Advanced computer technology image.

Advanced machine learning brings new opportunities and challenges to staffing

Jeremy Data, Staffing

Technology grows more sophisticated by the day. Therefore, it's no surprise that machines will continue to be central to the staffing and recruiting world in numerous ways. These days, computers not only perform complex calculations, they also perform cognitive tasks only humans were previously thought capable of. Computers not only do what they are programmed to do, they can actually learn. What does this mean for the staffing industry?

Computers as collaborators
As machines become intelligent enough to learn like humans, they are in a way becoming part of the workforce themselves. In the past, members of the workforce have worried about the introduction of computers, fearing their jobs would be replaced by machines. While this will happen in some circumstances, the greater likelihood is that computers will be increasingly integrated into the work environment, enhancing human capabilities rather than replacing them. According to Deloitte's report, "Global Human Capital Trends 2015," a new computer trend is emerging. Companies will begin to see computers as collaborators, rather than competition. In fact, 60 percent of respondents believe this trend is "important" or "very important."

"Computers enable greater efficiency, accuracy and safety."

Computers enable greater efficiency, accuracy and even safety in many organizations. These machines save valuable time by automating important tasks so that professionals can do more. This type of platform is especially useful in the healthcare industry, where small decisions can have huge impacts on patient health and wellness. For instance, Deloitte cited the example of Anthem, a health benefits company. In the past, nurse practitioners spent hours reviewing and analyzing whether treatments were acceptable under an organization's policies. This process required in-depth understanding of science, patient history and more. Now a cognitive computing system creates recommendations for the nurse practitioners to review.

According to Computerworld, a computer called Watson Oncology helps doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center make better treatment decisions by quickly reviewing studies and literature to produce better insights.

Such situations will become more common in industries across the world. However, many organizations lack the expertise required to implement and maximize the use of these intelligent machines.

Computer skills will be important
While the majority of employers recognize the importance of machine learning and other advanced computer technology, most of them don't have a strong understanding of thinking machines. Only 5 percent indicated a detailed understanding, while more than half admitted limited to no understanding of these tools.

Intelligent machines may be able to learn to do certain tasks, but humans also need to acquire a certain amount of knowledge to effectively work alongside these computers, and of course, engineer them. Much like harnessing data, getting ahead of the curve on machine learning has enormous competitive advantages. There are already shortages in many realms of data science, and positions like "machine learning engineer" will become crucial to organizational success.

According to Cory Hicks, vice president of engineering at Boomtrain, a personalization business based in machine learning, candidates who excel at engineering and machine learning "are basically unicorns and are at least 10 times as valuable as someone who is great in just one of the fields."

The rise of machine learning will create new skills shortages. Companies will need to bridge these gaps to truly take advantage of intelligent machines. It will be important for staffing agencies to learn how to find these so-called unicorns to help clients achieve the competitive advantage they're looking for.

Machine learning computer imageComputers now perform sophisticated tasks.

The importance of staffing firms as partners
Once again, staffing agencies will be crucial partners as intelligent machines become more integrated into the workforce, especially in the early stages of this transformation. With few companies admitting they have expertise in this realm, staffing agencies can help them acquire candidates with the know-how to effectively implement new approaches.

In addition, companies may want to look out for new talent that can help them reorganize the world of work. With machines automating many tasks previously performed by staff, companies will need to rethink and transform the workplace and the positions that occupy it.

In an environment that is transforming quickly, staffing agencies will be crucial partners for many organizations. After all, it takes time to recruit and acquire the talent necessary to modernize the workplace.

This is a key time for the staffing environment. As companies learn to lean on intelligent machines to automate tasks that are necessary, but outside of their job descriptions, placement firms can take advantage of this mindset. Staffing agencies, like computers, are also key collaborators in the future world of work.

"Who will your technological collaborator be?"

What to look for in a staffing platform
Once again, it's important for staffing agencies to think about their own technological resources. To effectively locate and recruit the talent clients need, staffing firms will need to rely on their own tools. Inside the staffing environment, who will your technological collaborator be?

Like all businesses, firms need to invest in the best possible staffing software to empower recruiters to do their jobs better. If they don't find technological partners to enhance performance, they will fall behind competitors who do.

In any profession there are time-consuming tasks that skilled employees are better off leaving to a machine. It's no different in staffing. Leaving some of the heavy lifting to software enables recruiters to spend more time doing what they do best: interacting with candidates and selling the benefits of open positions.

Consider the process of posting jobs, for instance. While it's a necessary part of the recruiting process, it's also one of the most time-consuming tasks and not where recruiters should really focus their hours on the job. Yet in many situations, recruiters still perform these tasks. Instead, recruiters can now use tools that allow them to post to multiple boards instantly. There are many examples of similar situations where technology can save recruiters from monotonous tasks and liberate them to engage in conversations with candidates and make placements.

It's crucial for firms to partner with innovation-focused staffing software partners. A good vendor will continue to improve technology over time, introducing new features that make life easier for recruiters.

The new world of technological collaboration will affect all organizations, including the staffing industry. The question is: Are you prepared?