The German Federal Employment Agency (BA) (Bundesagentur für Arbeit) was the host of the 2nd Human Friendly Automation Day on October 5, 2022, with CEO Andrea Nahles (former Federal Minister) opening the annual event of the HFA expert network.
Ms. Nahles emphasized the relevance of AI and automation for the public sector in Germany. She proclaims the decade of automation. These technologies are needed, above all, to counter the shortage of skilled workers.
But for her as renowned expert on labor market policy, it is also clear that qualification and the future of employees must go hand in hand with automation. No one will lose their job at the Federal Employment Agency as a result of AI and automation.
Ms. Nahles and the Federal Employment Agency therefore support the Human Friendly Automation initiative and the network.
Federal Employment Agency's CIO drives HFA@BA
CIO of the BA, Dr. Markus Schmitz recognized the relevance of a people-friendly approach very early on. For him, it was clear: Intelligent automation requires a new kind of implementation: It needs a value base that everyone must adhere to in a binding manner. For this reason, he made use of the Human Friendly Automation Values Charter. How good that his colleague and our member in the HFA expert network, Martin Födisch, has been there from the beginning and helped develop the charter.
This forms the basis for all future AI and automation projects at BA. It requires a completely new implementation process, which I was able to provide with my team from IBM and bring to application in a proof of concept with the BA.
The value charter of our HFA-network has enabled a paradigm shift: For the first time, there are KPIs that consider the future of people in addition to technical KPIs. The IT project has been expanded with a human resources strategy component from the very beginning.
For this example, we as the HFA network have awarded the Federal Employment Agency as the 2nd Human Friendly Place in the world. A place where employees are assured of dignified and value-creating work in the automation era. Last year, this award went to IBM Deutschland GmbH, which hosted the 1st HFA Day in 2021 and where the values charter of this network could be published.
Paradigm Shift: Human's Return of Invest in Automation Diagram
As the initiator of the HFA network, I was not only able to thank all members and promoters in my speech, but also to present a world first. I therefore call it the Schatilow diagram to assure employees for the first time a personal benefit through automation.
Employees believe that automation technologies take away work steps in their everyday lives that annoy them. That's why most people are happy when they hear, "We're going to start an automation project in your area."
But employees don't know that they will then also have to change themselves. Quite the opposite: we often hear that automation will make employees wish they had more time for what they would rather be doing: "Vacation" or "more time for quality conversation with other employees".
The employees affected by intelligent automation do not see the need to change.
Hardly any employee comes up with the idea of scheduling the freed-up time for qualification. Or even to take an interest in a new assignment in another area of the organization when the robot threatens to replace hours, days or the entire job role. But you can't really blame the employees either: Because HR and in particular people development (PE) are almost never involved and create a sense of urgency or offer services during an AI & Automation implementation project.
Through the Human's Return of Invest in Automation Diagram, for the first time, this problem should not only become visible, but an opportunity: Employees affected by automation are guaranteed up to a maximum of 20% of the working time released for personal training, depending on the level of automation.
In this way, for the first time, employees have real added value from the automation project, which no performance management will take away from them, even years after implementation, so that in the worst case scenario, work will become compressed again: "Thanks to the robot: Being able to do more tasks in the same amount of time. Without having the chance to train for new, different areas of application."
Yes, the Human's Return of Invest in Automation Diagram is a revolution. It ensures that qualification and technical progress are inevitably linked.
Our Human Friendly Automation projects are about just that: ensuring new, value-added, dignified work in the Automation Era (following UN Sustainable Development Goal 8). This can only be achieved if the employees concerned are guaranteed time for further training and reorientation right from the start.
C-Level Talk on the Relevance of HFA for Business and Society
The HFA-network-members were particularly pleased that the relevance of human friendly automation and the charter of values was also underlined by the C-level guests of the panel discussion at the HFA Day. Andrea Nahles, Chairwoman of the Board of Directors of the Federal Employment Agency, Dr. Stephan Fasshauer, Director at the German Pension Insurance Association; Gabriele Schwarenthorer, Member of the Management Board of IBM Deutschland GmbH; Oliver Suchy, Head of the “Digital Working Worlds and Working World Reporting” department at the Federal Executive Board of the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB), Katja van Doren, Member of the Executive Board of RWE Generation SE. BA CIO Dr. Markus Schmitz.
Everyone was initially required to present the pair of values in the HFA Charter that seemed most important to them. Above all, qualification, but also transparency, was particularly emphasized by everyone. Clear, early and participatory communication has been ascribed a central role in intelligent automation projects.
Many good examples of Human Friendly Automation practices were given by the participants on the podium. But challenges were also discussed that must be solved by politics in order to enable human-friendly automation - especially in the public sector in Germany.
BA and IBM present HFA project for email automation
The Federal Employment Agency, together with IBM, has started a human-friendly automation-compliant project to automate e-mails at the BA. The results of the PoC were impressively presented by BA CIO Dr. Markus Schmitz and on the part of IBM by Dr. Michael Becher, Manfred Bär and Sophia Greulich (member of the HFA expert network).
This unique approach will not only point the way for the public sector, but also for the private sector.
A new standard has emerged. As a result, there will only be human-friendly or human-unfriendly automation. It's no wonder that this revolutionary presentation received a lot of media coverage. Because the media - as well as another 180 guests - were connected virtually.
On site and virtually: Rethinking HFA together in breakout sessions
The HFA-day 2022 ended with an involving breakout session in the afternoon. The guests on site as well as all virtual guests got involved in small groups to discuss possibilities and challenges of scaling HFA. In addition to the good discussions, good and friendly relations have developed among the participants.
We are particularly pleased about that. Because the HFA Day serves above all to exchange knowledge and as an annual reminder: "We must not use AI and automation to deprive people of their valuable and dignified jobs."
Conclusion: Many new HFA supporters and hosts for HFA Day 2023
The HFA Day 2022 was a complete success. Many guests followed the BA's invitation. The cross-industry exchange was very much appreciated. HFA connects!
The dialogue on our topic is now being continued in our network of experts. The HFA Community on LinkedIn will welcome the new members and provide new insights. But also there, enable dialogue between everyone.
We are particularly pleased that Momentum has emerged. And we have already found a new host for the cross-industry HFA network event for 2023. It's going to Berlin! More information will follow shortly.
A big thank you to the BA for their hospitality and organization. Above all: Dr. Markus Schmitz, Martin Födisch, Olivia Wittenzellner and Stefan Latuski (CEO IT-Systemhouse at BA).
An interview by Sophia Greulich on the relevance of the HFA initiative with Martin Födisch (BA) and me can also be found on the THINK Blog of IBM Germany.