If you’ve ever yelled the wrong name at your mobile phone or smart speaker (Siri! Alexa! Cortana! It gets so confusing…), then you know how quickly an intelligent digital assistant can make itself an indispensable part of daily life. From answering random questions and making lists to controlling lights and placing online orders, these virtual assistants make themselves useful in so many small yet impactful ways that it’s hard to remember how we ever got along without them.
Now imagine that kind of utility in the workplace.
How much happier would employee be, and how much more efficiently would your business run, if there was an intelligent digital assistant your workforce could rely on to handle the mundane administrative tasks that waste so much time? The answer is simple: a lot.
The use of digital assistants in the workplace has been steadily growing in recent years. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2021, 25% of digital workers will use a virtual assistant on a daily basis, a figure that’s up from less than 2% in 2019. The foundational reasons for this growth in workplace adoption are the same as they are for consumer use – digital assistants simplify daily life. And simplifying the workplace can lead to some pretty big benefits.
Improved productivity – Being busy and being productive are two entirely different things. Unfortunately, employees are often simply busy, spending the majority of their time looking for information, navigating a maze of complicated systems or working through time-consuming, multi-step processes to complete high-volume, low-value tasks. An intelligent digital assistant can simplify that administrative busy work and give employees more time to focus on the meaningful work that’s rewarding for them and valuable for the company.
Reduced Costs – One of the most basic tenets of good business practice is cost control – eliminating unnecessary spending. Organizations such as Liberty Mutual Insurance that have implemented an intelligent digital assistant to streamline processes have seen significant improvements in this area. For example, when Liberty implemented a digital assistant to drive efficiencies across it’s IT help desk (the technology was piloted for the three use cases of unlocking phones, registering and unregistering devices and syncing calendars), the organization saw a 93% expense reduction for each help desk transaction as well as a 10% increase in employee satisfaction.
Streamlined workflows – There’s nothing more destructive to productivity than fragmented process, especially when they’re filled with lots of unnecessary steps. Onboarding is a perfect example because it’s historically a process that’s more focused on systems rather than people. The list of onboarding tasks is long and fragmented, with instructions and information coming from all across the organization. There’s no single source of truth for information, no easy way to ask questions and no mechanism for quickly resolving simple tasks.
Organizations can accelerate time to productivity and improve this experience (along with all the others just like it) with the use of a digital assistant. By taking advantage of existing data and leveraging AI technology, a workplace assistant can serve as a helpful guide in the onboarding process, walking new hires through each stage of the process, finding the information they need, providing immediate answers to common questions and even enabling a wide range of self-service functionality.
Efficient and engaging remote work – Just because remote work is possible doesn’t mean that it’s easy -- that’s the big lesson organizations have had to learn recently. On top of the typical struggles employees face (like frustration with siloed processes), remote workers also carry additional burdens that are unique to their situations, such as acquiring the institutional knowledge that’s traditionally passed from desk to desk and around the water cooler. By delivering instant answers to questions and creating a centralized location for information, a workplace assistant can become the cornerstone of the remote work experience, serving as the single source of truth remote workers need to feel connected and engaged.
More than half of remote employees say they feel disconnected from in-office employees (CoSo Cloud)
Contextual, consumer-grade experiences – Employees have high expectations of the digital experiences they encounter, and the workplace is no exception. Unfortunately, the digital experiences many organizations deliver fall far short of expectation, with 35% of employees surveyed for Dell’s Future Workforce Study admitting that the technology they have at home is far more advanced than what they have at work. The biggest reason for that is most of the digital experiences delivered in the workplace are one-size-fits-all, with no consideration of the unique needs of each employee.
Companies can bridge that gap with an intelligent digital assistant that uses existing employee data to create an experience that’s personalized, contextual and much more in line with the Amazon-grade experiences workers encounter in their consumer lives. For example, an intelligent digital assistant could take advantage of patterns found in company-wide data to help employees advance their career by providing them with custom job recommendations made based on the job histories of colleagues with similar career paths. Workers can also get customized answers to their questions based on their specific criteria (job role, function, geographic area etc.) and can self-select the kinds of information they would like to receive based on their preferences.
For more information on intelligent digital workplace assistants, including...
An explanation of the key elements digital assistants need to have
Guidance on best practices for implementing a digital assistant
Case studies featuring successful implementations of digital assistants
…check out my recent DWG podcast appearance or DWG’s whitepaper, The Intelligent Digital Workplace Assistant: An introduction for digital workplace teams.