In a recent article in Society of Human Resource Management, Cisco’s Fran Katsoudas notes that the future of HR is rooted in technology, with technology bringing “a level of intelligence to HR that really thrusts HR into a compelling consultancy role.” With its newfound intelligence, HR can offer talent advisory functions that are core to business strategy. While the concept of intelligent HR may sound radical, the idea’s been gaining traction for several years, and enterprises are already reaping the benefits.
Two years ago, an HR leader sought to leverage AI to improve the employee experience while optimizing her workforce across recruitment, engagement, and operations (payroll, benefits, etc.). AI at that time was primarily discussed as a means of improving model accuracy, not impacting business outcomes, so AI projects were often relegated to “proofs of concept” and not put into production. Yet the HR leader’s innovative idea – using AI to achieve business outcomes – laid the foundation for what has become Wipro’s Intelligent Enterprise Framework.
Things exist only if they can be measured.
– Max Planck
A traditional consulting approach focuses on current business outcomes without incorporating changing business dynamics. As such, it fails to provide the required continuity from advisory through maintenance of the AI models.
After researching what makes AI models tick, Wipro developed a five-dimension framework of Sense, Decide, Act, Interact, and Adapt. These dimensions and their sub-quotients enable companies to measure the “Enterprise Intelligence Quotient (E-IQ)” for any process, function, or organization – earning it the name “E-IQ Framework.”
Because the HR team had recently undergone a digital transformation, we anticipated a positive Enterprise IQ evaluation. Instead, the HR function scored 2.2 out of 10.
Although initially surprising, the low score was easily explained by the sub quotients. The majority of incoming HR data was unstructured and images (proofs of identity, certificates, etc.), so contemporary technologies like RPA, BPM or digital applications were of little use. As a result, 95% of HR decision-making was manual. And even where processes had structured data (e.g. T&E claims), the sheer volume of information required sizable teams to manually audit it.
Wipro evaluated the entire HR value chain for AI-led automation. Leveraging the E-IQ framework, we charted a complete list of use cases that could improve the enterprise IQ to the desired benchmark. These use cases were prioritized based on ROI, technical feasibility, and time to market, with a delivery team comprised of multiple SMEs and stakeholders.
Several HR SMEs were hesitant to trust the AI models, but the leader encouraged her team to have faith and implement AI in several areas to improve the HR function’s E-IQ.
For employee onboarding, the entire process was digitized and automatically converted unstructured data into structured data. AI models were used to validate documents and generate offer letters using intelligent process-automation tools. Meanwhile, the auditing process for Travel & Expense claims was replaced by an anomaly-detection model that could detect compliance violation, enabling the human team to focus on new scenarios.
Understanding Enterprise IQ Helps Drive Business Outcomes
By understanding and addressing the areas that could benefit the most, the HR function realized multiple gains. Automating manually intensive processes helped the team optimize headcount and focus more on analysis and monitoring. Updating the employee-onboarding process improved the employee experience and resulted in very high satisfaction rates. Leveraging new models enabled T&E and other claims to be closed in less than a day. And, based on the success with quarterly appraisals, HR operations are now encouraged to use “talent retention” AI models that alert managers early to potential risks and enable them to take the appropriate mitigation steps.
Infusing intelligence into the HR function helped the company realize tangible benefits within two quarters. When the Enterprise IQ was measured in early 2020, it was on target to become 7.0 – a favorable improvement that’s inspired the company to explore further intelligence-driven improvements.
As Wipro helps other companies leverage this HR intelligence playbook, one of the most difficult hurdles businesses must overcome is finding leaders who can facilitate rapid technology adoption. AI and intelligence can have a positive impact, but only if the right leadership is in place.
Transformative businesses must have the courage to explore how to leverage technology in new ways, they must be curious about their Enterprise Intelligence Quotient (E-IQ), and they must be the enabler for a journey in which every business function, even HR, contributes to an intelligent enterprise.