Monday 17 June 2019

Irish business may use AI to spot staff at risk of leaving job

(Stock image)
(Stock image)
Gavin McLoughlin

Gavin McLoughlin

Irish clinical trials business Icon is examining ways to use artificial intelligence (AI) to see which employees are at risk of leaving.

CEO Dr Steve Cutler told an event in New York about the potential scheme last week.

He said it is also looking to use AI as part of its hiring processes.

"We're very excited because we're actually looking to apply artificial intelligence in things like how we hire people, so initial screening of people, whether it be video interviews or reviewing of CVs," Dr Cutler said.

"Obviously, retention for us is very important. Now, retention is pretty good overall. We're about 85pc right across the company. So, it's very solid, but we can be better so we're looking at ways in which we can identify factors which might make it more likely that people would leave our organisation.

"That's the more intellectual part, I suppose, of the robotic processes and the artificial intelligence, and we're looking to apply those effectively across the group."

A spokesperson said a company expert was unavailable to elaborate on the manner in which the AI would be used to monitor employees.

Dr Cutler was in New York yesterday at an event marking 20 years of the company being listed on the Nasdaq.

Leopardstown-based Icon announced plans in 2015 to add 200 new jobs which it said would bring its workforce to 1,200 in Ireland.

Dr Cutler said at the event last week that the company believes using robots can cut costs, giving an example of a document-filing process.

"We can file a document in a minute, basically, where a human takes about six minutes. The bot works 24/7, doesn't tend to get sick, doesn't complain, doesn't whine or moan or anything like that." He said the company had reduced costs over the last number of years by 'offshoring' individuals - moving jobs from one country to another.

"We have about 2,200 people now in India. A large proportion of them are in our support business, support services, and that's been important.

"There's more opportunity for that. I don't think we're fully there yet.

"So, again we've been doing and making some investments in the robotics and automation area, we've continued to offshore, and we've used the technology that's available now to place more of those roles offshore.

"That's a process that I would say we're probably half or two-thirds of the way through, and there's still some opportunity to continue there, that will continue."

The spokesperson said an Icon representative was unavailable to clarify whether any Irish jobs were at risk because of planned future offshoring or use of robotics.

Icon has a market capitalisation of just under $8bn.

Irish Independent

Also in Business