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article imageQ&A: The bots that protect users from lost or deleted files Special

By Tim Sandle     Feb 1, 2019 in Business
Plenty of workplace bots have appeared over the last few years, and, for some businesses, bots are an integral part of the digital transformation strategy. One example helps retrieve lost documents.
When suitably designed and implemented with care, chatbots can save time, money and frustrations for customer. Several leading companies have successfully deployed bots, such as Virgin Atlantic, DFS, Facebook and The Bot Platform.
To understand how bots can be used to transform communications, culture and workflows inside organisations of all shapes, sizes and industries, and how bots can contribute to digital transformation initiatives, we spoke with John Hodges, VP of Product Strategy at AvePoint. AvePoint Virtual Assistant was the first bot developed to locate and restore Office 365 content for end users.
Digital Journal: What are the benefits if digital transformation for businesses?
John Hodges: Digital transformation is often seen as a way for businesses to attract younger employees by engaging them using the technology they’re familiar with in their personal life. I look at it for one of its other advantages: cost savings. AvePoint has helped companies drive digital transformation of information management and operational governance that often directly impacts the operational budget for an IT organization. In our recent update, AVA focuses on the cost-savings that can be attained by taking away some of the low-hanging help-desk calls IT often has to respond to regarding lost content.
DJ: How can workplace bots assist with this process?
Hodges: Everyday IT workers have a choice: take on the urgent, or the important. Urgent tasks often come in the form of tickets or calls that point to lost content or missing documents that are getting in the way of business. However, important strategic planning tasks like operational governance automation, learning new technologies or records management often get pushed aside to handle these tickets. Having a bot handle many of the urgent tasks gives more time for important strategic tasks that drive digital transformation.
DJ: How important is Microsoft Teams for businesses?
Hodges:Any unified platform that provides a way to engage the entire business is going to be critical. Microsoft Teams combines the best of community engagement with knowledge management platforms. While other social platforms are popular in pockets of the business, in developing our chatbot, we needed a platform that allowed us to reach directly back to the business on the platform they felt the most comfortable with, and Teams provided us with that.
DJ: How common is it to lose Office documents?
Hodges:Document loss is relatively common among business users. It can be as simple as a broken URL to a document that you once used as a reference or an unexpected change when someone was granted more rights to a document than expected. We’ve even seen unintended consequences of “Files Restore” from OneDrive where users rolled back more changes than they expected! It’s far more common, though, to see a manager request documents from former employees or recover permissions and settings on a site that have been broken.
DJ: Why did you develop AVA?
Hodges: AvePoint’s solutions have been focused on making the life of the IT Admin easier since we started the company. In an effort to give time back to today’s IT professional, we wanted to engage end users directly to handle the most common service requests. While an app could provide the same functionality to help users recover their content, it wouldn’t give us the same ability to engage them right where they are and understand their original intent. Given Microsoft Team’s pervasiveness in the enterprise, this was the perfect place to create an app!
DJ: What functions does AVA have?
Hodges:AVA is a chatbot that responds to user requests in Microsoft Teams to recover lost content in Exchange and OneDrive. AVA has two models: a free option that helps users look through their native recycle bin and deleted items folder for lost content, and a premium option that pairs with AvePoint Cloud Backup to look for content beyond the 90-day Microsoft limits. AVA works in the context of the user, meaning we never search for content the user doesn’t have access to. Search can work against a number of metadata fields – to help respond to vague requests – and restore data in place or to a new folder in their OneDrive or Mailbox.
DJ: How have you tested AVA out?
Hodges: AvePoint has been an early adopter of Teams and Office 365 for years, ensuring that we are able to practice what we preach when it comes to governance in the cloud. Our employees have had the opportunity to experience the highs and lows of life in the cloud – meaning they were eager to adopt our chatbot to help with some of their more common requests.
DJ: What has the response from businesses been like?
Hodges:End user engagement has been an important criteria in Managed Service Providers (MSPs), larger enterprises and even teams with smaller IT staff. This has been a big step forward regarding attention from the market!
DJ: What else are you working on?
Hodges:AVA has illustrated an important concept – you need to meet the users where they are. We’re excited to be working toward bringing many more AvePoint products directly to end users through the same AVA chatbot framework, and will be announcing more of these updates in the coming months.
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