Posts

What will 2019 have in store for AI and machine learning?

There’s been plenty of hype about machine learning and artificial intelligence and that buzz isn’t expected to slow down anytime soon.As we prepare for another new year, it’s always a good idea to consider what’s in store for technology and all indications point to 2019 being a major year for AI and ML.

What might we expect to unfold over the coming months? Well,for starters, next year is poised to be one in which those who have been teetering on the fence about adopting machine learning are likely to finally take the plunge. Let’s take a closer look at a few other trends to watch for in 2019.

Cross-Industry Infiltration of Machine Learning

To put it plainly, there simply isn’t a single industry that would not benefit in some way from machine learning technology. As more decision-makers begin to recognize this, more widespread adoption will occur alongside the ideation of newer and more innovative ways to use ML.

A great example of this is the U.S. Army. Over the next year, they will be rolling out the use of machine learning sensors to predict when combat vehicles are in need of repair. The health care industry is another field that is finding new uses for AI. For instance, algorithms now exist that can predict – with 95% accuracy – the probability of a patient’s death. Physicians can use this data to literally save lives.

It’s safe to say that as we ramp up adoption of AI and ML,forward-thinking companies will continue to discover new ways to leverage these technologies to read, interpret and apply data for greater success.

Increasing Use of Chatbots

Most of us utilize AI assistants on a daily basis, whether it’s asking Alexa to play our favorite song list or checking with Siri to see how traffic will be for the commute home. These basic interactions are really just the tip of the iceberg.

In 2019, development of chatbots will snowball, making AI assistants an even bigger part of our everyday lives. Not only will they be in our pockets and in our homes, but chatbot technology will continue to make its way into the business world.

For instance, in the IT service management realm, chatbots will be used increasingly to enable end-users to self-remediate while simultaneously freeing up human talent to be focused on more complex projects and business initiatives.

Deepening Interactions between Humans and Machines

The concept of AI being a robot merely capable of performing repetitive, mundane tasks has become antiquated. To the contrary, more and more organizations are recognizing artificial intelligence as an integral part of their workforce, working alongside their human employees and playing a pivotal role in their success. This relationship will only continue to evolve as we push onward into2019 and beyond.

As AI technology advances further, we can expect features and functionality that mimics human behavior in much greater detail. Imagine a chatbot that not only recognizes what a human is saying, but the tone and nuances behind those words. The possibilities are virtually limitless.

And as AI continues to become ingratiated into the fiber of how organizations operate, the fear and uncertainty that clouded human workers in the past will begin to dissipate. In its place will be a newfound respect and an optimism for the new opportunities these innovative technologies will create.

Without question, 2019 will be a critical year for both machine learning as well as AI. The three predictions above may very well just be scraping the surface of what’s truly in store. One thing’s for certain:these technologies are here to stay and they’re changing our world in ways beyond what we ever thought possible.

Want to experience the power of AI and machine learning for yourself?Start your free 30 day trial of Ayehu today!

Free eBook! Get Your Own Copy Today

How to Successfully Implement a Chatbot Strategy in 5 Steps

Chatbot technology is disrupting almost every industry, with everyone from Verizon and Capital One to NASA jumping onboard. But while artificial intelligent is certainly not a new concept, developing and implementing chatbots in a practical and profitable way is still in its relative infancy. Unlike other, more established technologies, there aren’t necessarily any real standards for using bots. Thankfully, there are things we can learn from those already paving the way. Here are five real-world tips to help your company bring a chatbot strategy to fruition.

Identify audience and need.

For bots to produce ROI, they must solve a specific problem (or set of problems) and/or deliver real, measurable improvement (such as with staff efficiency or productivity). As such, the initial phase of your chatbot strategy should involve identifying who you are trying to help and exactly why. The narrower you can get with this step, the better the outcome. Keep in mind you may have multiple iterations of the same engine, based on the user you are targeting.

Select a platform.

Once you have a clearer picture of your target user and target problem, the next step should involve choosing a platform through which the bots will be built and managed. This is the phase of the project that can overwhelm some decision makers. The good news is, there are platforms (like Ayehu) that are so easy to use and quick to implement that you can be up and running in mere minutes – no coding or scripting required. Even if you have a highly talented IT team, this would be the best case scenario.

Define your measure(s) of success.

One of the biggest challenges of chatbots (and artificial intelligence in general) is proving financial value. The easiest and most straightforward way to approach this is to determine as early as possible which metrics matter the most. What type of ROI do those in the C-suite and/or other stakeholders expect out of this initiative? Bear in mind, also, that some measures of success aren’t as easy to quantify, but are just as – if not more – important, such as end-user engagement levels.

Start fast – don’t wait for perfection.

Many people make the mistake of trying to make things perfect before rolling out their project. Instead, the focus should be on building fast and executing fast, even if that involves some degree of failure in the process. Take, for instance, NASA, which approaches each chatbot initiative as a small startup with the goal of launching as quickly as possible. If you cannot iterate that fast, optimize the process as much as possible. For example, while Verizon was developing their Mix and Match bot, the consumer plan was being developed simultaneously. This made the actual rollout more seamless and successful.

Adjust and learn continuously.

A chatbot strategy isn’t something you set and forget. There is also the need for continuous adaptations and ongoing training to consider. Artificial intelligence is a fluid technology, which means your bots should continue to learn and improve over time. There will almost always be something to add, whether it’s a new term or a tweak in “personality” to better serve end-users. The main thing to remember is that chatbot development is an ongoing process and must be treated as such if it is to be successful.

Want to give our intelligent automation a test drive? Try it free for 30 days. Click here to launch your trial today.

Free eBook! Get Your Own Copy Today

How IT Service Management Can Be Transformed With Intelligent Chatbots

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.

Cutting Costs

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.

Free eBook! Get Your Own Copy Today

5 Ways the Service Desk can Use Chatbots

Pull up any IT related website and you’ll undoubtedly see dozens of headlines dedicated to artificial intelligence, machine learning and chatbots. Some of what’s being published relates to the threat of job replacement. And while that’s certainly true to some degree, AI isn’t something to fear – even for those who work in IT support. To the contrary, the service desk is ripe with opportunity to leverage chatbots to benefit both the end user as well as the support team. Let’s take a look at a few ways this technology can be used in tandem with the service desk.

Human Resource Optimization

Whether it’s resource planning or the redirection of work away from the service desk, AI can be used to make smarter use out of service desk personnel. For instance, machine learning algorithms are capable of analyzing patterns to predict future workload and plan staffing needs accordingly. Routine IT support tasks, such as password resets and remote restarts, can be shifted to chatbots, essentially supplementing (not replacing) help desk workers.

Improved Decision-Making

Decision support is another powerful way AI technology can aid the help desk. From low level automation of workflows to the prediction of future trends in the IT service realm, such as the demand for new or different IT services, the sky is really the limit with how this can be applied. Predictive analytics can even be used to forecast future customer satisfaction levels based on the impact of various factors that occurred in the past.

Self-Service IT Support

There are many different use cases, including intelligent search, through which machine learning algorithms apply meaning and context and draw from previous search successes to deliver more accurate search results. Intelligent autoresponders can provide automated resolution to service tickets without the need for human intervention. And, of course, the use of chatbots to provide a more engaging IT support interface using artificial intelligence and automated solutions. This not only takes much of the heat off of busy IT professionals, but it also empowers end-users and boosts productivity.

Proactive Service Improvement

In addition to identifying and addressing common IT problems that are occurring presently, predictive analytics can also be utilized to project possible high-impact issues that may occur in the future but have not yet been realized. This enables IT support staff to take proactive measures in reducing the risks of those possible future issues, often stopping them before they occur. And thanks to the technology’s advanced learning capabilities, it can improve on its own, getting better over time.

Improved Customer Experience

Each of the four points above contribute to a better customer – or in this case, end-user – experience. From better solutions to faster, more efficient support to self-service options (including chatbots and autoresponders) to proactive problem resolution and more. AI will undoubtedly continue to play a critical role in IT support’s customer experience journey, improving as time goes on.

These are, of course, just a handful of the many ways the service desk can leverage AI technology. There will be many other opportunities to use chatbots in the not-so-distant future. The most important thing to note is that artificial intelligence technology is already here and those in IT support that are currently using it will remain a step ahead of the competition.

Don’t get left behind. Schedule a free product demo of Ayehu today and learn how you can leverage chatbots to bring your service desk to the next level!

Free eBook! Get Your Own Copy Today

The Future of IT Support

Last year, the folks over at Service Desk Institute (SDI) published an in-depth report projecting the future of IT support entitled “Analyst 2.0.” The report spans a number of areas, including the way IT service desk analyst skills and staffing are evolving as well as the growth and impact of automation and self-service technologies. If you’re curious about what the IT support of tomorrow will look like but haven’t got time to dig into the full report, this blog should help by providing a broad overview of its finding, focused primarily in three key areas:

  • Skill requirements of future service desk analysts
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) adoption thus far
  • Service desk challenges as they relate to customer experience

Let’s take a more detailed look at each of these points below.

Skill requirements of future service desk analysts

The SDI report drew contrast between the top three skills that are currently require of service desk analysts and those that will be expected over the next three to five years.

Skills needed in 2017…

Skills needed in 2020 and beyond…

While the increase in analysts’ customer service/empathy skills may not come as much of a surprise, some of the other projected changes may. In particular, the marked jump of tech industry knowledge from 34% to 67% and the ability to be flexible rising from 8% to 27%.

Both of these things are indicative of the need for IT support analysts to know and be capable of performing more complex tasks, particularly in light of the fact that self-service and automation will be eliminating the simpler, more repetitive tasks from their to-do lists.

Further, the increasing need for adaptability and flexibility signify the fact that the service desk will experience frequent and ongoing change.

Artificial intelligence (AI) adoption thus far

Of those surveyed for the SDI report, 27% indicated that they’ve begun the process of researching AI or virtual assistants for their organizations. A smaller percentage is either interacting with potential partners or have already implemented AI to some degree. While trends indicate that these numbers have already risen since the date of the SDI report’s publication, it still appears that the current use of AI in a help desk capacity hasn’t yet caught up with the industry buzz surrounding the technology.

There may be several reasons why this is the case, including the fact that the opportunities for and benefits of AI for IT support haven’t been adequately “sold” to the market (something we are working hard to change here at Ayehu). Other hindrances may include budgetary restraints and fear of change.

A second, perhaps more telling question asked of survey participants was whether or not they felt technology is keeping up with the “hype” surrounding AI and automation. The responses were an even split between yes and no (both at 29%). The rest indicated that they were unsure.

Service desk challenges as they relate to customer experience

The third noteworthy component of the SDI report involved a particular question relating to the customer experience. Specifically, participants were asked: Do you feel pressured to provide the same level of customer service as big businesses?”

The response is demonstrated here:

As you can see, there is significant pressure (whether real or perceived) on corporate IT support teams that extends far beyond the “consumerization of IT.” Service desk leaders need to respond to these pressures accordingly. In particular, adopting self-service and automation can improve the end-user experience and alleviate some of the pressures agents are facing. It will also free up skilled IT staff to focus on more meaningful and fulfilling work, boosting morale in the process.

These are really just a few of the many intriguing points uncovered by the SDI report. You can view the full report here for free.

And if you’re ready to start preparing your support desk for the wave of the future, AI and automation are the place to be. Experience the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities by taking Ayehu for a test drive today.