What a-bot us? Bots and AI in the workplace

Moussa Zaghdoud
September 19, 2018

Moving productivity forward with artificial intelligence, bots and natural language and creating a human-centric work environment

Just as a popular song from Pink asks, today’s experienced workers are also asking, “What about us?”, for a more human centric experience for themselves at work; one that doesn’t require them to spend hours to months learning new technologies to ironically become more efficient.

The answer may well be the use of “bots” as digital twins for workers.

Digital twin image for blog

Users failed to see the benefit of UC&C
The first Unified Communication and Collaboration (UC&C) services appeared about 20 years ago, as businesses and organizations began adding new tools into the workplace to boost productivity. The benefits of these solutions were obvious to the business but not necessarily to the user who faced the daunting task of learning new technologies with new interfaces and user experiences.

Natural experience that recognizes needs and preferences
Workers needed an interface that naturally recognized their unique needs and preferences while helping them make quick sense of the data and information flows competing for their attention.

I believe that bots, natural language processing, artificial intelligence (AI) and other advanced technologies have the potential to revolutionize how workers interface with UC&C solutions.

Sometimes you can have too much
Why has the user experience with UC&C solutions remained largely the same for all these years? In brief, the system has little proactive contextual intelligence, it delivers too many services and too much content all at the same time. Users must search for what they need before finding the right resources. Plus, the user is inundated by emails, files, meeting notifications, and audio and video sessions, and it’s difficult to prioritize and find the right resources to deliver the best results.

We’ve also reached the point where one size does not fit all users. They are pressed for time, yet must be more productive. Users have created resistance to new tools because of the time it takes to learn them and get tangible benefits.

The process may also present roadblocks for more senior and experienced workers who might encounter social, cultural and technical challenges as they attempt to integrate new tools into their workflows and habits. Ensuring technology adoption goes smoothly for all workers requires an approach that’s more human, natural and intuitive.

Older worker for blog body

Change the user experience with bots
This is where bots come in. Bots automatically carry out tasks and find information without effort and without waiting.

What exactly are bots? In general, bots are software applications that run automated tasks over a network, usually the Internet. Bots typically perform tasks that are simple, structurally repetitive and are performed faster and more accurately than a human.

An example of bots includes Apple’s Siri or Google Home. These are virtual assistants with natural language processing capabilities that can find answers to spoken requests. Other bots help people schedule airline flights or place orders online; they can aggregate news or other information according to your predefined interests and can customize music playlists according to your tastes.

Moving productivity forward with artificial intelligence, bots and natural language and creating a human-centric work environment

Bots can be designed with AI to learn from the behavior and preferences of users, and over time gain the ability to anticipate the users’ needs and expectations.

Single action bots
Most bots are designed for a single purpose (one action per bot). In the future, I believe individuals will have a single bot authorized to make decisions on their behalf (one bot per person). Bots will operate like a digital twin, because we will have 100 percent confidence in our bots’ ability to stand in and make decisions for us.

My bot will allow me to spend less time managing repetitive tasks and actions, freeing up more time for me to do what is really valuable or what I simply enjoy.

Moving productivity forward with AI, bots and natural language
Bots and other advanced technologies allow us to leave the generic “user centric” era behind and embrace the “human centric” era. We are all different and we need to have collaboration and communication systems that adapt to our different behaviors, expectations and preferences.

In a workplace enabled with natural-language bots, workers are no longer limited to clicking on buttons on static interfaces. We can use voice commands and requests to interact with bots, asking for help with daily needs and issues. Guided by artificial intelligence, bots will also be able to anticipate our needs, according to the given context.

Older asian businessman on mobile for blog post

How do you introduce bots into your business?

Concentrate your efforts on removing barriers to adoption, and be sure that everyone in the company is involved, motivated and trained—not just the decision makers. Offering natural ways of interacting with tools helps ensure workers are not forced to waste time and feel impatient just figuring out how the tools work. In the beginning, design your bot to address a single type of problem and, to avoid disappointment, keep the initial use cases simple.

Make sure that workers using bot-enabled solutions feel they are gaining real benefits from the technology and are in position to share it with others before moving on to the collaboration phase.  

What services and efficiencies does a digital twin provide?
Let’s say that someone calls me on my business phone while I’m in a meeting and I can’t answer. The digital twin (DT) monitoring my phone can answer for me, telling the caller that I’m not available because I’m in a meeting. My DT can ask the caller to identify the purpose of the call, and — because my bot also has access to my calendar — offer the caller a time when I’m free to talk. After the caller selects a time slot, my DT sends me an SMS notification, which I can accept or decline. My DT then puts the appointment on my calendar with the caller’s name and purpose of the call.

Your bot exists today
These bot functionalities are already available in many ALE solutions including Rainbow, a communication platform as-a-service (CPaaS) technology. This is just the beginning of ALE’s integration of bots and AI into our communication solutions and technology.

With bots as digital twins, embrace the “human centric” experience!

So, when your workers ask, “what about us?” there is an easy answer to their question with ALE communication solutions enhanced with bot functionality that can be customized to their needs. Read more

Moussa Zaghdoud

Moussa Zaghdoud

Executive Vice-President (EVP) of the Cloud Communication Business Division (CCBD).

Moussa Zaghdoud, as Executive Vice-President (EVP) of the Cloud Communication Business Division (CCBD), is responsible for the end-to-end cloud strategy, solution definition, offer management and business model definition for the Alcatel-Lucent Rainbow Cloud Service Offer.

Moussa joined Alcatel as a multimedia expert to define the ALE ecommerce and web business portals. Previous positions with the company include: IT project and program manager, product line manager bringing new UC and mobility services to the market, director for innovation with the invention of the first Rainbow kernel. In parallel, Moussa has created two Cloud startups providing virtual call center services and predictive routing services to enterprises.

Moussa holds two Master’s degrees in Industrial Sciences and Automated systems from Louis Pasteur Universality, Strasbourg – France and a degree in Physics.

About the author

Latest Blogs

blog preview image green transport 600x250

Green transportation by design

Delivering secure, sustainable digital transformation solutions across transportation ecosystems for a greener tomorrow.

3 Key components to getting the digital workplace right blog preview image

3 Key components to getting the digital workplace right

With the right foundation, governments can create secure digital workplaces with improved communications and collaboration, and services delivery.

Blog preview image transport smart operations 600x250

Connecting for smarter transportation

Smart transport operators require seamless connectivity between all transport subsystems to provide efficient, safe movement of goods and people.

Campus Cybersecurity in the age of Ransomware blog image

Campus cybersecurity ransomware

Employing strategies to reduce campus cybersecurity threats can help limit nefarious actor access and reduce your exposure.