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How AI is Transforming Human Resources
February 25, 2020 Blog

Authored by: Catherine Lian, Managing Director of IBM Malaysia


Human resources powered by Artificial Intelligence is the new driver of business growth and helps to improve employee engagement and better decision making today.

MALAYSIA is forging ahead towards Industry 4.0 where everything is shaped by big data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT). It’s the combination of AI and adjacent technologies that will transform work and the workforce in the country as we know it. AI is proving valuable for human resources (HR) to help them make better decisions and experiences.

Deployment of AI in HR can be done through the entire employee lifecycle. Our experience is that AI can be applied in almost any area of HR, from candidate attraction, hiring and learning compensation to career management and HR support.

Persistent challenges, like having the people resources to deliver on the business strategy and allocating financial resources accordingly, can be addressed through the thoughtful application of AI solutions. Apart from this, AI is used to provide insights for attracting and developing new skills, improve the employee experience and provide strong decision support.

We believe AI can help address pressing business challenges and enable HR to deliver new insights and services at scale. More than that, it can also help strengthen employee engagement and better decision making for employees and managers.

Infusing AI in the HR lifecycle

HR leaders and managers are leveraging AI to augment decision-making and interactions with employees. The age of the intuitive decision based on sixth sense  along is gone. Data-driven decisions are becoming the norm.

IBM embarked on its HR transformation journey in 2011 to drive employee engagement and improve overall efficiency. Incorporating AI has resulted in more than U$$100M in net benefits last year alone. AI was infused across the HR lifecycle and in every step of the employee experience from talent acquisition, development, operations, engagement and retaining talents, growing and learning.

In Malaysia, we have used AI to sort through job applications, enhance the onboarding experience of new employees, redesign the delivery of more personalized learning to all employees, improve performance and compensation conversations.

If technology was previously used to help us recruit people faster over the Internet, today, with AI, we can better recruit the right people for the right job by assessing skill match for roles. This is especially true for our local team, who receives an average of 1,500 job applications a month.

Bots everywhere

Online job application processes are faster and more personalised using chatbots integrated with AI that get smarter with every interaction. This, according to IBM Smarter Workforce Research Institute, resulted in 36% conversion from exploring to application versus 12% on a traditional static site. AI is also used to create a seamless onboarding experience for new employees to ease them quickly and easily into their roles and into the organisation. Once onboarded, new employees can access the new hire chatbot 24/7 for help. The hire chatbot is among the busiest at IBM responding to an average of 700 questions a day!

By 2016, chatbots were scaled across the HR functions. The chatbots have been embedded in payroll, compensation, benefits performance management, travel planning and expense and mobility. By 2019, all 28 HR chatbots were consolidated into one called AskHR.

AskHR provides our 350,000 employees worldwide with an intelligent assistant to help them address all HR-related inquiries, saving time and creating an overall better experience. Last year, AskHR received more than 900,000 inquiries from employees.

Engage, Educate and Experience

We leveraged AI to change the way we learn and consume education by creating an AI-driven personalized digital learning platform called Your Learning. Educational content is delivered in consumable chunks. Recommendations are created based on related activities, the learner’s history, job role and other factors.

This proved really useful as AI remembers the completed education to cross check with skillsets to recommend training and essential courses for employees to enhance their skills.

IBM’s transition to high value HR with AI has resulted in more than 8 out of 10 IBM employees having skills of the future compared to 3 out 10 five years ago.

The focus to improve employee experience using AI was successful. Not only did we enhance the way we work but the organisational culture has been strengthened and well positioned to capture the imagination of our clients.

We are witnessing the movement towards augmented decision making at scale and this is helping HR to move to new way of working. HR professionals have to be tech savvy and fully embrace big data, AI tools and methodologies as it is increasingly integrated into their daily work.

Our transformation journey in Malaysia continues with new expertise and new focus on a customer centric HR function that is optimised for business outcomes and new ways of working. More importantly, we see that employee experience is at the centre of everything we do. We are excited to continue enhancing the employee experience and decision making with smart technology.