9 Key Takeaways from IAMPHENOM 2023
IAMPHENOM, the #1 talent experience conference, kicked off this week in Philadelphia. We were joined by over 1,400 HR professionals from all over the globe to talk about the ways organizations are transforming the talent experience through intelligence and automation — among many other topics!
Check out highlights from the conference — including top trends and product unveilings — that will define the future of talent acquisition and talent management.
Here are the 9 key takeaways from IAMPHENOM this year:
The Rise of Intelligence and Automation to Transform the Talent Experience
Leveraging AI and Automation to Improve Productivity
Understanding the Role of Generative AI for HR
Keeping the "Human-in-the-Loop" for AI
Improving Hiring Team Efficiencies
Reigniting Talent Development and Retention
Embracing Experimentation to Fuel Growth
The Value of Partnerships for Co-Innovation
HR Tech Innovations that Will Define the Future of Hiring, Developing & Retaining Talent
1. The Rise of Intelligence & Automation to Transform the Talent Experience
Talent experiences are becoming increasingly important as companies look for innovative ways to hire, evolve, and retain talent. Every company is going through a talent transformation, transitioning from a "one-size-fits-all approach" to one that truly personalizes each stage of the talent lifecycle.
There has never been a time when HR is more important to an organization than it is today. Improving the talent experience is the thread that helps teams come together to work toward a common goal and better align with the company's mission and vision. “It’s about connecting the dots of data, people, and their interactions together to deliver phenomenal experiences,” explained Phenom CEO and cofounder Mahe Bayireddi.
AI has dramatically transformed every industry. “As a result, every company is going through a talent transformation. And it’s time for intelligence, automation, and experience to rule,” said Mahe. “When you bring these together, the whole talent economy works much more efficiently so candidates find the right jobs faster, employees grow and evolve, recruiters become wildly productive, managers build stronger-performing teams, HR aligns employee development with company goals, and HRIS creates holistic tech infrastructures.”
2. Leveraging AI and Automation to Improve Productivity
AI and automation are the keys to unlocking productivity throughout the enterprise that will support your hiring, development, and retention goals. You have to automate the parts of the workforce where you can improve productivity and intelligence — such as screening, scheduling, and even candidate interviews — especially for organizations filling high-volume roles. This will be the only way they can scale, beat the competition, and thrive.
By strategically using AI throughout your hiring systems, you access invaluable context that helps deliver personalized experiences and critical insights that help your HR teams perform their jobs more effectively.
The truth is, we’re all accustomed to personalized experiences powered by AI because we interact with them every single day (think about your Netflix recommended shows to watch or related products on Amazon).
And with the cost of training AI data plummeting 70% year over year, it’s a no-brainer that HR must start integrating AI and automation into existing processes to keep up with new expectations, updated ways of working, and shifting hiring practices.
Here's one example of AI in action: According to Appcast, they discovered that hand-selecting job boards can cause an imbalance in applicant submissions: 53% of job ads don’t get a single apply, while 10% of job ads receive over 80% of applications. To help solve this problem, they recommended using AI and data analytics to make job board recommendations that will best support hiring efforts.
3. Understanding the Role of Generative AI for HR
“Generative AI'' is a phrase taking the world by storm, and it was covered extensively at IAMPHENOM. Even though it's fairly new, the possibilities for applying it to HR are extensive already, including automatically creating content and highlighting next-step actions for teams.
A few speakers also stressed the importance of using it ethically and responsibly.
Keith Sonderling, Commissioner of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), shared that a major barrier to equal employment over the years has been job descriptions because most people simply copy and paste from other job descriptions full of historical biases. Instead, companies can use generative AI to write job descriptions that are more inclusive. This leads to the best of both worlds: it doesn't require a heavy lift, and can transform organizations in a very important way.
At Phenom, we're dedicated to the ethical use of AI throughout our platform. Our policy is to make sure that every decision across talent acquisition, talent management, etc. is ultimately done by a human. AI essentially serves as a virtual assistant, nudging and giving out recommendations. When the AI finds an anomaly, the team brings it back to a group of 50 scientists to analyze that anomaly and make sure it isn’t causing bias.
4. Keeping the Human-in-the-Loop for AI
This was a popular phrase throughout the entire conference — from the Main Stage to Breakout track sessions. But what does human-in-the-loop mean?
It focuses on the importance of balancing the relationship between humans and AI, ensuring that the fundamental focus of people hiring people is scalable, streamlined, and efficient. It also means that AI should serve as a cohort to your team members giving recommendations to help them make quicker decisions and take faster actions within their roles.
Lothar Harings, CHRO of Kuehne+Nagel, commented “I truly believe that technology and AI will not replace human beings, but it can and should help us.” We wholeheartedly agree!
By leveraging a Reinforcement Learning from Human Feedback (RLHF) model, it's possible to effectively create an infrastructure that works with your team to meet your unique needs. Organizations must look for a vendor that leverages a framework which regulates the outcome of putting people first, and driving fair outcomes.
5. Improving Hiring Team Efficiencies
Recruiters are the lifeblood of any TA team — and efficiency is the name of the game for organizations to overcome today's hiring challenges.
Having AI, automated workflows, and data analytics at their fingertips allows them to engage best-fit candidates faster, execute hiring actions quicker, and move talent through the pipeline confidently knowing that they're elevating the most qualified candidates possible.
During one session, a few talent acquisition professionals from Mastercard commented on the importance of introducing tools that not only accelerate their existing efforts, but also make their systems scalable through the implementation of automation. By focusing on long-term solutions, organizations can continue to build upon the processes that work best for them, while partnering with a technology vendor that can also grow alongside them.
Through the Phenom Intelligent Talent Experience platform, for example, it’s easy to customize existing templates to accelerate repetitive actions, such as sending campaigns, formulating job descriptions, publishing newly available roles, generating offer letters, and more.
Having AI as a cohort and data analyst allows knowledge workers to lift their productivity and efficiency by 10%, saving trillions of dollars in employee productivity while driving better outcomes.
Masco & Collaborative Solutions also experienced similar efficiency gains after using Phenom CRM, Campaigns, AI, and automation to support their recruitment teams. In just 6 months, they experienced:
52,000 apply clicks
38,000 applications were started
31,000 completed applications
6. Reigniting Talent Development and Retention
Another consistent theme at IAMPHENOM was the importance of setting up the right systems to support talent development and retention. “The most important question we have as HR, and as companies, is how we will help individuals transfer their potential into skills and competencies needed for current and future markets,” said Bayireddi.
One panel featuring HR leaders from a variety of global brands pointed out that ensuring your employees have the right tools to do their jobs efficiently and effectively is equally as important as focusing on streamlining the talent acquisition side of the house.
“At Thermo Fisher, our talent platform is comprised of talent acquisition, talent management, and learning and development — it’s a joint effort to ensure we create the right experiences throughout the talent lifecycle,” remarked Amy Ritter, Sr. Director, Talent Acquisition Operations, Thermo Fisher Scientific.
Leveraging AI-powered technology to personalize recommendations for employees surrounding new opportunities — while also alerting managers to critical skill gaps that need to be filled — helps keep everyone working toward the same goal. But upskilling and talent development doesn't always look the same for everyone.
“Upskilling is not limited to learning and development courses online… People have different preferences for how they want to learn. We take these upskilling opportunities and make them fit to what the employee wants,” remarked Lora Kantorovich, Director of Product Management at Phenom.
7. Embracing Experimentation to Fuel Growth
Best-selling author and adviser Safi Bahcall spoke extensively at IAMPHENOM about the importance of experimentation when it comes to organizational growth. To Bahcall, it’s the key to staying relevant and competitive in our rapidly changing market.
“The difference between companies that make it and companies that don't is the ability to run experiments at pace and scale,” said Bahcall. “Why experiments? You need customer insights, specifically non-obvious insights,” to help you change and grow.
Other HR professionals at the conference reinforced Bahcall’s message, including Melinda Littleton, Lead Talent Sourcing Partner at Regions Bank. After implementing the Phenom platform, Regions experienced 20% faster hires, 8 times more candidates applying, and over 7,000 pre-qualified candidates.
However, Littleton shared that this “aha moment” only fueled more experimentation. Recruiters came to leaders with ideas for other ways to leverage the platform, and they began experimenting to see what worked and what didn’t. As a result, this enabled them to identify ways to improve their strategies and ultimately create the best experiences for recruiters and candidates alike.
The team at Cielo also shared their story of embracing a learning mindset before kicking off a new Employee Value Proposition (EVP) — which allowed for greater insight into their brand perceptions internally, externally, and at executive levels. Overall, the trial-and-error approach uncovered unique insights that helped their business make more data-driven decisions, reach goals faster, and save both time and money.
8. The Value of Partnerships for Co-Innovation
It’s no longer enough to buy a point HR tech solution that comes out of the box with a fixed set of features, minimal customization capabilities, and segmented processes that may or may not work well with your processes or systems.
To truly drive amazing results among HR teams, companies need to think of HR tech vendors as partners that are there to provide support throughout every stage of the talent lifecycle. “A true partner acts on eye level. We understand that we may be coming from different points but both sides accept that,” said Lothar Harings, CHRO of Kuehne+Nagel.
Joanna Ferrara, Team Leader - Recruitment Marketing at Southwest Airlines remarked, “We hired 18,000 people last year and are on track to hire 7,000 more this year. This is something that would not be possible without the people of Southwest and our partnership with Phenom. We’ve been proud partners with Phenom for the last five years.”
Even companies like eBay in partnership with talentEXP stated that having an experienced partner that understands how the platform can be aligned to their processes and goals is the most critical element to consider when evaluating vendors.
Implementation and go-live is only the first step in the process — true success can only happen when both parties are invested in each other.
To better support customers’ evolving needs and success, Phenom also announced a new multi-tiered support model: Phenom Service Experience. By adding more self-service capabilities and a direct line to support, Phenom is accelerating problem resolution and increasing customer satisfaction. Built to provide exceptional support and phenomenal moments, Phenom Service Experience includes: Support Portal, Service Hub, Platform Status Page, Learning Academy, User Community, Global Office Hours, Premium Support Plans, and Managed Services Plans.
9. HR Tech Innovations that Will Define the Future of Hiring, Developing & Retaining Talent
One of the most anticipated events at IAMPHENOM was the keynote product session on new innovations, technology updates, and product unveilings happening at Phenom.
The Phenom product team unveiled Phenom X+, our generative AI capability for human resources that improves efficiencies by automating content creation, surfacing actionable intelligence, and eliminating time-consuming tasks for candidates, employees, recruiters, managers, HR and HRIS teams.
For talent acquisition, Phenom X+ automatically:
Generates contextually relevant job descriptions based on role requirements, past ideal candidates, and current high-performing employees
Auto-generates on-brand content and optimizes discoverability via search (SEO)
Offers a natural language search experience for candidates
Highlights best-fit external and internal candidates for any open role
Writes and personalizes emails, SMS, WhatsApp messages and campaigns to candidates
Schedules, reschedules, and cancels interviews using natural language
Develops individualized interview questions and guides
Publishes comprehensive interview feedback in real time for decision makers
Provides hiring teams with interview transcripts, candidate responses, summaries and actionable insights
Interprets notes and creates tasks to be completed
Analyzes Chatbot questions and generates appropriate responses
Scales multilingual experiences
Recommends optimizations to hiring workflows
For talent management, Phenom X+ automatically:
Provides performance insights across teams with next steps
Identifies succession planning opportunities for high-performing employees
Flags employee flight risks and provides prescriptive guidance
Detects skills gaps and surfaces upskilling and reskilling opportunities
Generates personalized emails and campaigns, as well as audience segments to foster development
Interprets and communicates organizational talent trends and ways to stay on pace
And this is just a glimpse of what Phenom X+ can do. Phenom takes the human relationship with AI seriously, and our dedication to the ethical use of AI is clear: By 2024, "Phenom will train and certify 250,000 HR professionals in the proper use of AI," said Bayireddi.
In addition to Phenom X+, the team unveiled 18 new automation and intelligence announcements across the platform for talent acquisition, talent management, and HRIS teams.
For more information, check out the official announcement.
Making Every Talent Moment Phenomenal
To all of our incredible customers, speakers, and new friends: thank you for joining us for three amazing days in Philadelphia.
And a special shout-out to our sponsors, including talentEXP (who partnered with us to donate $5000 to the following charities on behalf of attendees in lieu of swag bags: Philly PAWS, World Wildlife Fund, Children's Heart Foundation, World Central Kitchen, Arbor Day Foundation, and The Nature Conservancy), Appcast, Cielo, Collaborative Solutions, Shaker Recruitment Marketing, Nexus Communications, QuantumWork Advisory, Boostpoint, Brazen, Cliquify, Sparc, and Survale.
From the changing talent economy, to generative AI, to improving recruiter efficiency and retaining top talent through technology, IAMPHENOM has shown us that the future of HR is bright and that HR’s time is now.
If we could only leave you with one takeaway it’s that using AI and automation to help your companies evolve is a must, but it cannot be done without human intelligence to support it.
We hope to see you at IAMPHENOM 2024! If you’d like to see how Phenom can help you make every talent moment phenomenal, you can request a personalized demo here.
Kasey is a content marketing writer, focused on highlighting the importance of positive experiences. She's passionate about SEO strategy, collaboration, and data analytics. In her free time, she enjoys camping, cooking, exercising, and spending time with her loved ones — including her dog, Rocky.
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