For a decade, HR Tech vendors uniformly claimed that the holy grail of software was the consumer experience delivered by companies like Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and other web-centric software companies. The goal of intuitive decision making from clearly defined choices in a simple graphical context seemed logical. It was a way of explaining the miserable levels of adoption in most offerings.
Intelligent tools require a different kind of relationship with their user. Machines provide opinions. This requires the employee to actually think, question, and weigh alternatives and predictions before executing. Intuitive interfaces that drive rapid decision making will become liability traps for their makers. Interfaces that encourage the user to take the machine’s input as one point of view will proliferate.
Things are changing fast. As of this writing, intelligence is embedded in the basic office tools offered by both Google and Microsoft. The rapid proliferation of intelligent tools in HR Technology is the first wave of a series of increasingly sophisticated changes.
We’ve seen an avalanche of predictive services that help do things faster, smarter, better. By clipping a keystroke here and there and adding a prediction occasionally, our basic working tools will speed us through both administrative tasks and functional communications. But accelerating administration is not the same as improving productivity.
While there will be a push to quantify the savings (the famous 20th century hunt for the ROI), the reality will be that we do the same work more thoroughly and effectively. It’s possible that we will discover hidden value. The more likely scenario is that we will experience a decline in error rates on things we never measured for error rates.
For example, Augmented Writing (AW), pioneered by Textio for intra and inter-company communications, is already close to being a part of all text entry systems on all platforms. Microsoft Word offers the service in its latest releases. Expect to see domain-based differentiation in products. Textio’s work focuses on specific tasks and environments.
AW will produce clearer recommendations and sturdier agreements. It will also start to change the way we communicate by narrowing written language to its most effective subsets. Meanwhile, specialty vendors will offer nuanced differences for the arena in which they specialize. No system that accepts text input will be able to avoid having AW.
In HR Technology, we will more specialized AW packages for candidate interactions, job offers, branding campaigns, performance management, disciplinary documents, job requisitions, employee referrals, and employee recommendations.
In the rest of the organization, we will see tools that customize communications to the context such as team communications based on the company’s culture, customer communications based on the culture of the customer, and marketing based on characteristics of the target. AW will offer communications improvement for everyone in each individual setting.
Similar sorts of improvements are coming to spreadsheets, presentations, SMS, and other forms of messaging. Our machines will predict the impact of our communications and planning before we ever deliver them. Product differentiation is a new frontier. Collectively, we will be learning to distinguish nuances between products in areas where nuance didn’t exist.