HR STRATEGY

Medtronic Plc. Transforms Human resource with Mix of IBM Garage Solutions

shrm | March 10, 2021

When HR executives at medical device company Medtronic Plc. boarded two years ago on a multi-year project to transform their HR process, they plan on using new and innovative technologies to replace manual HR processes in talent acquisition, internal mobility, and compensation operations.

Carol Surface, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer at Medtronic Plc., Minnesota, wanted to transform the company's HR direction by improving organizational transformation, enterprise talent management planning, leadership growth, and other HR initiatives. New technology, she believed, would advance these goals.

Carol Surface attended a business summit where she heard Diane Gherson, then IBM's Chief Human Resources Officer, tell the IBM Garage model, which coordinates Burgeoning Technologies with skilled IT employees and applies them to various HR tasks across the enterprise.

At the time, Medtronic needed to adopt newer technologies for many reasons:
• Cloud computing, AI, predictive analytics, workflow automation, and chatbots could help the company upgrade from using web portals, outdated management tools, and older data analytics software.
• The company required more data about its approx. 95,000 workforces worldwide. The company also wanted a better way to match external talent with internal job openings and recognize where internal employees needed to upskill or reskill as technology and market demands changed.
• The company recognized that as a technology device firm, it was competing with hospitals, academic institutions, and companies like Google, Tesla, and Apple for software engineers, mechanical engineers, clinical specialists, supply chain analysts, and other highly skilled workers.
• The company needed a better way to gather, manage and understand employee data in a way that helped HR decision-makers take the appropriate action based on what the data revealed about the workflow process.

Kristen Carreiro, Director of Human Resources At Medtronic Plc. said, "A key focus for us was understanding what kind of data needs we had. We wanted to find out how can we build infrastructure and transform the way we use data and how can we put that information in the right hands so that our executives can make important decisions to drive value from the business."

Medtronic implemented the IBM Garage approach, which consists of IBM specialists working onsite and side-by-side with Medtronic's HR team to evaluate difficulties, recognize use cases and build solutions.
Here are some of the results. By applying artificial intelligence to talent acquisition, Medtronic has reduced the time and effort it takes recruiters to review resumes and call candidates during the screening process. AI has also enabled recruiters to better match candidates to jobs role at the company.

Jason Davis, Director of Business Process Improvement and Program Leader for The HR Innovation Garage said, "Much of the burden of determining a candidate's qualifications was on the recruiter. There was also a heavy reliance on hiring managers to make a 'gut' decision that may introduce bias."

As companies continue their digital transformation initiatives, Brian Kropp, Group Vice President and Chief of HR Research at Gartner, warns that while companies are focused on using AI to gather more data about their employees to gain understandings that can help them make better HR decisions, data alone doesn't show the complete picture.

Using AI in Other Use Cases

Another important use of artificial intelligence has arisen since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. According to Carreiro, Medtronic must have the right number of people with the right skills at the right place at the right time to be able to meet the surge in demand for MRI machines, surgical technologies, pacemakers, and ventilators.

Carreiro said, by applying predictive analytics to the company's supply chain, Medtronic executives can see what's necessary for key parts of the organization and classify if the company needs to upskill or retrain workers or go back to the market to find people with different skills.

Carreiro also added, "We manufacture equipment like ventilators, which are in demand in this pandemic, and we want to make sure that if we are ramping up production, we have all the tools and resources we need. Predictive analytics can help tell that story in a way that is meaningful for our leaders who can make important decisions about how best to approach those situations."

Deploying chatbots has been another digital transformation initiative that has helped Medtronic tackle the issue of job codes.

Job codes are an exceptional identifier linked with distinct jobs that take into account a number of factors like job type (individual contributor, manager, executive), the job level (associate, senior, principal), and job family (clinical, research, and development, legal, engineering).

Davis said, “it's important to identify and associate the correct job code to a job requisition so that basic job requirements, minimum years of experience, and salary ranges are assigned appropriately. Because Medtronic is a heavily regulated industry, part of our responsibility is to demonstrate that a person serving in a role meets the qualifications. The wrong job code tied to hire could result in salary range discrepancies."

The prior job code selection process was inefficient and manual and would require a hiring manager to contact HR for help tracking down what job code to use for an engineering specialist, a clinical specialist, or some other title.

Davis further added, "The process to land on the correct job code could take many hours if not days," "The job code selection process is a use case that perfectly suited creating a chatbot because it has a static dataset of job groups associated with specific jobs codes."

Davis estimates, the hiring manager can ask a chatbot for a specific job code and have the answer in under three minutes. The average time for a job code answer is one minute. "You can calculate the savings when you realize that we have thousands of hiring managers across the globe. It's a simple solution, but its impact has been immeasurable," he said.

Chatbots have been organized across the HR division and are practical to many use cases, including questions related to diversity and inclusion, employee promotion processes, incentive programs, and talent management processes.

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