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Espressive 2023 Predictions: The Future of Virtual Agents in the Enterprise


Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2023.  Read them in this 15th annual series exclusive.

The Future of Virtual Agents in the Enterprise

By Pat Calhoun, CEO, Espressive

The unpredictable economic climate coupled with an ever evolving workplace is driving more organizations to make smart investments to uplevel IT teams while enabling efficiency and positive employee experiences, which is not an easy feat. Today's workforce expects the same digital self-help at work that they receive during their personal lives-a seamless, reliable experience that doesn't leave them with unanswered questions. However, outdated legacy systems are unable to deliver this experience. Enter: AI-based virtual agents. Gartner predicts that by 2030, about a billion service tickets will be raised by virtual agents or their similar counterparts. This kind of automation can only be accomplished with solutions that possess advanced ML, NLP, and conversational AI capabilities capable of redefining employee self-help. 

Below are my predictions for 2023 and beyond, outlining the importance of a "one chatbot fits all" strategy for employee engagement, how virtual agents will become the next Intranet and the future of employee integration hubs. 

One chatbot fits all: Virtual agents will make inroads into departments like legal, finance and supply chain

CIOs will take the driver's seat to implement an enterprise-wide chatbot strategy, especially in a new normal of uncertainty where cost-reduction and cost-containment are top business priorities. They will also be more aware of the pitfalls of in-house built bots. Automation tools are challenging to develop and maintain-CIOs who have built a dozen individual worker bots, each with a specific automated function that were accessible in Slack will realize that this only leaves them with "chatbot soup." Enterprises will consolidate their chatbots, looking for one that does all, versus several for different needs and departments with not only HR and IT, but also legal, finance, and supply chain. Pre-built workflows and automation will drive more value to non-IT.

Virtual agents will be the next Intranet

There's a disconnect today between how employees want to consume content versus how they're able to access it at work. Traditional approaches to knowledge management practices, no matter how robust, have failed because of their limited impact on an organization's self-service initiative. As consumers, employees are accustomed to quickly finding answers through virtual assistants such as Alexa, Google Home, and Siri. Yet at work, employees looking for information face intranets, portals, and an endless number of knowledge articles spread across multiple sources. This problem is further compounded by the fact that every department (e.g., IT, HR, payroll, facilities) has its own support processes.

I predict that virtual agents will become the next Intranet. Leaders will turn to virtual agents powered by advanced conversational AI, ML, and NLP capabilities to update company information (i.e. benefits, policies, sick time, etc.), automate employee requests, becoming the central hub for employee self-service, collaboration and project management. 

Virtual agents will become the experience integration hub for employees

As conversational AI, ML, and NLP capabilities expand, virtual agents will be able to resolve more complex issues and meet employees where they are to become the experience integration hub. 

Looking ahead, virtual agents will continue to evolve from automating the resolution of tier 1 service desk agents (password resets, questions on PTO, etc.), to resolving much more complex issues that historically required higher skilled IT staff. This will not only be critical to the journey of upleveling employee self-help, but also to reduce costs during uncertain economic conditions. Automation will be used to upskill current teams so leaders don't have to mine for technical expertise.

Moving forward

Throughout this year and beyond, leaders should evaluate their ecosystem of tools and pose the following question: Is my team's tech stack helping them, supporting them and improving their jobs? Are we sufficiently focused on automating work to enable employees to be more productive? If the answer is no, it's time for a change-and it starts with the service desk.



Pat Calhoun 

Pat Calhoun is a visionary leader with an intense focus on user experience and customer adoption. He has founded two companies - Airespace and Espressive. As CEO at Espressive, Pat is set to transform the enterprise self-service experience to a consumer-like approach that drives employee adoption and significantly reduces help desk calls. Espressive has helped companies like Dexcom achieve 93% self-service accuracy with 64% help desk ticket deflection. 
Published Friday, January 27, 2023 7:34 AM by David Marshall
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