Doug Reeder
Innovation Leader at NTT DATA Services

Virtual agents, virtual assistants, bots, and other automated technologies are supercharging workforces, said Doug Reeder, innovation leader at NTT DATA Services.

These technologies easily execute tasks that are mundane and repetitive, Reeder said.

“They allow people to do less of the mundane things,” he said.

Reeder delivered the keynote address Thursday morning at the InnoTech Austin conference at the Austin Convention Center.

Automation isn’t about displacing humans, but it’s about making them more productive by taking away labor’s most repetitive and time-consuming tasks, Reeder said.

“Don’t automate anything that isn’t highly efficient in the first instance,” he said.

The media has injected fear into most workers that these technologies are going to completely do away with their jobs, Reeder said. It may modify part of their jobs, but there are other things that most workers do in organizations at a more skilled level, he said.

One executive has more than 10,000 people in his organization and 2,000 of them are bots, Reeder said. There are people that manage those bots, he said.

This is a productivity enhancement, Reeder said. It is something to make jobs easier, he said. Some jobs will go away but that can be taken care of through attrition, Reeder said.

Virtual agents today can understand anger, inflection, emphasis, sarcasm, and nuisances in communications, Reeder said. The virtual agents use voice recognition and natural language processing, he said.

Machine learning algorithms are beginning to understand the context better than ever before, Reeder said.

Virtual agents can also do analysis on large numbers of customer service inquiries that can provide a business with better insights, Reeder said.

“And it’s very objective,” he said.

The other thing about virtual agents is they don’t get sick, they don’t go on smoke breaks, and they don’t have bad days, Reeder said.

“They’re very helpful,” he said.

Some of the areas robotic process automation can be used in a business include customer engagement, information technology support such as resetting a password, finance for order status consultation, procurement, payment posting and human resources for background checking, employment validation, personal data update and management, payroll claims and more.