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Technology / AI and automation

Meet SAMI, a chatbot for the business

We’ve probably all interacted with one at some point, an automated messaging service that troubleshoots basic issues for you when something breaks.

These services have been around for a while, typically just passing users onto the right department when the questions become too complex.

That, however, was the old way of doing things. Technology advancements have made the chatbot a much more intelligent and useful tool.

Fruition Partners is one company that has been pushing the envelope when it comes to this technology. CBR talks to Mark Balloch, Technical Consultant at Fruition Partners UK, the developer of SAMI, the company’s chatbot, which has turned a typically customer facing piece of technology into an internally facing one.

 

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So, what is SAMI? What problem is it designed to solve?

SAMI, short for ‘ServiceNow Automated Messaging Interface,’ has been designed as an AI business chatbot able to intelligently solve problems for employees, which in the past would have required input from a human. This includes HR enquiries such as holiday requests or helping to solve IT issues. This also helps to take the pressure off service desks and other departments whilst ensuring that employees have access to services 24/7.

 

What has been the initial reaction to SAMI?

This initial reaction to SAMI has been great. We’ve got two companies that are currently using SAMI during the early adoption phase and the feedback we have had is fantastic. There’s a lot of excitement in terms of capabilities – we’ve focussed on incident and self-service resolution, and thus stopped people from opening tickets as their requests have been dealt with autonomously by SAMI. We’ve also ended up looking into other areas such as HR and finance as a result of the feedback we’ve had, and have already expanded its capabilities into those areas as a result.

 

Do you think that chatbots are here to stay?

There’s clearly a big appetite for this kind of technology. If we look at the popularity of Alexa and Siri – among other smart personal assistants – it’s clear people are happy to use a machine to provide information. There’s no reason why this same technology can’t have a similar place in our offices as it already does in our homes. Perhaps not through voice assistants immediately – some people may be reticent to speak out in an office environment, and it might get a bit overwhelming if five Alexa’s automatically respond in an open plan office – but definitely through text based services. It gives a lot more autonomy to employees to solve their own problems, rather than having to rely on other people or departments.

 

On a daily basis, how much value do you think SAMI can bring to a business?

The expected outcome is that SAMI will free up service desk analysts to do the complex tasks as it silently takes care of the remedial tasks. This should result in reduced resolution times for end users, coupled with reduced costs to the business. SAMI offers the end user an additional support channel that is consistent in its response and can be available 24/7, it is also capable of handling large volumes of interactions simultaneously. All of these things will lead to a reduction in tickets being created as the bot helps users to self-resolve, quicker resolution times and a reduction in costs.

How many departments / applications can SAMI interact with?

SAMI has been designed to support the same systems as ServiceNow and integrate fully within the platform. This doesn’t, however, mean we are just limited to IT. SAMI can help employees solve problems in HR, IT and finance and we are also looking to expand this to other departments such as facilities and legal. In addition we are working to expand the kind of platforms that employees can use to interact with SAMI. We are working on integration with Slack and Skype for business, as well as a voice driven option. SAMI is not limited to interacting with the data contained within ServiceNow, it can make webservice calls to third party systems that accept REST/SOAP calls to retrieve external data as well.

 

Employees are increasingly expecting a better quality of work life to be provided by their employers: do you think SAMI and other solutions can have a positive impact here?

I think that services such as Alexa; Siri; even Uber and Amazon, have changed people’s perceptions of how services should be delivered. Many organisations provide great services to customers but the ones they offer employees in the ‘back office’ usually lack the same level of innovation and are not as slick. Services like SAMI can help to turn this around by giving employees similar technology as is offered to customers.

 

What do you think will be the future of the chatbot inside businesses?

I think the future of chatbots inside businesses is a very bright one. Once businesses realise the kind of cost and time savings they can make – as well as the positive impact on employee satisfaction – many will jump at the chance to use systems such as SAMI. Empowering employees to solve their own problems, while continuing to provide human support for more complex queries, means a much better level of service is delivered. As we continue to develop SAMI we also hope to add further capabilities within HR, finance, facilities and IT and also add support for platforms such as Slack. We are also working toward providing voice integration – though as mentioned earlier, this might only work in certain circumstances.
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