Benefiting from knowledge in the world of digital HR

How do we take advantage of different types of knowledge in HR?

How do we define ‘knowledge’, for people and computers?

Wikipedia has several meanings for ‘knowledge’, a term used in everyday language, but also in the cognitive sciences and contemporary philosophy. Knowledge is the primary subject of the field of epistemology, which studies what we know, how we come to know it, and what it means to know something.

The french philosopher and epistemologist, Michel Serres, makes the distinction between knowledge and information by how it is used, associating a certain proficiency or experience with information. The dictionary defines a ‘knowledge base’ as information representing the knowledge acquired in a specific field. The term ‘knowledge base’ is also used in IT systems. When applied to Artificial Intelligence, knowledge is defined as information integrated into an artificial intelligence system.

Knowledge as a concept is unclear and intangible. Its definition depends on what you want to do with it. Usually, knowledge is thought of as information, but there is also the notion of ‘use’.

The digital revolution and an increasing need to have access to and circulate information pushes us to make knowledge useful in HR Information Systems (HRIS).

Knowledge – managed, organized and available –  is at the heart of the HRIS. It is comprised of applicable regulatory texts, a company’s standard management procedures, help or FAQs for users and management rules implemented in the HRIS. The quality of the information available to users is therefore important for HR.

‘K-Data’ or ‘Knowledge-Data’: a system for handling knowledge such as data

In HR information systems, knowledge is non-structured and known as K-Data (Knowledge-Data). It is therefore different from structured data, that can directly be processed by management IT solutions. Some people call such data C-Data (Core-Data), in the world of Smart Data, which also includes X-Data (related to the User experience) or O-Data (related to system Operations). K-Data is information expressed in natural language that you use in new search services or chatbots.

To be able to use unstructured knowledge or information, you need to give it some structure and meaning, such as in the diagram below.

Thus, a new generation of ‘cognitive’ HR platforms can be used to enable and handle knowledge from multiple sources.

We can let HR professionals handle knowledge just like they are used to doing and K-Data can be used to centralize access and retrieve the knowledge without moving it or duplicating it. It can also be used to transfer, customize and update ‘sets’ of knowledge (‘Corpus’).

You can group knowledge together based on similarities or combine different types, such as rules, legal articles, HR procedures and HR FAQs. You can even link to people or payroll objects managed as data (or C-Data) in the HRIS.

The various end users, employees, managers, HR professionals and applicants can access the data based on their profile to take full advantage of this knowledge.

This platform specializing in HR semantics will take advantage of the possibilities of supervised learning and machine learning. It will make it easier to create and curate knowledge, which is still an expertise in the human domain.

Semantic analysis, a bridge between human language and computer language

The ability to understand natural language requires the use of semantic analysis. Natural Language Processing (NLP) techniques today allow computers to understand the meaning of text that was entered manually or transcribed from voice.

NLP corrects the text, analyzes sentence structure, recognizes the concepts expressed, analyzes the relationships between the concepts and deduces intent and components such as dates, names and places. It can even comprehend and analyze humor or expressions in text or voice in natural language. 

HR knowledge thus enters the scope of HR Information Systems.  K-Data and semantic analysis allow you to use HR knowledge and new HR information sources that have up to now not been considered due to their volume.

Knowledge is incorporated into HR processes and helps users while it informs, guides and educates all people in a company.

HR now has a new mission related to the transfer of knowledge to benefit corporate strategy, operational efficiency and employee development.