From the Editors – by Bob Greene

An unusual thing happened on the way to finalizing this issue of WSR: the world changed, seemingly overnight, and more fundamentally and dramatically than we’ve seen in the past 100 years. The impact of the Coronavirus pandemic has been profound – on employees, HR practitioners, IT professionals, businesses and the economy in general, to name just a few of those affected. In the face of these major disruptions, our editorial board made the decision to redirect some editorial content, while still trying to preserve our overall theme (AI and Big Data), which had been set many months ago. The result is one of our most varied volumes of content in years, and we hope you find it informative and enjoyable.

In addressing the COVID health crisis, your Co-Managing Editor (me!) has taken the opportunity to summarize the impacts it will have on various aspects of Human Capital Management – both compliance and best practice impacts. The virus and societal response to it continues to bring changes to our professional community practically daily, and the Editors have decided to present this material in two parts, with the second part slated for next issue.

In “HR Technology in the New Remote Work Environment,” WSR Editor Jessa Kilgore offers us practical tips for moving our workforces online. Ironically, the baseline for this article originated in a presentation to a state SHRM chapter conference several months before the first case of COVID in China was announced.

In “The Age of Behavioral Analytics at Work,” Worklytics founder Philip Arkcoll introduces us to the subject of Organizational Network Analysis (ONA) and demonstrates the many ways this science can be deployed to excavate valuable insights into organizational behavior. His call-out of the impacts of interruptions like e-mail, chat and meetings on mainline work output is attention-grabbing, particularly as we collectively adjust to a the “new normal” of work-from-home.

In “A Perspective on Bringing AI to HR: Opportunities, Risks and a Recommended Path Forward,” Sheri Feinzig, Partner in IBM’s Global Business Services Talent & Transformation practice, reports on how IBM implemented and refined AI programs, by leveraging domain expertise, assessing and avoiding adverse impact, and testing model behavior constantly. She shares with us the tips, tricks and techniques IBM used to ensure their resulting AI products overcame the struggles she cites as being “the messiness of reality.”

In the return of WSR’s popular “Point/Counterpoint” editorials, we address the pros and cons of AI in the Human Resources arena. James Jeude, Principal for Strategy and Consulting for TECH2025, and Adjunct Professor at NYU, takes the “pro” side, arguing persuasively that Artificial Intelligence is a “must-have” for any forward-thinking HCM architecture. Since being “against” AI is a rather unpopular view in our community, I step “once more unto the breach.” My “con” side column simply points out important limitations of AI as it applies uniquely to HR, due in large part to the unpredictability of human behavior.

Returning to our secondary theme issue, the Coronavirus crisis in America and the world, Amy Armitage, Co-Chair of the Human Capital Investment and Reporting Council has penned, “The Road to Economic Recovery: Human Capital in the Driver’s Seat.” In this article, Armitage focuses on eight specific recommendations, including the idea that “the road to recovery is about evidence and accountability for results.” She makes a compelling call to action for professionals in our industry.

In the second part of our IHRIM Forty Year Retrospective, we conclude our virtual conversation with long-time IHRIM members Sid Simon, Marc Miller, Freddye Silverman, Jim Pettit and Nov Omana. This “stroll down memory lane” is quite helpful in understanding the path our profession has followed so far, as well as answering the question, “where to, from here?”

Finally, WSR Editorial Advisory Board member Katherine Jones offers up another installment of her popular column, The Back Story. This “episode,” naturally enough: “HR in the Time of COVID-19.”

We hope you enjoy this varied collection of articles, and that they advance your knowledge of both the role of Artificial Intelligence in HR management, as well as the Human Capital Management response needed for the Coronavirus Pandemic. Above all else, your WSR Editorial Board members sincerely wish that you and your loved ones stay safe and healthy.

Bob Greene

Bob Greene currently serves as Senior HR Industry Analyst at Ascentis. His 43 years in the human capital management industry have been spent in practitioner, consultant, and vendor/partner roles. As practitioner, he managed payroll for a 5,000-person bank in New Jersey. As consultant, he spent eight years advising customers in HRMS, and payroll and benefits system design, as well as acquisition strategies. He also built a strategic HCM advisory practice for Xcelicor (now Deloitte Consulting.) As vendor/partner, he has had prominent roles in sales support, marketing and product management at Cyborg Systems, SAP, Oracle, Vurv Technology, SumTotal Systems, Enwisen, Lawson Software, and currently Ascentis. Greene has a total of eight years on the Editorial Board of IHRIM’s Workforce Solutions Review journal, as contributing editor, and for the past two years, has been Co-Managing Editor. His experience also includes two years as Adjunct Lecturer in HRIS at Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois. Greene holds a BA in English from Rutgers College, and studied Law at IIT-Kent College of Law, concentrating in ERISA and employment law. He can be reached at bob.greene@ascentis.com.

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