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Buzz or Bull? Robotics and Artificial Intelligence

Buzz or Bull? Robotics and Artificial Intelligence

What do you first think when you hear the phrases Robotics & Artificial Intelligence (AI)? As a geek, I think of movies like Terminator that contain probably the world’s most iconic robot (well, technically he is a Cyborg) and the evil AI program called Skynet that is set to destroy the world. When you mention those two phrases most people immediately think science fiction, or a farfetched fantasy. But are they?

A while ago I wrote a short blog called Buzz or Bull that looked at some of the key buzz words in the world of Payroll & HR. In the blog, I attempted to try and understand if they had any substance behind them or if they were just marketing phrases designed to sell more software and services.

Since writing that blog the trends and buzzwords being discussed have moved on. Two of the key buzzwords doing the rounds now are Robotics & AI. So, in the style of Buzz or Bull let’s explore these two phrases and attempt to understand what they really mean in the world of Payroll & HR.


When our industry talks about Robotics, we don’t mean actual robots coming into an office to process payroll - we are talking about process automation. Before the rise of computers, tasks like information keying, data analysis and performing complex calculations were completed by humans. As computing power increases we can farm much of this work out to computers to do on our behalf.

In my opinion, I feel Robotics is simply the latest buzz word for Automation. Modern technology has allowed us to wrap a shiny and polished veneer around this to present an intuitive and engaging experience back to the end user that allows us to make quicker decisions, track data with more transparency and ultimately increase the accuracy and speed of our data processing.


AI is a slightly different prospect. We’re not yet at a point where computers can think for themselves (Thankfully Skynet and Judgement day are a while off yet) but AI is real and is used in many walks of life. Have you ever typed a word into Google and the webpage has brought up suggestions for other words you may want to search for? That is AI in action. Ever used Siri on an iPhone? Again, AI.

So, AI is real but how can it be applied to Payroll & HR? AI uses this technology to analyse all your employee data and find patterns and trends that a human being would struggle to identify. The more AI analyses your data, the more it can learn about your employees and your business. With this the system can then push you genuinely useful insight about your people.

We are already seeing this with modern AI helping businesses understand previously unanswered questions such as:

  • Who is a high-risk leaver?
  • Where is my data poor, and how can it be improved?
  • How do I predict future metrics?
  • How can my organisation be more proactive and less reactive?

It is in these areas that AI will play a huge part in assisting the HR & Payroll professionals in getting genuine insights into their people and data.

Buzz or Bull?

So, in a nutshell Robotics and AI are very real and they do have a huge part to play in HR & Payroll. However, they are not something new or scary. They are simply doing what computers were designed to do: automate and analyse large volumes of data. The key difference is that modern technology gives us a new and innovative way to do this and allows us to easily draw out genuine insights that a human would struggle to find manually.

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About the author

Rick Norgate
Head of Product Marketing and Strategy.

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