For most people, the step across the threshold into the world of accepting help from intelligent assistants (IAs) came when Apple introduced Siri. You could ask this technological wizard anything and marvel at her responses, or puzzle at them if they were not what you were seeking.
Then came Amazon’s Echo intelligence assistant Alexa, who could not only read books out loud to you but also order you food if you were hungry and secure you ride with Uber if you had to go somewhere.
The months ahead will see more and more corporations bringing in their own intelligent assistants, and human resources departments will be challenged not only to incorporate them into their own space, but also to prepare other departments to accept this new way to work.
Basically, an intelligent assistant is any tool you incorporate into your workplace or life that makes things easier. In a workplace, it can create faster and more efficient workflows. It can be a customized tool for consulting clients or taking bookings or orders and determining payment preferences.
One of the most rudimentary intelligent assistants brought into most organizations in recent years is an automated telephone answering system, but that was just the beginning.
In HR departments, they are now being used for knowledge management tools, machine learning, and tools to collect personal information.
While futurists are predicting an influx of intelligent assistants and “bots” into the workplace in coming years, their growth has gone a little slower than first predicted.
Part of this is overcoming the communication barrier of people being comfortable talking to machines. The new IAs go a long way from barking a “yes” or “no” into a telephone to encouraging people to speak in complete sentences.
If you are studying the idea of getting some intelligent assistance for your HR department, you have three options. Some IAs are static, as in Siri, where you can ask questions and they will respond based on the limited resource of their data base.
Another category of IAs are complex, meaning they can expand their searches, help you categorize and file knowledge, and guide you through new technology usage.
A third category is referred to as transactional. These user-controlled IAs are the most complex of all and most of them are created to support online commerce. They can actually engage in conversations with customers, asking questions and gathering sufficient information, creating bookings and placing orders.
If you aren’t already making space for intelligent assistants in your department, incorporate the idea into your next planning session. Their arrival is inevitable, so being ready to make the best use of them just makes sense.