IBM offers Watson to run your IT helpdesk

AI system will offer an automated helpdesk that understands how tech savvy callers are

One of the problems with tech helpdesks is that the humans on the other end of the phone need to take breaks, sleep and expect to be paid.

IBM's Watson could offer an alternative, letting you call bots for help instead of humans.

The company said the AI system could support users on any device, at any time and in any location, more quickly than human counterparts. Plus, as the system uses machine learning, it will get better over time, the company claimed, and because it's scalable, there'll always be someone there to pick up even if there's a sudden flood of problems.

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One key selling point, according to IBM, is Watson's personalised service that varies depending on the technical savvy of staff calling the helpdesk.

For problems Watson can't handle, the system will pass callers over to a human expert. "If Watson has not been trained to answer for a specific problem, the individual can be seamlessly transferred to a human service agent," IBM explained.

"Today, governments and enterprises need to provide an effective set of capabilities to their workforce, so that their employees can deliver a superior interaction and experience for their citizens and consumers," said Richard Esposito, general manager, GTS Mobility Services at IBM, in a statement.

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"We need a system that can understand and communicate in a natural language conversation, one that solves problems and continues to learn while engaging with employees. Our Workplace Support Services with Watson delivers this value."

None of that will help assuage concerns that artificial intelligence and bots are coming for our jobs, with as many as 30% at risk by 2030, reports suggest. 

Watson's AI skills have previously been tapped for a variety of tasks, including fighting cybercrime, helping patients in hospitals, and driving a bus around Washington - as well as, famously, winning at US game show Jeopardy.

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