Digital colleagues like Amelia can amplify human potential

As technologies evolve, the way humans work evolves as well. These changes are often accompanied by employee anxieties about how their roles will be affected. The good news is that following a period of transition, each great new technological change inevitably benefits customers (through increased access to goods and services), company stakeholders (increased profits and productivity), and even workers (machines take over undesirable tasks, while creating meaningful new human roles).

Today, companies like IPsoft are designing powerful AI systems to handle dynamic cognitive tasks in addition to transactional and physical ones – and workers may feel a renewed sense of uncertainty. In order to counter these anxieties, companies should emphasize how being part of a hybrid workforce will improve employees’ work lives and amplify their potential. Here are some conversation points to keep in mind:

AI takes on the workload

One of the great perks of automation is that it frees humans from routine, difficult, or frankly boring tasks. While machines have taken over many responsibilities on farms and assembly lines, for example, these weren’t necessarily roles that will be missed by workers. Fast forward to today and AI has the ability to automate routine cognitive tasks which few information age workers would describe as the most meaningful aspects of their jobs.

For example, digital colleagues like Amelia can take on the vital (but highly routine) tasks related to information gathering. She can achieve this through backend integration into existing data systems or by direct conversational interactions with customers (“What is your annual income?”, “How many cars to you own?”, “How many credit cards do you have?”). Amelia can then package these data points for her human counterparts so they can concentrate on making valuable, high-level decisions or addressing complex customer needs.

Just as machines have automated many routine tasks along an assembly line, thus freeing humans to handle more specialized functions, modern AI solutions take on routine transactional and cognitive tasks and allow humans to do the truly interesting stuff.

Virtual agents lower the bar of access to business systems

Customers benefit from Amelia’s functionality as a dynamic intelligent user interface (UI), but she can also be used internally to lower the bar of employee access to a company’s digital systems. Enterprise systems like 1Desk provide an autonomic framework for a company, and then Amelia working within that framework allows any user to access business and support systems using natural conversational language. By marrying backend integrations with an approachable UI, any employee can take on complex business actions regardless of technical acumen.

For example, an employee could simply “tell” their company’s unified communication system, “While I’m away on vacation next week, please forward all calls from my team to my mobile phone and send all other calls to voice mail.” Or an HR manager could tell the onboarding system to “please preinstall Chrome and Microsoft Office Professional on all laptops designated to new Sales hires.” Normally, these complex tasks would require additional human intermediaries to execute, whereas autonomic systems only require a high-level command.

AI is both a tool and a team member

The vision of a hybrid workforce in which both digital and “analogue” colleagues work in harmony isn’t some vision of the far future, but something that is being enacted right now. When Allstate hired Amelia as a whisper agent to assist their customer service reps, she successfully collaborated with agents on more than three million calls, lowered average call duration by 9%, and reduced the need for a follow-up call by 24%. However, perhaps most importantly, 99% of Allstate’s human agents said they were completely satisfied with their interactions.

While AI functionality is always improving, humans still have a distinct advantage in “soft skills” (e.g. empathy and human engagement) and creative problem solving. With AI taking on regimented tasks and providing workers access to complex systems, uniquely human traits will be even more valuable in the workplace.