During a recent webinar, HfS Research and IPsoft explored the future of enterprise automation

At a recent webinar, HfS Research joined with industry leaders including IPsoft CEO Chetan Dube to explore how cognitive solutions like Amelia and 1Desk are not only improving business practices, but fundamentally reimagining them.

HfS CEO and chief analyst Phil Fersht outlined the current relationship of business decision-makers to cognitive technologies, and where he sees it going. He went on to detail how ascendant AI-based solutions are heralding “the next wave of business.” The research firm has sponsored a number of studies of C-suite leaders over the past few years about how they are investing in cognitive solutions (including a recent study in partnership with IPsoft), what outcomes they expect of these investments, and what outcomes have already been realized.

Notably, a recent survey of enterprise buyers showed that the greatest potential benefit of AI computing is “to augment the knowledge of labor and create new revenues” (26%), closely followed by “to replace transactional labor and reduce overall costs” (25%) and “to replace knowledge labor and reduce overall costs” (23%). These goals, Fersht went on to explain, fall in line with HfS Research’s OneOffice framework, in which digital technologies are used to bridge the front-, middle-, and back-offices of an enterprise.


In pursuit of unification

IPsoft’s CEO Chetan Dube offered an in-depth presentation of 1Desk, our fully automated unified enterprise services platform. 1Desk is an ideal solution for achieving the goals of the OneDesk framework by automating and optimizing multiple operations (both transaction- and knowledge-based) from across an enterprise into a unified autonomic infrastructure. This platform, Dube explained, replaces older dis-unified systems that require the intermediation of “human middleware” all along a business process.

The potential of 1Desk is amplified when paired with a state-of-the-art cognitive agent like Amelia, who allows any user – regardless of technical acumen – to access a business’ “digital underbelly.” In an autonomic system, users simply issue top-level commands and the system independently executes them. This form of intelligent user interface lowers the bar of access to complex enterprise systems. As Dube put it, “Does a person really need to understand Faraday’s law of induction in order to operate a light switch?”

“Does a person really need to understand Faraday’s law of induction in order to operate a light switch?” — IPsoft CEO Chetan Dube

In a short 1Desk demo, Dube highlighted how very simple conversations with Amelia allows the execution of complex IT operations (e.g. cloud computing management), personal IT tasks (e.g. a password reset), and basic HR requests (e.g. requesting time off) – all accomplished through a user-friendly chat interface.


Reinventing the front end

Melissa O’Brien, HfS’ research director for Customer Engagement, presented some additional research data from the recent HfS/IPsoft study of how C-Suite executives are investing in cognitive technologies. When asked which digital business imperatives are a top priority in the coming year, the top answer by a wide margin was minimizing physical face-to-face engagement (63% respondents placed it in their top three choices). Interestingly enough, when the same group was asked how satisfied they were with the cognitive solutions’ ability to achieve business value in specific areas, the answer with the most return on “exceeding expectations” was in the category of “improved security.” These two data points proved to be an ideal introduction to Matt Tomlinson, the global director of innovation at Electronic Arts’ Customer Experience Labs.

Tomlinson detailed EA’s success using Amelia as a front-end cognitive agent on its call center to weed-out fraud – Amelia has quickly discovered numerous phishers and saved the company hundreds of hours of wasted labor. Tomlinson went on to describe how human call center colleagues appreciate Amelia’s ability to provide a front-line defense, weeding out potential problems and ensuring that only customers with legitimate concerns got through to them.

When asked what he would most like to impart to other companies exploring AI, Tomlinson said “to just get started.” This may prove to be one of the presentation’s most prescient pieces of advice. According to a recent HfS survey, while only 20% of C-Suite described their businesses’ unified frameworks to currently be “very mature,” 73% expected to be within the next 18 to 24 months (with an additional 26% intending to be “maturing/making strides” in this time period). The takeaway: If you’re not on the path to implementing cognitive solutions into your business practices, your competition is.