Home Case Studies CIO watsonx IT Support Assistant Using AI to deliver a digital-first employee experience
Reinventing IT support across IBM
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Supporting 280,000+ users

Every single day, the IBM Chief Information Officer (CIO) Organization provides round-the-clock support to hundreds of thousands of IBM employees: from developers building AI models, to a global consulting organization helping clients accelerate their digital transformation initiatives. Presently, the team receives around 785,000 IT support tickets each year. “These queries cover a broad range of areas, from setting up a new device, to resetting passwords and troubleshooting VPN challenges, to requesting emergency device replacements,” explains Jonathan Chu, Manager, IT Support Assistant.

Like many other enterprise organizations, IBM is always looking for new ways to help employees move faster and be more productive. The company does not want individuals distracted from transformational initiatives and client interactions because they are waiting for the resolution of a routine IT issue, like a password reset. Nor does it want IT support professionals bogged down in repetitive tasks that could be handled with automation and AI.

“One of our main goals is to help increase the amount of IT support issues that could be resolved through automation, self-service tools, and discovery of content from our internal IT support articles. This would help reduce the volume of IT support calls, chats and tickets so our help desk advisors can focus attention on those IBM employees that need human expertise and intervention in more complex or unique situations,” says Chu. This is why the IBM CIO Organization launched IT Support Assistant, a conversation-based solution built with the IBM® watsonx Assistant platform that helps solve IT issues quickly and effectively.

80% of IBM’s top IT issues can be addressed with IT Support Assistant 75% of tickets successfully handled by IT Support Assistant
We helped mitigate the issue of long wait times in chat and phone support by providing quick answers through a chatbot experience. Jonathan Chu Manager, IT Support Assistant IBM
Using AI to create a self-service system

Based on the knowledge gained from analyzing over 300,000 support tickets, IT Support Assistant uses the AI and natural language processing (NLP) capabilities of watsonx Assistant to surface resolutions to address critical support topics. The digital assistant is designed to emulate human interactions by processing natural language queries to retrieve the best possible responses quickly.

IT Support Assistant is trained on 80% of the IT issues the company faces most frequently. It covers more than 200 common support topics in more than 40 languages and is available to more than 280,000 IBM employees globally. “We want to make sure that IT Support Assistant is available for everyone to receive help in an efficient and timely manner,” explains Chu. “It is intended to shorten the response time for routine questions, reduce the need for IT support calls and chats and help drive direct ticket creation.”

Immediate impact

In the four months since IT Support Assistant’s release, over 133,000 IBM employees used the tool at least once. Of the queries that were submitted, over 75% were resolved by the new assistant itself. “We helped mitigate the issue of long wait times in chat and phone support by providing quick answers through a chatbot experience,” adds Chu. IT Support Assistant also allowed for IT support staff to shift their focus to providing high touch support, handling more complex or critical issues instead. The global, 24x7 availability of the new assistant has been key. Regardless of time, day and location, IBM employees all over the world can get their questions answered quickly so that they can move on to their next project.

Because it is driven by AI, IT Support Assistant improves as it receives new inputs from users over time. “With a growing need for newer topics and corresponding response content additions, IT Support Assistant will be adept at evolving with the potential changes. Having a solution that is adapting to those changes is critical,” says Suj Perepa, IBM Distinguished Engineer, CTO Data & AI. This is just one of many enhancements that are underway. In the weeks following the initial release, for example, the CIO team enabled language auto-detection. IT Support Assistant can now respond in multiple global languages to support IBM users worldwide.

The team is currently working on enhancing the IT Support Assistant end-user experience by extending its existing capabilities with the power of generative AI built into the IBM watsonx.ai studio. Applying large language models from watsonx.ai to fill gaps when watsonx Assistant is unsure of the user’s intent will provide additional value by improving the user experience. “At the CIO Organization, we are early adopters of emerging technologies, and we intend to build the best solutions for IBM employees using our own technologies,” adds Perepa.

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About the IBM CIO Organization

The Chief Information Officer (CIO) Organization leads IBM’s internal IT strategy and is responsible for delivering, securing, modernizing and supporting the IT solutions that IBM employees, clients and partners use to do their jobs every day. The CIO strategy encompasses creating an adaptive IT platform that makes IT easier to access across the enterprise, accelerates problem-solving and serves as an innovation engine for IBM, catalyzing business growth.

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Produced in the United States of America. October 2023.

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