AI: What’s Next?


What does AI actually mean for your staffing business? In this series, Bullhorn’s Jim Hegerich explores the basics of AI, the application of technology in staffing and the ongoing requirements to ensure you get the intended, ongoing return on your AI investment. Read part 1 on the fundamentals of AI and part 2 on automation.

What should staffing businesses expect from AI as we move forward as an industry? It’s a safe bet that it won’t look anything like our current understanding of artificial intelligence.

An example: In 1996, IBM’s Deep Blue computer lost to chess champion Garry Kasparov. Fifteen months later, it beat him. At the time, people said that the machine was not displaying “real intelligence”.  This led to the idea that “real intelligence” is whatever intelligent behavior people can do that machines still cannot. This phenomenon is known as the AI Effect: AI is whatever hasn’t been done yet. Obviously, this is an interesting challenge, as the bar is ever moving.

One thing is for certain: AI is going to play an increasingly large role in the way business is done, in staffing and every other industry. It’s important enough for the United States to fund and implement an American Artificial Intelligence Strategy almost exactly one year ago. “It’s hard to overstate the importance of operationalizing AI across the department and to do so with the appropriate sense of urgency and alacrity,” JAIC director Shanahan told reporters. 

In fact, those who are using AI now are already reporting strong returns on their investment in the technology. A recent McKinsey study revealed that 63 percent of companies reported revenue increases in the business unit where the AI use case was deployed.  Revenue growth was highest in marketing and sales, in product and service development, and in supply-chain management.

Making the Most of AI

AI is certainly going to be a part of the business landscape, so how can you ensure that your staffing business is on the right side of innovation? AI is not—and will probably never be—a tool you can turn on and walk away from. It requires the right technology, quality data, interaction, and human supervision. As you prepare to roll out an AI strategy, you’ll need a human touch and a clear understanding of your goals. AI will only ever be as good as the information you feed it and the soundness of your business strategy.

Foundationally, AI requires 3 things:

  1. Massive amounts of data.
  2. Massive amounts of computing power.
  3. Some very smart people that know how to harness these two elements to produce the desired result.

Here’s the good news, Apollo 11 was the first time man flew and landed a spacecraft on the surface of the moon. Remember Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin? That was July 1969 and they traveled 477,710 miles to the moon and back.  NASA did this with substantially less computing power than your iPhone. Trust me folks, AI is on its way with a vengeance.

The Path to AI Success

As for my friends and colleagues in the staffing industry, you don’t need the resources of the Federal Government to be able to benefit from AI.  You simply need to have relationships with vendors that check those 3 boxes above and have an ethics strategy that you are comfortable with for the use of AI. 

As I said in my previous entry in this series, it is imperative that AI has adult supervision to provide the constant “advice” so that the machine learning that needs to occur is guided by someone who understands the desired outcome. This is a process of constant vigilance and feedback.  As with a child, the more effort you put into your AI project the better chance you have of reaching an optimal result. When we as businesspeople grasp and execute well on this strategy the technology will continue to improve and at some point, AI will run itself.  Until then be prepared to check your kids’ homework.

About the author: Jim is a Senior National Accounts Executive at Bullhorn. He has spent the last 35 years in sales & sales leadership roles, the last 19 years in software. His background includes stints at ADP & Xerox as well as startups. He is driven by one question, “How can I deliver measurable, repeatable value to our clients?” If he’s not working, or even if he is, you’ll probably find him at a local golf course, American Legion or his favorite, preparing a gourmet meal.

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