How Autodesk enabled work-from-home support for its employees

Partha Srinivasan, Head of End User Services, Autodesk

Sheryl Walton, Information Technology Manager, Autodesk

June 17, 2020

Navigating a remote work scenario wouldn’t have been possible just a decade ago, when the core technologies that facilitate working from home—such as cloud services, collaboration hubs, and AI-powered bots—had yet to establish themselves in the enterprise. But today, Autodesk’s employees are successfully working remotely, and their continued productivity is a result of our company’s preparedness.

At the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, leaders from across Autodesk assembled to create a comprehensive action plan, addressing how we would meet the increased demand for IT services, assess the productivity of remote workers, optimize our network and infrastructure, and maintain a strong line of communication with employees. In particular, our partnership with Moveworks played a key role during the switch. The Moveworks AI bot, which we call HelpBot, allows us to deliver: 

  • End-to-end automation of IT support requests to scale with rising demand
  • Answers to employees’ WFH-related questions in real time
  • Proactive resolution of tech issues to prevent future tickets

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Figure 1: The Moveworks bot instantly answers our employees’ questions about remote work and company policy.

 

End-to-end automation of IT support requests to scale with rising demand

Over the last few months, our IT team at Autodesk has worked hard to ensure that—as our CIO Prakash Kota likes to say—location is no longer a factor for us to get things done. Yet our journey to this point started in 2018, well before the current crisis, with a desire for greater automation to combat an ever-increasing demand for IT services. 

Our top priorities were to deliver a fast and frictionless IT support experience to Autodesk employees, while also freeing up our agents’ time to focus on high-impact projects. We knew the path to achieving both goals at once would be machine learning and artificial intelligence, which would allow us to scale alongside our company’s rapid growth. As we onboard new hires in the months ahead, we’re confident Moveworks AI will continue to help us address software requests, troubleshooting problems, account issues, VPN questions, and much more that comes our way.

Headshot_Partha_Srinivasan_Autodesk“I’m happy to report that our employees are successfully working from home, thanks to strategic investments we’ve made over the last few years in tools like Moveworks. The Moveworks bot makes it easy to get help from anywhere.”

Partha Srinivasan, Head of End User Services, Autodesk

The importance of automation is nothing new, as every IT leader reading this post knows well. Really, the key innovation we’ve implemented with Moveworks is true end-to-end automation of IT support issues, which lets our employees self-service many of their requests without any contact with the service desk. They simply chat with HelpBot on Slack in natural conversation, and Moveworks autonomously figures out what they need, triggers a backend process, and resolves the issue. Every step Moveworks takes is work off our plate—not to mention a night-and-day improvement for employees.

Having expanded our own software’s functionality at Autodesk to digitize entire workstreams, from design to testing to manufacturing, we immediately saw the value of bringing the same kind of end-to-end solution to our internal IT support. And with remote workers submitting an unprecedented volume of IT issues, that approach has become critical. For an in-depth breakdown of how we’re using Moveworks to reduce the service desk’s workload, check out our full case study.

Answers to employees’ WFH-related questions in real time

Needless to say, we’re living through an era of constant change, which, in turn, necessitates constant communication. But while employees ask urgent questions about everything from company policy to COVID-19 guidelines, answering these questions in a timely manner isn’t always easy, especially without the ability to meet in person or put up posters around the office. We found that disseminating information in this new era requires thinking beyond old-school approaches—support today should be digital, interactive, and instant. 

From the first signs of a possible crisis, Autodesk made communication a top priority because we understood the value of getting our global workforce on the same page. HelpBot plays a key role in that communication strategy: by analyzing all of our knowledge articles, HelpBot matches questions with the exact paragraph containing the answer. And unlike with a mass email or physical poster, chatbots on the messaging tool are fundamentally interactive. Employees can ask follow-up questions, raise a separate issue, or file a ticket in seconds.

Autodesk Resolution Chart
Figure 2: This graph shows a four-week rolling average of two HelpBot use cases at Autodesk: resolving account issues, like password changes, and answering employees’ questions.

Since we started working from home, our team has put together 48 FAQs in anticipation of questions like, “Which apps require me to be on the VPN?” HelpBot makes that investment worthwhile by serving up answers straight on Slack. In fact, the bot resolved 78% more questions in the first 30 days of WFH, compared to the previous month, and enabled our team to better address WFH issues. For employees, there was no digging for the right knowledge repository, no frustration with an outdated enterprise search system, and no need to email the service desk. 

Proactive resolution of tech issues to prevent future tickets

So far, we’ve talked about how HelpBot resolves issues via direct message (DM) on Slack, regardless of where and when employees encounter problems. This capability alone has significantly enhanced the support experience at Autodesk.

But in many ways, the future of IT support will be about preempting issues before they happen. When a corporate account password expires, for example, employees ordinarily have to realize what happened, contact the service desk, and then wait for assistance—a delay that can bring productivity to a standstill. What we’ve managed to implement with HelpBot is the power to proactively reach out, prior to that password expiring. Looking just at March, HelpBot proactively messaged our employees about account issues more than 1,500 times, demonstrating an awareness of our environment that isn’t realistic for human agents.

Headshot_Sheryl_Autodesk“For us, providing IT support on Slack just works. We’re about security, user experience, and results, and Moveworks on Slack delivers on all of the above. We’re seeing everything we wanted to see when we started down the path of AI on the messaging tool.”

Sheryl Walton, Information Technology Manager, Autodesk

In addition to direct messaging employees, HelpBot is also resolving issues posted in our group IT support channel on Slack, which is another method we use to tackle issues before they cause delays. The truth is that few IT issues are unique, so answering just one question in a public setting—in our case, a Slack channel—might preempt a dozen emails and calls to the service desk about the same problem. 

HelpBot takes that efficiency to the next level. The bot not only resolves issues posted in the group IT channel, it goes a step further, posting its helpful solutions for everyone to see. This is a cutting-edge approach in our field, meaning that there’s been a learning curve for us to climb alongside the bot. But both HelpBot and our team are getting better with experience, and already, we’ve dramatically reduced our average response time using AI.

Blog_Content_Image_Autodesk_KB_Article_02Figure 3: When our employees ask questions in the group IT channel, HelpBot direct-messages them to resolve the issue—then posts the answer in the channel to preempt future questions.

Universal advice from our unique journey

A pandemic is a once-in-a-lifetime circumstance, and undoubtedly, some of the work we’ve done at Autodesk to remain productive during the COVID-19 outbreak won’t be applicable at other companies, at other times. Yet the overwhelming majority of our efforts with AI have produced universal insights. Between implementing end-to-end automation, answering employees’ questions in real time, and taking a proactive approach to our IT support in general, Moveworks has helped us emerge from this crisis as a more efficient company than ever before.

“Artificial Intelligence allows us to resolve thousands of IT and work-from-home issues even faster.”

Partha Srinivasan, Head of End User Services, Autodesk

It’s worth noting that HelpBot, and automation as a whole, represents just one facet of our IT team’s overall strategy. We’ll continue to put people first, and it’s people who made this transition to WFH possible. Moveworks simply empowers our people to get work done faster—changing the math of IT support by solving issues in seconds, rather than in days. Ultimately, when it comes to unlocking productivity from anywhere, our story is only beginning.
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