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Conversations with Siri or Alexa are now part of our daily activities. As we turn over the tasks that clutter our days to these digital “assistants,” we’re more productive and happier at home – we can have our assistants give a weather update as we get out of bed, set the dishwasher on and check traffic before we leave home, and soon they’ll be able to call restaurants and salons to make our reservations as we recently saw at Google I/O. And that’s just the start.

Today’s big question is – Why can’t we do the same at work? If we each have a digital assistant staying one step ahead of us – organizing our day and getting us ready for what’s next – we will focus better on the stuff we’re actually good at and were hired to do!

There is a clear-cut case for digital assistants for our work lives. By 2020, 59% of the global workforce will be digitally native millennials and Gen Z-ers. They expect the same great digital experience with work apps that they’re accustomed to as consumers and want employers to engage with them in meaningful and relevant ways.

Having a Siri-like assistant can be the answer to simplify and personalize work experiences. A personal side-kick of sorts that helps us get to know a company’s culture while we’re interviewing, recommends learning resources to get ready for a promotion, and is there throughout with prompt information to more easily navigate an organization and its systems.

Personalized Experiences At Scale

We’re building this now with our customers in the SuccessFactors labs – turning complex multi-dimensional processes into intelligent digital interactions. One of the largest global professional services firms is our co-innovation partner and we’re working with them to deliver a consistently great onboarding experience using the digital assistant for the 65k new employees that join the firm every year. In a business that moves fast, the digital assistant will help set new hires up for success with guidance tailored to their roles right from day 1.

 

 

The goal of making employee experiences personalized has always been elusive but important, and now with machine learning-based digital assistants it’s finally possible. Be it better matching us to the right roles or making learning recommendations relevant to move us further along on our career paths, we can continually create better experiences irrespective of organizational scale. In our labs we’re building these intelligent and intuitive interactions using SAP Leonardo for machine learning, Recast for natural language processing and CoPilot for a conversational UI. Using these latest technologies our customers will have one intuitive interface through which to engage with our HR solutions.

Less Tactical, More Strategic

Digital assistants can have a tremendous impact on our productivity by letting us focus on the strategic aspects of work. First, they can quickly provide information needed for decisions. As a manager, I will within seconds have insight into my global team headcount, gender breakdown and compensation distribution by simply asking the digital assistant to find it, and not have to dig through documents or wait for HR to close that information gap.

What’s more, we can complete administrative tasks faster without doing any actual manual work. Even tasks with complex logic, like promoting an employee or transferring an employee to another team can be done through a simple conversation with your digital assistant. With less time spent on figuring out how processes work, we can focus fully on supporting the business in a strategic way. At our recent SuccessConnect conference in Berlin, we demoed how chatbots combined with machine learning will finally make manager self-service possible.

 

It’s About Experience, Not Process

Over time, digital assistants may change entirely how we engage with enterprise processes. We may never need to go into a separate application to manage vacation days, give feedback to teammates, create an expense report, or update our goals and learning. Instead we’ll engage directly with the digital assistant to get things done.

In fact, we’ll be able to work with the digital assistant even in third party applications. SuccessFactors is partnering with work apps people use every day, like Slack, Microsoft Teams and Google Hangouts, so the SuccessFactors digital assistant can be accessed right from those apps to complete HR tasks with ease and immediacy without interrupting workflow.

 

 

Digital assistants make possible what employees have long been asking for – real-time personalized support that helps them be more productive, focused and happier. The power of machine learning combined with conversational chatbot experiences will deliver exceptional new workplace experiences. And for Siri and Alexa, they’ll soon have some competition from our new office mate.

 

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