In the latest joint webinar from HfS Research and IPsoft, Vodafone reviews how it is using AI to benefit customers and employees

During a recent webinar, leading analysts from HfS Research were joined by IPsoft CEO Chetan Dube, IPsoft Global Head of 1Desk Dan Thomas and Eric Fradet, Head of Innovation & Engineering at our client Vodafone Group, to discuss the evolving Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) markets, and how Vodafone is leveraging these technologies for real business benefits.

HfS CEO and Chief Analyst Phil Fersht kicked off the event with an overview of how RPA is impacting organizations today. He flashed back to 2012 when HfS first noted that robotic automation was emerging as a threat to outsourcing. During the last few years, the RPA market has grown rapidly with new vendors and investments, and enterprises are now thinking about how analytics, automation and AI can be integrated.

Reviewing a recent HfS survey of 2000 enterprise leaders, Fersht noted that driving down operational costs is still the number one business strategy objective for executives. However, enterprises are also prioritizing investments in automation and robotics, and using data for faster decision making. Enterprises realize that they need to think ahead and act quickly when it comes to RPA and AI investments in order to stay competitive in the digital world.

Fersht also discussed the HfS Digital One Office framework, where customers are at the center of decision making. In HfS’ vision, enterprises will use innovative technology to serve customers as effortlessly and seamlessly as possible. Departments and employees will be connected with intelligent automation tools and advanced analytics, reducing hierarchies and siloes, and helping them respond quicker to market requirements. As enterprises evolve, they will use data to anticipate what customers want rather than reacting in the moment. Enterprises will use RPA alongside cognitive technology to drive a higher quality of operations with improved agility. Fersht also said that enterprises will use intelligent automation solutions to to drive value from the workforce rather than replace labor.

Dube in his remarks emphasized the trends detailed by HfS, talking about how AI is creating a better, more efficient way to communicate. Dube reiterated how IPsoft’s 1Desk allows any employee to communicate through any channel, from Skype to Slack, to resolve worker inquiries. Employees simply speak with Amelia, IPsoft’s digital colleague, who accurately answers questions and finds resolutions related to IT, HR or expenses issues. Amelia will escalate complex requests to a human colleague and 1Desk learns from the interaction to create an automation, so next time a similar question is asked, it will be resolved autonomously. Similar to how humans make decisions via a central nervous system, enterprises will use 1Desk as a central decision center, Dube said. 1Desk allows them to connect departments, processes and employees and enable communications in natural language for resourceful decision making.

Fradet during the webinar reviewed how Vodafone was an early pioneer of AI technologies, beginning with a roadmap in 2015. The company initially deployed Amelia to improve IT service desk operations. Vodafone currently uses Amelia to handle more 25,000 chats about IT support per month with outstanding results. Today, 53% of IT service desk queries are resolved without escalation to a human. Fradet discussed how Vodafone has been able to achieve results by building internal capabilities, working closely with experts from IPsoft, and integrating IPsoft products with existing systems.

Fradet offered the following advice and best practices for other enterprises looking to make RPA and AI investments:

  • Initially, AI technology is not simple and it is important to work with partners and experts to understand its potential.
  • Building a team that includes both business and IT stakeholders ensures the company’s in-house expertise is fully leveraged, and that employees feel part of the deployment process and any subsequent changes that may result.
  • Communication is as important as investing in AI technology. Staff should be made aware of coming and potential changes, so that they can adapt to new solutions.

Vodafone has ambitious plans for 2019 to expand its AI capabilities. Using Amelia and 1Desk, the company will add intelligent automation and AI into new markets, different parts of the business and additional use cases. Vodafone wants to provide all employees with access to Amelia to resolve any issue — from IT to HR to finance. Fradet also pointed out that Vodafone realizes AI can be scary or intimidating for some people, and that’s why the company is committed to transparency internally and externally around AI’s capabilities and how the technology will be deployed.The webinar concluded with a Q&A session led by Melissa O’Brien, Research Vice President at HfS.

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