Chatbots in PeopleSoft

Chatbots are everywhere these days and are surely going to expand in their use and functionality in near future. 

If you've used Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri or a simple chat box feature on any of the website, chances are you have interacted with a chatbot. We also deployed a chatbot for some time on our website but then later chose to go for the human connection for now.

So let's start with the basics first.

What are ChatBots ?

Chatbot, short for 'Chat Robots', interacts through instant messaging artificially replicating the patterns of human interactions. Chatbot is simply a computer program that simulates the human conversations. It allows a form of interaction between a human and a machine. 

A chatbot is programmed to work independently from a human operator. It can answer questions formulated to it in a natural language and answer like a real person would. 

Simply put, you can ask a basic question just like you would ask a real person and a chatbot will understand, process your question and come up with an answer for you. 

For example, you could ask "What's for dinner?" and the chatbot might reply "Nothing.. Order Pizza".  OK ! May be its reply will be different but you get the idea . 

In above example, you can see that when you contact a chatbot from Expedia and ask for your booking reference, then the chatbot should be able to understand what you requested, process it, access the data required to answer and then finally come up with your reference #. 

Examples of Chatbots in real life

Here are some of the examples of chatbots in reals life.
  • Weather bot -  Get the weather whenever you ask
  • Grocery bot  - Help you create grocery list and then order grocery
  • News bot - Read the latest news for you
  • Personal Finance bot  - Help you with managing finance

Chatbots are one of the fastest growing technology and there will be unlimited use of chatbots in various fields across the globe. 

Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri and Microsoft Cortana can be considered chatbots as they repond to your query and provides results in a natural human language. 

How does Chatbot works?

A chatbot comes up with its answers through a combination of predefined scripts and machine learning.

If chatbot can’t answer a questions it will pass it to a real human for further assistance and a chatbot will learn from all the interactions and with more interactions, it will gradually gain in scope and relevance.

For being an efficient bot and ability to offer relevant answers, the Chatbot basically employs four major parameters as Text Classifiers, Suitable Algorithms, Artificial Neural Networks and Natural Language Processing (NLP). All these factors contribute to the overall bot functionality and intelligence of the Chatbot.

Chatbot works by mapping out all the possible replies to visitor's chat message. When a new message comes in, it finds a list of possible replies and estimates how likely each of them is to answer to the visitor's message. If the likelihood (so called 'confidence level') is above a predetermined threshold (e.g. 90%), the chatbot replies automatically to the visitor.

The chatbot repeats this cycle and keeps the conversation going until the confidence level drops below the threshold. At that point, it apologizes and either invites a customer service agent into the conversation or, if no agent is available, performs another action it's configured to do.

Once the customer service agent has joined the conversation, the chatbot can act as an intelligent assistant providing recommended answers for the agent. A common alternative to inviting a service agent into a conversation is to ask for contact details and promise that someone will get back to the issue.

Future of Chatbots

According to a recent Forrester survey, roughly “85% of customer interactions within an enterprise will be with software robots in five years’ time” and “87% of CEOs are looking to expand their AI workforce” using AI bots.

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Why Chatbots?

To understand why chatbots are used we have to go over some of the main benefits of implementing chatbots in your organization. 

  • Available 24x7 : Since chatbots are virtual robots so they never get tired and hence can respond to users' question 24x7. You no longer have to wait in queue to talk a real person. 
  • Handling customers: Chatbots can handle thousands of customers at the same time without needing to take a break. All of the customer's queries are answered instantly.
  • Saves Money: Once a Chatbot is implemented, it can significantly reduce the cost of a business and only the complex queries will  be passed on to a human being.  (Like it or not, automation is going to take most of the jobs).
  • Automate repetitive tasks: No one likes to answer the same question hundreds of times but with a chatbot you can automate such repetitive tasks without wondering if a chatbot is getting bored.  

These are just some of the advantages of using Chatbots but it has much wider use with lot of benefits. There are some concerns too but we will discuss that some other time.

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Chatbots in PeopleSoft

Now that you understand that chatbots are finding their use in almost all the areas, so PeopleSoft is also taking the advantage of this and incorporating emerging technologies in its products. 

In a recent 'PeopleSoft talk with Marc Weintraub', Rebekah Jackson , VP , Product Management  for Oracle shared some of the insights for Roadmap of PeopleSoft in 2019 and one thing that she highlighted was that focus is on Chatbots

She mentioned that "We are investing first and foremost in chatbots. We will be shipping our first bots this year in 2019 . Once the initial chatbots are out , we will deliver more and more of them. Conversational interface is the key". 

Rebekah Jackson

VP, Product Management, Oracle

“We are investing first and foremost in chatbots. We will be shipping our first bots this year -2019 ..... Once the initial chatbots are out, we will deliver more and more of them… Conversational Interface is the key"


These chatbots when released will be first available in Update Images & you might know that PeopleSoft Update Manage (PUM) process lets you deploy these new features to your target 9.2 application and take advantage of this. 

In case you want to learn PeopleSoft Update Manager, we have a brand new PUM Training built on PeopleTools 8.57.

In PeopleSoft Talk, Rebekah mentioned that customers can expect first Chatbots in Absence Management and eProcurement. Later these chatbots will be extended to other PeopleSoft areas and can be used by customers to automate some of their regular tasks while minimizing human involvement.

Example of Chatbots in PeopleSoft

If you were to think of use of Chatbots in PeopleSoft, I am sure you will be able to come up with so many things that can be implemented to take advantage of this new technology. 

Here are some of the examples of how Chatbots can be used in PeopleSoft HR.

  • Recruitment - Initial Screening and Background check
  • On-boarding - Talk to employees
  • FAQ’s on company policies - Mobile HR assistant
  • Training - Interact with employees during training
  • Basic questions - Basic company related information
  • Benefits Enrollment - Enrollment in benefits
  • Annual Self Assessment / Review 

After few initial Chatbots are released by PeopleSoft, there will surely be a wide usage of this awesome feature in other PeopleSoft products. 

Implementing Chatbots in PeopleSoft

So what does it take to implement chatbots in PeopleSoft ? 

While Chatbots in PeopleSoft are still in initial phase but many organizations & PeopleSoft consultants have already started to explore this and have developed Chatbots. 

Let's understand the architecture of Chatbots and how it will work with PeopleSoft. 

Messaging Channels
An end user would use any of the messaging channel to communicate with the chatbot system. 

Chatbot system uses conversational interface layer which is voice enabled and it will pickup inputs from the user and pass it to a parsing engine.  Parsing engine then tries to identify the intent of the user and its associated information. 

For example, if the user want to apply for leave then parsing engine would identify the intent as leave and the entity (information) as the start and end date for the leave. 

Based on the intent and entity, this engine will then determine the action to be taken and pass the information to PeopleSoft API that is associated with PeopleSoft system which will then process the information requested and return the results to the Chatbot.

Security needs to be validated for the information requested and based on other conditions, response mechanism would provide the output to the conversational interfaces layer. 

 Chatbots can be developed for Payroll, Timesheets, Travel and Expenses, Leave Management , Employee Search and Procurement. 

Here is a video from Hexaware Technologies (one of my previous employers) and I highly recommend you watch this to get a strong understanding of Chatbots in PeopleSoft

I will appreciate your comments about what you think about future of Chatbots in PeopleSoft.


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References:

https://www.quora.com/How-do-chatbots-work
https://chatbotsmagazine.com/top-5-benefits-with-using-chatbots-for-your-business-159a0cee7d8a
https://chatbotsmagazine.com/7-ways-chatbots-and-ai-are-disrupting-hr-3989ad1c1fed

Download the PDF version of this guide

Don’t have time to read the whole guide right now? 

Get a PDF copy of this guide so that you can refer to it in the future easily. 


Prashant
 

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