A study conducted in 2018, entitled “The chatbots observatory”, interviewed several hundred human resources managers about their perception of chatbots. The results of this study, conducted by a natural language processing editor, Do You Dream Up, have just been published. They are compared with the results of another study from the same observatory that interviewed commercials.
While chatbots are in vogue, and most salespeople (72%) know what a chatbot is and are aware of the capabilities of this tool, human resources professionals still struggle to keep up with new technologies, with only 22% of them able to define what a chatbot is. 43% have never even heard of them. However, those who have already heard about it, even vaguely, believe that chatbots will become widespread in human resources. Digging deeper, the majority believe that some of their functions will be replaced by chatbots, taking on management and communication tasks. But they also think that other professions will be created, around chatbots, to create, adapt and optimize them.
The end of intranets?
For many HR managers, chatbots will eventually replace intranets entirely. As the Danone company has implemented internally their own chatbot, chatbots can become the new interface allowing employees to access the information of the company. Danone had set up a chatbot when it announced the creation of an investment fund, and its employees were able to ask their questions in a natural way to this chatbot to learn more about the investment fund.
Indeed, for the moment, intranets are often quite cold and formal websites that do not necessarily make the employee want to get involved in the company and learn more about it, and about the different branches and sectors in which it is active. However, for a multinational company, it is important that employees have a global vision of the company’s strategy. Chatbots could then become an appropriate solution to make the interaction between the employee and the company attractive. The chatbot could truly embody the company’s spirit that HR are trying so hard to transmit.
It is also in improving the management of training that chatbots could find their usefulness, by being able to handle the questions of thousands of employees, often being the same but formulated in different ways. The automatic synonym search features would then be essential. Emotional recognition could help to assess employees’ mood on a large scale, depending on whether they are satisfied or need more support.
Still few real cases of satisfactory use
At the moment, only 23% of HR professionals have set up a chatbot in their projects, or have one under development. This is still low compared to the 42% of salespeople who have done so. This is understandable because it is generally believed that chatbots are an asset, especially as an external façade for the company, as advertising. They allow the brand to enhance its image, showing that it is fashionable and innovative.
For those who have adopted chatbots, they have average satisfaction with them. This can be explained by the fact that there are still few solutions really adapted to an internal use within a company, for human resources. Today’s chatbots are specialized in a fun, sales-oriented look and interaction since they are mainly used for external communication aimed at convincing the user and leading him or her to a product. For human resources, the intention is not the same, it is necessary to ensure secure and recorded communication, which can be synthesized to produce statistics on employees, for HR to work on later. Also, the chatbot should not orientate the user, but rather the opposite. In other words, it should let itself be guided by the user who is looking for specific information.
For human resources, the purpose is to ensure the proper transmission of information, while for marketing the purpose is a sales act. The chatbots solutions corresponding to HR specifically are not yet fully developed, but let us not forget that we are still at the beginning of the chatbots era. Most of the functionalities required by HR can already be met: learning, natural language processing, multi-channel, multilingual. We need to rethink the structure of the chatbot and its way of addressing the user, but the tools are already there for it to fulfill its mission. There is a philosophy behind each necessity, and for each necessity there can be a chatbot that fulfills this philosophy!
Lorcan is an IT engineer and a specialist in AI and Robotics based in Barcelona, Spain. He worked for the European Space Agency and then decided to devote himself to writing articles to spread knowledge about new AI technologies.