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‘AI washing’ in HR: How to buy legit AI

AI is hot. At Textio, we talk to teams every day who are not only interested in improving their performance—they are specifically looking for AI to help them do it. 
Smart move, because as we’ve all seen, AI can be transformative for a team. It can cut busywork, reinvent workflows, and make people far more effective in less time.
 
We‘re hearing a lot of frustration from people though. They’re trying to understand the AI landscape and getting confused. 
 
That’s because there’s a lot of “AI washing.” Similar to greenwashing, AI washing is “a deceptive promotional practice that exaggerates or outright lies about a product or service’s use of artificial intelligence (AI)” as defined by Techopedia. 
 
Since November 30th, 2022 when ChatGPT and generative AI became every software company’s fixation overnight, AI washing, too, has become ubiquitous. No doubt you’ve seen or suspected it yourself.
 
So how about a how-to on seeing through AI washing, evaluating AI tools, and purchasing legit AI?

Reviewing popular HR products for AI washing

Textio has been building AI for HR for a decade, supporting hundreds of organizations and a sizable chunk of the Fortune 500. 
 
In the coming weeks, we’ll systematically review some popular HR AI products on the market here on the Textio blog. The Textio Marketing, Engineering, and Product teams are collaborating to evaluate the AI landscape. 
 
We’ll look at the following vendors:
 
Lattice
Workday
SAP
Oracle
Rippling
CultureAmp
Betterworks
Eightfold
Microsoft
And yes, we’ll also do Textio
 
We’ll evaluate the degree of AI washing we’re seeing, as well as how useful and novel the AI they promise truly is. We’ll also outline AI evaluation criteria for you to apply yourself.
 
If you’re on the market for AI for HR, this is about the most helpful resource you’ll find. 
 
How biased will this be, you’re now asking yourself. A little. Obviously we want you to go with Textio and believe our products are the best. But we also want this to be a useful resource.
 
Our aim is to build an objective snapshot on where each of the tools are in adopting AI, so you can feel confident that you really understand what you’re evaluating. Spoiler: Not everyone is trying to be tricky.

Degrees of AI honesty and utility

We‘ll examine HR AI products through two lenses: 
  1. How much are they AI washing? As in, how honest is their marketing about the functionality, benefits, and novelty of their products? and 
  2. How useful is the AI they’re offering? Do they have a purpose-built solution—something truly helpful and different—or are they just giving you access to something you can already get for free?
We’ll place each of the tools on these spectrums.
We’ll also look at the practice of pre-announcing features that aren’t yet available, and how to look beyond the marketing to understand what sort of products you might be waiting for (and for how long).
 
See you back here soon. First up: Lattice.
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