Expert Advice for Medium and Midsize Businesses

How an Intelligent Digital Assistant Reshapes Your ERP Experience

Guest Author

High growth small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) face a range of different challenges—and many of them rely on an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution to improve operational efficiencies. In many cases, these challenges reflect the realities of growing quickly. How do you scale to reach aggressive growth targets, while continuing to offer the personalized experiences for employees and customers that built your success? This is especially true for SMBs that must balance growth with limited human resources and tighter budgets.

Innovative high-growth companies are leveraging intelligent digital assistants to help increase productivity and improve operations. Digital assistants are advanced chatbots that are powered by artificial intelligence. They can easily navigate complex requests, pull information from different technological systems, automate processes across the organization, and even can offer predictions and recommendations based on user preferences. From an operational perspective, these digital assistants can interface with an ERP solution to provide better employee and customer experiences. Here’s a closer look at how innovative small-to-medium businesses are using AI-powered assistants to get more done and make the most of their ERP.

Balancing Personalization and Standardization

Fast-growing companies want to scale quickly, and it’s often a challenge to do that while delivering the personalization employees and customers want. Scaling effectively often requires a level of standardization for both processes and the user experience. That standardization supports growth, but it can limit personalization and lead to some audiences—such as your employees or customers—not feeling engaged or supported.

Conversely, personalizing experiences and focusing on the individual provide a high level of engagement and a better end-user experience. However, scaling that level of personalization is almost impossible. Achieving both scale and personalization at the same time has historically been very difficult.

Digital assistants are helping fast-growing companies bridge these two goals. They allow you to automate the mundane: the processes, routines, and tasks that are essential, but which can easily be handled by artificial intelligence and machine learning. In turn, this supports a small-to-medium business’ ability to scale by letting employees who would normally be focused on mundane tasks to instead shift their focus to high-value strategic work.

When your team is focused on delivering an excellent customer or internal user experience, this allows for more personalized engagement between the business and the end user. Fast-growing companies can deliver a personalized experience, but also get the scaling benefits from automation through artificial intelligence. Personalization may have set your business apart at the beginning, and with the right technology, you can continue to deliver to those expectations as you grow.

How Digital Assistants Interface with Your ERP

One way to see the impact of Oracle Digital Assistant in connection with enterprise resource planning is to consider the expenses use case. On the surface, submitting employee expenses is a simple process, but it’s critical—and it’s easy to overlook when you’re in growth mode. Even with the latest modern expense applications, it takes time to submit expenses. Busy employees often let this detail slide, and it can become a real problem when they’re months behind on submitting expenses and the financial team can’t close their books.

A digital assistant turns submission of expenses into a real-time experience. For instance, a user is sitting at a work dinner and just paid the bill. They simply open their messaging app, engage the expense “skill,” or routine, in their digital assistant, and are quickly walked through the four or five questions of the expense workflow. While sitting there, the user can take a picture of the receipt with their smartphone and then use image capture technology and natural language processing to process the image. The digital assistant automatically extracts information from the receipt and simply asks the user to review and verify the information. Once the user confirms, the digital assistant painlessly sends the information securely to the necessary ERP and financial applications.

Another application is project management. For example, if you’re a leader at a fast-growing company and want to launch a new project, staffing can be a challenge. Moving quickly means that you need visibility into who you can assign to the project. With a project management skill that’s connected to a digital assistant, it’s easy to identify and assign the resources that you need. Over time, you can see different aspects of project status, schedule meetings with your team, or quickly access information on budgets or project spending, all from one conversation flow. These integrated interactions free up more of your time. Project managers or VPs of service delivery can quickly work through operational tasks and then focus strategically at a higher level on their clients, stakeholders, or the larger client impact.

Where a Digital Assistant Fits into Your SMB

A digital assistant can work with your ERP—and other solutions—to help you get more done. However, it’s important to remember a few key best practices to make the most of these tools. When business leaders consider AI for the first time, they may have misconceptions. One is that it doesn’t matter where in the company or value chain you infuse artificial intelligence or machine learning, and the second is that the tools are going to be a panacea or a silver bullet that solves everything.

Instead, a better way to think about an AI-powered digital assistant is as a very talented employee. It’s going to help you automate at scale, personalize experiences, and streamline repetitive tasks. And that’s going to free you up to focus on your most important strategic priorities. By thinking about the technology in that way, you’ll better understand how it can help your fast-growing company get more done in the areas that matter most.

It’s also important to remember that an AI-powered assistant’s ability to help you is built on the quality of your data. You can have the best learning/training model, the best natural language processing, and the best machine learning in the world—but without the right data, you won’t fully capture the benefits of these tools. Take the time to consider how your data quality and strategy are supporting your digital assistant’s ability to automate core processes and provide accurate information.

Your team relies on your ERP solution to support your small-to-medium business (SMB), and the right tools can help them get more done. From faster financial processes to project management applications, integrating Oracle Digital Assistant with Oracle ERP Cloud helps growing companies achieve scale without sacrificing personalized experiences. Explore how this tool can bring conversational AI and ERP capabilities to your organization today.

Learn more about Oracle Digital Assistant and how it can help your growing business.

By Dan Brooks, Product Marketing Manager, Oracle

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