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How AI/ML are Driving Innovation and Opportunities at ADP

Julio Giving Presentation.

Julio Hartmann joined ADP as a software development manager in 2004. Seventeen years later, he is now the Vice President/General Manager, head of ADP’s global software product development center and innovation lab in Porto Alegre, Brazil. His team works across the global product and technology portfolio, always looking for new opportunities. Julio leads product innovation and research, exploring growing technologies and evolving trends. He and his team aim to create the next generation of human capital management applications that drive learning and training in the workforce.

How it Started: Human Capital Management (HCM) Software

Steve Jobs said, “Things happen fairly slowly. These waves of technology, you can see them way before they happen, and you just have to choose wisely which ones you’re going to surf. It takes years.”

People tend to assume technology evolves linearly—growing at the same rate over time—but it develops exponentially instead. Some examples of exponential technologies include 5G networks, 3D printing, robotics, and blockchain. As the speed of technological innovation increases, it creates frustration in product development. People perceive a gap between expectations and performance, then quickly learn the products are not the problem. We inflate our expectations beyond what technology delivers. Despite uncertainties in the environment, the emerging tech follows an exponential growth and improves until it reaches a pivotal moment of breakthroughs.

For many, the pivot point may be challenging to foresee, and companies are caught unprepared. With market research observation, we know breakthroughs happen for a number of reasons. The moment is often tied to technology becoming cheap enough to reach mass consumption. In other words, a breakthrough occurs when a component becomes more viable with a combination of factors, creating the perfect environment to throw the innovation into disrupter status.

The phenomenon played out clearly in smartphone market. When the iPhone arrived, that changed everything. We live in a time when anything and everything is possible. Modern technologies drive the future and bring endless learning opportunities to the next generations. To prepare ADP for the next move in the industry, my team continues to develop, recognizing the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning.

The Future of Learning: HCM Systems

Julio at the Beach

The future of learning will involve more personalization and customization based on learning styles, competencies, and preferences. In other words, artificial intelligence (AI) and adaptive learning are the future. These powerful technologies will affect both humans and machines in the coming years. Our goal at ADP is to develop a combination of tools that harness the power of AI and facilitate learning, ensuring companies and employees grow at a fast, steady pace.

The job market is shifting due to the broad impact of AI, automation, and robotics. There is a reduced demand for specific jobs, such as factory roles that can be automated. On the other hand, there is an increasing demand for particular jobs that belong in the future. According to the report by the Institute for the Future, 85% of the jobs in 2030 do not exist yet. It’s time for leaders to identify skills gaps based on current trends to prepare organizations and professionals.

In fact, we might be heading towards a disruptive breakthrough in artificial intelligence and data usage in human capital management (HCM). We are not far from a pivotal point, meaning we can expect many advancements with the power of AI and data information in HCM for the upcoming years.

As an industry leader, ADP looks forward to the future. My team supports innovation through our mantra — always designing for people. HCM solutions provide opportunities for companies and workers to grapple with the demands of a futuristic workplace. AI helps companies manage their workforce while anticipating changes and preparing their employees for upcoming challenges. Specifically, my team is working on technology that allows companies and employees to navigate a variety of scenarios. It combines traditional training and cutting-edge tools that connect people with mentors and experts in various communities.

We can’t talk about the future without understanding users’ needs. The good news is human capital management systems and training tools have become more predictive with ground-breaking developments in event-based systems, meaning they carry on as usual until they require inputs. For instance, a system can recognize users changing their addresses and further instigating necessary documents and paperwork. Another example is for the system to alert managers of a potential alarming pattern that shows an employee has not filled out a timecard.

AI’s Applications in Real Life

AI’s applications in real life are everywhere. Companies like Walmart hire a significant number of workers every month, experimenting with augmented reality (AR) and other technologies in new hire trainings. Wouldn’t it be more efficient for new employees to see the procedures before joining the company? The new hires at Walmart could see the supermarket’s organization in a virtual environment through a peer-to-peer reality before their first day at work.

Human resources (HR) managers may also benefit from using AI. From recruitment to employee experience and talent management, AI can automate routine HR tasks, deliver personalized experiences, and gain actionable insights from HR data. For example, AI may serve as a helpful tool to help track the workforce and notify managers that they need to hire more data scientists.

Another scenario is using AI as a user interface (UI) through natural language processing for seamless interactions between humans and technology, for example, using chatbots as the user interface. AI can be a powerful ally to promote diversity, inclusion, and equity among employees if leveraged carefully.
These are all opportunities and concepts that will change the future of jobs.

Challenges in AI Technology

Julio and his family
Julio and his family

“With greater power comes with greater responsibilities.” There are risks with using the tools. At ADP, we have an ethical committee that looks at privacy issues and built-in biases. The technologies are developing quickly, which makes predicting outcomes challenging. Nevertheless, we always try our best to watch for violations and learn as we go. The teams at ADP are investing in a well-detailed approach to monitor how the machine learns and develops, ensuring all technologies evolve in the direction we expect.

Looking Forward: ADP’s Future

Technology development plays a huge role in ADP’s transformation into a technology company. There is more capital available than ever before, and the cost of building innovative products has become lower. In other words, we have more funding to experiment which leads to more breakthroughs. We are on the cusp of seeing more efficiencies on a massive scale through AL and ML.

The possibilities of using AR and VR during the company’s onboarding training are exciting! I can imagine applying AR and VR in digital workplaces for associates who work from home. The technologies bring efficiencies, save costs, and improve learning. Workers will have the ability to see the office and understand procedures even before joining the team in person. The implications are astronomical for national and global companies.

As we research more possibilities in tech, humans will benefit from using technologies in the workforce. The foundational trends include faster computing power, increasing data volume, low-cost communications for everyone and everywhere. These opportunities are life-changing, and we’ll see this come to fruition soon. I look forward to how the industry creates unique jobs in the workforce and breakthroughs. In the future, technologies at ADP will continue to help companies and workers adjust to changes, improving their job performances and making tasks easier.

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