Can your business benefit from digital workers?

Almost every job today requires some level of digital literacy. Whether emailing a coworker, clocking in for a shift on the company’s time clock software, or writing code, most people working today have a basic to deep grasp of digital skills.

For a small but growing number of employees, digital work is all that they know. Digital workers are software-based employees trained by AI and machine learning to complete specific job functions. Working alongside real, living human coworkers, digital workers are changing how some industries use automation to streamline workflows and alter other business areas.

What a Digital Worker Is (and Isn’t)

Several B2B and B2C websites feature chatbots that offer assistance, from answering questions to locating the exact product or resource we’re looking for. Some people might think of these computer-based helpers as digital workers, but that’s not the case.

Digital workers are more advanced in that they’re trained explicitly for tasks requiring completing sequences. Digital workers can complete entire workflows, whereas chatbots use AI and natural language processing to complete communication-focused tasks. (Bots, a third digital assistant category, are programmed to complete a single repetitive task without human interaction.) Unlike chatbots and bots, digital workers are designed to become integrated work team members and are often given distinct names and faces.

The relative flexibility of digital workers’ skill sets and how they “learn” means they can be trained for high-value work. In a recent interview, Adam Famularo, CEO of WorkFusion, said that his team mainly partners with financial institutions. Many of WorkFusion’s out-of-the-box digital workers are “performing in sanctions screening, KYC, and AML, so specifically around governance and regulatory issues with banks,” jobs that chatbots and bots aren’t designed to handle.

Benefits of Digital Workers

Digital workers aren’t on the verge of taking over the workforce; they’re still primarily used for automating workflows and don’t function as actual humans with original thoughts. But they’re strategically helpful for specific industries and scenarios because they’ve been trained on best practices for human employees. Some of the benefits offered by digital workers:

  • They are intelligent enough to ask for additional information, ensuring tasks are completed correctly.
  • They can handle monotonous, repetitive tasks to allow human employees more time for deep work.
  • They can supplement human employees’ work with relevant suggestions and recommendations.
  • They can extend actions and tasks outside of a single system to eliminate silos and create more learning opportunities.

Expanding on the last benefit, Famularo explains that one of WorkFusion’s digital workers, Tara, could be working in one bank and “talking” to Tara at another institution, allowing his team to use this information to inform future model improvements. (Unique customer data is never shared, and banks must opt-in to this model-improvement program.) This expedites the learning process so businesses can benefit from improved models sooner.

Businesses are already using digital workers to handle data entry, customer support, invoicing, and inventory management tasks. As technology evolves, leaders will likely see more opportunities to better support their human employees by handing off necessary but repetitive tasks to digital workers.

 

Written by

Megan Snyder
Megan Snyder

Senior Editor | CEO.com

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