Advanced Work Automation at Johnson & Johnson: An Interview with Piyush Mathur (i4cp login required)


Piyush Mathur
is Global Head, Workforce Analytics, Data Strategy and Governance at Johnson &

As part of our ongoing research into work automation, we recently interviewed him about the use of work automation including robotic process automation, artificial intelligence, and more at
Johnson & Johnson—especially within HR.

Please describe
your organization’s focus to date on advanced work automation (RPA, AI,
robotics, etc.)

Johnson & Johnson, our goal is to be strategic and thoughtful about how AI and
other automation can impact our business and create value for the patients,
doctors, and nurses we serve, and at the same time enable our employees to do
more value-added work.  

We enable
our employees to fulfill their personal purpose and potential at Johnson &
Johnson through flexible and personalized development paths and a focus on
building highly capable leaders.  

realize that advanced work automation will be part of our evolution and we are
committed to training our workforce to develop their skills as we go.  

What are
the drivers of this evolution?

The way
we do business is going to change. For example, there was no such thing as
digital surgery in the past. Nowadays, there are robots performing large parts
of surgeries in place of humans. The art of working with these robots will
require a different kind of skill set, not just from research and development [R&D] employees, but also
from our sales teams because they’ll need to understand the technology to sell our
product to doctors.  

The key
driver will be the business—determining how it is evolving and making sure that
we have the skills within the organization that can address those needs. 

roles/areas have been or will be the initial focus?

the enterprise, data science is one area we’ve been focusing on—it impacts
every single function. We’ve started an overarching initiative across J&J
called the Data Science Council. There are fifteen of us on the council made up
of members from supply chain, R&D, finance, HR and the commercial side, all
thinking about how to develop this skill within each function.  

Was the
approach strategic and intentional, by deconstructing jobs and identifying
tasks that can be automated, or was it more tactical and driven by specific
functional areas’ needs?

When you
think of AI and data science in a healthcare company, the first thing you think
about is R&D. But data science skills are also relevant for marketing and sales
teams, supply chain, finance, and HR. Data science skills are valuable across
the enterprise because technology impacts every function. The objective for us
has been to apply this lens strategically and holistically. 

What are the main benefits you have seen so far
from advanced work automation?

we’ve recognized that data science is a skill that will impact every function
and have started to integrate it across our business, we’re already seeing the

built a culture that is data driven, and it’s a good start. One example within
the HR function specifically is leveraging data science and analytics in hiring
and job postings.  

J&J we receive an average of 1.2 million resumes annually and have a two
percent acceptance rate. How do we begin to evaluate 1.2 million resumes? Our
talent acquisition team is ready to look at each of those resumes, but once we
started using AI to help read a resume and understand a potential candidate, we’ve
drastically shortened our conversion rate for hiring candidates while remaining
compliant with global policies and “Our Credo” values to put the needs and well-being of the people we
serve first.  

Do you
have one or more automation / tech experts focused on advanced work automation,
or do you rely on central IT or outside consultants?

answer is both. The benefit of using internal capabilities is that we tend to
be able to customize and make tools and processes more relevant and functional
to our business.

internal team is cross-functional within J&J and we work with external
consultants when we want specific expertise and an external perspective. 

sorts of ethical issues are you considering as you focus on advanced work
automation, especially AI?

important to always be conscious about what AI brings to the table. Rather than
closing our eyes and taking its recommendations, we recognize there is an art
and science at play, and we must evaluate how AI is making those
recommendations and understand what variables it is using and how it is using

We work
with our privacy and legal teams to ensure our AI tools are approved and
working appropriately. That involves checking that the data is captured in the
right way, ensuring it’s HIPAA compliant and testing it thoroughly from various
perspectives to maintain high ethical standards.  

Are you
empowering your employees to automate their own work knowing that
upskilling/reskilling opportunities and career pathways will be available?

will be important for all organizations, regardless of industry, size or other

business model is changing, and everything is going digital.  

We now
require people who have both quantitative and leadership skills to have at
least a general understanding of machine learning. We’ve also taken the
initiative to build those skills within the company by helping to train
employees who have the quantitative skills to be the data scientists of the

example, we are developing a curriculum for top VPs in the company, so they get
to learn more about data science and what it is. Then they are asked to sponsor
data science projects across the company.  

In HR, we
are constantly evaluating how to use automation to make our employees’ lives
easier and their workday more efficient. By doing this, we allow our employees more
time to focus on our mission to deliver better health outcomes and enable them
the time to fulfill their family and other personal responsibilities.

What are you doing to apply advanced work
automation to HR functions themselves?

We apply
AI to those processes that are very manual. We believe many manual tasks can be
automated, so we started an exercise called “intelligence automation” where we
are working to automate tasks. We currently have seven ongoing cases where we
are testing this.  

example where we’ve been leveraging AI is around the development of job
descriptions and we have seen an increase in the diversity and quality of applicants
since rolling it out.

In real
time, AI can analyze and immediately update key words to attract our target
audience. For example, when developing a job post, engineering graduates did
not like the term “cross-functional,” but when we said “multi-functional,” they
were more attracted to these roles.  

example in the HR function is in the case of IT service delivery. We call it
“no touch transaction” because you don’t have to speak to a human, but instead chat
with a bot in order to find the information. We’ve seen this improve our employee
experience because some employees do prefer to do it themselves. We are also
able to track and see how successfully the platform is performing and identify
ways to improve it over time.  

believe automation is always about driving business outcomes, hence we often
say: “Insight without outcome is overhead.”

In what
ways is HR leading on advanced work automation at J&J?

Our team uses
metrics, analytics, and advanced automation to better understand our workforce.
We have developed several advanced models which are driving better business

example is in the area of proactive retention, where we have built models to understand
the drivers of retention and implemented actions that are leading to improved
outcomes and lowering our attrition. Another use is understanding the kind of experiences
that enable our employees to unlock their potential. For example, we have learned
from our analytics that if you move across function, sector, or region, you
will have a 40% greater chance of being promoted. It’s by bringing new
experiences and perspectives that our people really add value to the business. 

believe our HR Analytics function is not just keeping up with capabilities
we’ve observed in competitive HR organizations—we are leading the way and
planning to stay there. 

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