Airlines, financial services, online shopping…these days, it seems like everybody’s using chatbots and virtual assistants. Far more than just automated responders, these digital assistants are powered by artificial intelligence, offering efficient and scalable solutions for customer interactions, information retrieval, and task automation.

How can IT support capitalise on the transformative impact of virtual assistants? In this article, we’ll unravel how chatbots can reshape the IT industry to deliver effective, cost-efficient, and anticipatory support.  


What is a chatbot? 

Leveraging AI and natural language processing capabilities, chatbots are computer programs designed to simulate conversation with users. They act as virtual assistants: handling queries, providing information, and facilitating transactions.

While many still prefer to speak to a real human, chatbots can enhance customer service efficiency dramatically. Available 24/7, chatbots offer uninterrupted service with quick responses, contributing to improved customer satisfaction and engagement. When used correctly, they can also streamline processes by automating routine tasks, freeing up human resources to focus on more complex and strategic aspects of their roles. As a result, chatbots can reduce operational costs, enhance user experiences, and drive business growth and competitiveness.

The rise of virtual assistants in IT support

IT professionals have a lot to gain from virtual assistants. These AI-driven entities can handle a spectrum of tasks, from basic to complex, that make them well-equipped to serve as an additional member of the IT team. 

Application in daily role 

VA can be an invaluable form of first-line support, addressing routine queries and providing instant access to information. Let’s take a look at the three most common ways VA can support the daily jobs of an IT professional: 

Guided Troubleshooting. Chatbots can guide users through troubleshooting processes step by step. By asking relevant questions and providing solutions based on user input, chatbots assist in diagnosing and resolving common IT issues. This not only helps users find solutions quickly but also reduces the workload on human support staff. 

After all, helping Bob from Accounting open Microsoft Word for the third time this month isn’t any IT professionals’ idea of time well spent!

Information Retrieval. Chatbots act as a knowledge base, instantly retrieving and providing information on IT policies, procedures, and commonly encountered problems. Users can access this information in a conversational manner, making it easy for them to find the answers they need without navigating complex documentation. 

This is perfect for when colleagues need to find particular information like the length of time specified in an email retention policy. Chatbots can answer instantly, saving both the employee time spent searching for an answer and the IT professional from responding. 

Automated Ticket Creation. In cases where an issue requires further investigation or human intervention, chatbots can automate the process of creating support tickets. They can collect relevant information from users, categorise the issue, and initiate the ticketing process.

As every IT professional knows, having tickets created accurately is crucial to streamline the team’s workflow, improve issue resolution efficiency, and facilitate comprehensive reporting. AI can improve the consistency of ticket creation, allowing for better analysis on common issues, trends, and response times and informing strategic decisions. 

Unparalleled returns on efficiency and productivity 

As you might have noticed, there’s a common theme in VA’s contribution to the IT team. By automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks, VAs not only save time but also leave human professionals free to focus on more strategic and complex aspects of their roles. By directing skilled IT personnel to the activities which will show the most reward, IT teams can optimise their efforts and deliver higher-quality services – music to anybody’s ears. 

How to get started with chatbots 

Sold on the benefits of VA? Great news! Now, how can you go about actually getting one as part of your team? 

Incorporation into existing systems 

Firstly, you’ll want to integrate the VA into your existing IT system. This requires a strategic and seamless approach that prioritises compatibility. Evaluate the interoperability of chatbot platforms with existing applications, databases, and communication channels. This might mean lengthy conversations with sales teams; maybe you’ll even want to do a trial run of integrating the proposed chatbot into a staged environment that mirrors your existing systems to verify functionality. 

Where possible, feedback from end-users can be invaluable: a chatbot that isn’t perfect will only frustrate your clients, undermining its very purpose! 

Chatbot implementation

Customise it for your specific needs 

The customer is always right – and always has unique needs. When you’re getting started with a chatbot, make sure that it’s customised for your industry and your employees. Take some time to map out the common problems, processes, and industry nuances you’ll want to capture. Do tickets need to capture specific information? Do some issues take priority over others? In a wide team meeting, note down everything that comes to mind. 

Then, tailor the functionality of your VA to capture these quirks. This may involve configuring chatbot responses, language understanding capabilities, and task automation protocols, so be prepared to put some work in at this stage. Remember, it will pay dividends in the future!

Best practices for a smooth transition and user adoption  

The success of integrating chatbots and virtual assistants hinges on a smooth transition and widespread user adoption, so you’ll want to implement VA best practice to make this possible.

Firstly, communication is golden! Be transparent about what’s coming, emphasising the benefits this will bring the wider business (faster response times, reduced IT overheads…tailor the message to your audience). 

Next, consider training programmes to familiarise users with the new technologies. Whether these take the form of a mandated company webinar or a more informal drop-in session, making sure your customers know what’s coming and how to get the most out of it is vital. 

Once these two steps are complete, it’s time to deploy! A phased implementation strategy can gradually introduce and acclimate users to the new system, ensuring minimal disruption while maximising user acceptance.

Finally, offer ongoing support to address any concerns or challenges that may arise during the adoption phase. If you opted for a phased rollout, you’ll have the perfect opportunity to take on board any feedback and make tweaks to the VA before it goes live to the entire business. By prioritising a user-centric approach, you can set your team up for success later down the line. 

What’s next for chatbots? 

The future of chatbots and virtual assistants in the IT landscape holds exciting possibilities. Emerging trends indicate a shift towards even more sophisticated AI capabilities, including improved natural language processing, advanced contextual understanding, and increased personalization. We can expect the next evolution to become even more intuitive and capable, ready to be deployed to a much broader spectrum of tasks, from complex IT problem-solving to enhanced collaboration within teams.

There’s no need to panic about robots coming for IT jobs just yet, though. While the trajectory of chatbots and virtual assistants in the IT domain is undoubtedly upward, these technologies are designed to augment human capabilities, not replace them. These tools simply enhance efficiency and streamline tasks, allowing IT professionals to focus on high-value, intellectually demanding aspects of their roles. Their role remains irreplaceable, especially in complex decision-making, strategic planning, and creative problem-solving, and the demand for skilled IT professionals will only continue to grow as AI technologies become integral to industry standards. 


From streamlining routine tasks to enhancing problem-solving capabilities, virtual assistants are an intelligent, dynamic and responsive approach to IT challenges. They represent a golden opportunity for IT professionals to leverage advanced technologies to enhance team capabilities and deliver more for their stakeholders. Often early adopters of technology, IT professionals that adopt VAs can position themselves as catalysts for progress and gain valuable experience for when colleagues look to implement chatbots in their departments too. 
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