The Role of Digital Assistants in a Time of Remote Work

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As the COVID-19 situation continues to unfold, if you are in the human resources or IT/operations division of your organization, you are likely to be pushed to the forefront during this extraordinary time. Your division may be actively leading efforts to communicate with your workforce or users as they adjust to a new environment such as remote work, while also complying with ever-shifting policies and guidelines.


Given the significant upheaval in the way organizations have to operate these days, there are some common questions that many IT and HR leads are trying to address, including:

  1. How can our organization scale and make it as easy as possible for our ecosystem as everyone learns to cope with the new normal?
  2. How can we best provide access to policies, guidelines, FAQs, transactions, and data when information is so dynamic?
  3. How can we deliver information in real-time without employing more resources?

While the more complex communication challenges will still need to be tackled by humans, a digital assistant may offer relief in some areas. For example, organizations may need to automate responses to most basic queries so human minds can be freed up to deal with those more complex challenges. Enterprises and organizations may also need to enable more processes and transactions online and offer them in an easy-to-use medium – one that is easily accessible and intuitive.

Meanwhile, organizations are having to reconfigure how they engage with their customers, contractors, and employees – and in the case of public sector organizations and educational institutions, citizens and students, respectively. These various touchpoints include providing real-time, reliable information on health and safety guidelines; offering assistance in setting up a remote working environment; communicating up-to-date changes in policies; and enabling online self-service functions or access to relevant insights, information, and processes from within the organization’s systems. 

Before COVID-19, AI-based chatbots or digital assistants were already changing the way we interact with our ecosystem – customers, employees, partners, citizens, and students. Enterprises had started to use digital assistants to provide 24×7 assistance to their stakeholders with self-service assistants for customer support; employee self-service across HR, ERP, CRM, and business intelligence systems; and vendors and partners for ERP self-service for quotes and invoice management.  

A digital assistant can provide a consistent channel of communication and engagement in natural language text or voice, so users don’t have to learn an enterprise’s systems to interact or access the information they need. Other benefits delivered by digital assistants include:

  • Providing a 24×7 virtual assistant that is always there for stakeholders
  • Offering users access to information on channels of choice like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Messenger, and more
  • Streamlining employee queries, since there’s no waiting in line for the next available representative or help desk agent
  • Freeing up employees to focus on the more complex challenges and queries that only human minds can solve
  • Providing a natural way to access information and transactions across different backend systems, which promotes the adoption of and adherence to processes and policies
  • Proactively notifying users of changes in data so they can remain informed 
  • Eliminating data searches, since a digital assistant powered by AI can be adapted to dynamic data changes so users don’t have to search for data 
  • Reducing costs associated with support operations via self-service and automation

As a result, digital assistants can help support the current need of a remote workforce and concerned citizens, students, and customers while creating long-term efficiencies for your organization. 

For a more in-depth look into how your organization can derive quick value from a digital assistant in these uncertain times and the longer term, please contact us here.

By Suhas Uliyar, Vice President, AI and Digital Assistant