Talent: Are You Ready To Coexist?

In its 2015 Human Capital Report, research and analysis firm Deloitte identified a confusing and potentially worrisome new trend in HR: machines as talent. In this brief, we’ll explain how “machines as talent” doesn’t necessarily mean what you fear, and why many executives see it as the future.

What does “machines as talent” mean?

It’s an idea that alludes to the sophistication of modern and emerging HR tech. As machines can automate workplace activities, knowledgeably analyze business data, and sometimes even render day-to-day decisions, technology is coming to play a greater role in how business works.

Does it mean that machine “talent” is replacing human talent?

No. Deloitte specifically states, “Business and HR leaders should look beyond the alarmist hype of predictions that employees are doomed to be replaced by thinking machines and advanced robotics.” Instead of worrying about knowledge workers being replaced, the idea is that organizations should re-think how they make use of their human talent. It’s about fostering an environment in which advanced technology and human talent work in tandem to make the best use of all resources.

This seems like a strange idea. Am I really that far behind the times?

Not at all; you’re actually with the majority. Deloitte identifies this as an opportunity to get on the leading edge of a new trend, but in reality, most companies are unprepared. While over half (55%) of executives identify the idea of “machines as talent” as an important aspect of the modern and future workplace, only 35% are ready for it. Only 5% of executives have any kind of clear idea how this trend will affect their business.

If it’s not about replacing people, what is it actually about?

Incorporating machine talent into daily workflows should enable organizations to work smarter, not harder, and to achieve higher output or productivity with the same staff. For example, the Associated Press (AP) news organization is working to automate coverage of corporate earnings reports. Their goal isn’t to reduce staff but to increase the number of companies it can cover (from 300 to well over 4,000) without more human labor. Lou Ferrara, a managing editor at the AP, says: “This is about using technology to free journalists to do more journalism and less data processing, not about eliminating jobs.”

What can my organization do about this? 

Start gathering information about areas like cognitive technology, robotics, predictive analytics, etc. Look at how other companies use these kinds of advanced technologies, and what they achieve with them. Consider if in-house goals and roles can be enhanced, eased or improved by incorporating any of these “machine talents.”

For more information about the 21st century workplace, contact CoAdvantage.