This Is Not About a Chatbot: New Research on Conversational AI

These days, the question is not whether employers are using AI as part of their tech stack. It’s how they are using it. More and more, conversations about AI turns to conversational AI. 

Indeed, companies are increasing their investment in conversational AI to support talent acquisition efforts. According to Aptitude Research’s latest research report, 38% of companies are using or are planning to use conversational AI solutions in 2020, compared to 7% in 2019. And while many organizations are currently pushing pause on other areas of TA technology, the increased focus on conversational AI remains steadfast.

Here are some key findings from this research:

More Than a Chatbot

Many of the misperceptions around conversational AI stem from the belief that it is simply a chatbot. But there’s a difference. Chatbots provide value in giving responses to candidates in real-time, typically as canned answers to basic questions delivered through text. 

Conversational AI offers a more sophisticated and personalized approach to engage candidates through multiple forms of communication. Conversational AI also gets smarter through increased use and connects recruiters and candidates in a more meaningful way. In fact, 39% of companies using conversational AI state that the most significant benefit is improving the candidate experience. 

High Adoption and Satisfaction

Low adoption and poor satisfaction are two common complaints with TA technology. Yet when it comes to conversational AI. there is greater adoption — so much so that 79% of companies see value in their conversational AI investment.

Additionally, while many organizations are using only 3% of their ATS functionality and 2% of their recruitment marketing functionality, nearly 60% of companies are using all of the capabilities of their conversational AI solutions. This is likely because conversational AI is intuitive and straightforward compared to many other areas of TA technology.

A Strong Market

Conversational AI is a confusing market. Many tech providers in general seem to have a basic chatbot — and sure enough, several ERP and ATS providers have or are looking to build chatbots. But such basic chatbots do not have the deep functionality of conversational AI solutions. 

What’s more, companies that want to transform TA through better engagement and an improved experience are looking at stand-alone providers. Nearly 60% of organizations are looking at stand-alone providers over their ATS providers.

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Steady Investment

While other areas of TA technology have been slowing down during today’s global pandemic, the investment in conversational AI remains strong, with over 30% of companies still investing or planning to invest in these solutions in the next year. As companies face new realities with remote recruiting, candidate communication, and the future of work, conversational AI solutions can support them through this uncertainty.

Looking Beyond Candidates

When considering conversational AI, most companies think about the application or the screening process. Yet, many are expanding their use of these solutions into areas such as interviewing, onboarding, and the employee experience. 

The benefits of consistent communication, real-time feedback, and 24/7 access go beyond candidates. They also reach employees and HR teams. Consequently, companies are exploring the use of conversational AI to support the full employee experience. 

For example, McDonald’s, which recently announced plans to hire 260,000 people this summer, has already achieved the following results by partnering with Paradox to leverage conversational AI in the hiring process: 

  • Time to fill has reduced to 1 to 2 days from 10 to 14 days
  • Candidate experience has improved significantly
  • More applicants have applied for a job
  • Less applicants have been lost in the process 
  • Quality of hire has improved
  • Store managers saved 10 to 15 hours each week

Leveraged Across Industries

Conversational AI is disrupting many industries. Contrary to the popular belief that these solutions are only suited for retail and restaurants, it turns out there was also significant growth in financial services, health care, and aerospace. In other words, conversational AI will likely grow in popularity among more organizations in multiple fields as they discover its impact throughout their businesses.

Madeline Laurano is the founder of Aptitude Research. Her primary focus over the last 12+ years has been on the talent management market, specializing in talent acquisition. Her work helps companies both validate and reevaluate their strategies and understand the role technology can play in driving business outcomes. 

Prior, Madeline held research roles at Aberdeen, Bersin by Deloitte, ERE Media, and Brandon Hall Group. She is co-author of Best Practices in Leading a Global Workforce and has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Yahoo News, and The Financial Times. She is a frequent presenter at industry conferences including the HR Technology Conference and Exposition, SHRM, IHRIM, HCI’s Strategic Talent Acquisition conference, GDS International’s HCM Summit, and HRO Today.

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