How Can Businesses Take Advantage of the Changes COVID-19 Has Created: A Conversation with Vivek Khanna

“For any agile organization, every change represents an opportunity,” said Vivek Khanna, President of Neeyamo, in his discussion with Francesco Rulli, Global CEO of Querlo. The two spoke about the challenges that COVID-19 has created and the opportunities that might arise, as well as the future of Artificial Intelligence.

Neeyamo is an international HR services company based in Chennai, Tamil Nadu that is committed to helping companies create stronger businesses. It offers cloud transformation, global payroll, onboarding, employee background screening, benefits administration, and employee data management for companies across the globe. 

COVID-19 has changed the way we look at every aspect of our lives, including the way we communicate and the way we work. Offices are now entirely empty, with some of the largest companies telling employees to not even physically return to work when the pandemic ends. Vivek noted that one of the biggest challenges is going to be what to use these office buildings for as people continue to work remotely. Additionally, executives have to be more wary of their spending due to a loss in revenue. However, there are many opportunities that can emerge as companies adapt to this new era. Vivek described how supply chains of manufactured goods are beginning to change so companies will be prepared if something like this ever happens again. This could create an increase in revenue for countries such as Canada and Mexico and many states in the U.S. 

Vivek strongly believes that AI will be a positive influence in the future. In terms of businesses, it can assist with any task that requires going through and trying to make sense of large masses of data. Furthermore, with enterprises that have the responsibility of managing a diverse number of employees, AI could assist with cross language communication. Vivek continues by discussing how it could also help people with disabilities who currently aren’t able to rely on other humans as much as they normally would. He specifically mentions something that could be created with Google that could act as a lens for blind people. 

To learn more about the services that Neeyamo provides, you can visit their website at www.neeyamo.com or contact Vivek directly at vivek@neeyamo.com. 

Transforming Business Communities with AI: A Conversation with Franz Gilbert

In continuation of Querlo’s HR interview series, Fransesco Rulli, Global CEO of Querlo, spoke with Franz Gilbert, GPHR at Deloitte Consulting, about the challenges and opportunities COVID-19 has created and the role of Artificial Intelligence in the future.

Deloitte is a multinational professional services network that provides services such as audit and assurance, consulting, risk and financial advisory, and risk management to its clients. As a part of the consulting team, Franz has the role of bringing emerging products to both consulting teams and clients.

Franz began by discussing the impact that COVID-19 has had on the business community. In the first stage, the response stage, people were scrambling to figure out how this was going to affect them and their business. In the recovery stage, businesses are trying to reimagine themselves and how they will conduct work in this new era. Finally, the stage that is starting to emerge now is the thrive stage, in which people are beginning to plan for how the new economy might look both from a future board standpoint and with the digital transformation we’ve seen over the past few months. One of the silver linings that has emerged from working virtually is an acceleration of the movement of future work.  Due to this rapid shift to remote work, organizations have begun redesigning how jobs were done and what jobs could be done virtually. Business models have also been changing quickly to adjust, leading to this acceleration of the movement of future work. 

Looking to the future, Franz sees Artificial Intelligence playing a profound role in businesses. One thing he noticed is that his company has been spending a lot of time on what they call “super teams,” which is a combination of human and Artificial Intelligence. In a survey sent out to organizations, while only 12% said they are thinking about how Artificial Intelligence would replace workers, 60% said they are looking at using Artificial Intelligence to assist rather than replace workers. Franz believes this concept of incorporating Artificial Intelligence alongside workers is going to be the biggest change we will see in the future. He also noted that it’s important to figure out now only how to reallocate work using Artificial Intelligence but also how teams start working with it in a way that it almost becomes a part of their team. 

To learn more about Deloitte Counseling, you can email Franz directly at frgilbert@deloitte.com or find him on LinkedIN. Additionally, to learn more about the company’s super teams, you read this article on Deloitte’s website.

Artificial Intelligence and the Post-COVID Era: A Conversation with Daniel Finacchio

Continuing Querlo’s interview series on the challenges of the post-COVID era, Francesco Rulli, Global CEO of Querlo, interviewed Daniel Finacchio, HR Operation and Transformation Executive, about the role artificial intelligence might play in the future. Daniel has been an HR executive for over 25 years, working across multiple industries both in-house and as a consultant. 

Daniel noted that one of the primary challenges of the post-COVID era will be figuring out how to keep the workforce healthy. While achieving profit margins and revenue targets, employers will need to ensure that their employees are “happy, healthy, and safe.” However, as people continue to work remotely, it becomes increasingly important to “leverag[e] technologies to have better collaboration, more interaction,” so employees don’t feel isolated but rather that they are still part of this broader community. 

Francesco then posed a question about what Daniel envisions as the role of artificial intelligence for the future. Daniel sees the first challenge as how you run AI as an organization, by function or Enterprise Solutions? There are a number of different AI applications, such as CRM tools, ERP, customer service solutions, for which you must ask yourself if you want to stay within your specific business function or consider the more expensive enterprise-wide AI. Although specific business functions provide useful insights on customer data, by sharing the feedback across your broader enterprise you are able to leverage it to its full advantage, add greater long term value to your company and improve both the customer and the employee experience. As Daniel points out, a better experience for the employee makes a better experience for the customer.

Daniel adds that investing in AI “is no different than managing a workforce.” By this, he means that a company must consider the long term maintenance of AI by continually assessing and updating its use and evaluating its impact on its human workforce.

To learn more about Daniel Finacchio’s perspective on this topic or to reach out for other HR related questions, you can find him through LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/daniel-finacchio/.  

AI Enabling Company Culture, Agility, and Ability to Change: A Conversation with Anahita Cameron

In continuation of Querlo’s interview series, Francesco Rulli, Global CEO of Querlo, spoke with Anahita Cameron, the former Chief Human Resources Officer at HealthPartners, about her perspective on the role Artificial Intelligence could play in helping companies rebuild in the years following the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Before getting into her views on AI, Anahita noted that she believes the entire way that people do work will change as we go forward. One example she used to demonstrate this point is that it will be more difficult for newly hired employees to acclimate to the company culture without being able to physically enter the office. People typically learn their way through a new space by observing others and the relationships they have with one another, however, since this will not be an option for some time, companies need to figure out how to acclimate employees in a way that doesn’t involve physical presence. Accomplishing this is crucial for company success—cohesive teams can accomplish goals most efficiently and effectively. Anahita also mentioned that it will be more difficult to measure performance than it was when people were able to physically be in the office. She believes that many leaders are not yet equipped to manage a remote and dispersed workforce, and even though they are getting better day by day, they are not working as productively as possible right now which could be damaging for the future. Overall, Anahita believes that what we used to call “work” might be deconstructed in the future—job descriptions might change, companies might look for different skills and capabilities than they used to, among other changes. 

When asked about how AI solutions can be used to help alleviate some of these difficulties, Anahita said that “people are recognizing that with AI, they could have been in a much better place than they are finding themselves in today.” She also noted that before the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies were thinking about AI and other automation technologies, but that the current situation has “expedited that process” —the incorporation of AI solutions will “absolutely begin to pick up,” she said. Companies are noticing that organizations that had already invested a lot of resources into building AI into their HR practices are reaping the benefits now. 

While Anahita explained that there are countless tasks that AI could assist with, one major one that companies will soon need help with is hiring. For the first time in many years, there will be a surplus of employee candidates, whereas before, different companies were “competing for the same talent”. Now, there is going to be so much talent and “AI can really help organizations sift through to find the right talent”. Once AI assists with hiring, it could also help train new employees. “There is so much that can be done,” Anahita stated, “there are a lot of things we can do to make the entire employee life cycle a lot more efficient and error-free and really continue to make it sharper as we go forward”. While making the shift toward more AI solutions will be difficult and potentially controversial, Anahita closed by saying that “the culture, agility, and the ability of an organization to change will have a great impact on how far an organization will go”. Artificial Intelligence increases company ability in all three of those categories. 

AI Creating Honest, Informative, Quick, and Consistent Communication from HR: A Second Conversation with David Emanuel

In continuation of Querlo’s HR interview series, Francesco Rulli, CEO of Querlo, conducted a second discussion with David Emanuel, CHRO at APR energy with over 30 years of experience, on the importance of HR communication in the post-COVID era. David’s primary philosophy when it comes to his work and how he does business is working in a way that aligns with one’s personal values. He believes that when people work this way, they are better at the work they do and they enjoy it more. Therefore, over his years, he has strived to help people do things that make them proud in a way that makes them proud. 

The first question that Francesco posed was, what do you think people’s first priority will be going forward, especially now that we are trying to overcome the difficulties of COVID-19? Additionally, what values and features will HR departments need to focus on in order to protect and motivate their employees? David begins by emphasizing that “HR touches every employee.” He demonstrates that the communication done through HR is becoming increasingly more needed and important, and this trend is not likely to stop any time soon. He also states that the anxiety of employees is “the most troubling” aspect of what companies are going through at this time. People are constantly worrying about questions such as, is my company healthy? Am I going to remain healthy? How are they going to bring me back to work? How are we going to continue to work? David believes that the communication around these types of questions is “our greatest challenge today, and going forward” from an HR perspective. He states that “we have to be honest, we have to be informative, we have to be quick, and we have to be consistent” when it comes to addressing employee’s needs. 

 In response to this comment, Francesco shows David one of Querlo’s new chatbots that demonstrates the general power of AI, and how it can be used to help with some of the most timely issues HR companies are facing right now. The chatbot Francesco showed is meant to understand the feelings of an employee and propose solutions for ways they can improve their mental state. The chatbot provides the option of signing in with a name, or remaining anonymous, which David noted was crucial because people can be reluctant to share their true feelings if they don’t do so anonymously. The chatbot also provides complimentary mental health and anxiety check-ups. 

David believes that a tool such as this chatbot would be incredibly powerful. The ability for HR to, essentially, “never close”, would open up new opportunities, and would give people the ability to voice their thoughts and concerns 24/7. 

Lastly, Francesco asked for David’s opinion on whether he believes that companies that embrace machine learning technologies to improve their knowledge base will be more successful going forward from an HR perspective. David’s answer to this question was compelling and thought-provoking. He noted that a learning process takes place within HR regardless of whether the response is coming from a person or a chatbot; over time, both parties will get better at answering specific employee questions. David believes that the “real power” comes from when HR is an effective outlet for communication and will get back to the person with the correct answer. Accuracy and efficiency are key.

The Role of Technology in the Post-COVID Era: A Conversation with Lorraine Parker-Clegg

On Thursday, May 21, Francesco Rulli, Global CEO of Querlo, had an engaging and inspiring conversation with Lorraine Parker-Clegg, a Global Human Resources Executive. They explored their views on what they think the world will need to face in the post-COVID era, from both a business and a personal perspective.

Lorraine, like many others, predicts that there will be a substantial increase in the number of people who work remotely. She also expressed that this shift will bring about a broad set of challenges and that it is important to ensure that “execution excellence isn’t lost.” This creates an opportunity to better prepare everyone in a company, particularly managers, for the next set of challenges they will face. Managers are constantly finding themselves in situations where it is difficult for them to meet the demands and questions of those they are working with, not because they themselves are not good at their jobs, but because they were not trained to deal with the specific challenges they face. Lorraine states that she believes a solution to this issue is that in the coming months, we have to work especially hard at adequately training managers and other employees so that they can work effectively during this time of struggle. 

In their conversation, Francesco and Lorraine also discussed the role technology will play in helping people and companies overcome challenges in the post-COVID era. They discussed that it is extremely important that every person in a certain company knows how to use the technology that they need to in order to succeed at working remotely. Without ensuring this, companies will be less effective and cogent as a team. Lorraine also brought up a very important point that people are still learning how to trust technology. People are learning to trust that a piece of technology such as a chatbot, for example, would be able to “do the right thing.” In order to initiate this trust, companies such as Querlo who are building Digital Assistants must work hard to ensure that their technology will produce the right outcome if a person relies on it for support. Lorraine importantly added that tas part of this trust process, Digital Assistants need to incorporate aspects of inclusion and diversity that companies had worked toward in an in-person setting. She stated that while all of this seems somewhat complicated, one of the most important factors in establishing trust between people and AI systems is that the systems are easy to use. 

Although figuring out the most effective way to work remotely for different companies will be complicated and may take some time, Lorraine closed by saying that she believes we will eventually find the right balance between human interaction and technology assistance, and that AI will be able to help save time and energy as we figure this balance out.