According to IBM, humans create about 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. That’s right, quintillion. We bet you can’t even begin to process that number. This amount is so huge that 90% of the data in the world today has been generated in the last two years. Moreover, the amount of information we generate is doubled every two years: in 2016, we produced twice as much information as we did in the years leading up to 2014. We’re pretty confident you know what big data is by now.

And human resources isn’t immune to the phenomenon! The challenge for them is to collect employee data to improve their daily work experience. Data can be a big asset for human resources, if you overlook debates on data security and privacy. Data has become the black gold of the 21st century.

This black gold, that is almost impossible to decipher by the human brain for its sheer size, can be processed and used intelligently by the newer kid on the block: Artificial intelligence. We hear of AI making advances in several fields every day (cars, games such as Chess and Go, IBM’s Watson, etc.), but this is barely scratching the surface. What’s more, the astrophysicist Stephen Hawking considers AI as “the biggest event in the history of our civilisation”. Even though he warned us that “the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race” in his 2014 BBC interview, we can’t help but think that AI offers limitless possibilities.

For HR, the combined use of big data and artificial intelligence is a godsend. With the help of this, they can get to know employees and their aspirations and requirements in order to offer adapted training courses, internal mobility, and pay raises according to their needs.

HR Analytics modules, which are part of HRIS, aim to enrich and contextualize decision-making. The role of HR will then be to interpret data provided by the machine and process it in the human and psychosocial context to make more informed decisions.

A machine’s strength lies in creating new knowledge by correlating information without using a predefined model

Practically speaking, we can think of artificial intelligence as whistle-blowers who warn the human resources of upcoming issues. Technology can help identify who may be thinking of leaving the company based on the signals it receives. There could be several reasons a talent wishes to leave: Are they paid less than their counterparts who have the same responsibilities? Do they wish to change positions? Artificial intelligence can play a major role in providing career growth perspectives for employees. It can map an employee’s acquired competencies with those required for the target position and correlate this information with the available and relevant training sessions. In this way, we can get the best out of AI’s predictive and analytical qualities and HR talent management.

One of the advantages of combining big data with AI is that it will provide new insights to everyone. One of humanity’s pitfalls is viewing the world in terms of what they already know! This is precisely what makes learning extremely difficult. Shigehisa Tsuchiya calls this the “knowledge creation model”. A machine’s strength lies in creating new knowledge by correlating information without using a predefined model.

Even though AI is not yet fully adapted to HR, as is the case with the ones developed by GAFA, employees will still be able to access new knowledge brought up by HRIS—knowledge that would never have been brought up by an employee, their manager, or an HR rep. It is up to everyone to test the information that is brought up, and put it to use. And to prove Stephen Hawking wrong.


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