Conversational AI
5 min read
August 16, 2023

We partnered with Harvard Business Review on an AI research report and all we got was this amazing data.

Good news: 97% of organizations who use AI to automate parts of their TA process say it's effective. Is there bad news? Sort of. But "bad" is merely a matter of perspective.

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Let’s start this article in media res: according to a new Harvard Business Review research report that surveyed hundreds of senior leaders at global companies, 97% of organizations who use artificial intelligence to automate parts of their hiring process say that it’s been effective. 

That’s significant. That tells us, conclusively, that AI within talent acquisitions works. How did we wind up here? Well, here’s where we do a fancy flashback to the beginning of the story to add a bit more context. It started with a simple thought experiment, and a question:

Every company thinks certain things. And, of course, every company thinks the things they think are true.

But … are they?

Probably not. Usually not. Honestly, almost never. Which is why companies fail (case in point: Blockbuster thought everyone would be renting movies in person for the rest of eternity, and look at how that turned out). 

There’s no denying that we, too, think certain things. And we’re pretty darn certain about them. For instance, we think that there’s a better, simpler way to hire, and that conversational AI is the catalyst; we think the talents of recruiters and hiring managers are being wasted on tasks that could easily be automated; and we think that, without a shadow of a doubt, talent acquisition as a function is vital to business success. 

But … are we right?

The last thing we wanted is to make assumptions and then go the way of the dodo (or in this case, Blockbuster) — so we went out to prove that our thinking, our philosophy, and our tech, was unequivocally correct. Where did that leave us? Well, right back at the beginning: A partnership with Harvard Business Review to determine how and what senior leaders truly think about AI, automation, and the efficacy of their TA processes. The research both serves as validation of the work we’ve already done and as a rallying cry to do better in the future.

Here’s the main takeaways from the report, and — more importantly —  why it matters to you.  

Everyone agrees automation works when it’s used. Emphasis on “when.” 

Now that we’ve caught up to where we started this article, I’ll reiterate that inciting data point for dramatic effect: 97% of organizations say that AI in talent acquisition is effective. You might be thinking: Great, we did it! Mission accomplished! 

Not so fast. There is, as usual, more to the story. 

The report also revealed that only 11% of organizations have automated many steps in their hiring process. And 37% actually said they’ve automated zero steps. That is a massive, massive delta between what is working and what is being used.

Where is the disconnect?

Cost, of course. Turns out many people are scared of what it takes to pay to play — 38% of organizations cited the cost of AI technologies as the biggest barrier to adoption. The good news is that it’s simply not true. Yes, naturally there are upfront costs involved here for best-in-class conversational software, but the ROI is swift and significant; in fact, we’ve personally seen organizations who use AI to automate recruiting tasks like screening and scheduling save over $2 million in less than a year. This is true for both corporate and frontline hiring. That’s a business case that practically makes itself, and one that any CFO would approve. 

So the question actually isn’t "can I afford to invest more into automating TA processes?" The question should be: "can I afford not to?"

Leaders know effective TA is vital to long term business success, yet aren’t investing in it.

Here’s another head scratching revelation: 92% of leaders agree that organizations in their industry need to invest in TA to remain competitive. That’s good, right? Leadership seems to see the value of TA in driving business success. 

(Yes, of course there’s a “but” coming).

But … only 4% of those same leaders say their organization is extremely effective at hiring the talent they want. Four. As in, even less than five. 

So, let me get this straight: TA is really, really important, but also, everyone is really bad at it?

Again, the data indicates that this is purely an education problem. Leaders want their TA processes to be effective, they just don’t know quite how to accomplish that. Or they do, but they don’t think the cost or time investment is feasible with such near term problems staring them in the face. Or they’re simply overwhelmed by a multitude of problems and solutions and stuck in a perpetual state of paralysis by analysis. For most organizations, it's probably a smattering of all of the above.

As the report indicates, however, this doesn’t have to be complicated. There's actually technology out there that gives TA teams and hiring managers the support they need (automating hours of recruiting work like screening, scheduling, and onboarding) to fuel your organization with the people you need.

AI works. It solves almost every hiring challenge cited in the report (48% of respondents said they are dissatisfied with the speed of their hiring process, and speed is the one thing that AI does better than anything else), plus it saves money. If leaders truly believe that more effective TA is critical to fueling their business success, then it’s critical to actually start investing the proper resources into that effectiveness. 

In conclusion: Most orgs aren’t happy with TA effectiveness, and seem to be overlooking the very obvious solution.

From our perspective, the results of this report are both a blessing and a curse. It’s tremendous to see that AI automation is almost universally viewed as a valuable solution. But it’s tough to see that so many organizations still feel like they’re struggling to hire the talent they need. Here are a few more critical data points from the report that highlight this disparity:

Add that up. Crunch the numbers. What does it equal? Opportunity. 

A staggering opportunity to gain a critical competitive advantage at a time where hiring talent as never been fiercer and TA has never been more vital. We want to live in a world where the percent of organizations that are effective at hiring the talent they need is 99. That day will come. We're sure of it.

And when it does, we don't want you to be the statistical outlier.

Written by
Erik Schmidt
Director of Content
Erik Schmidt
Written by
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