This article first appeared in the Winter issue of The Record.
As a global technology leader, it’s important that T-Systems explores breakthrough innovations within its own business. Often, services are tested and refined within the company, and then released out into T-Systems’ client environments as fully-fledged offerings.
With this in mind, it stood to reason that T-Systems would be one of the earliest adopters of ‘Pipa’, formerly known as Robit, a revolutionary chatbot developed by T-Systems’ own subsidiary, Intervate.
Pipa, which is accessible via Skype for Business and as a web chatbot on the Microsoft bot framework, currently offers two primary features. The first is integration into SAP to enquire about invoicing and statements. Pipa understands the permissions of every user, and helps staff requesting documents from deep within the legacy SAP environment.
“Staff no longer have to wade through complex back-end systems; instead, they can retrieve documents with just a simple chat conversation,” says Dave Stevens, business development executive at Intervate. “Conservatively, we estimate that this saves account managers seven to eight hours per month. In a team of 25 account managers, this adds up to a significant annual saving of over 1,500 man hours.”
The second feature Pipa offers is the ability to book meeting rooms across all of the various T-Systems and Intervate regions. “With Pipa, staff can book meetings via one helpful, chat-based interface. Based on a short conversation to understand your requirements, she’ll find appropriate rooms. Staff can even invite colleagues and customers to meetings using Pipa, and sessions will be automatically synced to one’s Outlook calendar. If a previously-unavailable room becomes available, she’ll to let you know.”
These simple but useful services allow the company to get to grips with chatbot technology in a practical way. “We’ve already moved beyond the ‘gimmick’ phase, and received highly positive feedback from early users, and tangible benefits,” he says. “It also serves as a great lead-in to a new way of working, where staff are able to be more remote, more flexible, and yet still access the entire spectrum of corporate services.”
Looking ahead, Stevens says that Pipa will grow in sophistication, and will likely benefit from the rapid advancements of Microsoft’s Cognitive Services framework. “Pipa is already able to answer common queries in over 60 supported languages. In time, she will connect with other specialist chatbots from different fields, ‘borrowing’ their intelligence (and lending some of her own). This future state of ‘bot convergence’ will serve up some exciting opportunities, forever changing the way we work and the way we connect with organisations.”
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