2019 is a big year of growth for your organization, and your Human Resources department needs help reducing time spent on repetitive tasks so they can focus on recruiting the right candidates and strengthening the team.

Now for the task of vetting HR software products with buzzwords like machine learning and AI that all make lofty promises. Finding the right solution – whether you’re looking for a chatbot, a video interviewing tool, an onboarding assistant, or a performance management platform – can be a daunting task.

The good news is, you don’t have to be a software engineer to know the right questions to ask about how these products leverage machine learning and AI. The differences between ‘black box’ and ‘gray box’ technology is one subject of which a high-level understanding will guide you in making the right decision.

What you need to know about HR technology: ‘Black box’ vs. ‘gray box’ 

Because machine learning and AI are reliant on the data that goes in to generate answers, even the most sophisticated algorithms are subject to human error and bias. Simply put, if the data going in is biased, the results may be as well (which is what happened with Amazon’s AI recruiting tool in 2015). Here are a few quick tips that will help guide your conversations as you dig deeper into different software providers. 

Beware of the black box.

Black box technology is prescriptive and claims it can make decision on behalf of the experts in your department. In a human-first industry like HR, it’s critical to avoid solutions that (1) remove humans from decision-making, and (2) don’t provide transparency into how decisions are made. Considerations like diversity and inclusion may fall to the wayside without human oversight. 

Stay in the gray.

Gray box technology is suggestive and delivers recommendations rather than final answers. This keeps humans in the loop and helps avoid unintended bias that can occur in black box technology. Coupling recommendations with insights into the data and what the algorithm was looking for, gray box solutions arm your team with powerful knowledge to make more informed decisions with a personal touch.

As you begin conversations, remember that utilizing AI and machine learning isn’t a magic bullet capable of solving all your HR problems. A product merely arms the talented people on your team with information to help them make more informed decisions and manage their processes more efficiently.

To learn more, check out our webinar: How to Keep Your Hiring Process Human in the Age of Automation.