SAP and Russian Startup Robot Vera Boost HR Recruiting Efficiency

Recruiting and HR processes offer manifold opportunities to employ artificial intelligence (AI). SAP and startup Robot Vera are joining forces to provide customers with an SAP SuccessFactors solution that features an AI assistant to take over routine tasks.

Recruiting is a time-consuming business, with thousands of small steps needed to identify suitable candidates for vacancies. Because of the workload, companies risk losing recruiters who tire of the routine. There probably isn’t a recruiter on this planet who hasn’t wished they could hand over all these tiring and unsatisfying tasks to a clever helper.

So far, more than 200 companies have done just that by integrating Robot Vera, AI trained to help employers find candidates for vacancies faster. Robot Vera’s AI scans CVs on the Internet or within the customer’s own databases and conducts interviews by phone with candidates it matches.

“She collects the CVs according to what the specific position requires and identifies candidates 10 times faster than a human being could,” explains Lisa Tirskikh, a marketing manager on the Robot Vera team, where it has become common practice to refer to the AI as “she” due to the female persona it has been given.

A combination of sentiment analysis, speech synthesis and recognition, emotion recognition, and natural language processing enables Vera to work both as an inbound and outbound recruiter. Taking up to 10,000 calls simultaneously, 24/7, she can phone or email the owners of job profiles she found on the Web- and can take calls and answer questions. Callers dialing a company’s recruiting number reach Vera.

“The candidates sometimes don’t notice they are talking to a robot,” says Tirskikh.

Automating Recruiting Tasks with AI

The creators of Robot Vera.

Every tenth person applying for a job in Russia ends up talking to Robot Vera. As the winner of the Unleash HR startup competition, Robot Vera was recognized as one of the best HR tech startups in Europe. There are about 60 team members altogether, 90 percent of which were found by Vera. They are located all over Russia and work as a virtual team.

“Our client service managers and sales people mostly have backgrounds in HR, so they know the according processes. The other big category of employees is those related to data science and product development,” says Alex Uraksin, one of three Robot Vera founders, now responsible for sales and partnerships.

Robot Vera CEO Vladimir Sveshnikov is a data scientist who came up with the idea of what Tirskikh calls “an Uber for HR — they started a marketplace but after a while realized it wasn’t scaling.” Instead, they decided to automate some parts of the recruiter’s job and ended up creating Robot Vera.

“We trained her on 150GB of information,” says Tirskikh. “Apart from 100,000 job descriptions and candidate questions about them, we also used Wikipedia articles, TV series, even subtitles from Game of Thrones to teach Vera how to speak naturally, use modern language, understand some argot words, and match questions and answers appropriately.”

To provide natural speed of dialogue and appropriate recognition, four speech kits are used together — Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Yandex, Russia’s leading search engine and web services company, sometimes called “Russia’s Google.”

Attracting customers from Italy, France, and English-speaking countries, Vera has to smarten up her language skills continuously. Currently, she is studying Argentinian Spanish.

In the one-and-a-half years since the startup was founded, Vera has conducted roughly 1.5 million phone interviews. Robot Vera has more than 200 enterprise clients, which are usually large companies because an AI recruiter works best when a company hires a lot of people.

Recruiters from companies that “hired” Robot Vera were sometimes skeptical if the clever AI wasn’t going to steal their jobs. However, it turned out that Vera “took out the […] routine, but she did not steal the very moment of decision making,” says Vasilina Sokolova of Russian online retailer Vseinstrumenti.ru.

Hear what other customers say in this video:

Intelligent Recruiting with Robot Vera Complements SAP SuccessFactors Solutions

“We met with the Robot Vera team in October 2017 at a conference in Moscow and immediately realized it’s natural that we do something together,” says Alexander Maslyuk, business developer and evangelist for SAP SuccessFactors in Russia and CIS. “At SAP SuccessFactors, we see our solution not just as covering most HR needs, but also as a platform open to any extensions that bring value to our clients. We also strive to partner with all the most interesting startups. Robot Vera is what everybody in Russia speaks about these days.”

Rostelecom, one of SAP’s biggest customers in Russia, uses both SAP SuccessFactors and Robot Vera for recruiting. “We are now building an integration of the two systems for this client. And they believe they are going to get great value from two systems working together and exchanging data automatically,” Maslyuk says. SAP and Robot Vera are also preparing integrated solutions for several large clients in different industries.

Robot Vera recently joined SAP’s startup program for EMEA. Two developers from SAP will work with Robot Vera to build a full-fledged connection between Robot Vera and SAP SuccessFactors to potentially offer a joint solution worldwide.

Top image via Robot Vera.

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