There’s Still a Lot More to HR Technology Than Generative AI

These days, generative AI is sucking up all the proverbial oxygen in the HR tech room. This can deprive other types of excellent–and often more mature and dependable–technologies from getting the attention they deserve. So, since I’ve been writing so much about generative AI, I just wanted to emphasize what should be obvious: there’s much more to HR technology than neural networks.

I understand the fascination with the new AIs. They’re impressive and powerful. But, at least in their more generalized incarnations (i.e., ChatGPT, Bing, Bard, etc.), they’re still experimental and subject to problems, the most serious of which are inaccuracies to the point of sheer confabulation.

HR of Two Tech Minds

This leaves HR departments that are looking for the best new applications thinking along two tracks. First, they want the technology that meets their particular HR needs, one that is dependable and predictable. Let’s say, for example, that they want recruitment software that accurately matches the skills of candidates with the skills gaps they currently face in their organization. Efficiency and effectiveness are crucial to success here.

Their second track of thought, however, goes something like this: “But what about generative AI? How important is that going to be in this area in the near future?” Should HR pros worry whether the new system they’re considering will be out-of-date soon if it doesn’t contain elements of generative AI? Do there need to be prompt screens into which users can ask questions using natural language?

Personally, I don’t think so. A well-engineered (and well understood!) algorithm that predictably does an important task well is still a good investment. Down the road, of course, maybe that software will be integrated with some form of generative AI to serve as part of its interface. Maybe.

Good Tech Is Hard to Find

My point is that good technology that works today shouldn’t be underrated just because it’s not stamped with labels such as as generative AI, Large Language Model, neural network, or even just machine learning. The topic of AI will, of course, continue to be widely discussed, touted, hyped and critiqued, but generative AI won’t completely replace or subsume other more traditional (and perhaps more dependable) HR technologies. At least not in the short term.

Every purchasing decision is unique, depending on the customer’s needs and technology under consideration. I’m certainly in no position to judge for anyone else who’s making an important purchasing and implementation decision. But, for what’s it’s worth, I think HR professionals should not get so distracted by the shiny object of generative AI that they ignore the technologies that work best today.