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ITSM and Artificial Intelligence Part 1 –The Virtual Assistant

AN image presenting the virtual assistant.

Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Microsoft Cortana and Apple Siri, you will be familiar with all these consumer intelligent assistant products that have gradually appeared on the market in the past few years.

Virtual Assistants can provide a wide variety of services through natural language interaction; such as weather and news; play music from streaming services; stream videos and TV shows; and order and buy shopping.

The capability and usage of these virtual assistants is expanding at an exponential rate, many using natural language processing to convert user text or voice input into executable commands, and machine learning and Artificial Intelligence to ensure that the information provided is as accurate as possible.

At a time when enterprise IT departments are having to react to a growing millennial workforce demanding the same flexibility and experience that they get from their consumer devices, at work, the opportunities from consumer intelligent tools cannot be ignored.

A Service Desk tool generates a vast amount of data, which generally grows and grows, without being put to any useful purpose apart from monthly service reports. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, and the tools that have been developed for processing ‘Big Data’, can allow an IT department to take advantage of this information to provide their users with their own Virtual Assistant service desk.

The technology is still in its infancy, but one can imagine, in the not too distant future, that companies will be able to provide a Virtual Assistant service desk that is accessible by a user from anywhere without having to log into a portal, is always on and ready to respond at any time, day or night. The Virtual Assistant could act just like a service desk person, communicating in an appropriate language with the person using it, either through voice or text.

This Virtual Assistant would be able to answer any frequently asked questions presented to it, accept requests for services (and automatically provision those that it is able to), log incidents (and resolve them where possible), and ask the right questions in response to requests to ensure that the correct information is passed on where human interaction is required.

This sort of functionality could be scripted into a tool by a developer, but would need to be continually maintained otherwise it will quickly become out of date. The benefit that Artificial Intelligence brings to a virtual assistant is that will leverage machine learning capabilities to continually improve and adapt based on the information provided to it.

For a virtual service desk assistant, leveraging the benefits of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence will provide the following advantages:

1. Improved knowledge management – Leveraging previous similar queries, the assistant will be able to learn what was the right answer for the majority of users with a similar query, and be able to provide a number of potential options for solutions. This will ensure that users engaging with the Virtual Assistant will get a consistent answer with a high degree of accuracy and relevance.

2. Natural language search – The virtual assistant will be able to respond to any query presented to it, be able to understand the requirements presented to it, and provide the user with a recommended solution. Rather than a user having to pick what they think they want from a list of options, they will be able to ask the assistant what they need and the assistant will interpret this into what they actually want.

3. Automated responses – The virtual assistant will be able to act, with a high degree of accuracy, and without any human interaction, to log, process, complete and close, a significant proportion of the most straightforward tickets that are logged. As the tools learn and develop, the number of tickets that an assistant will be able to manage end-to-end will increase.

It has been estimated that an automated online assistant could initially result in a 30% decrease in the work-load for a human-provided call centre, and as the technology develops, this will only improve.

A virtual assistant is only one area that Artificial Intelligence will benefit the ITSM processes that underpin an IT department. In part 2 of this blog article, we will look at how Machine Learning can work in the background to improve the quality of service provided.

If you would like to find out how iCore can help you with your IT service management requirements then please contact us on 0207 868 2405 or email info@icore-ltd.com