- We have just released the HFS Digital Associates Services Top Ten report, an update from our 2018 assessment (Cognitive Assistants Services). We found that service providers are now doing more than just implementing digital associates – the leading providers in this space are helping their clients change the way business is done across enterprise functions.
- We conducted 43 reference interviews for this study. User expectations are expanding and accelerating, and the depth of the tools customers require has increased. The projects to deliver digital associate solutions are becoming more complex, requiring expertise in diverse disciplines such as design thinking, mobility, IoT, integration, data modernization, behavioral analytics, data science, security, and privacy. This complexity is a marked increase over our 2018 assessment.
- The highest average reference scores were around the flexibility and ease to work with as well as the use of partners, and vision and roadmap. Having the right business and IT talent to develop these tools came through as a key capability for these customers. However, embedding intelligence – using AI, NLP, and ML to make the tools more sophisticated – was found a bit lacking, at the low end of the reference scores.
- Digital associates were a clear superhero in the COVID-19 pandemic due to their ability to handle volumes of interactions when human associates were not available or in flux to work-from-home situations. COVID-19 accelerated these digital initiatives and created a wave of cost reduction initiatives, both trends that digital associates were prime to assist with. Some of these basic tools are now primed to evolve from just managing the low hanging fruit to handle more complex issues.
HFS Bottomline: Services for developing conversational tools have come a long way in the last two years, but there is still a lot of work to be done. The vision and roadmaps are clearly there, but enterprise leaders are still eager to see where the technology will take them. How can they take these automation tools and integrate AI and analytics to unlock their full potential? The more sophisticated and embedded they become, the more value they add to a OneOffice experience and mindset.