AI adoption and HR innovation

ByPascal Pezard
21 February 2024

Interview with Pascal Pezard, Innovation Host Leader- Sopra HR Lab. 


Could you tell us about Sopra HR Lab?


We launched the Sopra HR Lab in 2015 as an incubator of innovative HR services, to revamp current HR practices and invent new solutions by leveraging new technologies. Our aim is to create value by using the collective intelligence of our customers and our experts and together build innovative HR solutions. The Lab's research helps us understand technologies and develop their potential to inspire our customers. Together, we explore new business applications, revisit existing solutions and develop innovative services. Most of our applied research is aimed at enhancing the employee experience and optimizing HR performance.


How do you go about developing innovation? 


We use practices borrowed from Host Leadership, in agile and solution-oriented approaches (‘Solution Focus’). Our methods are inspired by Design Thinking, and have been improved for use in the context of an HR solutions and services provider. Our laboratory is primarily a ‘physical’ workspace, but which also includes digital workspaces dedicated to remote working. It is a very creative area that encourages innovation and collective engagement. It is not restrictive, on the contrary, it is a place where people can freely create value in line with the needs of HR. 


With both an ideal solution and the actual operational needs in mind, we try to create deliverables as quickly as possible to show the possible solutions.  The ideas we develop are tested through Proofs of Concept and feedback from end-users. Our prototypes show proof of the technological aspects before Product or Platform industrial investments are initiated. 


The final product is achieved through a group effort by ensuring communication between the customers, users, technical experts, solution experts and UX specialists. This transformation is led by our vision of how HR will be in the future and becomes a reality as we explore the possibilities. Our ideas are based narrative practices, dialog and Social constructionism. 


How are you helping to adopt AI within the company? 


Artificial Intelligence is not new, but since November 2022 with ChatGPT and its generative capabilities, it has spread at an incredible speed, invading our professional, educational and personal spaces. With all its potential risks and benefits, AI is a real culture shock that the Lab intends to examine. We are committed to integrating AI, a necessary step in supporting the transformation of HR practices, HR solutions, as well as employees’ jobs at Sopra HR.


Top Management at Sopra is aware of the challenges involved in this transformation and encourages this direction. At the beginning of 2023, employees took part in an innovation competition known as Infinity, which was designed to promote innovation by boosting collective intelligence at Sopra HR. The competition was a top-down initiative for transformation and an opportunity for employees to take an active bottom-uprole.


Employees were asked to imagine cutting-edge solutions, based on artificial intelligence, that would meet HR challenges or implement AI in pour daily lives. The Lab plays a key role in directing, inspiring and developing the creative potential of our employees, while educating the more technical-minded people on business needs and the more business-oriented on the possibilities and limits of technology.


Out of a total of 190 projects submitted, 14 were selected by a jury comprised of experts and customers. POCs were initiated for the selected projects and incubated by the Sopra HR Lab. Depending on our customers’ interest, these prototypes could produce developments with customers as ‘early adopters’ and be integrated into the roadmaps for our solutions.


The projects will be incubated in the Sopra HR Lab. How will you support the teams selected? 


For each POC, we will set up a team with a project leader, experts in the various fields, end users, UX designers and experts in new technologies or products. The Lab will act as a ‘Host’ by encouraging interaction between the participants of each POC as well as between the different POCs or with teams or projects working on related subjects. 

Most of the topics covered by the POCs concern areas already covered by our solutions and services. These include semantic analysis of knowledge to provide context-sensitive information, generative AI for interactive payslips, intelligent HR bots for an interactive user experience, predictive AI for payroll verification and declarations, intelligent services to automate HR processes with IPA (Intelligent Process Automation), adaptive user interfaces that allow customization of ERM (Employee Relationship Management) and that increase the efficiency of everyone using the HR information system. 


How is CRS involved in your software engineering solutions and practices?   


We are constantly focusing on CSR through the group’s ambitious objectives based on environmental and social issues such as accessibility, inclusion and eco-design. Artificial Intelligence reveals the risks and hopes that affect the future of HR departments and HR solutions, work and society as a whole. We are taking an ethical approach to AI that will be a deciding factor in our choices, from the design to implementation stages, to ensure a reliable, trustworthy and explainable AI. Our role to inform and advise HR departments on how to wisely use technology for more efficient and sustainable HR solutions. 

Pascal Pezard
Innovation Host Leader - Sopra HR Lab
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