Ramesh Sivasubramanian, who heads the Innovation Lab at Ramco Systems says that chatbots are transforming the workplace. He is also of the opinion that all businesses need to go hand in hand with the technology in order to be in harmony with the requirements of their customers.
He is currently setting up an MRO Innovation Lab for Air France Industries KLM in Singapore, co-funded by Singapore Government, and supported by Ramco. It is home to a number of disruptive aviation IT solutions such as Mixed Reality-based applications leveraging HoloLens for ground engineers, predictive maintenance tools, chatbots and blockchain among others.
Sivasubramanian has extensive IT innovation and delivery leadership experience in acquiring and managing global customers. He has created and managed large innovation and co-innovation labs which delivered Solution Accelerators for pharmaceutical, aviation and government sectors with co-founding from the Singapore government.
In 2015, he also co-founded a techno-commercial startup, Perfect Attire Pte Ltd and was also responsible for marketing and branding activities of the startup.
Analytics India Magazine interacted with Sivasubramanian, where he shared his insights about how chatbots can make jobs in several sectors more easier, and whether enterprises are ready to embrace the chatbot economy.
Analytics India Magazine: Tell tell us about Ramco and the various products and services it offers in cloud and chatbots space?
Ramesh Sivasubramanian: Ramco Systems is a cloud enterprise software company. We bet on new technology and bring innovative features to the market. With three core products for enterprise resource planning, human capital management and aviation, Ramco has also carved a niche in the logistics, enterprise asset management and professional services space.
While traditional ERP goliaths are playing the catch-up game, we pride in being amongst the pioneers in bringing bots to enterprises. Bot is our sling that is getting the digital and user experience-savvy ERP buyer to us. Ramco has been investing in exploring the benefits of bringing chatbots into an enterprise. While it is widely known that bots can automate repetitive tasks, we strive to embed adequate intelligence in them to empower them. Ramco bots have been built to offer suggestions based on past experiences. With a perfect blend of cognitive capabilities and robotic process automation, Ramco’s bots don the advisory hat efficiently to make them the perfect companion for mundane tasks. We have developed bots that can carry out transactions for the HR, Aviation and Logistics industry. The bots are added on to our existing enterprise applications to make them future-ready.
AIM: How does Ramco ChiaBot work? When did Ramco Systems come up with an idea of adopting chatbots?
RS: Ramco Chia is a chat-based interface that helps HR managers and employees with their self-service activities related to time-off, expenses, travel, pay, and calendar. The user just enters their email address and password, and begins a perfectly natural conversation about their query, while Chia responds with relevant information.
With focus on innovation and culture, Ramco believes that technology should simplify businesses, not complicate them. The future is all about simplification – right from user experience to pricing. Simplification in user interface-led to Ramco launching its chatbot.
Chia has been built on Microsoft framework — LUIS AI, which provides the bot with continuous engineering support and Ramco focuses on building contextual content around it. Today, we have fully functional Bots in HR, Logistics, Aviation, and ERP.
AIM: What are the various industries where chatbots serve? How has been the success story so far?
RS: To date, chatbots have largely been limited to consumer applications. There are more than 50,000 known bots in the market — most of which are consumer centric — and a small number of these cater to enterprise needs. But a number of factors are driving the trend toward chatbot as a viable business tool enhancing interactions at the enterprise, supplier and consumer levels. People-centric businesses will benefit the most from chatbots – such as hospitality, banking and financial sector, service businesses, retail, health and so on.
Many companies are still in the experimental stages in terms of developing chatbots. Ramco Systems is one of the few with a solution that is ready to deliver tangible benefits for organisations and was recently mentioned in Gartner’s report on The Future of Workforce Management as one of the only two chatbots available for workforce management requirements.
AIM: How will the chatbots affect the critical areas of recruitment, employee engagement and talent management?
RS: In the area of recruitment, chatbots could play a huge role in comforting the candidate at the time of onboarding. Onboarding formalities can be handled by the bot. This includes preparing the candidate to ease into the team he or she would be put into. The job details, team members’ info, supervisor’s info can be communicated well in advance making the candidate comfortable and relaxed at the time of joining. Training/ tutorial videos, CEO messages/ videos can be communicated via bot.
Also, in the case of an interviewer, bots can help in knowing the day’s interview schedule, can display link to profiles or resumes of candidates for preparations prior to the interview.
Bots can also help the interviewer in recording the assessment scores details and take a decision. Going the extra mile, stages could be automated by feeding the questions to the bot and getting the answers or responses from the candidates. This could be an excellent mode to screen candidates using a preset prescreening questionnaire.
When it comes to employee engagement, related pulse surveys could be floated via bots. The happiness quotient can be tracked by triggering mood sense through bots.
In case of talent management, employees can check recommended training sessions with schedules.
With respect to performance management systems, day to day journal entries can be recorded via bot. Managers can check and compare appraisal info of the previous years.
AIM: How are chatbots transforming the workplace? Are they an answer to a more creative workplace?
RS: Yes, chatbots are definitely transforming the workplace. With the amount of millennial employees increasing year on, the need to reach them on the device/ platform they use has become imperative. Expecting the new age employees to fill expense claim on a paper or desktop is passé. Hence, the HR of a company needs to work towards their employee’s priorities, enhancing work experience. To focus on employee engagement & experience, HR needs to divert their attention from the various routine activities like Leave/Expense/Payroll Management, which now can be taken over by chatbots. Bots help companies give their employees and customers a more engaging experience.
AIM: How will Ramco ChiaBot change the workplace productivity?
RS: Ramco ChiaBot has been designed to manage repetitive tasks such as address queries around leave balance, loss of pay details, timesheet, expense filing, approvals and so on. This means there are minimal input and effort required at the user’s end. The technology is at the point where there is enough built-in intelligence to enable chatbots to offer more complex suggestions to users as well as to learn additional responses based on past experiences, improving productivity.
AIM: Are businesses in India ready for the bot economy?
RS: According to a recent survey, 80 percent of businesses will be using bots by 2020. All businesses need to be agile, they need to go hand in hand with the technology in order to be in harmony with the requirements of their customers. Most of the businesses today are making their services user-friendly for both Gen Y and Gen X customers. Thus, this is where a chatbot comes handy for all their communicational aids.
Many consumers have already been exposed to chatbots, through applications such as hotel reservations and other travel booking and are comfortable with the technology. These same consumers — are growing a number of other users — and are likely going to be today’s customers and employees who will be open to bots helping them in their workplace too.
Recent years have seen a blurring of lines between consumer technology and enterprise IT, and chatbots are speeding up the trend. Advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence will help enhance the technology further in the coming years. This will increase the usage by businesses to ensure they remain customer obsessed.
AIM: How does ChiaBot help in improving employee experience? How do chatbots affect employee communication?
RS: Ramco Chia helps in all the daily activities of an employee. From leave/ travel requests, expense reimbursements to modifying daily calendar activities, all can be done with the help of ChiaBot. It provides a human-like, personalized communication with the employees, based on their previous transactions.
AIM: Are HR departments in India ready to embrace AI and chatbots at a workplace?
RS: In the HR industry, with immense data available in hand, organizations still continue to grapple with the challenge of effectively utilizing the quantifiable data. A dire need for a simple, automated, and AI-powered solution which can facilitate real-time feedback collection that can aid in retention, employee growth, career enhancement, is always on top of the wishlist. The advent of bots in the HR industry has been adding tremendous value. With in-built Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning capabilities, bots help managers get valuable insights into employee’s performance without spending months in going over each and every feedback message that is collected.