Prediction: Talent acquisition will use AI and predictive data to become truly embedded in the business

Posted by Denise Moulton on December 5, 2018.

For several years, talent acquisition (TA) has been emerging from its silo of filling headcount to become part of an overarching talent strategy. In 2019, we expect record-low unemployment rates and a demand for niche skills to hasten that transformation and make the TA function a critical player in ensuring that organizations have the talent they need to be productive. This means more than improving TA strategies, enhancing relationships with hiring teams, or becoming data-driven. A substantial shift in behaviors, capabilities, and business integration will fuel TA in those organizations keen to embrace the possibilities.

With smart investments in emerging technology such as artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive data, talent acquisition is poised to deliver increased value and improved organizational performance. While these tools have been on the market for some time, few organizations have taken bold steps to implement them.1 In fact, during a recent series of roundtables that Bersin convened on AI in talent acquisition, less than a handful of TA leaders said they had started experimenting with these solutions. This was not surprising: high-performing TA functions, which are four times more likely than low performers to use advanced TA technologies, make up just 26 percent of TA functions overall.2

In 2019, leveraging AI and predictive data will empower radical transformation of the TA function, which will embrace new ways to anticipate needs and identify and hire the talent that fuels the enterprise. As part of this, TA will partner with colleagues across HR to help ensure that TA leaders are sourcing and hiring necessary talent, as well as recognizing areas of potential turnover and critical skills gaps.

AI adoption will accelerate, starting with sourcing.

AI has made some inroads into talent acquisition, with varying degrees of impact at every stage in the TA life cycle. Anecdotally, we have seen greater implementation of AI in TA than in any other area of HR—yet HR still lags behind other areas of the enterprise, particularly IT, in AI adoption. But AI’s potential is no secret: 78 percent of executives believe that AI-based augmentation of workers will fuel new ways of working.3 In 2019 TA will begin to fully realize this potential.

To capitalize on this potential, TA will make implementation of AI technology a business imperative, shifting focus away from the mundane tasks that have historically overburdened the function. TA leaders have a tremendous opportunity to free recruiter capacity by replacing the repetitive or invisible tasks (e.g., manual searches) with AI technologies. In doing so, recruiters can spend more time on meaningful interactions with candidates or hiring teams, and other higher-value human activities.

For most organizations, sourcing tends to be the toe in the water as they experiment with AI. There are a number of fairly mature tools on the market, and this type of AI experimentation presents a low-risk proposition since people can backstop challenges as they learn about the tools. This is likely the area of AI in HR that will see the greatest uptick in usage in 2019. The most mature TA functions will lead the charge—but less mature organizations will need to catch up quickly as they compete for the same talent pool.

Predictive data will help TA plan ahead instead of reacting.

High-performing TA functions are already engaging in data-driven decision-making; most TA teams have a menu of reports that are available on-demand, generated through their TA technology. However, TA leaders are beginning to evaluate data in new ways to increase understanding of critical talent practices and trends across the business. By developing analytics fluency, the TA function will become better equipped to search for talent in the right places, take calculated risks, and plan more effectively. Transitioning from historical reporting to predictive analysis lets TA teams address skills gaps and understand the talent needs of today to spark future business growth. For instance, TA leaders can use predictive data to anticipate which roles are most likely to turn over due to demand in the market, where the organization will need to increase capabilities based on its strategy, or if it needs to build a candidate pipeline in those areas.

Additionally, these insights will help shape an overall TA strategy that looks beyond hiring with a keen eye toward the ways to nurture and grow talent for the years to come. TA functions will need to refine and expand their scope to include more metrics around cycle or stage timing, strength of candidate slate, time to performance, organizational fit, and retention / risk analysis. With a more comprehensive approach to analytics, TA will be able to realize improvements across the end-to-end recruiting process, and hone its understanding about the internal and external talent marketplace.

Looking ahead
In the coming months, Bersin research will continue to explore the critical impact of these technologies on the TA function. Without transformation, talent acquisition will not be able to effectively meet the workforce demands of the future and sustain organizational performance. By shifting its mindset and adopting new tools to enable greater productivity and continuous improvement, TA will make an increasing impact. The barriers to transformation will be steep, requiring a fundamental change in the way organizations view talent acquisition. Once the TA function bolsters its ability to innovate and drive agility in practice, there will be a noticeable impact on speed, efficiency, and the organization’s bottom line—enabling improved voice and influence across the business.

Every day from November 27 through December 6, Bersin will be sharing perspectives on the most timely, relevant, and interesting developments for HR professionals to watch in 2019. Check back every day, or visit on December 18 for a consolidated report with all of the predictions.

Denise MoultonDenise Moulton is vice president and HR and talent research leader at BersinTM, Deloitte Consulting LLP.

1 Six Key Insights to Put Talent Acquisition at the Center of Business Strategy and Execution, in the High-Impact Talent Acquisition series, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP / Robin Erickson, PhD, and Denise Moulton, 2018.
2 The Talent Acquisition Maturity Model, in the High-Impact Talent Acquisition series, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP / Robin Erickson, PhD, and Denise Moulton, 2018.
3 State of AI in the Enterprise, 2nd Edition: Early adopters combine bullish enthusiasm with strategic investments, Deloitte Insights, Deloitte Development LLC / Jeff Loucks, Tom Davenport, and David Schatsky, 2018.

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