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Virtually Speaking

Scaling Your Workforce in the Information Age

Posted by John McMullan on Feb 2, 2016 7:42:37 PM


As professionals in the workforce, we all know the challenge of trying to wade through piles of internal documentation to do our job effectively. In most cases, we spend several minutes (or hours) looking for a document and either give up because we could not find it – or we end up finding outdated information. Enterprises have routinely turned to knowledge management systems to solve this problem, but information is not the problem – finding it is!

Tom Austin of Gartner recently presented a webinar titled, “Smarter Teams: Where People and Smart Machines Collaborate”. In his insightful presentation, Tom laid out the fundamentals of smart machines in the enterprise and made a case for how humans and machines are complementary, not adversaries: Both humans and machines have their strengths and weaknesses which, when capitalized on, create an opportunity to scale the work that enterprise employees are able to accomplish. A great illustration that Tom used to highlight this point is in the agriculture industry which, in 1870, employed approximately 20% of the population. Today, only 2–5% of the population works in agriculture, while our population has increased 8.3x.  Machines did not eliminate the worker; they made them more scalable.

So, how will enterprises effectively scale their employees’ intelligence and help them make the best decisions possible with all the data available to them?

Much like the way consumer-facing virtual assistants such as Apple’s Siri, Alaska Airlines’ Jenn, and Microsoft’s Cortana help make people’s lives more productive, internal-facing virtual assistants help employees work more effectively. Once trained on a knowledge set, these virtual assistants find information, guide users through complex tasks and even integrate with back-end data systems to provide personalized information based upon factors like an employee’s credentials.

Make your virtual assistant a success: Identify an introductory use case

Internal virtual assistants have the benefit of being trained by your subject matter experts and are now poised to deliver information at scale. Unlike your human workers, virtual assistants never forget, can’t change their answer based on their mood or social bias and are available 24/7. With an internally deployed virtual assistant, not only do enterprises gain more productive employees, but, since employees are able to ask questions in their own words, employers can see new trends in the types of issues their employees are facing.

Next IT has been making virtual assistants for over a decade and has experience implementing both external- and internal-facing virtual assistants. Drop us a note to discuss the possibilities of deploying your own internal virtual assistant.

AI Blueprint

Topics: Business, Intelligent Virtual Assistants, Natural Language Understanding, Scalable Technology