OECD: Job Loss from Automation May Be Less Severe than Feared, but Still Painful

OECD: Job Loss from Automation May Be Less Severe than Feared, but Still Painful

A recent report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development finds that the number of jobs at risk of displacement due to automation in the coming years is probably smaller than previous forecasts have estimated. Nonetheless, the tens of millions of workers in developed countries are still at risk of having their jobs replaced or radically altered by AI and robotics. The Verge’s James Vincent summarizes the report’s findings:

The researchers found that only 14 percent of jobs in OECD countries … are “highly automatable,” meaning their probability of automation is 70 percent or higher. This forecast … is still significant, equating to around 66 million job losses.

In America alone, for example, the report suggests that 13 million jobs will be destroyed because of automation. “As job losses are unlikely to be distributed equally across the country, this would amount to several times the disruption in local economies caused by the 1950s decline of the car industry in Detroit where changes in technology and increased automation, among other factors, caused massive job losses,” the researchers write.

The analysis from the OECD, an inter-governmental organization representing the world’s 35 richest countries, is considerably less disconcerting than previous studies that have calculated the risk of automation at anywhere from 30 percent to fully half of all the work currently being performed globally. One difference between this study and previous ones, Vincent explains, is that it pays greater attention to details like whether a job can be fully or only partly automated and the variations among jobs that may have the same title but whose work differs substantially:

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Adecco Acquires General Assembly for $413M in HR Tech Push

Adecco Acquires General Assembly for $413M in HR Tech Push

The Swiss staffing company Adecco has made a deal to acquire the New York-based coding bootcamp and education technology startup General Assembly for $413 million, Axios’s Dan Primack reported on Monday. The acquisition reflects the evolution of GA’s business, which is increasingly focused on enterprise customers rather than individuals:

A majority of GA’s revenue by year-end is expected to be business-to-business, whereas it was only 15% two years ago. Most of that is in terms of re-skilling workers, including a “talent pipeline as-a-service” business whereby GA acts not only as a recruiter, but also as a trainer (with hiring companies paying the freight).

GA will continue to operate as an independent division under the umbrella of Adecco Group, co-founder and CEO Jake Schwartz said in a statement. Schwartz will remain at the helm of the company, reporting to Sergio Picarelli on Adecco’s executive committee, Jonathan Shieber adds at TechCrunch.

Joining the European conglomerate is “not an ignominious outcome for General Assembly,” Shieber comments, “but not the exit that many in the New York tech ecosystem had hoped for”:

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Survey: Ransomware Attacks Against Businesses on the Rise

Survey: Ransomware Attacks Against Businesses on the Rise

Cybercriminals are continuing to carry out ransomware attacks on organizations at a greater frequency, according to two new reports highlighted by Cnet’s Laura Hautala this week:

According to Verizon’s annual Data Breach Investigations Report, released Tuesday, ransomware attacks doubled in the last year. That’s especially alarming considering that they doubled the year before, too. … Ransomware accounted for 39 percent of all new malware infections tallied up in the Verizon report, which looks at more than 53,000 security incidents drawn from Verizon cybersecurity customers as well as reports from the US Secret Service and an international consortium of private sector companies.

The numbers match up with findings released Monday by cybersecurity company Malwarebytes, which found that while hackers are targeting consumers with ransomware less frequently, they’re hitting businesses with more of the attacks.

The threat of ransomware was thrown into stark relief last year, when the WannaCry attack, the largest such cyberattack in history, struck over 300,000 machines in 150 countries, exploiting a vulnerability in outdated versions of Microsoft Windows to lock victims out of their computers and demand ransoms of hundreds of dollars to restore access to their documents and data. Most ransomware attacks are much less sophisticated than WannaCry, which the US government ultimately blamed on North Korea, and rely on phishing scams that trick users into handing passwords or other personal data over to hackers, who can use this information to gain control of their devices.

Phishing and ransomware are of concern for HR departments in particular, first because this part of the organization is often a soft target for cybercriminals and second because employee behavior is the main weak point in most organizations’ cybersecurity strategies.

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Amazon’s Cloud Business Sees Potential in Learning Management

Amazon’s Cloud Business Sees Potential in Learning Management

Amazon Web Services appears to be developing its own enterprise learning management system (LMS), CNBC technology reporter Jordan Novet noticed recently, suggesting that the e-commerce giant’s cloud computing business is shifting its focus from digital infrastructure toward ready-to-use business services:

Amazon already has online training programs for partners to train their employees on how to use AWS offerings. This would be a broader general-purpose service that companies could use to manage all kinds of corporate training and learning programs. Amazon explored the learning-management field and concluded that none of the available tools were just right for its own workers, and executives decided the company would build its own system, one person familiar with the matter told CNBC. The idea was to build something “commercializable,” the person said. It’s not clear when the service could become available publicly.

Novet points to several job listings Amazon has posted recently for roles related to this project, including one for a solution architect that is billed as “an opportunity for an experienced technologist to be on the ground floor of building a learning platform.” Several companies that offer existing learning management platforms, including Instructure, Cornerstone, and Workday, are AWS customers.

The news also helps explain Amazon’s recent hire of Stanford professor Candace Thille, an expert on non-traditional learning, applications of technology in education, and data-driven approaches to training with a background in both academia and corporate training. While Thille’s role as director of learning science and engineering is focused on developing Amazon’s training programs for its own employees, a version of whatever the company develops internally could ultimately be marketed to customers, as Novet’s source indicated.

As Amazon is a prominent leader in the technology and user experience space, the learning and development community is interested to see what they can do with an LMS: a staple of L&D. Our research at CEB, now Gartner, finds that most organizations are already striving to create an “Amazon-like experience” in their learning portals (recommending learning based on your personal profile and experiences, in the same way Amazon recommends products); now Amazon has the opportunity to build it themselves.

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Virtual Reality Offers Candidates Immersive Previews of Prospective Roles

Virtual Reality Offers Candidates Immersive Previews of Prospective Roles

You’ve heard of 360 reviews, but what about 360 previews? At SHRM last week, Lin Grensing-Pophal took note of the novel recruiting technology, through which recruiters can give prospects a realistic virtual view inside their potential future workplace. Candidates even get a chance to see exactly what the jobs they are applying for entail:

The content of 360-degree videos can vary: They can offer a “day in the life” perspective about a specific job, interviews with employees and others from the organization, or a bird’s-eye view of company activities such as events and town hall meetings. The management training program at Compass Group North America, a family of food-service and support-services companies serving the hospitality industry, for instance, allows viewers to explore the company’s facilities through a tour narrated by those who are in the program. Viewers see the facilities and learn about the incumbent’s experience in the role. The viewer’s vantage point can be swiveled around for a 360-degree experience.

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Digital Transformations Fail Differently

Digital Transformations Fail Differently

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Thomas H. Davenport and George Westerman, researchers with the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, consider several recent cases in which high-profile companies like GE, Ford, and Procter & Gamble made massive investments in digital transformations that ultimately failed to achieve their goals. “What can we learn from these examples of digital dreams deferred?” they ask. “How did these smart, experienced leaders make decisions that don’t look so smart in hindsight?”

The issue, the authors posit, is fundamental to the adoption of transformative business technologies. Very similar high-profile change failures happened with the rise of e-commerce and big data, they note. There’s something about digitalization that leads businesses to slip up in specific ways:

Several key lessons emerge when heavy commitments to digital capability development meet basic financial performance problems. A clear one is that there are many factors, such as the economy or the desirability of your products, that can affect a company’s success as much or more than its digital capabilities. Therefore, no managers should view digital — or any other major technological innovation — as their sure salvation.

Second, digital is not just a thing that you can you can buy and plug into the organization. It is multi-faceted and diffuse, and doesn’t just involve technology. Digital transformation is an ongoing process of changing the way you do business. It requires foundational investments in skills, projects, infrastructure, and, often, in cleaning up IT systems. It requires mixing people, machines, and business processes, with all of the messiness that entails. It also requires continuous monitoring and intervention, from the top, to ensure that both digital leaders and non-digital leaders are making good decisions about their transformation efforts.

From our research at CEB, now Gartner, we know that enterprise change is hard. Most change efforts fail either partly or completely, and in today’s business environment, change is happening faster than ever before. The CEB Corporate Leadership Council’s ongoing research on Creating a Talent Strategy for the Digital Age also points to the unique challenges Davenport and Westerman identify with digital transformations.

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Google Hire Expands into Sourcing with ‘Candidate Discovery’ Feature

Google Hire Expands into Sourcing with ‘Candidate Discovery’ Feature

Google Hire, the search giant’s recruiting and applicant tracking application, has been updated with a new feature called candidate discovery that is designed to help hiring managers more easily keep track of past candidates who might be good fits for newly open positions, Google announced on its blog last Wednesday. According to the company, the new feature enables managers to:

  • Find qualified candidates immediately upon opening a job. The first step in filling a role should be checking who you already know that fits the job criteria. Candidate discovery creates a prioritized list of past candidates based on how their profile matches to the title, job description and location.
  • Use a search capability that understands what they are looking for. Candidate discovery understands the intent of what recruiters and hiring managers are looking for. It takes a search phrase like “sales manager Bay Area” and immediately understands the skills and experiences relevant to that job title, as well as which cities are part of the Bay Area. That means the search results will include candidates with sales management skills even if their past job titles are not an exact keyword match.
  • Easily search by previous interactions with candidates. Hire lets recruiters search and filter based on the previous interactions with the candidate, such as the type of interview feedback they received or whether you extended them an offer before. Candidates with positive feedback will rank higher in search results than those without, and candidates who received an offer in the past but declined it will rank higher than those who were previously rejected.

The feature is now available in beta to all Google Hire users, a pool currently limited to small and mid-sized US employers using its G Suite of enterprise software products. Matt Charney took a more detailed technical look at the product for Recruiting Daily, noting that “traditional search engines are notoriously bad at searching for individual people and profiles,” which may be why it’s taken Google so long to expand into this space. Now that it has, however, it’s a pretty big deal:

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