Digital for all now

Your new HR assistant? A chatbot!

Econocom 8 Sep 2016

Would you let a chatbot handle your administrative tasks?  Why not! Talla, a Boston-based startup, is working on chatbots that can give information to employees and help them be more organised. And they’re not the only ones working with intelligent bots: giants like Microsoft have already ventured into this territory. We found out more from the MIT Technology Review.



chatbots: an asset for the digital workplace


Instant messaging has found its way into the corporate world, thus contributing to the creation of digital workplaces. A number of companies, for example, have adopted Slack, a corporate team messaging and collaboration tool, and the platform on which Talla runs. The prototype for this intelligent chatbot, which has already been adopted by nearly 600 companies, can manage employees’ to-do lists. But as of October 2016, a range of other HR capabilities will be added, with the aim of making it a real HR assistant. Employees will thus be able, for example, to ask Talla when salaries will be paid, how many days’ holiday they are entitled to or how reimbursements for health insurance work, whenever they need. The bot can thus gather information from polls or entered automatically by employees.



Talla screenshot


This ultra-smart assistant can also tell employees which tasks they have to focus on each day and help them manage their schedule more efficiently.



Talla screenshot

So what is Talla’s secret weapon? A combination of machine learning  and advanced natural language processing techniques. For the real challenge for these types of bots is being able  to actually interpret the meaning of what users’ write.  To do this, Talla uses a deep_learning  algorithm which enables it to determine whether the messages it receives are questions or orders, and word_embedding, which involves mapping words to vectors, making them easier to interpret.





Other companies have been experimenting with this technology: in April 2016, The Next Web presented Tara, a chatbot that hires freelancers for small businesses,  whilst French specialist blog Futurs Talents  spoke of the potential revolution in HR generated by chatbots. And it’s not just HR: they’re also being used for marketing, and Microsoft is working on a “conversation as a platform” strategy. Gartner predicts that by 2019, in at least 25% of households in developed economies, the digital assistants on smartphones and other devices will serve as the primary interface to connected home services.


Noah Smith, a specialist in the matter from the University of Washington explains that IT systems based on natural language tend to improve through continual usage. “I think it’s exciting to see so many labs and companies exploring them and consumers actually using them,” Smith said in Technology Review. “I think they’ll provide a great platform to explore new capabilities and find out what people want, what’s easy to do, and what needs more research investment.”


What next? Rob May, Talla’s CEO, explains that his chatbot could eventually pick candidates for job interviews: his engineers have designed a machine learning system that looks for similarities between the resumes of prospective hires and of existing employees who have proved successful.



Read the article from the MIT Technology Review: The HR Person at Your Next Job May Actually Be a Bot

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-> SNCF: the #digitransfo of HR is well on track

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