As head of the “CARL Project” at Siemens AG, Sabine leads one of the largest HR chatbot initiatives in Europe. She partnered with IBM to give HR representatives more time to tackle critical projects while providing the company’s 385,000 employees with a reliable channel to ask HR-related questions. Supported by IBM Watson Assistant, Watson Discovery and IBM Cloud, the chatbot assistant (named CARL) gives employees quick responses on almost any device and in many languages. As a result, employee satisfaction at Siemens has increased, and HR representatives spend far less time on monotonous tasks.

What has your company achieved with AI?
No matter where they are around the world, Siemens employees are looking for answers about HR topics, processes, guidelines and forms. These questions have to be answered around the clock, on any digital device and in the national language of the employee, whether it is English, French, German, Spanish or Portuguese. CARL is the single point of contact that makes life easier for our company’s employees and our HR departments. Employees now have a faster and more straightforward way to find relevant HR-related information. This has increased employee satisfaction while reducing the time that HR staff spends answering standard support requests. Our HR employees can now concentrate on answering more complex questions.

What other measurable gains have you seen?
CARL is well-versed in 200-plus topics, thanks to Watson Assistant and Watson Discovery. One of the chatbot’s most unique features is a built-in administrative panel which functions as a content management system. The panel allows Siemens HR staff to implement different topics easily and quickly, and without needing any support from IT.

What did you learn as you implemented AI?
On the one hand, AI is different, and you have to learn how it works. On the other hand, it's only IT. It’s not impossible to learn. It's new. It's fascinating. It's challenging, and ultimately it offers a lot of possibilities for new business solutions. Our process was to try out the chatbot, see how it worked, rethink things, develop, fail, rethink again, develop again, and then go live—all in short sprints of two to three weeks. 

What advice would you share with others who are considering using AI?
Be open-minded, curious and brave. We started our Watson project in 2016, and we didn’t know much about AI then. In retrospect, that was a great opportunity. Anything was possible. 

Why should women be more involved in the creation and use of AI?
Regardless of AI, I'm always convinced that diversity helps every team and every project. Different opinions, ideas and experiences are enriching. If a group of diverse people listen and trust each other, the results of that kind of team can't be topped.

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