Ultimate Software's Blog

Live From #HRTechConf 2017: AI and the Future of HR

“Artificial intelligence (AI) is the number-one technology you can’t afford to miss.”

These powerful words came from Holger Mueller, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research, as he led the “Looking Ahead: Where Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning May Take the Next Generation of HR” panel on Thursday, October 12, the second-to-last day of the 2017 HR Technology Conference in Las Vegas.

Mueller was not alone in his sentiment. AI and machine learning took center stage at the conference this year, with multiple sessions and panels dedicated to the burgeoning technology and its expected impact on HR and HCM. Subject-matter experts from organizations across HR tech agreed on AI’s revolutionary capacity, common problems facing developers, and opportunities for industry leaders to incorporate these futuristic technologies into their solutions.

AI-related topics such as Big Data, advanced analytics, natural language processing (NLP), and blockchain technologies were also discussed.

Many Ultimate Software representatives were invited to participate in panels and lead sessions, including Vivian Maza, chief people officer; Adam Rogers, chief technology officer; Cecile Alper-Leroux, vice president of HCM innovation; Armen Berjikly, senior director of strategy for workforce intelligence; Moritz Sudhof, principal data scientist; Jarik Conrad, senior director of HCM innovation, and Yasmary Diaz, engineering team owner.

Joseph Cutrono, manager of innovation strategy, and his team also participated in the conference as competitors in the annual HR Tech Hack-a-Thon. In just 48 hours, Cutrono’s team built a functional platform to help managers effortlessly evaluate competencies in their workforce and efficiently forge new teams based on desired skill set, emotional fit, salary requirements, and more. Audience polling confirmed Ultimate’s solution won by a landslide, both for the feature the audience would most like to have and what’s most likely to be incorporated into future HCM solutions.

While many session and panel discussions were speculative and future-focused, Ultimate’s representatives were able to speak on AI-powered solutions that are presently available. During the conference, Ultimate announced and demoed Xander™, its groundbreaking, “People First” AI platform that underlies UltiPro®’s ability to understand, predict, prescribe, and act on workforce data. Named after innovator Alexander Graham Bell, who improved relationships and brought people closer together using the technology of the telephone, Xander is the next frontier of meaningful people management (and, therefore, organizational success).

Coupling advanced NLP capabilities with machine learning, Xander can analyze open-ended text and decipher more than 100 emotions, 70 workplace themes, and overall sentiment with better-than-human accuracy. It’s as sensitive to emotions as it is to statistics, helping leaders to understand not only what their employees are saying, but how they’re actually feeling. Robust predictive capabilities can forecast everything from performance to retention, and prescriptive functions take this even farther by offering managers step-by-step recommendations at the most crucial decision-making points—all based on experience and what’s worked well in similar situations.

“Xander isn’t designed to replace people,” said Berjikly during the demo. “It’s designed to understand them and help them do their jobs better.”

Stay connected to @UltimateHCM on Twitter for ongoing updates and coverage from this year’s #HRTechConf.