In today’s digital landscape, organizations are facing increasing demands to do more with less, keeping expenditure at a minimum and efficient output at a maximum. In response, more and more enterprises are turning to artificial intelligence to bridge the gap. In fact, a recent report by Oracle revealed that 80% of brands either already use or plan to implement AI — specifically chatbot technology — to better serve customers by the year 2020.
But what about internal customers? Couldn’t they, too, benefit from chatbots? The fact is that the IT help desk has become an indispensable component of business success. With increasing pressures to cut costs and a growing demand to drive efficiency, however, IT technicians and administrators often find themselves struggling to keep their heads above water. As a result, delays and bottlenecks impact end-user productivity, and IT talent is wasted.
I believe that intelligent chatbots have the potential to revolutionize the way the service desk is run, transforming inefficient, manual-laden workflows into a streamlined, self-driving operation.
What Are Chatbots?
Chatbots are essentially computer programs that are powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning technology to facilitate automated, digital conversations with people. If you’ve ever used the online chat feature of a website, it’s highly likely that you were interacting with a bot – and chances are, your issue was resolved entirely without the need for any human intervention.
Intelligent chatbots are capable of understanding language, both written as well as spoken, and contextually interpreting that information to a significant degree in order to produce an appropriate response. In addition to pre-programmed data, intelligent bots also have the ability to extract data from various sources, such as wikis, best practices and user guides to help end users resolve issues quickly without having to open help desk tickets.
The Role Of Chatbots In IT Service Management (ITSM)
Some experts estimate that anywhere from 30% to 50% of all Level 1 help desk support functions are repetitive in nature (password resets, anyone?). Not only are these tasks time consuming and monotonous, but they are also quite costly from a human resource perspective.
Paying skilled IT personnel to perform laborious elemental work day in and day out isn’t just a waste of money. It’s a waste of talent. And when the work isn’t meaningful, the risk of employee turnover also goes up.
Meanwhile, from an end-user perspective, sending help desk tickets and waiting for responses impedes productivity. So, not only are IT agents bogged down by tedious requests, but the entire workforce can potentially be impacted.
A Better End-User Experience
Introducing chatbots into the IT service management process enables organizations to shift the regular and repetitive tasks and workflows away from human agents and toward AI-powered software. Intelligent bots are capable of answering simple user inquiries, troubleshooting issues and providing self-service remediation options. When an end user has a problem that they need IT’s assistance to solve, they can get their answer or resolution via a quick chat using a conversational electronic interface — just as customers do when using a live chat.
As a result, end users no longer have to wait for resolution. In fact, in many cases, employees can be empowered to use self-service options to resolve issues entirely on their own.
Simply requests like password resets are time-consuming and costly. Consider the time it takes for the end user to get locked out, open a ticket to the help desk and wait, as well as the time it takes the IT agent to manually process the request. Surely there are better ways for talented IT professionals to spend their time and energy.
Shifting simple but essential tasks like this from human to chatbot can save tremendously, both in time and in end-user productivity levels. And this is just one example. Take into account the aforementioned 30% to 50% of other repetitive Level 1 help desk functions, and you’ve got something you can really take to the bank.
Finally, though equally as important, introducing intelligent chatbots into the service desk system can take much of the pressure off of IT personnel. Enter artificial intelligence and machine learning, which, according to Gartner, Inc., will free up to 30% of support capacity for IT service desksby the year 2019. Rather than wasting time and energy on mundane, tiresome tasks, IT workers can use their creativity and cognitive abilities to perform work that interests and challenges them.
Getting Started With AI And Chatbots
If your organization decides to invest in chatbots, maximize your investment by looking for quick wins that solve specific ITSM issues, or tasks that can be automatically performed by a bot. These are typically relatively easy to automate but will produce a fast and measurable return on investment.
A good place to start is with a simple IT service desk chatbot that can create and assign tickets, escalate tickets to real agents, assist end users with questions and provide important updates on critical incident IT and security.
Intelligent bots can take that a step further. In my experience, here are a few good places to start:
• Ticket handling: Categorization, prioritization and assignment of tickets.
• Level 0 support: Leveraging artificial intelligence to provide 24/7, self-service support.
• AIOps: Use of advanced analytics technologies to proactively detect, diagnose and address problems.
• Decision support: Utilization of the predictive capabilities of machine learning algorithms to make better, more data-driven decisions.
Simply put, intelligent bots have the potential to supercharge the IT help desk, skyrocketing the productivity of both the support agents and the end users. This ultimately results in greater efficiency, lower operational costs, improved retention and the opportunity to innovate at a much faster rate. And in today’s digital age, this is what will separate the success stories from the failures.
This article was originally published in Forbes Technology Council. To see the original publication, click here.