Some of the questions you ask your human resources department could soon be answered by, well, non-humans.
That’s the concept behind Talla, a Boston-area start-up that has developed a chatbot to do some of the more mundane tasks that HR departments carry out on a daily basis. That includes explaining company policy, surveying employees, collecting information or training new hires.
The Talla bot operates inside enterprise group messaging software, such as Slack, HipChat or Microsoft Teams, which has increasingly become an alternative to email as a method of digital communication within companies. Employees send messages to the chatbot just as they would a human, and it uses language processing software to understand the message and respond accordingly. Some 1,200 companies have installed Talla, about a quarter of whom use the service regularly, said Talla chief executive Rob May.
Robots promise to be a disruptive force in the global economy. Some
technologists and economists expect they will inevitablely replace low-wage workers, such as drivers and factory labor. As artificial intelligence continues to become more sophisticated, robots may eventually displace humans in less manual roles. Already, bots are being employed in fields as varied as law, journalism, medicine and engineering.
Does that mean human resources will comprise only bots? Maybe, but not for several decades, predicts May, who founded the company last year. In fact, he says the introduction of chatbots to HR allows the human staff to focus on tasks that require a greater degree of intellect and touch.
“What’s actually going to happen is you’re going to allow the human resources department to be more human by automating away a lot of their grunt work,” he said.
A chatbot can help an employee locate needed forms or poll the staff on preferred holiday party locations, for example.
“HR spends a lot of time doing these low-level, monotonous tasks and not really being as strategic and engaged as they would like to be,” May continued. “What you’ll find is that more of the work that does not involve collaborating with or interacting with other humans is the kind of work that will be automated away.”
Read more from The Washington Post’s Innovations section.