Of Robots, Cobots & the Demise of Laptops – A Delegate’s Take on ATC2016

This year’s conference was themed around living, working and operating in a world increasingly driven by VUCA principles (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity).

The conversation really centred around the unprecedented rate of change, the impact of technology and drastically shortened business cycles – all requiring businesses to operate more nimbly than ever before, and how lowered barriers of entry drives an ever sprawling competitor field.

Old business rules and economics are being challenged daily, changing the way organisation hire, an increased appetite for niche skills (and those hard to automate), putting additional pressure on talent availability and the way in which Candidates engage with prospective employers – and how we need to engage with them.

…back to those robots please..?

tin robotsImpacts and opportunities brought by automation was a hot topic this year (and for good reason) – for Talent Acquisition (TA) teams particularly around sourcing and assessment.
The jury is out on exactly what and when – but there’s consensus that TA functions will experience a transformation that will see deep-machine learning replace many of the time-consuming and repetitive tasks currently carried out in just the matter of years. This is particularly true for assessments, analytics and sourcing where human bias, capacity/speed are simply inferior to what computers can produce.
Whilst this might sound grim and terribly dystopian, what is really suggested is an environment where Recruiters skills are augmented by ‘cobots’ and artificial intelligence (AI) solutions. These can be anything from a Siri-like office assistants, predictive analytics for smarter shortlisting, or fully blown AI personalities like Wade & Wendy which are smart enough to conduct Candidate sourcing/search, or act as a Career counsellor for Candidates by using natural language chat-bots. (Oh – and because they are ‘personalities’, Wade will also reach out to the Candidate with personalised messages based on their online footprint, acting like a Recruiter and work to convert prospects into the active part of the funnel. Yupp. )
This means TA professionals will need to shift from being ‘knowledge’ workers’ to ‘relationship’ workers.
This will require shift in focus, deepened tech skills and analytical capabilities, stronger marketing, advertising and communications focus – and to provide a superior experience based on Human Centred Design principles (whether delivered digitally or person-to-person) to facilitate effective sourcing at all levels.

Take the crash course – read more here:

…c’aarn mate – this is Australia not the Valley!

True. But it doesn’t really matter. These changes are by no means contained to techprenuers and their start-up ilk.
The job-market has also changed and is becoming ever more transient. This driven in parts by Candidate preferences (for the highly skilled), but more broadly as Employers (large and small) seek the ability to deploy a more agile and ‘on-demand’ workforce.

Source: Indeed
Source: Indeed

In the old world jobs existed where natural resources could be found, that is no longer true. In the new economy jobs exist where Talent does. Talent Migration patterns are changing drastically, as is the notion of talent convergence, which really means that Candidates with an in-demand skill is no longer bound to a specific company or industry.
Whilst the Australian market tend to lag some (perhaps due to geographical seclusion and a conservative approach to technology) – it is very clear that this is already taking place at all levels of the employment market.
If you haven’t seen it I recommend you view the 4 Corners episode from a few weeks ago below (or link to ABC iView for better quality stream).

SMAC! (a.k.a. what we can focus on)shutterstock_223967974

Whilst not necessarily ‘new’ – the concept of SMAC (Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud) is a key opportunity for Talent teams in transitioning from a
requisition based service provider, to instead enabling business output through smart sourcing solutions.
In order to achieve this we need to be acutely aware of how these principles drive today’s most successful businesses and how this influence Consumers (and in turn Candidates). By understanding and effectively leveraging these we can create Talent strategies that will allow us to connect with the right people in the right manner:

  • Social connectivity will allow us to know our candidates better, personalise our approaches, and gather more useful insights on candidates,
  • Mobile optimisation will be key at all levels of Candidate interactions – and further ahead for talent-pool management and activation. Laptop sales are down seven percent this year alone – if it’s not mobile it will soon be obsolete,
  • Analytics and cognitive computing/deep learning will change the way we source, assess and ultimately hire,
  • Cloud computing will further enable insights, and create a new eco-system of integrated services that will challenge the way in which we source.

Key Trends

Employer Branding (the EVP is dead…)

awareness funnel
Source: Universum

A topic that continues to dominate – although the conversation is now more nuanced and not only centred around Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn.
Tech solutions and platforms in this space is rapidly evolving – in fact much, much faster than the employer strategies behind it. Concepts are really mimicking those of the most sophisticated Consumer marketing products out there.
Large corporations need to win in this space – and to do so they need to become more agile, nimbler and drive segmented approaches based on their sourcing needs.
There is no one solution that will solve for this – a fluent approach, desire to experiment and investment in technology that will allow for personalisation will be crucial.

Candidate Experience & Candidates as Customers

Back on the agenda after a few years in the wilderness, but now with a vengeance.
The conversation around this has matured immensely the direct and indirect impact on bottom-line becomes better understood.
Candidate Experience and service propositions or Candidate ‘Bill of Rights’ now form a core part of some of the most successful corporate TA teams out there.
Turning internal functions into revenue generating businesses; deliver value to the business by activating potential customers, protecting revenue loss by ensuring a Customer-centric approach.

Collaboration and Novel Partnerships

More and more businesses learn to collaborate outside their traditional borders as industry convergence becomes the new normal. Businesses actively seek novel partnerships to find solutions and create attractive Consumer propositions and products.
The same is now also true for HR – with the concept of ‘open source’ now allowing HR and Talent practitioners to share information, partake in setting new standards and create better solutions for customers and stakeholders. Have a look at HR Open Source (#HROS) as an example.


Whilst the pace of change and disruption might seem relentless – the future for TA is actually quite bright. The ability to connect with and ultimately convert talent is still an innately human one.
TA professionals will play a crucial role in driving growing businesses, supporting industry growth and in facilitating an economically vital function. The technologies that facilitate so much of this change will allow us to focus more of our time on the interesting and value-adding components of our roles – we’ll just need to ensure we equip ourselves with the knowledge, skills and tools required.
The chart below represents a range of scenarios that has taken place – and other yet to come that might structurally alter the way we hire. It’s scary, exciting and quite awesome to imagine.
kevins disruption curve

Related articles

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Sign up to our newsletter

Get a weekly digest on the latest in Talent Acquisition.

Deliver this goodness to my inbox!