Here is the latest article in an eWEEK feature series called IT Science, in which we look at what actually happens at the intersection of new-gen IT and legacy systems.
Unless it’s brand new and right off various assembly lines, servers, storage and networking inside every IT system can be considered “legacy.” This is because the iteration of both hardware and software products is speeding up all the time. It’s not unusual for an app-maker, for example, to update and/or patch for security purposes an application a few times a month, or even a week. Some apps are updated daily! Hardware moves a little slower, but manufacturing cycles are also speeding up.
These articles describe new-gen industry solutions. The idea is to look at real-world examples of how new-gen IT products and services are making a difference in production each day. Most of them are success stories, but there will also be others about projects that blew up. We’ll have IT integrators, system consultants, analysts and other experts helping us with these as needed.
Today’s Topic: Using Natural Language Understanding, AI to Improve IT Support
Known for its people-first approach to financial services, Freedom Financial Network recognized the need to prioritize its own employees’ experience by resolving their IT issues within seconds—not days. Today, Moveworks enables those employees to get the IT support they need, straight on Slack, in real time.
Name the problem to be solved: Conventional IT support channels—such as email, portals and forms—require help desks to read through thousands of requests before routing each one to the right subject-matter experts, who must then converse back and forth with employees to resolve their issues. This process not only generates constant routine work for IT teams, it also causes the average IT issue to take three days to resolve, hindering productivity across the entire company. Known for its innovative approach to banking, Freedom Financial sought an equally innovative solution to improve its employees’ support experience.
“Employees are frustrated when they have to navigate a bunch of portals,” said Mark Tonnesen, CIO at Freedom Financial Network. “If we can give them an AI assistant that finds things for them, rather than making them learn to navigate more menus, we’re unlocking productivity.”
Describe the strategy that went into finding the solution: Freedom Financial runs a large customer service operation, which means lots of hiring and training new entrants to the workforce. This can be a challenge because these workers—the majority of whom are digital natives fresh out of college—have high expectations for the tools they use and little experience with traditional enterprise software.
The answer Tonnesen’s team envisioned was a simple, intuitive chat interface for IT and business processes—powered by natural language understanding (NLU)—that translates employees’ requests to specific actions in enterprise tools. The Freedom Financial Network IT team chose Moveworks to implement this vision: giving employees the ability to instantly resolve their IT issues from a conversational interface in Slack.
“Moveworks elevates messaging platforms from being just communication tools to being a place where employees go to take actions in all kinds of enterprise systems,” Tonnesen said. “When you have a solution that can diagnose and resolve employees’ issues in just a few seconds, that really changes the game for IT support.”
List the key components in the solution: With Moveworks, Freedom Financial Network employees simply describe their IT request in a Slack message to the Moveworks bot, which uses advanced NLU and conversational AI to understand the issue and deliver a resolution. Some of Moveworks’ key capabilities include:
- Instant password resets
- Gaining access to software
- Adding people to mailing lists (DLs)
- Getting answers to common questions
- Troubleshooting enterprise software
Describe how the deployment went, perhaps how long it took and if it came off as planned: As a financial institution, Freedom Financial Network is risk-averse when deploying new technologies, so it was important to Tonnesen’s team to roll out Moveworks in an incremental way. Tonnesen says, “We set big goals, but my approach is always to start small, show success and expand from there, and that’s what Moveworks let me do.”
In close collaboration with the Moveworks Customer Success (CS) team, Freedom Financial Network first deployed Moveworks’ ability to manage email distribution lists, followed by its password-reset and question-answering functionalities.
“Moveworks takes the complexity out of IT support for our employees,” said Tonnesen. “Now they simply chat with a conversational bot in Slack to get their issues resolved and get work done.”
Describe the result, new efficiencies gained and what was learned from the project: Freedom Financial Network has a focus on unlocking people’s potential, both for their customers and for their employees. With Moveworks, the company has delivered on this vision: unlocking the potential of employees by freeing up their time. Now, resolution of their issues and questions is fast and automatic and they no longer have to navigate an IT portal to get help. Meanwhile, for the IT team, the benefits have been equally liberating. IT agents have won back valuable time that they’re devoting to more important work, such as building out additional automated solutions.
Indeed, the demonstrated value of AI led Tonnesen to conclude that IT support is just the beginning; he hopes to expand his utilization of Moveworks to other business units in future. Asked what he’d like to see next in the Moveworks solution, he says, “Everything! I wish Moveworks would hire hundreds of engineers tomorrow and automate my HR and finance operations as they’ve enabled me to automate my IT operations.”
Describe ROI, carbon footprint savings and staff time savings, if any: By using Moveworks, Financial Freedom Network was able to:
- automate 95% of password resets;
- resolve 84% of employees’ IT support questions; and
- automatically handle 20% of all IT issues (and rising) with no agent intervention.
Go here to read the full case study (PDF).
If you have a suggestion for an eWEEK IT Science article, email [email protected].