Japan’s Grooves sets up HR tech R&D unit, aiming to bring data analytics to recruitment business

L to R: Grooves CEO Yukihiro Ikemi, Grooves HR Tech Lab’s principal Dr. Kenji Hirata.

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Grooves provides an online outplacement platform as well as recruiting consultation services. The company recently announced that it has established an R&D unit called Grooves HR Tech Lab, to study and develop technologies bringing artificial intelligence and big data analytics to the recruitment industry. Dr. Kenji Hirata, who has been involved in HR-XML (Human Resources eXtensible Markup Language) and standardizing the competence model for human resources development, was appointed as principal for the new research unit.

Grooves has been providing Forkwell Jobs, a platform allowing engineers to find new jobs, in addition to CrowdAgent, as channels for connecting general job seekers with recruitment agencies. Founder and CEO Yukihiro Ikemi told us what they found upon operating these services:

If our career advisor helps job seekers, about 60% of these applicants can receive an offer to hire. However, if they rely only on the online platform, the possibility is not more than 10% regardless of how well the matching process is carried out. So the question came up, what makes the difference between having and not having professional support?

We have thoroughly monitored how our top consultants communicate with job seekers. Dr. Hirata could  visualize an ideal format by analyzing a number of interview cases. If we can carry put this procedure systematically, I believe that it will result in something like an artificial intelligence-based engine.

For input and output interfaces for the engine, we can adopt IBM Watson or Softbank Pepper respectively. A core part can be developed by leveraging technologies from Google or other internet companies.  So what we must do is to focus on developing an engine that match people and jobs.

There’s a theory called Planned Happenstance in career formation, positing  that we don’t always need to plan a career but need to plan to act on happenstance. It is the view that you create opportunities by acting on your curiosity and chance events.

Nevertheless, there has been no attempt to systematize Planned Happenstance and serendipity in the Japanese recruitment industry thus far. Leading recruitment companies typically determine what jobs to introduce based on conditional matching of job descriptions and required skills.

“The environment shapes a person” is my favorite saying, meaning that given a proper  environment, people can outperform expected performance levels even if they are new to a field. Given that most cases of startup businesses usually explore unexplored areas, an effort to find a person who has experience in a certain field does not make any sense.

Ikemi added:

The Japanese human resources market didn’t employ HR-XML in the early 2000s, despite it being the industry’s global standard at that time. Because of this, no uniform standard is now uses in Japan and the formats of their job description  differ by company, which is an anomaly in the global market.

By having Dr. Hirata on our team, we want to standardize human resources data formats to further study big data and artificial intelligence technologies, aiming to develop new metrics for more accurate matchmaking and provide more efficient hiring solutions.

Looking forward, Grooves stated that it will invite other academic authorities from this sector to accelerate activities of the new R&D unit.

Artificial intelligence has grown enough to outperform humans in certain cases, such as in games of shogi or chess, as well as  quizzes and riddles. Some day in the future, artificial intelligence may come to provide relevant advise upon important occasions like career changes, better than that of a flesh-and-blood human consultant?

I’m sure I am not the person looking at this story who can imagine a humanoid robot like Pepper advising job seekers at public job placement offices throughout Japan.

Translated by Sumi Yo via Mother First
Edited by Masaru Ikeda and “Tex” Pomeroy