Josh Bersin: AI is a part of HR, here’s how to prepare

According to Josh Bersin, AI is here to stay.

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Earlier this month, the Josh Bersin Company released a white paper called Understanding AI in HR: A Deep Dive, which provides a comprehensive analysis of how artificial intelligence is already reshaping the HR function, what people professionals can expect coming down the pike and how to take advantage of AI’s potential. Bersin will further delve into how AI is disrupting every area of the HR tech market and what that means to HR leaders in his keynote at HR Tech 2023

AI is utilized by every enterprise HR software company, and HR leaders want to leverage the ones that innovate in the most effective, trustworthy and advantageous ways. The Bersin team provides context for evaluating AI systems when choosing new vendors or rethinking current partnerships. Our team reviewed the report, and here are some of the most useful themes.

Putting AI in context

There is an emerging vocabulary around this functionality and the report lays them out clearly, like a cheat sheet. But in plain terms, think of AI as an evolving concept that has been in use for decades, working behind the scenes. It’s nested in systems that generate outcomes based on rules and pattern identification, for example.

Bersin’s report labels the evolution into generations. The most effective, in the Bersin syntax, are second-generation systems, which are built for analyzing significant volumes of data. 

Josh Bersin

What is second-generation AI?

“Second-generation systems can amass hundreds of millions of employee profiles, often scaling into the billions,” according to the report. Solutions in the second-generation space build platforms that “manage, analyze, understand and act on” this enormous availability of data. As your organization vets new or enhanced platforms, ask about the origins and size of the data set behind the modeling, Bersin advises.

Though users see these platforms as software solutions, it’s also the integrity and depth of the data that have value. Second-generation systems will be able to share trends from thousands of companies, which Bersin says will make your platform more intelligent and useful to your organization. “The more data, the better,” the team notes in the white paper.

How does AI actually learn?

The Bersin team says that a relevant advancement in today’s technology is AI’s ability to analyze billions of parameters to understand what’s happening. By utilizing neural networks, data can train the model to improve its ability to pinpoint factors within an organization’s population based on hundreds to thousands of dimensions.

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“The exciting thing about AI is that it doesn’t ‘guess’ what’s going to work,” according to the white paper. “It simply creates a model.”

Thanks to advancements in computing, combined with mathematics, the HR industry is witnessing a time when these developments can be used by organizations that previously didn’t have access to this mass of computational ability and data.

What AI-related questions should you ask vendors?

Get to the end of the white paper and find a useful section on what to ask vendors about the use of AI in their products. There is also a comparative chart illustrating what to expect from various components, depending on the platform’s generation status.

One interesting question to note: “How is your system compliant with new AI regulations like those in New York?” Even if you aren’t dealing with employment in that state, there is an expectation that similar laws will unfold elsewhere. Use this question as a status check, and hopefully, an affirmative answer will emerge.

Be in the room with Josh Bersin at HR Tech 2023. He will provide key insights into the complex, confusing HR tech market so you can make better purchasing decisions, and you’ll leave understanding the concepts you need to design personalized, employee-focused solutions for the new world of work. Get your ticket now and be part of it.

Jill Barth
Jill Barth is HR Tech Editor of Human Resource Executive. She is an award-winning journalist with bylines in Forbes, USA Today and other international publications. With a background in communications, media, B2B ecommerce and the workplace, she also served as a consultant with Gallagher Benefit Services for nearly a decade. Reach out at [email protected].