How digital assistants are reimagining employee engagement

Digital assistant in the workplace
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Digital assistants have the capacity to transform people's working lives. But how can this AI-powered technology help improve employee engagement?

The general public has become increasingly comfortable with using digital assistants such as Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant – and with good reason. These AI-powered interfaces allow people to interact with their phones, smart speakers or other devices through the medium most familiar to them: conversation.

Digital assistants empower users to locate information or execute basic digital tasks with a simple, “Hey Siri,” “OK Google,” or “Alexa.” However, the AI revolution isn’t only impacting consumer technologies.

Businesses around the world are increasingly turning to digital colleagues: Microsoft has just extended Cortana’s cognitive abilities, Apple has launched Siri for enterprise in partnership with Salesforce, and IPsoft’s Amelia is celebrating her fourth birthday.

Just like consumer assistants are reinventing the way people organise their home and personal lives, digital assistants for enterprises are redefining how they organise work lives. Here are three big ways that advanced digital assistants are reimagining employee engagement.

Executing the complex, simply

When enterprises add AI-powered digital assistants to the front end of their shared and IT services, it opens these services to all employees regardless of technical prowess.

Modern cognitive technologies are increasingly adept at discerning intent, even if it hasn’t been programmed to anticipate a particular phrase. So, for example, they can detect an employee’s intent whether they say, “Cancel the 3 pm meeting,” or “Cancel that meeting with Sarah this afternoon,” or “Clear my schedule for the rest of the afternoon.”

This openness allows employees to converse with these systems just as they would with a human assistant.

This additional interactive dimension makes it easier for employees to independently handle complex tasks. For example, many enterprise-scale unified communication (UC) systems have the ability to forward calls to another colleague should one employee be away on vacation.

It doesn’t matter if it’s 3pm on a Tuesday, or 3am on Christmas Day, the digital assistant is always available to help.

However, executing this task isn’t always a simple undertaking (e.g. employees may need to navigate a complicated IVR system or submit a ticket to a separate department and wait for it to be completed).

If a digital assistant has access to the UC backend, the employee could simply execute the command through the NLI by saying, “Forward all my calls to John Smith until I return on Monday.”

In this instance, the digital assistant empowered the employee to independently perform this task without any reliance on an IT department, and without any training on the ins-and-outs of the company’s UC system.

The takeaway here is that any employee will have the ability to execute potentially complex actions without being trained to use any additional technologies – they can handle any tasks on day one.

Ubiquitous access

People are now accustomed to accessing consumer digital services anytime from anywhere, and they have similar expectations when it comes to their work systems. Digital assistants for the enterprise are available 24/7 across various channels. This means that employees can easily engage their companies’ systems at any time of day, from any device.

To further the UC example above, if an employee realises on the way to the airport that they forgot to set-up call forwarding, they could access the system on their phone (through an app or however the company has designed the UX) and simply command the digital assistant to make the change for them.

It doesn’t matter if it’s 3pm on a Tuesday, or 3am on Christmas Day, the digital assistant is always available to help.

Just as digital assistants are changing the way that everyday users relate to technology, they are also redefining the interactions between employees and their companies’ digital systems.

Reach across departments

The same functionality that allows employees to independently execute complex actions regardless of technical knowledge might also allow them to access systems in other departments.

This functionality, of course, is dependent on the scope of the solution – for example, the digital assistant can do much more when partnered with a cross-system platform.

If the digital assistant has access to other departments, it can have a profound effect on the business by joining once-disparate business area into a unified whole.

For example, an HR worker can use the assistant to submit a ticket for a new laptop to the IT team as opposed to learning the nuances of that department’s ticketing system. Or a graphic designer could easily check up on a reimbursement payment without accessing the accounts payable system, or even relying on the intermediation of anyone on the accounting team.

Just as digital assistants are changing the way that everyday users relate to technology, they are also redefining the interactions between employees and their companies’ digital systems – and they’re only going to become more capable over time.

About Martin Linstrom

Martin Linstrom

Martin Linstrom is the Managing Director for UK and Ireland of IPsoft. With over twenty years’ experience working in the technology industry, Martin is helping drive IPsoft’s mission to connect the world through AI and intelligent systems. He is passionate about transforming both customer and employee experiences for IPsoft’s clients through the implementation of enterprise AI.

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