Three key tech takeaways from CNBC Talent@Work

Read about the key takeaways from HR leaders regarding trends such as data in decision making, robots, and artificial intelligence.

By Swapna Sathyan August 27, 2018

The world of human resources and talent management is seeing exciting change – it was a consistent theme at CNBC’s inaugural Talent@Work event earlier this week. Part of CNBC’s new @Work series focused on making sense of the dramatic change occurring in the world of work, Talent@Work brought together HR leaders to focus on the workforce of tomorrow and how companies can best attract the brightest talent to fuel their business.

It was an enlightening discussion powered by inspiring thought leaders, and CNBC deserves praise for the high quality of the event. I was thrilled to see the passion and analytical rigor as fellow leaders shared their experiences, journeys and new ideas. The discussions provided insights into the role of technology and big data in shaping the workforce, and helped reinforce the importance of designing workplaces spatially and culturally aligned to talent strategies.

Talent@Work proved to be an event that every HR leader could benefit from. Given that there were only so many chairs at Tribeca 360 in New York City, I’ve compiled some of my takeaways from the event:

Data Is Crucial to Workforce Decision Making

Ryan Roslansky, Senior Vice President of Product LinkedIn, laid out the core challenge HR leaders face today, "There are more jobs than talent." This means hiring top talent is as competitive as ever in our workforce and companies need to leverage every tool at their disposal to succeed.

Ryan shared how LinkedIn has developed a data platform that updates several million times each minute to bring companies the latest and greatest insight to inform their hiring decision. He shared examples and spoke eloquently about how LinkedIn has evidence that companies who understand data and use it to make talent decisions are progressively more successful in linking jobs to people than their peers. All to say, companies should hardwire data and analytics into their DNA as recruiting efforts move forward.

I took the opportunity to ask Ryan about predictive analytics and if LinkedIn uses them to help match employers and employees. He shared that while this is "true north," – they are not there yet. He does envision a future where predictive data can recommend locations for employers and suggest potential candidates in locations automatically, but also indicated that preserving privacy of their members’ data would factor into any such endeavor.

Robots Might Not Replace Us

One of the more fascinating presentations came from Chieh Huang, Founder and CEO of Boxed – a tech company that makes shopping in bulk more convenient, easy and fun. Chieh spoke candidly of the company’s journey from a garage-based startup to one of the largest automated fulfillment entities in just over four years. The company has been able to embrace automation without laying off a single worker. Instead, they’ve retrained them to help power the company’s dynamic facility and service the numerous robots fulfilling orders.

Given McKinsey data that suggests anywhere from 400 to 800 million of today’s jobs could be automated by 2030, Boxed’s story is an inspiring one. Yes, robots and software will replace certain manual jobs as our economy becomes even more ideas-based, but that will also spur the creation of entirely new types of jobs. Navigating this shift will require a commitment to retraining that echoes Boxed’s efforts. All of this – robots, retraining, and more – will also influence how companies design workplaces to empower learning, automation and new scales of productivity.

Artificial Intelligence as Differentiator

An ever-present challenge in hiring is human beings’ inherent biases that can cloud decision-making. Into the future, machines and artificial intelligence (AI) may be the power source to help counter these blind spots for companies. Moreover, AI can help speed up our traditional, long recruiting cycles that drain time, resources and bottom lines.

Iba Mascood addressed this reality as she talked about TARA.AI – a digital tool that operates a secure contractor network of 50,000 pre-screened developers and can instantaneously assign them to manage projects or take on new roles. She pointed out how AI doesn’t bring bias into decision making and can make up for the recruiter’s lack of technical know-how in evaluating suitable candidates. Both she and co-presenter Frida Polli of pymetrics hailed the benefits of AI, which can not only match candidates to vacant jobs but also automatically identify alternate roles for individuals who weren’t a suitable fit.

Iba and Frida set forth a convincing argument that every company should be exploring how AI could bolster their talent recruitment efforts. Beyond its speed and accuracy, AI is also well suited to help companies thrive in a world where 65 million American will be temps, freelancers or independent contractors by 2020 thanks to the gig economy’s emergence.

The world of work is changing dramatically and daily. While this presents numerous challenges for HR teams, it is invigorating to see the promise of a future where humans and machines partner to enhance productivity and innovation. Kudos to CNBC for conceptualizing Talent@Work and providing a forward thinking platform as Talent leaders find balance in a shifting world. It was a great event and I’m hopeful to check out the future planned events in their series Productivity@Work and Capital@Work.

Swapna Sathyan, director of workplace strategy consulting, Cannon Design. This article originally appeared on Cannon Design’s blog. Cannon Design is a CFE Media content partner.

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