Before his much awaited presentation at Europe’s largest HR gathering, we interviewed Gary Kildare, Chief HR Officer at IBM Europe, for our interview series with the keynote speakers at the 2017 edition of Zukunft Personal.
One of the key secrets to IBM’s long-term success can be found in the company’s ability to constantly reinvent itself, to continually transform and to search for strategic technologies that enhance human labour. It is a 106-year-old journey that now takes IBM to its present top position in the Artificial Intelligence and cognitive computing market designed to support, inspire and lead current generations. Gary Kildare has spent much of his professional career with IBM as an HR leader and I was pleased to speak with him about AI, the history of HR, Germany’s AI talent shortage and many more.
Over the course of the last decades IBM has been able to reinvent itself many times and lead the latest developments in tech. Today’s hottest trends are cognitive computing, cloud and Artificial Intelligence (AI). It is also clear that there are two different AI models, one that is being used by the public and one with business oriented AI-programs. Could you explain it to us? What’s the biggest difference between the two?
There are most certainly two different models out there, and the way I would start explaining this is to quote from our CEO, Ginni Rometty, who once said “Never protect our past” which means it’s fundamental that we embrace the future. I think that we are absolutely in that sort of territory as we talk about Artificial Intelligence. But let me come to the two models. I tend to comment on these things as an HR professional, so for me it is not about having a technical discussion but trying to understand what the differences are.
@garykildare: “Never protect our past” - it’s fundamental that we embrace the future! #AI #Digitalisation Click To Tweet
Essentially people are getting familiar with consumer AI, which is for example speech recognition to text and it is linked to some kind of internet search. From a data standpoint, it is really only focusing on about 20% of the world’s data that is actually searchable. If I contrast that then with the second model or business AI, that is about tapping into the other 80% of the world’s data, which is often called dark data, but it is actually where the real value is. The reason it is called dark data is because it is held within companies and it is not something that is searchable by the general public, it is not something you and I can search for ourselves. And what’s in that data is quite literally decades of information. For instance, think of the financial world underwriting the financial markets, or where the tax authorities and tax return data that the companies provide are stored and held. Another example would be the medical records and data that you might see in the healthcare world or in hospitals; or, the transactions and history that organisations hold on their customers and clients. If you start thinking about data in that way then it is ‘organisational gold’, it is a valuable resource. So, for me those are the main differences. One, if you like, is very important but quite rudimentary, and the other one is significant because it is about mining data and gaining added value. There are many challenges to be faced in looking and dealing with that data. What companies are trying to do and think about is how to mine data for value, how to make money from it, how to monetise or commercialise the data. If you think about the vast amount of data in this way, you realise that there is no-one who can possibly hope to use all of the data that is available to them without technology, regardless of their profession. So to be clear, one of main roles for AI is to help today’s skilled professionals make better informed decisions.
#DarkData: What’s in that #data is quite literally decades of information! @garykildare #AI Click To Tweet
By today, cognitive technology is supporting social goals and protecting the most vulnerable. Watson has an increasing importance in healthcare. For instance, in the fight against cancer it is being applied to come up with possible treatment for patients who already fail standard therapies. Indeed, AI is being used in ways never thought possible before. What do you think? What will be the next step for AI and Watson?
It is a big question and my short answer is YES, artificial intelligence is transformative and it will certainly transform industries. Business data is not generic, it is highly specific to industries. And if you think about the industries and professions that we are talking about, there is a technical language and vocabulary, there is an industry context, there are regulations and laws, there are specific industry meanings etc. So I absolutely believe that all will be transformed by this. At the same time, we are training Watson to understand data and how work is done in an industry to answer industry specific questions, like how to prepare taxes, how to do the underwriting, how to advise physicians, how to support the work of teachers. I think that Watson will help the world’s professionals do their work better and faster. The technology is going to change and transform every profession. It will help us achieve outcomes that we have never thought were possible. It will certainly change the way we work today and it is going to open up entirely new work possibilities, just as every change and innovation has done since the start of the industrialisation.
@garykildare: YES, #AI is transformative and it will change and transform every profession! Click To Tweet
Let me go to healthcare for a second, because I think it is a really good example. The healthcare industry specifically is going through an unprecedented change. You have an explosion of data – the data we talked about earlier – you have a rise in incidents, also the cost of treating chronic diseases is rising, there are changes in the payment models, and of course, there is the digitisation and consumerisation of healthcare as an industry. If you think about the massive amount of data that exists and is created in the healthcare sector, doctors have to deal with all of that in order that they can help heal their patients. There are more than 1000 medical journals that are published every day. There is data from about 230.000 active clinical trials, plus information that is gathered and unique to each patient. When I looked up some of the numbers on this, I found that an average person is likely to generate more than 1 million gigabytes of health related data in their lifetime. That is enough to fill 300 million books. So, when I think of Watson technology, it can absolutely help not just to read and to understand but to deal with all of this data.
Can you provide us with an example?
Sure. For instance, we are using Watson technology in clinical use today – in the US, and also in another 5 countries. There are hospitals around the world that are now using Watson for oncology to assist the work of doctors in cancer care of patients.
Not long ago, IBM’s CEO Ginni Rometty said that by the end of 2017 one billion people would be interacting with Watson. Is IBM getting close to reaching this target? Could you provide us with an update? Do you have examples or information about the level of use of Watson in Germany?
I am happy to let you know that we are well on track to achieve the target. There are examples and studies where we are actively using Watson technology and capabilities. In fact, to use a European example; in Germany, we have recently announced our partnership with Rhön-Klinikum, the University Hospital based in Marburg, which will start towards the end of this year and where we will trial the use of Watson helping with some of the rare diseases at the hospital. I also wanted to reference that this is a partnership with the hospital Group, which is a pilot project. The hospital, which opened in 2013, had more than 6000 patients on its waiting list, which was described by Dr. Jürgen Schäfer, head of the medical team, as a sort of nightmare situation. To cope with the overwhelming numbers of patients the hospital needed new ideas and technology. He is saying that the Patients who arrive at the hospital often have very long medical histories and may have been seen by up to 40 physicians who have failed to diagnose them. He sees the work they are doing a bit like looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack, so what Watson is going to do, is to read the patient’s medical files alongside all of the vast amounts of medical literature and help to offer a series of rank diagnoses that will then be helpful for the doctors as they try to work with the patients.
I could certainly offer many other similar examples. The work IBM is doing with Watson technology is going to provide reports of potentially clinically actionable insights based on patients’ files. Watson can do this in 10 minutes, but the human analysis takes something like 160 hours. With these examples I just wanted to give you a flavour of what Watson can do. There are new propositions and new ways in which we are using Watson technology emerging every day. All over the world we are working together with clients and partners in every industry, not just in healthcare to realise the potential of Watson and Artificial Intelligence.
You were appointed to your first HR leadership position at IBM in 1989, and ever since have been holding top management positions in the company. HR departments, in general, are going through some profound changes. How do you see this? How has human resources changed in the last decades?
I have seen massive changes over the years and for me it has been the excitement and fast pace of change (all of which involves people) that have kept me engaged and interested. The traditional role of HR was to provide transactional support to management and to be good at optimising processes. In fact, as a function HR’s origin is quite bureaucratic and includes tasks such as processing payroll changes, recording information about appraisals or development, dealing with recruitment, providing reports etc. Those were the kinds of things I think that you saw if you look backwards in time in HR. The workplace of today has transformed to the point where our business leaders don’t need help on all these processes, most of this work and the processes are automated now.
When I look at organisations today, I find that the complexity of the workforce is posing significant challenges for most businesses. Employees, new and potential recruits, have much higher expectations than ever before and the workplace is increasingly becoming a virtual place with clients and workers going mobile. They frequently share their perceptions through social media. At, the same time I also see a growing demand for new kinds of skills. These expectations and the need for new skills create opportunities for improvement in HR. For instance, how does it feel to be part of the organisation? Increasingly, employees want their work experience to be the same as their personal experience – using mobile devices, accessing data, using fast apps and tools, learning when they want, getting feedback in an instant – and having the confidence to know it’s personalised to them as an individual and of course, secure. We can use all of that data and intelligence, to which I have referenced earlier in some very practical ways through the application of Watson technology – for example in recruitment, interviewing and onboarding, to advise our sales people on incentives – where the experience of tens of thousands of people can be captured through a ‘Watson advisor’ which is used to provide intelligent interactive guidance answering questions and solving problems. It’s already being widely used in IBM with great success.
We can use all of data and intelligence for example in #recruitment, interviewing and onboarding. #HR… Click To Tweet
If I think about Watson and AI, and their connection with HR, how will this impact the business?
There are lots of evolving technologies, and the ability to use the IBM cloud is a wonderful and progressive step for HR which makes everything much more flexible and much more agile. The role of HR is now about helping to reinvent workforce strategy, to improve the work experience for everyone and to provide a compelling proposition for employees. Also, the business needs us to understand organisational effectiveness, to put the spotlight on areas that impact performance, to get to the root cause of problems and to solve them. We need to partner with the management and the leaders on a much more strategic level and have a growth mindset as well. Indeed, we need to be thinking about growth and use agile methods or design thinking approaches to create human centred experiences. We are going to have to bring the human back to HR a lot more.
The role of #HR is about helping to reinvent workforce strategy. We have to bring human back to #HR Click To Tweet
Could you explain how IBM Watson Analytics (IBM Watson Talent) is being used by HR departments?
Watson is being used in a number of different ways in the HR world. When we think about the size of our organisation we recruit a very large number of people. Anyone who has been in a recruiting or talent role will know, that when you bring a new person into the organisation the number of questions that they have is almost infinite. What we have been able to do is to use the data and experience and introduce a chatbot that we call Quinn to answer all of the questions that our new joiners have got. It is really fascinating if you think about it for a moment! One of the main challenges if you are a new joiner is to learn quickly and to settle in. Another is that you want to ask questions as everyone is encouraged to ask questions, but sometimes you even feel that some of the questions you have are so simple, or even silly, so you end up not asking them. Through the Watson technology we were able to gather all of these thousands of experiences and to allow all of the questions you could have, from basic ones on security and learning to more sophisticated ones, to get answered.
Another example would be in the career area. In a number of large organisations, the question of career development is changing in different ways. In one way it is really becoming much more personal, the way people want to chart their own career and their own career journey. Secondly, it becomes multifaceted in the sense that it can cover development, it can cover changing jobs, it can cover learning that you require to take, it could involve an international dimension, it could involve a change in role or change in profession. Again, we introduced Watson technology in something we call Myca which is assisting us and assisting our management and employees in the questions around career and development, and making that a much more successful experience.
I will point out some more examples at my presentation at the Zukunft Personal, and many more will come in the future I am sure. Referring back to our previous points I do think that professions, in general, will all be helped by Watson technology whether you work in HR, finance, taxation or in the legal arena. I do believe that Watson is going to be able to provide fantastic assistance in all of these defined areas in your local language as it is learning and speaking many languages. Most recently it has started speaking Chinese and Korean.
It is reported that German companies are short of 5000 Artificial Intelligence experts. In an ever competing talent market Germany has made progress in attracting the brightest and most skilled people, especially in the areas of sensors and data saving, but there are areas where it needs to keep up with its international competition. What is your view? In what ways could German companies tackle their talent shortage in AI?
I stay optimistic about AI. There are other people who are detractors, but I am very optimistic. I think we’ll have the power to achieve things that would not have been possible in the past and we are going to find new sources of value and meaning in the work we do. But there is no question that there are skills shortages and many organisations and governments are already facing them. It is also interesting. If you look at all the big progressive ‘leaps’ that were made in technology in the past, all of those whether we are talking about steam engines, electricity, semiconductors or the internet etc, have changed the way professionals have done things. It’s the same with AI. Having said that, there are important principles that I wanted to reference here that were published by IBM. We believe very strongly that there are three principles that guide our actions in IBM and what happens in AI.
The first one is about the purpose we see for AI and that is to augment human intelligence. It is about human and machine. It is not about replacing humans with machines. It’s about complementing, and augmenting and supplementing. Second principle is about transparency and this is about allowing everyone to get confident about what artificial intelligence can do. We need to be clear about why AI is being used in our solutions and reveal the major sources of data that is being used and how we trained Watson and AI. We also believe in IBM that clients own the data, the business models and the intellectual property that AI uses. We are going to help our clients to protect their insights and data, which is a very important principle. And third, is about skills. We realise that we won’t achieve in any country or in any geography the economic and social benefits of AI, unless we are also looking at the human side of the equation. What IBM is doing is working with partners and working in partnership with the government, with business, with academia to help people acquire the skills and knowledge that they will need to adapt to a new world of work.
So simply stated, purpose is first. It is not about replacement, it is about augmenting human intelligence. Transparency is second. And third is Skills. For me it’s clear that in a short space of time, cognitive computing is going to do more than redefine how we work. It is going to redefine what we are able to work on. It is going to open up new areas of discovery of exploration of industries. And, it is going to create new markets, new companies and also to transform all of the existing enterprises that we can see.
@garykildare: People need to acquire skills and knowledge to adapt to a new world of work! #HR Click To Tweet
What can participants of the Zukunft Personal learn from you? What are you going to cover in your presentation, The New Work of HR: AI & Exponential Change, at the event?
We need to talk about the future, we need to talk about the change. While we will see jobs changed and some lost, history and research is going to tell us that the number of occupations that actually will disappear is pretty small. We will see brand new roles emerging. Employment is likely to continue to grow. But, I think I am pointing at the fact that the majority of jobs we currently know are going to be transformed. Some of the things that we do today are going to be completed by the combination of human and machine. I also think that there are some specific things we do, like complex processes, that could be fully automated by AI and this will happen soon. I also hope that people feel as I do, that we live not just in interesting times but in exciting times and this can be a tremendous source of encouragement about what comes next and I am confident about the future.
About Gary Kildare
Gary Kildare is the Chief Human Resources Officer for IBM Europe and is based in Madrid. Originally from Falkirk and educated in Scotland, Gary is a member of IBM’s Growth & Transformation Team, a group of senior executives appointed by the CEO to provide global leadership across key strategic areas.
Outside of IBM, Gary is a Chartered Fellow of the Institute of Personnel and Development, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, as well as a GlobalScot. He has served as Non-Executive Director of Education Scotland, as a member of the Scottish Government’s Education Study “The Curriculum for Excellence”, as Non-Executive Director of the National Skills Academy and as Non-Executive Advisor to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Gary has also been a member of the HRMC People Committee and Pay Review Committee, and a member of the CBI Business Council for Scotland. He received an honorary doctorate from Edinburgh Napier University in 2012.
Catch up with Gary and learn more about IBM Watson Talent Insight at the first day of the Zukunft Personal. Gary is delivering his presentation, The new work of HR: Artificial Intelligence & Exponential Change, on 19 September, 12.00-13.30, at the Keynote Arena. Certainly, a speech you don’t want to miss.
THE NEW WORK OF HR: ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE & EXPONENTIAL CHANGE
Keynote von Gary Kildare, Chief HR Officer, IBM Europe
19.09.2017, 12:00 Uhr
Koelnmesse | Keynote Arena
Mehr Informationen unter: www.zukunft-personal.de