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Oracle advances generative AI and HR into the unknown

Oracle's new generative AI tools for HR aim to reduce costs and help candidates self-select. But some users may remain hesitant to adopt the new tech.

Oracle's push to automate HR is receiving a boost from its latest release of generative AI tools.

Automation is targeting HR, and tools like generative AI might help deliver results. This week, The Hackett Group released new research that found generative AI has the potential to yield a 40% reduction in costs. The study was based on client businesses, with more than half coming from companies with at least 10,000 employees.

However, Tony DiRomualdo, senior research director at the management consultancy, said the firm has not observed any impact on HR jobs and staffing yet.

"Most HR organizations are either taking a wait-and-see approach to generative AI or conducting limited pilots," DiRomualdo stated.

Even Oracle acknowledges that some users need to be more confident about adoption. Oracle's first release of generative AI tools came in the fourth quarter of last year, and now it's releasing another set in the first quarter of this year.

Recruiters have long been utilizing AI to assist in sifting through resumes. But Oracle is taking this a step further by helping candidates discover suitability for a role.

"We're putting that power into the hands of the candidates to better self-select," said Yvette Cameron, senior vice president of global product strategy at Oracle Cloud HCM. Cameron explained that as candidates explore job opportunities, AI helps them to understand whether they are a match for a particular role.

Oracle also provides customers with an explainable AI feedback feature to reveal why specific recommendations were made. "We don't want our AI to be a black box," she said.

However, Cameron acknowledged that some organizations might choose to delay using the technology for now, like how some companies still do not utilize traditional AI-based ranking assistance in recruiting despite it being available for years. She emphasized that it comes down to each customer's comfort level and interpretation of state and federal laws.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has repeatedly stated that it is watching for signs of discrimination by automated decision-making systems.

Dealing with apprehension

Evelyn McMullen, an analyst at Nucleus Research, said, "There could absolutely be user apprehension around EEOC noncompliance or inaccuracies," especially concerning systems that are externally facing or interacting with candidates.

"Guardrails need to be put in place to ease hesitation and drive adoption," McMullen suggested. For example, candidates could appeal their results to the employer or choose to opt into or out of the automated assessment, explicitly acknowledging that AI is being used.

We don't want our AI to be a black box.
Yvette CameronSenior vice president of global product strategy, Oracle Cloud HCM

Some of the other generative AI-based tools include a candidate assistant that helps applicants get answers to common questions and understand job-specific requirements in a conversational experience.

There are also new tools for managers, including a survey generation tool for quickly obtaining employee feedback.

It's too early for productivity results, as Oracle only started incorporating generative AI into its applications in the fourth quarter of last year. However, the vendor said it expects significant productivity gains for customers.

DiRomualdo said the idea that generative AI will help HR organizations do more work with fewer people is only one possible benefit. "There is also the question of what types of new work HR will be doing in the future," he said.

HR can expand its services, which could include providing advice to employees and management as well as bolstering workforce engagement, productivity and well-being programs, he said.

However, HR management might be resigned to try generative AI tools if, as Hackett predicted, HR headcounts and budgets decrease slightly while workloads increase.

Patrick Thibodeau is an editor at large for TechTarget Editorial who covers HCM and ERP technologies. He's worked for more than two decades as an enterprise IT reporter.

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