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Smart AI strategies for HR and IT service teams

By Josh Bean, Senior Director, Product Marketing at Zendesk

Last updated May 15, 2024

It seems like every single tool or app has a new feature, symbolized by the sparkle emoji on a new button. As if by magic, these new features invite you to transform whatever you’re currently doing with the power of generative AI. It could be a photo editing app on your phone or the video conferencing software you use at work—it’s like glitter. Once you spill it, it gets in absolutely everything.

It’s an exciting time, but HR and IT service teams today are faced with a dilemma: While AI promises to bring real changes, hype, abundance, and regulatory challenges are clouding the landscape.

With AI everywhere, strategic decision-making is a must

AI and app sprawl are well documented, according to outlets like Tech Brew, who says, “[Modern] workplaces use a lot of external programs to perform myriad different tasks, and they can sometimes end up replicating the same function […] The situation could get more tangled as more companies try to mold generative AI into new office tools.”

Businesses have spent the last year and a half rushing to include AI in their products and workflows. It seems like consumers are both tired of hearing about it yet hungry for more. That’s because, despite indications of fatigue, people are seeing AI bring in real results. We know this to be true in the realm of customer service, but we’re also seeing these results in internal tools used by IT and HR teams.

According to new research conducted by Zendesk, 90 percent of Zendesk users who have adopted AI tools report positive ROI, and 76 percent of IT and HR leaders are looking to AI to equip employees for new responsibilities.

Where AI really works

There are many ways AI can improve employee service. According to the report, nearly 60 percent of surveyed leaders are dissatisfied with their legacy tools. These tools need to address the complexities of the modern workplace—one where employees are distributed around the globe, where flexibility and technological innovation have created a plethora of new touchpoints in the employee journey.

AI agents and bots can handle both routine and complex IT and HR support queries, automatically routing them to the right person—or not even requiring a person to step in at all—freeing up teams for more complex issues.

The case for investing in employee service

If employee service isn’t on your radar in 2024, it should be: 84 percent of companies we surveyed said they notice a direct correlation between positive employee experience, customer experience, and better business performance. But the employee service landscape is complex.

IT leaders are under pressure to deliver more with less amidst economic uncertainty, needing to balance cost savings while making strategic investments in security and innovation. HR leaders say that the shift to flexible and remote work requires them to create new strategies for collaboration and productivity. And both IT and HR leaders are facing AI head on: With AI and automation being recognized for their potential to enhance productivity, there are gaps in adoption despite proven benefits.

The trends driving investment in employee service

This year’s EX trends research found that 2024 is a year of preparation for the future of work where AI and flexibility play major roles. It comes as no surprise that IT and HR leaders are focusing on building AI-enabled teams—for example, 76 percent of leaders agreed that AI tools enable employees to take on new responsibilities that were previously impractical. Experts widely note the need to upskill in the face of AI, but only about a third of respondents have already invested in the training needed to onboard their employees to using AI tools.

Flexibility, adaptability, and customization were also key trends we identified across IT and HR—in working arrangements, in software, and in strategic planning around AI. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach to software, IT teams are leveraging customizable apps tailored to specific needs. HR teams are addressing hybrid workforces with cloud-based tools and HR-specific automation, and both are leaning on AI for greater efficiencies and personalized user experiences.

Lastly, data-driven business decisions are more important than ever. IT and HR leaders cite a need for new data measurement tools to help them navigate fluctuations in flexibility and AI adoption. These tools need to be secure, compliant, and integrate into their existing tech stack—but most importantly, supply them with relevant and accurate data. IT and HR teams aim to collect and analyze this data and use it to develop work policies and maximize productivity.

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