With 2019 rapidly drawing to a close, we’re examining trends and topics that will be at the forefront of the AI industry next year with a new blog series running throughout December: The IPsoft Top 5 in AI 2020. This is the third post in the series.

We know the substantial impact that automation and cognitive technologies can have in creating more satisfying employee experiences. Many companies for years have come to view their internal employee support/operations systems as shared services, where employees are their “customers” that must be provided services that are easy to use, fast and provide a high rate of resolution. What’s more, employees are quickly coming to expect various types of smarter services, powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies such as automation and cognitive AI, from their employers. According to IDC, by 2024 AI will redefine user experiences where more than 50% of user touches will be augmented by computer vision, speech, natural language and related technologies.

In 2020, companies that fail to recognize the value of AI-powered employee services will find themselves at a disadvantage, not only in terms of the efficiencies that AI can bring internally, but in retaining employees and satisfying their regular, ongoing needs in the course of their jobs.

In a previous post, we briefly detailed the impact AI systems will have on improving employee access to information and services as the digital-human hybrid workforce takes hold. This topic deserves further examination, particularly as it relates to the year ahead and how workers will begin to engage AI in order to navigate corporate systems, such as Human Resources, expense and CRM tools.

The Enterprise System of Tomorrow

In 2020, employees will begin to witness a change in how they access enterprise tools. Back-office processes will be consolidated under one interface, and employees will work directly with a Digital Colleague to resolve basic tasks. Rather than running 20 open tabs on a web browser, employees will chat with the Digital Colleague in order to access, navigate and make changes within enterprise systems.

Companies will be able to integrate all of their enterprise solutions under one end-to-end autonomic backbone. The system will hold all of these solutions together and allow data and automations to move freely from one to another. By building this single backbone between traditionally siloed systems, companies will be more productive across lines of business.

For example, when a new hire’s information is added to an existing HR management system, an automation will automatically procure new system login credentials and a new laptop for the employee within available IT service management tools. This will be based on a new worker’s position, role and function, and will be enabled by previously created automations that an AI system has learned from earlier onboarding experiences. The business’s existing platforms remain in place, but automated workflows connect them into a larger operation and lead to increased systemwide efficiencies.

Simplifying Employee Services

What makes this process even more beneficial is the simplicity with which day-to-day tasks are initiated and completed. A cognitive layer will sit on top of the integrated systems, which will free front- and back-office workers from having to navigate dozens of corporate systems. Instead, workers will directly ask a Digital Colleague to handle business-related tasks, such as booking vacation days, filing expenses, retrieving deleted passwords, rebooting databases, running diagnostics checks and more.

For example: A sales executive returning from a business trip will ask a Digital Colleague to access the company’s expense reporting system, and request a walk-through of the expense submission process. Rather than manually navigating a complex enterprise system — typing expense codes and details into seemingly endless fields on a web page — the employee will type information into a chat box (or speak the information to a voice interface, in some cases) when prompted by a digital co-worker.

When the claim submission process is complete, the digital worker will notify the employee’s manager that a claim has been filed. The employee can then request access to the company’s CRM system, and have a Digital Colleague open a client’s file. Rather than type notes into the system detailing the trip and any follow-up activities, the employee will relay the events of her client conversations, which the Digital Colleague will log in the CRM system. The employee will end the interaction by asking the digital worker to compose a follow-up email to the client from her Outlook account, based on a specific email template, which the employee can approve before sending.

The aforementioned experiences are just a few of the AI-driven services that will be available to employees next year. Imagine the efficiencies that will be gained, in time management, productivity and worker satisfaction, when employees are no longer burdened by rote administrative processes, or when they can forgo endless waiting in support queues. Better employee experiences, enabled by automation and cognitive AI, will begin to be table stakes for companies hoping to lure and keep the best employees in 2020. Employers that wait too long to augment their worker services with AI will risk not only lost productivity, but potentially losing the best and brightest employees in their respective industries.

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