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How Artificial Intelligence, Automation & Big Data Analytics Are Shaping The Future Of HR

Dana Minbaeva, professor of strategic and global HR management on the Copenhagen MBA, is helping to create the next generation of data-savvy HR leaders


Tue Feb 20 2018

HR is changing. Not surprisingly, the trends that are driving this are similar to those driving change in the business world as a whole.

Organizations are being forced to adapt, as a wave of disruptive technologies—artificial intelligence (AI), automation, big data analytics, and robotics—offer the potential for a more focused strategy to harness business value.

A more coherent, value-oriented strategy for HR teams within a firm is thus needed, as the sector needs to become more than a humdrum of paperwork and workforce regulation—there have even been calls to split HR down the middle, having it at the confluence of an old-school, traditional stream of thought, and a modern, fast-flowing river of data and analytics.

Dana Minbaeva, professor of strategic and global HR management at Copenhagen Business School—ranked among the top 100 business schools in the Financial Times’ Global MBA Rankings 2018—is harnessing this potential on her course, aiming to create the next generation of data-savvy HR leaders.

Big data analytics brings along with it “a quest for more simplicity, less complexity, more innovation, and more customer orientation,” she says, as it is made more possible to objectively analyze a company’s workforce performance.

That directly shapes the way strategic and global HR management is taught on the Copenhagen MBA, as Dana taps more into human resources in terms of human capital, as businesses nowadays need managers who know how to generate value from their workforce.

“I talk a lot about strategic implementation and the value that human capital has for a company, and how to use it to achieve a sustained, competitive advantage,” she explains.

On the Copenhagen MBA she handpicks selective topics—from HR capital, talent management, performance management, and pay compensation—that are linked to the increasingly proximal relationship between HR and line managers.

“The relations are changing,” Dana admits, “in the old days a line manager needed to sit down and have a face-to-face meeting with their HR business partner.

But new developments in data analytics mean that questions around staffing numbers, workplace productivity, staff retention and turnover, can now be answered by an algorithm that provides hard, objective evidence for line managers.

Where does that leave HR partners?

Dana says that they must undergo an extreme makeover, becoming more like a consultant who can analyze the company’s data, figure out wherein lie the problems, and produce solutions that will equate to growth in that firm’s value.

“An important skill to have is to be [a] consumer of analytics,” Dana explains, “to know the language, what questions to ask, how to interpret [workforce] output and work with that.”

Where doing traditional administration jobs ends, this new branch of HR begins, creating business value—according to Dana, this reinvention of HR is “absolutely crucial.”

Though the running and building of an algorithmic model is and increasingly will be outsourced to robotics and AI, Copenhagen MBAs are taught that that creates a window through which companies can reach out and connect more personally with their customers.

More time can be spent analyzing the hard data to procure solutions to inhouse problems—such as productivity and staffing issues—that will, over time, ensure companies become more efficient.

“There is constant talk of building analytical competencies,” says Dana, “about reinventing approaches towards performance management. One thing for sure is that it is the transformation of business that drives that process.

“We really need to make a cultural change in organizations and start to use data to make evidence-based decisions, rather than [going with] gut feeling.”