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AI Innovations For HR in SAP Services

AI Innovations For HR in SAP Services are changing the way that human resources departments source and manage SAP talent.

Also, new innovations using AI technology are leading to big changes in the portfolio of SAP products, leading indirectly to changes in the SAP services market.

Many employees now have the option of working from home and organizations are also choosing to increase their contingent workforce for better flexibility and lower cost to the company. HR managers are turning to AI and automation to help them administer to an increasingly complex hybrid workforce.

This week IgniteSAP will discuss the future of HR, AI and the SAP services market: what it means for SAP consultants, and those seeking to create and maintain SAP consulting teams.

HR Already Uses AI

According to a report by Eightfold AI, many HR managers already use AI-powered technology on a daily basis to help support and automate simple tasks which were previously manual and time consuming, such as onboarding, performance tracking, and payroll.

The same report states that most HR managers are aiming to increase their use of AI in the next year.

As AI develops and extends its range of applications, it will be used for more complex administrative HR tasks: in employee experience management, and to support strategic workforce management decisions with realtime analysis of business processes.

In a report by IDC called the Worldwide Future of Work 2022, it was shown that 80% of the largest global 2000 organizations will use AI-powered software to hire, train and layoff employees. This has important implications for SAP consultants who may be justifiably concerned about being hired, assessed, and laid off by AI-powered software according to preconfigured key performance indicators rather than by HR Managers.

AI In SAP Recruitment

AI recruiting software (like SAP SuccessFactors Recruiting) has numerous benefits for HR managers. Unconscious social biases can be removed from job descriptions. In-built recruiting analytics can identify the correct type of candidate to fulfill a role and present matching candidate CVs (resumés). Other AI systems can take on some of the workload of assessing candidates by creating skills and knowledge tests.

While this is certainly beneficial for the business in the process of recruiting, candidates need to be aware of AI-powered recruitment techniques, and adjust accordingly. In simple terms this means they should create job applications with qualifications and achievements clearly listed in simple language to be sure that these are not overlooked by the AI at the first stage of assessment.

Also, AI recruitment systems applied to something as complex as fulfilling a role for an SAP consultant cannot yet take account of the soft skills necessary when conducting implementations: like the SAP consultant’s ability to generate rapport with a client (which would be demonstrated at an in-person interview), or the candidate’s abilities to critically assess the dynamics of the business’s processes and see how these could be improved with SAP software.

So we are now seeing a recruitment path in which the initial stage of CV (resumé) assessment has become more important as it is difficult to convey some human qualities which are desirable in an SAP consultant (like communication skills and abstract problem-solving) to an AI-powered recruitment system.

Though the recruiting process is still carried out at least in part by human HR managers or recruiters, there will come a time when these functions will all be automated to a far greater extent.

AI In SAP Team Recruitment To Onboarding

At this year’s Sapphire 2023 event, SAP demonstrated how most initial onboarding processes can now be automated using AI functionality with SAP SuccessFactors and Microsoft 365 Copilot.

Highly targeted job descriptions can be created using data from SAP SuccessFactors in conjunction with Microsoft Azure Open AI Service API. HR Managers can be guided to create these in Microsoft Word by Copilot with the finished job description published through SuccessFactors. The Azure Open AI Service API is also able to offer suggestions for questions during job interviews taking place over Microsoft Teams, according to the language used in the candidate’s CV, and the job description.

AI is also used in the onboarding process once a candidate is successful in their job application and interview.

While AI can already be used to provide the correct information to new hires and direct them to the relevant training, it is important for this interaction to be accompanied by human contact so that the new hire has an opportunity to understand their position in the workplace community, and begin to make the necessary social bonds with their peers that are required in any team working on a complex project.

AI Performance Monitoring Of SAP Consultants

Even though remote and hybrid working patterns are becoming common, employers are still keen to monitor their employees in order to assess the validity of their investment in the workforce.

Aside from the debate about individual privacy and other legal concerns, the relevance of KPIs and methods such as keystroke and computer activity monitoring as a means to judge productivity is also difficult to prove. Despite this, according to a Wall Street Journal article “Should Companies Track Workers With Monitoring Technology” published in August 2020, the trend is towards more oversight using technology.

“Before the pandemic roughly 30% of large employers used some form of employee monitoring, now 60% of larger employers are using these technologies to track at least some of their employees.”

It is easy to see that performance monitoring requires quantifiable KPI’s, and for some low level administrative tasks this is certainly achievable. However, for more complex and collaborative work like an SAP implementation project, though it is possible to measure aspects of the project as a whole (such as return on investment and cost-benefit analysis), it is difficult to break this down to the contribution of individual SAP consultants, other than the time taken to complete smaller tasks.

The trend towards more extensive monitoring of employees will continue to grow, and in time this will extend to measurement of even an SAP consultant’s activities using AI-powered performance monitoring software, which will have an impact on how and when they work.

AI and SAP Consulting Careers

One way that SAP consultants can prepare for the increasing use of AI is of course to train and specialize in implementation of SAP’s AI-powered solutions, leveraging an expanding section of the SAP services market.

SAP is aiming to embed AI across all areas of its solution portfolio where there is some advantage to be gained (almost everywhere). Consultants looking to augment their SAP skills with AI competencies can get an overview of their options starting with the SAP Learning Journey, “Artificial Intelligence At SAP”.

From the perspective of HR managers looking to build and maintain in-house SAP talent there are many advantages to using AI technology, so that rather than try to concentrate on measuring individual consultant’s productivity, they can track an employee’s achievements and automate periodic suggestions for training based on the consultant’s current qualifications and experience.

This benefits the company because it is more expensive to arrange for an entirely new hire into an organization for management-level positions, than to promote current team members based on their increasing expertise.

Promoting a culture of lifelong learning in work is particularly crucial for the development and continuity of an SAP team. These professionals are required to keep up to date with new editions, and new versions of SAP software and services, meaning they need to undertake some training activity at least once a year.

SAP SuccessFactors Learning solution is one example way in which companies can manage their strategy for providing learning experiences for their employees: giving employees a chance to progress in their careers without looking for employment elsewhere, and giving companies an internal and evolving source of talent to fill the growing skills gap.

The announcement at Sapphire 2023 about the generative AI collaboration combining SAP SuccessFactors and Microsoft included a new integration between SAP SuccessFactors and Microsoft Viva Learning using Copilot which allows employees to:

“conduct natural language queries to create personalized learning recommendations based on data and learning courses in SAP SuccessFactors solutions that align with the employee’s career and development goals. As learning is completed, the SAP SuccessFactors portfolio will update automatically, providing companies an up-to-date view of the skills landscape in their organization.”

The Benefits And Limitations Of AI

As new technologies develop the debate about their evolution becomes dominated by two opposing sets of voices, those that feel that the new technology is a path to limitless progress, and those who feel that it will ultimately detrimentally impact the quality of life of humans.

With all of the hype about AI and the stories of impending doom, it is important to maintain a balanced and nuanced position regarding the future prospects for humanity. AI will certainly affect every industrial and commercial sector and within that, the human resources practices of every company.

This will impact some workers more than others but the current belief most commonly held is that the more complex the type of work taking place, the later it will be impacted, and to a lesser degree.

AI technologies embedded in HR processes will change the way that those managers operate but from the perspective of SAP consultants, the changes themselves will require qualified and experienced professionals to implement to them, and so will become an expanding market and an excellence source of employment.

Their own professional practice in the SAP services industry, and their experience of being sourced and assessed for employment will be changed but not for the worse, as long as they are aware of the new methods being used to source, recruit, onboard and train SAP talent, and position themselves in such a way that they can use these new routes to employment to their own advantage.

Ultimately, no matter how “intelligent” software becomes it will require knowledgable professionals to implement, maintain and improve it. The future will not be solely controlled by AI, but will consist of a synergy of artificial intelligence and talented humans in all areas.

If you require support with your SAP hiring needs, speak to one of our in-house SAP career specialists today. Call us on +49 (0)21173714895, or submit an enquiry for someone to call you back here