By: Louise Scanes

Philly SHRM hosted IBM for a showcase event of their latest technology, watsonx, an artificial intelligence (AI) tool designed to augment the capability of professionals, automate busy-work, and give range for HR to focus more on meaningful, high-value work.

Targeting an HR audience, the event kicked off with Samantha Smitte, Chief of Staff in Corporate Marketing at IBM, encouraging thoughts and engagement about what AI means for those of us who work in HR. What does governance look like and how does HR mitigate bias? How will automation change our roles?

AI is intended to amplify the human ability to problem-solve. Basically, it’s work production on steroids, enabling a function like HR to completely automate mundane tasks. So, it makes sense that understanding how AI learns, and how to speak to the tool will become an essential skill for many work environments. Just like the ability to type, use email, and run reports, the ability to automate and use AI will come next.

Ali Hickey, a data, and AI sales leader at IBM, gave context to what AI is and can do.  Foundation models (FM) create output from language prompts and generate intelligent responses. FMs provide AI tools that are pre-trained and serve as building blocks for various Natural Language Processing (NLP), or Large Language Models.  For example, GPT is a FM trained by OpenAI who released ChatGPT.  Watsonx, IBMs language model, caters to enterprise and has many applications for HR. To name a few, the AI tool can summarize large volumes of text into small components; sort and classify electronic files that would otherwise take hours to review and label; and generate content, like writing a job posting for a specific role in a particular area. And while not ideal for all organizational budgets, it’s clear that IBMs AI technology is one of many on the horizon.

About the Author

Louise Scanes brings 13 years’ of HR experience from a variety industries including education, manufacturing, and legal services. Louise holds a MS in Organization Development and Leadership from St. Joe’s University and works as an HR Business Partner at a data privacy law firm. Louise is especially interested in technology, market trends, and positive leadership in the workplace. Louise began volunteering with the Greater Valley Forge HR Association earlier in her career and now supports the Thought Leadership Team at Philly SHRM.

Editor: Dennis Paris

Becoming a Philly SHRM Thought Leader

We are always looking for inspiring minds! If you are interested in learning more about how to become a Philly SHRM Thought Leader, offering your professional views about this or any Thought Leader article, or want to chat about contributing content on a hot or innovative HR related topic, please reach out to Dennis Paris and Brisilda Doma, Co-VPs of Thought Leadership at: