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AiThority Interview with Pat Calhoun, CEO and Founder at Espressive

Pat Calhoun Quote
Tell us about your role at Espressive and the market research you adopted for this report.

I am the CEO and Founder of Espressive. I founded Espressive to transform the enterprise self-service experience to a consumer-like approach because getting answers to questions at work shouldn’t be so hard. AI and Automation are the keys to delivering exceptional employee self-help experiences that improve employee satisfaction, retention, and productivity. When employees have one place to go across the enterprise to not only receive answers from HR, but also from IT, Payroll, Workplace Resources, and more, their productivity goes up. Barista, our AI-based virtual employee assistant, increases the efficiency of HR Service management by bringing a consumer-like experience to automate the resolution of up to 60% of employee questions with AI.

This past January, Espressive sponsored a report on IT service management to gain a better understanding of what enterprises are experiencing relative to their ITSM tools and found that 62 percent of IT leaders were considering or actively adding virtual assistants. Espressive’s most recent Pulse Report in October, which was co-sponsored by AWS and conducted by Gatepoint Research, focused on the top HR service management strategies and initiatives for 2019 and surveyed a wide variety of industry verticals.

How do you define Employee Experience?

Employee experience, in this context, refers to what employees encounter when they are trying to get help. When employees have exceptional self-help experience, they are both satisfied and productive. When the opposite occurs, their frustration negatively impacts satisfaction and productivity and could ultimately result in retention issues. Espressive Barista, our virtual employee assistant, delivers exceptional experiences that result in 80 to 85% employee adoption.

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There is a visible divide in the industry about the role of AI and Automation taking jobs in the coming months. How do you see AI-based Employee Experience negating this mood in the industry?

We are not seeing a reduction in jobs across Espressive customers. Instead, individuals that have historically been stuck helping employees with repetitive issues can now focus their efforts on more strategic tasks. We believe automating the repetitive work will, in fact, help employees get more challenging and fulfilling assignments.

Tell us more about your collaboration with AWS and its role in the survey.

AWS co-sponsored this report. In addition to collaborating with them, we reviewed our questions with a Gartner analyst in advance to ensure that we would be asking questions that would provide meaningful information to HR leaders.

The report revealed that increasing the efficiency of HR service management and improving the employee self-help experience will be critical for achieving the top three HR initiatives of 2019: increasing employee retention; improving employee satisfaction, and improving the new-hire onboarding experience. It also found that 59 percent of respondents are already considering or actively adding virtual employee assistants (i.e., chatbots), making it evident that HR leaders are prioritizing AI to improve the employee experience. 

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What are the top technologies that impact HR Technology? How do you see AI and Machine Learning further disrupting Employee Experience?

The Pulse Report on strategies for HR Service Management revealed that HR leaders have almost caught up with IT in their desire to leverage AI to improve the employee experience. It also revealed that 26 percent would need IT approval even if HR had funding, and another 24 percent said that funding would have to come from IT. With that in mind, organizations would benefit by implementing one solution that can be shared across the enterprise.

Barista, our virtual employee assistant, incorporates leading AI technologies such as Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, and Neural Networks. AI will make it as easy for employees to get enterprise-wide answers to questions at work as it is for them to get help in their personal lives.

What is tougher – Acquiring top talent or retaining them? How would AI-based experience to employees help HR Managers retain top talent in the company?

This question really depends on the company, but for those that have a vision and a mission that speaks to employees, retaining is harder than acquiring. One of the challenges we have consistently heard is employees get frustrated with their workplace experience, and the larger the organization, the harder the problem is. For instance, if an employee is unable to get the help they need around a payroll issue, or reimbursement for training, they are likely to simply get frustrated with the process and move on. So many factors are associated with a top performer leaving and Espressive eliminates those by making it very simple to get help so they can focus on what matters most – getting their job done.

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Thank you, Pat! That was fun and hope to see you back on AiThority soon.

Pat Calhoun, CEO of Espressive, a virtual support agent that automates help desk resolution with AI. He also founded Airespace that grew to over $80 Million in revenue before being sold to Cisco for $450 Million. Most recently, Pat served as SVP of Product at ServiceNow.

Prior to that, he was General Manager of the McAfee network security business. Pat also served as both CTO for the Cisco $14B switching, routing, wireless, and security access business and GM of the Cisco identity business.

espressive logo

Espressive is the pioneer in AI for employee self-service, redefining how employees get help by delivering exceptional employee experiences. We were founded on the belief that getting help at work shouldn’t be so hard. While others have focused on solving the problems faced by help desk agents, Espressive shifted the focus to the employee—because you can’t have self-service if your employees are not engaged. However, this doesn’t mean the help desk is left behind. When you improve the employee experience through automation, you reduce redundant help desk work, enabling agents to focus on more strategic projects.

Barista, our AI-based virtual support agent (VSA), brings the ease of consumer virtual assistants, such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home, into the workplace. Barista automates resolution of employee questions, issues, and requests with personalized experiences that result in employee adoption of 80 to 85% and reduced help desk call volume of 40 to 60%.

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