Next-Gen Bots for Talent Management

Intelligent digital assistants and voice-enabled chatbots are only getting better with every passing day. More companies today aim to leverage the new generation of chatbots that offer a natural and intuitive human-machine interaction to improve their performance in various business areas including People Operations. Cincinnati-based Ulimi develops chatbots and voicebots that provide automated conversational experiences, enabling organizations to improve their conversation with candidates and employees, automate HR tasks, and foster self-service engagement. In this interview with CIO Applications, Nick Dokich, Founder and CEO of Ulimi, explains how their business to employee (B2E) bots help organizations recruit faster, cut costs, engage employees immediately, and give valuable time back to the workforce.

Can you elaborate on Ulimi’s journey since its inception?

I didn’t come from a tech background but I had a knack for it and UI and UX. After 10 years in People Operations I knew that there was a much-needed change in HR practice and tech. I was determined to extend the functionalities of chatbots to the next level. In our discussions with the top executives of many manufacturing firms, warehouses, and several midsize companies, we see a blind adaptation of automation with least regard to a well-defined purpose. I founded Ulimi and initially built a smart staffing assistant for recruiters. Backed by our combined 30 years of experience in HR, Ulimi aims to move the needle in the HR industry by providing artificial intelligence (AI)-based chatbot solutions for all things People Ops. We automate mundane, low value interactions so HR resources can be freed up to work on high value interactions.

We started by developing dashboards to consolidate data to better tell a story in a conversational way. A typical organization today has a high volume of data and legacy siloed systems. In such a scenario, the strenuous manual approach remains the only way to gather data from disparate systems and analyze them for business insights. We offer a real-time solution that is designed to meet the real world business needs of our clients. We don’t try to change their entire system, but leverage AI to bring the data together in a tangible way. Our customized solutions deliver comprehensive information that drives accurate decision making. We specialize in conversational design for the workplace, focusing on what makes sense to automate in each organization. AI is here to stay, but we will always need a human element along that chain.

Tell us about the challenges companies face today in HR.

As a Performance Manager of a warehouse of 300 employees in the early part of my carrier, I have personally experienced the hassle of having to screen 1,200 candidates to find 50 quality resources. And still, for most companies, HR remains distant to technology advancement.

The HR Generalist spends their day juggling various functions including processing employee requests, on-boarding, recruiting, and other paper-driven work processes that give them little time to focus on employee engagement and development. Reaching out to more candidates through engaging messages, answering employee questions instantly, and improving process workflow through a chat and voice interface is the need of the hour.

Although modern firms have applicant tracking systems (ATS) and well-trained Recruitment teams, they lack in suitable technology to manage talent acquisition, let alone employee retention. During indispensable scenarios when sizable recruitment turns into a firm’s necessity, the HR team undergoes immense pressure to recruit faster and making sure that the candidates satisfy the required eligibility criteria.

How do you solve the HR related problems of your clients?

We take a consultative approach where we discuss with clients and their teams about their business, challenges, and their needs. Our client onboarding strategy encompasses discovery, design, development, and deployment. We aim to create an experience where artificial intelligence and natural language processing will enhance your business process, not change it entirely. We understand the end-users, deployment methods, functionalities to be developed and the 3rd party or open source technology integration requirements. With all these details, our well-versed conversational design and technical team develops the required solutions for our individual clients. 

In complex business cases, our team first looks at the needs of the business, then the needs of the end-user. Design methodology seems counter intuitive, but with unlimited potential inputs, it’s the right way to move forward.

In any project, our objective is to get the right information delivered to the right user at the right time, in the right way. To this end, we strive to leverage the client’s existing systems and work processes and take a measured approach to project execution. We offer customised AI solutions built on natural language processing (NLP). By analysing the text across diverse systems and connecting the various data points using NLP we serve business reports and dashboards in an automated fashion. We combine conversational UI with traditional web interfaces to create a product that gives the user almost unlimited insight into their business. By improving process efficiency without changing the infrastructure, we empower the decision makers to make better business and hiring decisions.

Can you share with us a case study highlighting the benefits brought to one of your clients?

An emerging staffing agency approached us to speed up their recruitment process. Our team analysed the agency’s work processes and practices and reached to the conclusion that the agency spent almost 22 percent of its production time clicking through multiple menus and tabs to collect information about jobs, shift schedules, pay rate and the like. We created a recruitment manager chatbot solution for the firm’s recruiting team. As our solutions easily integrated with the firm’s existing ATS, the firm didn’t have to invest in developing a new ATS from scratch. Our engineers incorporated all the existing recruitment data and other business information to create an executive dashboard. The dashboard provided not only the firm’s revenue details, like the profit amount in stipulated time but also automated the employee payroll, enabling the leadership team to handle the operations with ease.

What does the future have in store for Ulimi?

From a functionality standpoint, we focus on enhancing our clients’ HR departments with a voice-first HR suite. Alexa and Google Home devices are becoming more prevalent in the home, but most miss the vast business applications possible. Additionally, our expert team is working on a talent operation and performance management suite. Our goal is to integrate AI in the various phases of talent and employee journey, from sourcing and screening, to training and retention. By leveraging the paradigm shift that is voice and chat interfaces we make the most user-friendly UX possible, furthering growth in the company. On the expansion front, we have a strategic plan to expand our presence in staffing, manufacturing, warehousing, and logistics in the Mid-West and the Eastern parts of the U.S.