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Wall Street Bosses Turn to AI to Help Write Performance Reviews

(Bloomberg) -- Banks have already turned to AI for derivatives trading and fraud detection. Now they want to use it for the annual review process.

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That’s according to Workday Inc., one of the world’s largest providers of HR software. The firm in September rolled out a bevy of new products that rely on artificial intelligence to write job descriptions or aid managers in writing up annual reviews of workers’ performance.

Banks have expressed interest in those products, according to Carl Eschenbach, co-chief executive officer of Workday. It’s all part of their efforts to streamline operations and cut costs, he said. The offering will become available in the coming months.

“You have 100 employees and it takes seven hours to write a job description, so 700 hours,” Eschenbach said, using a hypothetical example during an interview with Bloomberg at a Workday conference in Barcelona. “Now it takes two minutes. You can do the math, you just saved all that. So that’s a productivity gain. There’s quantifiable impact you can have through the use of AI.”

With a market capitalization of more than $60 billion, Workday makes human resources software that help companies with everything from maintaining payroll, tracking expenses, monitoring employee absences and managing job candidates.

The performance appraisal process has long been derided as time-consuming and many HR executives consider them an ineffective use of managers’ time. A study by the advisory firm Corporate Executive Board found that the average manager spent 210 hours doing employee reviews each year.

‘Less Workers’

Bank chiefs have slowly warmed to the idea of using artificial intelligence to help make their workers more productive. JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Jamie Dimon said the technology could allow employers of the future to cut the work week down to 3.5 days. Citigroup Inc. is planning to enable its 40,000 coders to experiment with AI by the end of the first quarter.

“We are conservatively thinking we’d expect to see at least 10% productivity uplift from them,” CEO Jane Fraser said at a conference in Hong Kong this month.

Workday sees artificial intelligence allowing customers to slow down their hiring of software developers in the future, Eschenbach said.

“You’re not going to need nearly as many heads if certain pieces of your code can be written 80% by AI,” Eschenbach said. “The promise of AI is to drive productivity gains. If you’re getting productivity gains out of your existing workforce, you will need less workers.”

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