People & Strategy Summer 2017 Vol. 40 Issue 3 - 46
climbing a mountain, everyone's elevation can be measured
with an altimeter. However, the most effective way to climb
the mountain may vary depending on the person. We
have always recognized ways of achieving happiness, and
those ways are written in the old Eudemonics texts, but in
fact, scientific data shows that the path to happiness varies
according to the individual. AI solves and displays the path
to happiness for each individual based on each individual's
personal situation and based on their personal data. This
has been a significant breakthrough in the utilization of AI.
A key trait of AI is that it is borne from diversity both on
the human and organizational levels. This means that AI is
able to determine what specific individual attributes a company has that can allow that organization to differentiate itself.
Companies are made up of human assets, and these very
assets can be used to determine a company's unique success
traits. These traits, in turn, lead to a productivity outcome for
organizations and this, remarkably, remains true even when
these employees move to a different company.
Conventional automation incorporated by many companies once led to a gap between their competitors. Following
a period where technology provided the advantage, today, AI
provides something fundamentally different. Corporations
have differing management resources and challenges. Using
different problem settings and data for the exact same AI
algorithms will produce an AI that is totally unique for each
company; an individual fingerprint if you will, unique to
that organization. Accordingly, individual corporate characteristics and strengths can be fostered, as well as individual
innovations and achievements. This proves that people are
the most important asset of any firm.
Another key trait of AI is that it is strikingly different from
the indiscriminate standardization of users by conventional
computers. Applying AI data to HR can lead to the concern
of a Big Brother environment where people are controlled
indiscriminately and against their will. Rather, AI can foster
diversity for each person and organization. This means that
prior computer systems and their strong control will be overturned. AI will actually foster diversity.
Misconception 5: AI Is Relevant Only for
The Future and Not Applicable Now
AI has already begun to be applied to a wide range of significant existing challenges for business and HR today. As
William Gibson put it, "The future has arrived. It's just not
evenly distributed yet."
Hitachi is in the middle of a large organizational transformation, and we have already started using AI within HR.
Hitachi is evolving from a company that primarily focused
on providing products to a reimagined company that provides services to customers. However, it is not easy to reflect
this transformative change in the daily lives and activities of
employees. As we develop this evolved business, many jobs
will have to change.
For the project I referenced where the Hitachi HR department utilized AI, working with 600 employees in a wide
range of fields, each of the employees were equipped with
wearable label sensors. Based on the collected data, we de46
PEOPLE + STRATEGY
veloped a management system that enables AI to send daily,
individualized smartphone messages with information on
how the employee can optimize each day, including suggested interactions that will maximize their personal happiness
as well as their productivity and success
After implementing this system, the results demonstrated
that the longer a department used this smartphone application, the more happiness levels and revenue levels increased.
So, we already have a way of accurately measuring the
impact that employees have on their workplace based on
how happy they are and, as a result, we can directly measure
the influence that is driving that happiness on an individual
basis, a remarkable finding. It is therefore necessary to con-
It has been shown that AI can be
used to elevate happiness and
therefore overall business results.
sider how an employee's individual happiness is directly tied
to an organization's success, and in turn, how organizations
in general can focus on the individual to improve a company's success, because both are truly worthwhile goals.
The use of AI for HR in driving organizational transformation has already begun. These approaches can also
be applied to a variety of fields within the HR and organizational contexts, such as education, selection-making,
retention, and organizational development.
Ultimately, AI will change HR in ways that will far surpass
anticipated misconceptions. To see HR reinvented, HR professionals should grasp the following five digital reforms:
* AI itself is simple and can be understood by individuals
lacking a technical background.
* AI surpasses pre-determined rules and is made up of a
systematic methodology that is flexible to change.
* Outcome settings and outcome thinking are key in the
application of AI. Happiness, the ultimate outcome
for humans, can now be measured with breakthrough
wearable technology. Moving forward, AI will bring people happiness and support higher productivity, achieve
growth and improve organizational performance.
* Real AI will foster increased diversity among people. This
is in contrast to the "Big Brother" misconception of AI
that dominates current thinking.
AI is not a thing of the future for the field of HR. Among
these digital reforms, corporations have already started to
use AI for organizational transformations.
The future is already here, and the future of company
success through AI has already begun. However, nothing
will happen without action. HR has an opportunity to impact the world of work like never before.
Kazuo Yano, Ph.D., is corporate chief scientist, research and development group, at Hitachi Data Systems. He can be reached at