How HR can use AI to ease the M&A process

'We're looking at the various places we can use it in the entire hire-to-retire cycle': Sterlite CHRO

How HR can use AI to ease the M&A process

When Anjali Byce was gaining her Master’s in organisation psychology at Delhi University, she recalls reading only one chapter on artificial intelligence (AI) throughout her studies.

Twenty years later, the Group Chief Human Resources Officer at Sterlite Technologies LTD (STL) told HRD, “Today, AI is the centre of business, and the number of use cases is fascinating.”

“I think there’s a lot of curiosity and experimentation to try out the different areas of applying it for different reasons,” said Byce. “At the moment, we’re looking at the various places we can use it in the entire hire-to-retire cycle.”

STL is one of the world’s largest providers of fibre optics. The company employs around 8,000 people across the US, Europe, ME, India and China.

Searching for meaning in the M&A process

STL has been rapidly expanding since Covid, acquiring businesses all over the world. It has increased its use of AI across human resource functions to ensure the M&A process is meaningful enough to make true integration happen.

“[It’s about] How do you make it so meaningful that what’s best comes in and what’s existing gets merged so that integration truly happens?” said Byce.

All tech vs all human

Byce explained there is a tendency in organisations to lean to one end of the spectrum or the other: all tech, or all human. At STL, they felt it was important to meet in the middle.

“You should be high-tech but with a lot of high touch at the same time. You can’t just do one over the other, AI needs to be used in a way that is meaningful,” she said.

“During this growth period, it becomes really critical for us to have a common experience and scale across the board with good sentiments intact.”

Managing change

Implementing new processes can be a daunting task but STL was very clear with employees about why they were doing this and how it was going to benefit people. Firstly, implementing AI processes in spaces that really started easing things for people.

“If you try and apply it without verbalising a benefit, then it creates uncertainty and ambiguity and the by-product of that is fear and resistance,” said Byce.

“When there is a clear benefit that is close to the recipient of the service, then change management requirements are very low,” she continued.

Use cases and benefits

At STL, some of the things that resonated with use cases were standardising the experience across the organisation, scaling at speed while keeping the touch factor intact, and increased employee inclusivity.

The company can receive up to 250 applications for each job they post so one of the most powerful tools for them was the AI-based CV stack ranking tool.

“This tool uses an AI-based algorithm and stack ranks CVs in order of practicality, and completely eliminates unconscious bias in the process,” said Byce. “It just makes it so inclusive, there’s something in it for everybody because that’s what AI does.”

It’s similar to the “birthday bot” that will search for information on your region to send you a personalised birthday message, such as “Have a sunny birthday in India.”

“It brings different processes together with speed, it brings solutions together with experience, and AI is a great way to make true meaningful integration happen,” said Byce.

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