– a secretary or administrative assistant working exclusively for one particular person.
– a handheld device that combines computing, telephone/fax, Internet and networking features
– a software agent that can perform tasks or services for an individual.
Dictionaries define the above terms in the way they do. What is noteworthy is how humans have evolved in developing advanced technologies that can take on tasks in our daily lives, and with such ease.
From a human – exclusively working for a particular person, and available during particular working hours of the day; to a device – owned by an individual and available at all times; and now to software – available to everyone across the organization at all times. We wake up to a confluence of technologies every day.
Software used by business users to perform specific business functions such as payroll, procurement, inventory management, etc. have been heavily invested in by software providers over the years. The paradigm shifts in the way business users expect these business applications to work, rather support them, has created the need to innovate.
Business applications have been taken to the next level of delivering a B2C experience in every sense of the word. Adding artificial intelligence, natural language processing and automation to the existing applications enhances the user experience and reduces the turn-around-time of an activity manifold.
The ease of interaction with a software just as one would interact with a human, has become the key to success – in most ways, the defining factor that drives users to adopt a business application. That then makes us delve into what organizations are doing to “catch up” with the fast changing needs of users at the workplace.
Rather than setting off on a massive digital transformation journey, most leading organizations are opting to use simpler and smaller technology solutions that can be deployed in a very short span of time, and would provide the required impetus.
Increasing need for such solutions, has led to large software providers developing solutions on AI based platforms, suitable to support horizontal functions such as application maintenance, IT ticket management, etc. across business functions.
Taking it a notch higher, and providing solutions addressing the needs of specific business functions like procurement is a reality now.
A technology that is gaining popularity is conversational software. Procurement Assistant is one such solution developed on an AI based platform using Chatbot as an interface. Interaction using text and speech makes it easy for users, since it is their natural way to communicate. This Chatbot is integrated with the organization’s existing procurement applications to help business users’ by guiding them to place an order, provide information about suppliers and products, or simply by completing tasks on their behalf – an assistant in every possible way, as it is pre-designed with procurement intelligence, and also actively learns on a daily basis. The procurement assistant is made available through multiple channels such as, mobile, web and messaging platforms.
Such a solution makes the business function more efficient, compliant and agile.
The pace of evolution of such assistants is pretty fast – most of them do take voice commands and respond with expected outcome. However, there is still some way to go before a user can give a voice command to invoke a series of processes within a business application.
Not a far-fetched reality though!