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Expert: Using AI to maximise workforce skills

Chief Human Resources Officers (CHROs), Chief Financial Officers (CFOs), and Chief Information Officers (CIOs) today face a range of interconnected challenges, both internal and external to their organisations. 

CHROs continue to manage the accelerated move to a hybrid work model and combat fierce competition for talent. They also lead measures to deliver business value from employee engagement, increase workforce flexibility, and improve value, inclusion, belonging and equity (VIBE). In addition, they help organisations and workers adapt to new technologies and business models that are changing the descriptions and hierarchy of roles. 

Many of these challenges overlap with those confronting the modern CFO, whose remit has expanded beyond finance to digital transformation, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance reporting, identifying, and delivering efficiencies, M&A, and other broader business activities. As our CFO, Barbara Larson, said at a recent Bloomberg event, “business leaders are really looking for CFOs to be more strategic, drive insights around operational change, guide business strategy, and create value for the company.” 

CIOs face equally difficult issues to manage as the IT workforce embraces agile methodologies and practices to deliver faster for line-of-business teams. Challenges CIOs must address include identifying technologies that can deliver the greatest business impact, ensuring IT teams close identified security risks, and managing foundational change to deliver innovation and transformation while ensuring their business remains resilient.

The operational hygiene needed to support fixed infrastructure often steals time away from the continuous transformation now required of organisations, and the task of migrating workloads to the cloud. 

CHROs, CFOs, and CIOs must address all these challenges amid economic turbulence, skills shortages, and the ‘great resignation’ trend in markets such as Australia where, according to recent research, nearly one quarter (24 per cent) of workers intend to leave their current roles.

Navigating these headwinds successfully means implementing change that touches on every aspect of these three key C-Suite roles. Among the measures organisations should consider is moving to a cloud-native SaaS provider and platform to manage foundational areas such as people and money. The agility of SaaS enables organisations to transform effectively and adapt quickly to modern imperatives. 

From a talent perspective, the platform should help organisations match the skills needed to perform various roles with the skills their people have–and want to develop. A platform with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) at its core can use advanced learning and intelligence to help organisations recognise, categorise, and manage a portfolio of skills to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances.

Line-of-business users can also leverage the platform to promote the use of ‘gig’ work, advertise opportunities in internal marketplaces, and encourage experimentation in a move to more agile practices. Finally, if the platform operates to a single, secure, and tenanted data model, an organisation can be sure its sensitive data remains protected from theft or disruption.   

NLP streamlines resume analysis

A skills-based model impacts recruitment, talent management, internal mobility, and corporate planning–transforming how managers manage talent to align with business objectives. For example, businesses use natural language processing (NLP)–a subset of ML that enables computers to analyse, process, and understand human language–to identify skills in a resume and filter that information based on relevance, helping streamline otherwise laborious manual work. 

Organisations can then use a cloud service infused with ML and NLP to manage skills to match people with the right skills to the right positions–whether that be a candidate for a job or an existing employee looking for a new role. This skills-based approach also helps employee profiles stay relevant with new technologies, keeping them current and ensuring their business remains competitive.

Organisations today need to work harder to retain and upskill their best people, with data and technology used to maximise the benefits of those skills. Data insight powered by the product of a cloud-based skill will enable those organisations to develop and implement a complete, skills-based people strategy that realises the potential of their most valuable assets.

ML and AI presents a huge opportunity for finance leaders

The finance function is also rich with potential for improvement through AI and ML. A Workday report released in collaboration with FSN highlights the current low adoption of the technology and highlights that early movers will have an advantage over their competitors. 

The Future of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in the Finance Function, shows that nearly three-quarters (74 per cent) of finance practitioners are yet to use these technologies, however a similar proportion (71 per cent) expect to do so by the end of the decade.  Furthermore, the study highlights that 59 per cent of organisations did not have a recruitment plan that supported digital transformation. 

In that same report FSN’s research found that AI and ML could profoundly impact accounts payable and planning, budgeting, and forecasting, and anomaly detection, with record-to-report benefiting from automated reconciliations. While survey participants saw the greatest investment potential in process efficiency and throughput, speed to insight remained important. 

We believe these technologies can place CFOs at the heart of strategy, growth, and decision-making. CFO’s will be able to close the books across various accounting periods faster and more efficiently, reducing the hours needed to review accounts, spot anomalies in data, and prepare financial statements, giving departments real-time access to live financial information.

This in turn delivers a competitive advantage, with an organisation able to identify opportunities and grow faster while adapting to change.

AI and ML provide focus to the CIOs in driving business value

Workday infuses AI and ML directly into its products as its part of the core, ensuring CIOs do not have to procure or manage separate AI and ML stacks or manage complex data integrations. By providing simple, accurate data integration to train the models, we enable IT teams to focus on delivering business value. We also provide transparency into the AI and ML models we use to mitigate risk and ensure people are the final decision-makers. 

While AI and ML can transform the way an organisation manages people and money, ensuring trust with stakeholders is crucial. This means working with algorithms installed into the core platform of a human resources and finance solution and that integrate directly into source data. It also means applying rigorous policies around transparency and ethics in the use of AI, particularly around bias. 

AI and ML are now taking center stage in enabling finance, human resources, and other business functions to transform so they can address today’s far-reaching challenges. This technology advancement opens new opportunities in the way we work and paves the way for people to make more informed, accurate, forward-thinking decisions.

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Damian Leach

Damian Leach

Damian James Leach is the chief technology officer for Asia pacific and Japan at workday

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