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AI chatbots: The good, the bad, and the employee experience

3/15/21 12:09 PM

The internet was abuzz not too long ago with news of Microsoft technology that would make it possible to have a conversation with a chatbot modeled after a specific person – a dead relative, celebrity, fictional character, or historical figure – created from “social data.”

Learning from this data, including images, social media posts, messages, and written letters, the idea is that a chatbot could be trained to talk and interact the way the person would.

Whether you think the idea’s fascinating or flawed (or both), it’s not happening. Not yet anyway. One thing’s clear, though: the AI chatbot is growing in popularity. It’s one of the top AI trends to watch in 2021. And according to Gartner, by 2022, 70% of white collar workers will interact with conversational platforms on a daily basis.

If you consider the role of a chatbot in the context of a digital workplace, it makes sense. Just think about the amount of apps, files, and tools employees are using to get their work done. Intelligent technologies can help tackle this maze of information.

The search experience in many digital workplaces can be one dimensional, with binary results that aren’t linked to specific workflows. It’s a missed opportunity. Asking co-workers for information isn’t the most efficient way to work because the information you get back is limited, based on their knowledge.

A no-code, or low-code AI bot can save time and money by helping employees navigate all sorts of questions and situations. Requesting time off. Locating expertise. Approving discounts for sales orders. The opportunities are endless.

Of course, there are some issues to consider

Some of the bigger ethical questions around the chatbot user experience are valid and well documented. This article from Bentley University, for example, raises questions about human behavior and poor treatment of chatbots. And this Forbes article draws attention to the potentially negative impacts on the user experience when a robotic chatbot can't predict a user’s intent or engage in meaningful dialogue. 

There are also things to think about when adding a chatbot to your digital workplace. Gartner has some good tips on this, including: Don’t build your own – instead select a vendor that can provide an enterprise-grade chatbot, and then think about incorporating soft features like tone and emotion that will reflect your brand.

How AI chatbots connect the dots

Chatbots are being used in just about every sector, including the US government. When COVID-19 hit, they were used to handle a massive influx of questions from the public.

We built an AI bot into Beezy because we believe it will help make people’s work lives a bit easier. Many of the organizations we work with are large ones, with thousands of employees, and several offices globally. If an intelligent assistant can lighten some of the burden, I think that’s a good thing.

In a digital workplace, an AI bot can help ‘connect the dots’ and help users find information without having to go hunting for it. AI bots can also take the pressure off IT and support staff. I’ve talked about the many upsides in a previous post about the Beezy Bot, but that was pre-COVID. The world of work today is a different place, and I see even more need for organizations to adopt these kinds of tools. In a more recent post, I highlighted the potential of Beezy and Microsoft Viva tools coming together to bring AI chatbots to life.

Just as they do in customer service situations, people in a work environment want answers and information at the tips of their fingers. An AI chatbot provides that, and frees employees to focus on higher-value tasks.

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Teaming up with Witivio to create better employee experiences

One of the reasons we partnered with Witivio, a SaaS platform for creating  chatbots in Microsoft 365 and the digital workplace, was to address the issue of information silos to improve the employee experience. Witivio’s flagship product, Witivio 365, provides a chatbot that can help organizations with issues like change management, human resources, help desk support, general services, anomaly reporting, and organizing meetings.    

Our partnership with Witivio means the organizations we work with will benefit from Beezy’s tight integration with Microsoft 365, in combination with the latest chatbot innovation from Witivio. Together, we bring our customers complementary end-to-end user experiences, deployed and maintained on Microsoft 365.  

Beezy’s flexible architecture means chatbots like Witivio, and our own Beezy Bot, an Azure app powered by Microsoft Cognitive Services, can be implemented easily depending on your organization’s infrastructure.

The overall goal is to make your digital workplace more integrated and intelligent for a better user experience.

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