February 23, 2018 – Artificial intelligence is transforming the face of workforces around the world. For executive recruiters and human resources departments, it has meant a growing number of new, specialized roles to fill and untapped talent to discover.
Gartner, the information technology research firm, says that on one hand, AI will cause millions of jobs to fall by the wayside, especially low-to-mid-level positions. But other experts in the field take the opposite view, saying AI will create jobs at every level, including highly skilled management positions. By 2020, says Gartner, AI will produce more jobs than it eliminates, with a net gain of two million new jobs in 2025.
AI is also enabling search firms to find and evaluate talent with greater accuracy and speed. New recruitment technology can sift through tremendous amounts of data to identify top prospects exponentially faster than any individual, or team for that matter. Some AI applications, meanwhile, allow companies to predict how candidates will perform in a role. Others can assess a prospect’s character, or even the person’s honesty. And it can all be tailored for the nuances of any given organization.
AI and the Human Touch
In the following interview, Rick DeRose, co-founder and managing partner of executive search firm Acertitude, shares the analytics and big data trends affecting the business world, search industry, and his firm, now and into the future. And while these are thrilling days for technology, Mr. DeRose is quick to point out the value of the human touch in executive recruitment and the need to balance data tools with people skills.
Mr. DeRose launched Acertitude together with Kevin O’Neill in 2015, with a mission to place CEO, C-suite, and executive talent with greater certainty and business impact. Prior to this, he founded Technology Executive Group, specializing in management and strategic hires in technology, which he ran for over 20 years. Mr. DeRose advises leaders of technology and private equity firms on board and leadership selection, often consulting on how influential trends in digital, mobility, cloud, big data, security and the customer experience are redefining the skills and expertise needed at work.
Rick, big data and analytics are emerging quickly onto the recruiting landscape. At what point did you identify this as a viable practice at Acertitude?
Acertitude aims to be ‘where the puck is going.’ To us, that means continuously listening to and keeping pace with the market. As business strategy conversations have turned from data to analytics to AI, our people strategy conversations have, too. We first saw these trends garner attention from CEOs in the early 21st century. Today, they’re at the forefront of board agendas everywhere. The evolution started with clients adding individuals with these skillsets to a department. Now, we’re helping clients build out entire digital, data, or analytics divisions with an executive leader. We also see private equity driving significant investments in this change. With growing demand, this has been a natural extension for our technology practice and my 25-year career in tech and digital recruitment. We’ve strengthened our practice with hires directly out of the industry – most recently we added the former founder and CEO of workforce analytics provider PeopleMatter to our team.
The massive rise in people analytics has opened new opportunities for dedicated leaders in HR analytics. Are you finding this talent pipeline well-populated or are you needing to target related functional disciplines to attract top talent?
While there’s a growing pool of talented executives in analytics, we nearly always complement our slate with a ‘challenger profile’ – that is, an A player from a concentric circle who fits the key criteria but brings an outside function or industry perspective. We’ve found that including a challenger profile sparks some of the best dialogue around fit. Clients are looking for breadth and depth in the slate, especially as analytics becomes a priority for the entire business, not exclusively HR.
“Digital transformation has been – and continues to be – a hot topic. It presents one of the biggest opportunities for businesses to reimagine how they organize, recruit, develop, manage, engage, and retain talent.”
How do you work with companies as they build out these areas? Is there a consultative role that Acertitude plays in these situations?
Companies have started looking at the impact of analytics through two strategic lenses: front-end capabilities and back-office capabilities. The impact on HR falls into the latter category. Back-office analytics are fundamentally changing how HR leaders source and qualify candidates; engage, develop, and retain employees; and shape company culture. For example, the head of analytics we’re recruiting for a multibillion-dollar consumer products brand will deploy analytics to identify patterns around top-performing salespeople. On the back end, that data can help talent acquisition predict the future performance and fit of candidates. On the front end, it can help in the research and development of new products for top salespeople, optimizing their revenue generation and providing insights to deepen customer engagement. The market will continue to see more consulting opportunities as firms like Acertitude bring best practices to employers around discovering, connecting, and empowering brilliant people at work.
Hunt Scanlon’s Top 10 Artificial Intelligence Stories of 2017
One of our most important missions at Hunt Scanlon Media is to report on the trends that are altering the executive recruitment industry, and in many cases, the world of business. Among the most consequential transitions we’ve reported on this past year has been the rise of AI – and what it means for the future of …
Nearly all organizations are being disrupted by digital, analytics, artificial intelligence, automation and robotics. AI is particularly changing how companies manage talent. What is your view and how has AI impacted the manner in which you recruit talent?
Digital transformation has been – and continues to be – a hot topic. It presents one of the biggest opportunities for businesses to reimagine how they organize, recruit, develop, manage, engage, and retain talent. Leveraging big data to compute descriptive, predictive, or prescriptive analytics helps leaders better understand their companies and make competitive moves. We’re seeing an explosion of recruitment technology capabilities built on these algorithms, from identifying people based on specific requirements to determining how open someone is to a career change to using video to analyze honesty and character. At Acertitude, we continue to balance a hands-on, ‘human’ approach with data-driven tools and assessments. We use technology to empower our team to advise companies on their unique business and cultural aspects and better assess candidates for competency and cultural fit. However, they will never replace the trusted, personal connections that are at the heart of our business.
Where do you think workforce analytics and AI will be in the next 10 to 15 years, and do you think new positions, such as the chief artificial intelligence officer, will be more prevalent within companies?
Technological innovation continues to disrupt and reshape markets around the world. Not only does this mean that standalone roles like the chief artificial intelligence officer will be more prevalent, but it also means companies will come to depend on a mix of human capabilities and artificial intelligence. We’re already seeing new titles enter the C-suite as workforce analytics and AI evolve. Some of these new titles include chief analytics officer, chief data officer, chief digital officer, and head of business intelligence, with support teams of data engineers, data analysts, data scientists, and advanced analytics leaders. Some companies add these capabilities in new roles, while others carve these growing responsibilities out of existing C-suite roles, such as the chief marketing officer, chief information officer, or chief technology officer. Companies that can quickly incorporate analytics and AI to empower their people, shape their culture, and fulfill their purpose will no doubt create a competitive edge – and be the drivers of exciting change in the world. Workforce analytics and AI are providing a platform and road map to help companies accelerate this process.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media