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Automation Through Chatbots

How virtual assistants make everyday office life more efficient

Automation Through Chatbots
Artificial Intelligence

Today, we expect apps and digital services to be available at all times and on the move, and to offer us a smoothly integrated and seamless user experience. In our private lives, this may often already be successful. Our everyday working lives, on the other hand, form a considerable contrast.

Non- or poorly integrated applications as well as manual workflows are still prevalent in companies. Virtual assistants or chatbots have the great potential to bring the efficiency with which we use apps & co. privately to the office corridors as well.

Interaction with chatbots usually happens in messenger apps like Skype, Slack and Facebook Messenger. The bots have to be smart and understand both natural and our colloquial language. Only when employees or customers can converse with the virtual assistant in a way that makes the interaction feel human does it become a social experience and the bot become part of the team.

Understand Natural Language and Support Multiple Interfaces

A key feature of a smart chatbot is its ability to understand requests spoken or written by the user in human language. This means that the user does not have to learn a new language or program in order to send requests to a virtual assistant. Users use email, SMS, or instant message to address their request - as if they were addressing a "real" person.

A good example of the use of bots in everyday business is a virtual assistant for IT support. Support and operations teams usually receive requests via email, which are then added to a ticket system manually and with a certain amount of time. Often, current ticket systems already bring the first step towards automation out-of-the-box: The content of the email is automatically added to the ticket description. The subsequent detailed categorization, prioritization and assignment of the correct contact, on the other hand, often still has to be done manually. Artificial intelligence can help here: Machine learning enables the bot to automatically classify tickets and recognize similar requests. Requests with similar or identical results can thus be fully automated.

Hide Complexity by Focusing on the Essentials

Many order-related back-end systems are very complicated because they usually try to solve all use cases - even edge cases. This leads to standard tasks becoming overly complex for the consumer. The use of bots can lead to simplification here: Bots tend to focus on the most common cases, providing the most value to the user.

By integrating with various systems and data sources, intelligent bots recognize context and - like a human employee - can already make certain assumptions. Since communication with the virtual assistant is in human language, this simplifies interaction and user experience. So instead of presenting a complex user interface with many (and mostly irrelevant) options, bots focus on the specific concern of the user.

Consider, for example, an application for recording working hours. Unfortunately, the application does not work in all browsers and it requires, among other things, that the user enters many parameters such as user ID, job number, sub-job number, etc. In practice, these parameters have to be specified repeatedly, and often not every single detail is needed. The use of a bot can support this process: Collaborators simply say or write a message like "Book 8 hours today on Sprint 1." The bot learns from previous entries: It finds other required information, such as the order number, on its own. If not, it asks the user appropriate questions and learns from the answer. Such interaction could take place in enterprise messengers such as Skype or Slack. This avoids context switching and overcomes technical limitations of the time tracking tool.

In order to provide the seamless and genuine user experience described here, integration with various back-end systems and data sources must succeed. The challenge is to hide the complexity and overcome technical limitations of legacy systems.

Despite the high integration effort, bots offer tremendous value to companies, as many processes can be made much more efficient. Automating more and more tasks means cost savings, fewer human errors, and 24/7 availability. By using artificial intelligence, bots learn and can even provide new insights, which will constantly improve processes.

When bots are properly integrated, employee satisfaction will increase due to the seamless and efficient experience.

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Written by

Patrick Ruhkopf
Expert for Cloud