The approach of a new year brings with it an annual onslaught of predictions and views of where enterprise customers should focus their technology investments come January. It’s a natural and vital instinct to ensure your business is prepared for, or indeed staying ahead of, future market trends. Rest assured that artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are playing substantial and deserved roles in these forecasts, as enterprises come to realize that implementing these technologies is a matter of how and not when if they want to continue to transform and grow their businesses.
For example, Forrester (via Forbes) is predicting that more than 40% of enterprises next year will create digital workers by combining AI with robotic process automation (RPA) and that automation will eliminate 20% of all service desk interactions through a combination of cognitive systems, RPA and chatbot technologies. IDC, meanwhile, is predicting that 35% of workers will start working with bots or other forms of AI by 2023, with companies redesigning operational processes, performance metrics and recruitment strategies as a result.
I agree with the central premise of these and other forecasts that reflect an accelerating enterprise adoption of autonomic and cognitive systems. Nonetheless, with all respect to market prognosticators, I would argue these predictions are not fully taking into account the incredibly urgent need for businesses to rethink and automate how they deliver corporate services.
There are initial steps many enterprises can take, and have taken, to better handle internal IT support. Automated service desk platforms such as Zendesk or Freshdesk for repeatable rote tasks (resetting passwords, granting Wi-Fi access, etc.) have gained traction in the past few years. Some companies have invested in basic chatbot platforms (of which there is an ever-expanding list) to provide employees with limited Q&A support functionality and access via chat to IT support staff.
Implementing automation or basic chatbots tactically can provide some limited short-term relief to long user wait times and overworked support staff, depending on the size of an organization and ticket volume. However, enabling an end-to-end automation spine could galvanize an order of magnitude greater productivity.
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Instead of filing yet another support ticket online, or emailing IT support or trying to track down a support staff member via phone, an employee with an IT issue would interact directly with a cognitive agent via text or voice. Interactive conversation, not tickets, would drive the support experience from inception to satisfactory resolution.
Regardless as to which technologies you deploy, this is what I see shaping the employee experience in 2019:
• On-demand service: Enterprises will resolve cumbersome ticketing systems that hamper and handcuff productivity and serve the end employees with great efficiency. I strongly believe that 2019 will be the year when we say no to waiting time and no to tickets.
• Touchless digital employee experience: The needs and experiences of employees will become a priority across the enterprise.
• Natural communication: We speak in unstructured natural language, while backend systems only understand structured data and inputs. I believe we can expect to see technology aid us by better understanding human intentions, resulting in frictionless services.
Starting a new year is traditionally viewed as a time of renewal and resolution for positive change. Over time, enterprises should resolve to push ticketing systems that hamper and handcuff productivity and growth to the background and pledge to serve their end users with the greatest efficiency by taking care of their own IT support issues first.