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Enterprise hits and misses - gen AI upends recruiting, video meetings get called out, and the subscription economy plot thickens

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed November 13, 2023
Summary:
This week - generative AI does a number on recruiting, but will the résumé survive? The subscription economy plot thickens, and the productivity debate puts knee jerk video meetings in the hot seat. As always, your whiffs.

loser-and-winner

Lead story - AI kills résumés - what's the plan now?

Does AI kill résumés? Of course not - and if so, I'd argue LinkedIn already did most of that damage, not AI. So I read Brian's latest diginomica missive with interest. Turns out Brian doesn't think AI kills résumés either:

Bottom line: Résumé volumes will increase, quality of résumés may decline, and, it becomes harder than ever to identify great talent.

Hyperbolic headlines aside, Brian's point still holds up: AI gives job seekers a powerful tool to blast a wider range of employers than ever before. How does that contribute to a better hiring process? Brian isn't sure, and neither am I:

Recruiters will need new ways to divine which jobseekers are truthfully representing themselves versus some manufactured ideal.

Then Brian turns his critique to the generative AI functionality every HR talent vendor is pushing: job descriptions:

The tool is recommending you lard up your job description with a bunch of ‘requirements’ that are not prioritized for your firm. For example, while it may be great to have a JSON programmer with leadership skills, a PMI certification and more, which of these are in the top three of CRITICAL needed skills? I don’t know. The AI tool doesn’t know and neither does the applicant.

Yep - now you're adding applicant filters that rule out qualified individuals - never good. But wait, Brian says, it gets worse:

The tool has just created a job description that any of your competitors could have written. There’s nothing here that isn’t being said/asked for by other employers. How do you win the war for talent with generic, average, undifferentiated, similar position descriptions? You don’t.

That's the tricky part: once you view job descriptions as a talent marketing tool and competitive differentiator, then generative AI - at least on its own - will fall short. I've been highly critical of generative AI for this type of differentiated content creation. 

It's all in the AI process design. I don't see a problem with generative AI job descriptions. But if you want those job descriptions to excel versus your competitors, a talented human will need to review and tweak them. Same with the applicant AI problem: if applicants are blasting your system with AI propaganda, you'll need to figure out how to AI-proof your applicant evaluations. That won't be easy, but just as the best job descriptions are probably hand-crafted, the best talent recruitment is hand-crafted also - but scaling that isn't easy. You still need savvy tools.

Brian seems to be thinking along the same lines:

What we need to do is to dramatically re-imagine what recruiting and talent management could look like. One of the more radical approaches I’ve seen has been developed by Plum.

Brian goes into detail on Plum's candidate assessment software, which is far more creative than a résumé, and much harder for an AI bot to game - yet. Just like cybersecurity professionals will have to work their tails off to stay on top of AI's adversarial possibilities, so will HR teams need to do that in their domain.

Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week

Vendor analysis, diginomica style. Here's my three top choices from our vendor coverage:

VMWare Explore coverage - Mark Samuels picked up the VMWare story via its Barcelona tech event Explore: VMware Explore - VMware focuses on cloud journeys and AI implementations. Pull quote:

[VMWare CEO] Raghuram said when he talked with customers about their move on-demand three or four years, he noticed cloud journeys were becoming multi-cloud. During the past few years, multi-cloud has become the accepted way of running and managing workloads. [Also see: Mark's VMware Explore - how Audi is using hyperconvergence to steer innovation]

A few more vendor picks, without the quotables:

Jon's grab bag - Phil looks at the implications of Slack's digital teamwork research in How to build the best teams? Slack research highlights the top five work personas. George looked at a vendor that is trying to change AI transparency in Watchful bridges generative AI transparency gap. Chris weighed in on the effort to regulate Big AI vendors in Peer review - can the UK Parliament's House of Lords save copyright from AI giants?

George added another angle on responsible AI in NIST - responsible AI standards need your help. It's time to step up to the mark. I agree with George's assessment: a NIST-like organization for responsible AI metrics won't be easy, but ultimately it will work better than political handshakes and photo ops:

Well-articulated letters and political platitudes are one thing. Sending your best people into the fray to ensure this goes well for business competition, people, and the planet will be a long, tenuous process, but hopefully, it will be a more rewarding outcome than a few Twitter likes.

Best of the enterprise web

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

My top seven

Should This Meeting Have Been an Email? - One of the best productivity writers, Cal Newport, is back in his wheelhouse, with excessive Zoom meetings in his target: "While it might be technically possible for us to solve a problem or clearly explain an issue in five minutes of talking, in the modern workplace this interaction will likely be scheduled as a Zoom meeting or conference room gathering that will be allocated, due to the constraints of digital calendars, a minimum of thirty minutes. Few professional experiences are more frustrating than to see your day eaten up by endless appointments rich in mindless small talk and stalling. 'This meeting could have been an email,' has become the exasperated mantra of knowledge workers lamenting their impossibly overloaded calendars."

The only catch? Newport assumes that corporate email inboxes are as well-honed as his. Within even a day or two of travel, an email inbox can become an overstuffed logjam where productivity goes to die. Newport, who is fond of asynchronous communication because it protects immersive work, is also down on messaging, whereas I see well-managed messaging as a vital way of reducing email inbox chaos, and prioritizing actions at times when email can be an unmanageable morass. What say you?

Overworked businessman

Whiffs

Sounds like this went well:

Whenever you feel a need to blast people into the next century with a light show on acid, you have to wonder about your core product...

I know I've been down this road before, but this court ruling did just happen:

The onslaught of PR "predictions" emails for 2024 has begun: "The last few years have focused solely on a potential recession, impending budget cuts and a continued focus on AI — priorities may look much different than they were in the past." Bold futurism at its finest - coming to an email inbox near you. See you next time...

If you find an #ensw piece that qualifies for hits and misses - in a good or bad way - let me know in the comments as Clive (almost) always does. Most Enterprise hits and misses articles are selected from my curated @jonerpnewsfeed.

Image credit - Waiter Suggesting Bottle © Minerva Studiom, Overworked Businessman © Bloomua, Loser and Winner © ispstock - all from Adobe Stock.

Disclosure - Oracle, Workday and Salesforce are diginomica premier partners as of this writing.

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