From Agent Assist to Employee Assist

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Improving the employee experience (EX) is a central and ongoing theme across the enterprise and is a key focal point in contact center operations. In Frost & Sullivan’s 2023 Contact Center IT Decision Maker Survey, improving EX was the highest-ranking organizational priority, with 64 percent of respondents placing it No. 1. Similarly, NTT Data’s 2023 Global Customer Experience report noted, “Previously recognized as a No. 1 CX priority, EX has evolved to become a No. 1 C-suite priority. EX has been redefined to focus on technologies that enable the employee, drive empowerment, and create optimal efficiencies.”

Process automation is a key enabler in achieving higher EX, and while agent assistance applications have been around for some time under the guise of next-best-action help, multifunction intelligent virtual assistants (IVAs) tuned to different personas in the contact center and the greater enterprise are starting to flourish. No area is off limits, from the contact center and software development to networking and security.

In the realm of customer experience (CX), this new breed of bot has bridged the gap between robotic process automation in the back office and customer-facing virtual assistants. This trend started years ago with agent assist apps that nudged the agent along, dipping into knowledge databases, filling in forms, helping maintain security and compliance, and other functions. Now these kinds of capabilities have expanded throughout the enterprise. AI-powered agent, supervisor, back-office, and field support assistance is growing in stature, creating an enterprise-wide blended human-virtual workforce.

Better Bots Will Become Ubiquitous

Last year I wrote about the introduction of NICE Enlighten Copilot—next-gen assistance that makes use of generative AI to streamline the agent and supervisor workday. But that was just one example of CX-focused applications. Others proliferated, such as the Salesforce Einstein Copilot, which is baked into every Salesforce application; the Microsoft Copilot for Service, which is embedded in agent desktops or deployed in Microsoft Teams; the Cognigy AI Copilot for agent assist; the Kore.ai Smart Copilot for IVA development and training; and Amazon Q, which is being used in service and the supply chain. Now, the entire enterprise is running with the concept and producing solutions to take advantage of generative AI.

Take Cisco, for example, which launched numerous copilot variations at its Cisco Webex customer conference in the fall. Cisco’s AI assistant works equally well in any environment, from the contact center to network administration, is natively integrated with Cisco collaboration devices, and spans the Webex platform, taking agent assist and employee assist to the next level. In the contact center it works equally well in an agent or supervisor assist capacity. In the back office it can assist employees in managing their workdays. For instance, it can ingest all the messages an employee receives in a day and summarize them; summarize meetings and create action items; and keep track of what an employee missed or was called upon to do if they have to step away from the meeting. It can also make suggestions such as changing the tone to an email response. However, Cisco didn’t stop there; it announced assistants across its technology landscape.

Cisco’s AI assistant for security resides on the Cisco Security Cloud and assists in examining the more than 550 billion daily security events the company manages; it also aids in decision making. It understands the impact, scope, and triage of security events and performs root cause analysis; it also sets and maintains policy and firewall rules. There’s also an AI assistant active in the Cisco Control Hub, allowing network administrators to gain insights, manage and troubleshoot, and provision devices and services.

At press time our 2024 customer research was just under way, but with information garnered from solution providers and customers throughout 2023, we fully expect employee assistance solution adoption to gain traction as part of workforce engagement investments. x

Nancy Jamison is a senior industry director in information and communications technologies at Frost & Sullivan. She can be reached at Nancy.Jamison@frost.com or follow her on X @NancyJami.

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