3 Tech Predictions You Can Actually Measure

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It’s become trendy to start the new year proclaiming what the big trends will be. The issue with many of these predictions, however, is that they’re ethereal: They can’t be measured. What good are predictions if they can’t be quantified and validated at the end of the year?

Below are three major, measurable topics that will have a huge bearing on the tech scene soon, and how you can adapt to them. Besides being calculable, they also highlight personalized touch points.

What 4 Commonalities Will AI Legislature Have?

  1. Defensible. Can your legal and IT teams defend the information and outcomes?
  2. Auditable. Look at your entire process and ensure that fairness and responsibility are being applied.
  3. Configurable. How much control do you really have?
  4. Ethical and responsible. Have you developed guiding principles for how AI will be used?

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HR Will Use Chatbots in Recruiting

Yes, really. What’s old is what’s new again, and chatbots are getting smarter with AI. I predict chatbots are going to dominate recruiting, and a hospital operator in the Midwest is already proving that.

In 2023, Indiana-based Franciscan Healthcare hired nearly 1,000 people directly via the chatbot that pops up on its career site. “The numbers are outstanding and we’re very pleased,” Ellen Page, director of talent acquisition, told me. Data-rich insights from chatbot users are one of the myriad reasons why the technology is so valuable.

Franciscan realized that a large number of nurses were applying on their lunch breaks. They didn’t have tons of time to search for jobs, upload a resume and go through the rigamarole of answering a bunch of questions. Instead, applicants can simply type “find me a nursing job in Indianapolis,” and a chatbot will ask them a few questions before presenting related roles. Then, applicants need only click and apply.

“It’s a big time saver for the candidate, and obviously their experiences are number one for us,” Page said. Staffing is everything in the healthcare vertical. Not too many companies outside of that industry can match the mission of healing sick people. Franciscan is turning to technology to hire nurses — hundreds of them, in fact — and saving around $3 million in the process. Expect to see more instances in the future of older technologies being repurposed for new experiences.

 

AI Bills Will Have 4 Main Commonalities

There was a spike in 2023 on behalf of companies wanting a say in what AI legislation looks like. Tesla, DoorDash, AstraZeneca and hundreds of other companies made their voices heard, and the chorus is expected to get even louder in 2024. There are roughly a dozen states that have proposed AI legislation after New York City and the White House took action last year. That’s on top of the European Union approving its own version of an AI law.

State AI laws are going to happen. The question is how do organizations future-proof their legislative compliance no matter what bills lawmakers pass? U.S. state legislatures will pass some of the bills, others won’t — but all of them will share a few commonalities. Don’t get hung up on one specific bill. Focus instead on planning for the areas in which they overlap and your company will be well on its way to nearly full compliance, with a tweak or two to the planning process if necessary.

Legislative text will differ slightly from state to state — and I’m not a lawyer, so the following is not meant to be construed as legal advice — but will likely share language around these key areas.

  1. Defensible. Can your legal and information technology teams soundly defend the information and outcomes?
  2. Auditable. Look at your entire process, identify where these tools are making recommendations and ensure that fairness and responsibility are being applied.
  3. Configurable. How configurable are AI tools within your process? How much control do you really have?
  4. Ethical and responsible. Have you developed guiding principles for how AI will be used? Do those principles include a human in the loop at all times, or are you abdicating decision-making to a tool? That responsibility can be waived, but it better be defensible.

A senior HR leader at Radian, a mortgage and real estate industry company, said that his organization is focused on working with companies that can effectively articulate their ethical use standards and the validity of their tools.

“Just like we’re finding ways to be better, faster, smarter with AI, so are bad actors in this space, and we need to stay vigilant,” said Justin Foster, Radian’s senior vice president of people experience. He gets it.

 

Personal AI Agents Will Become Commonplace

I’m not talking about a cobot, or collaborative robot. AI agents will do so much more. In three to five years, agents will become ubiquitous, but this is the year they get real.

Let’s say someone gets hired into a certain role. Employers will also be bringing on that person’s digital agent. The two of them — employee and agent — are paired together, allowing them direct access to the employer’s technology ecosystem.

Business leaders could create an avatar that allows them to manage their teams’ performance and output. Information on team projects flows easier. That then opens up the team to do other work that had previously eaten up a lot of time. Of course, agents will have numerous applications outside of HR.

“Imagine that you want to plan a trip,” Microsoft’s Bill Gates wrote in a blog. “A travel bot will identify hotels that fit your budget. An agent will know what time of year you’ll be traveling and, based on its knowledge about whether you always try a new destination or like to return to the same place repeatedly, it will be able to suggest locations.”

This is a level of highly personalized service that one would have to pay a human travel agent for. That human agent would have to spend considerable time getting to know a traveler’s likes and dislikes, Gates added. An AI agent, on the other hand, can sift through the information quicker, cheaper and faster.

The tech is already catching on. Microsoft now has more than 1 million paid subscribers for its GitHub Copilot, making it the most widely adopted AI developer tool ever.

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An End-of-Year Measuring Stick

With these three topics in mind, 2024 is quickly shaping up to be a memorable year in the tech sector. Organizations will be armed with the data they need to accomplish two major objectives: demonstrate progress toward business goals, and make job seekers, customers and employees feel like they matter.

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