As part of that effort, Ballard brought RPA on board in 2017, saving more than 150,000 recurring hours of staff work in the first year, he says. The RPA initiative made it clear there was more IT could do to help automate and optimize processes. Then in 2020, Ballard took leadership of the digital platform engineering team with an eye on the IT service desk.
“I wanted to change the way our team members engaged with our IT service desk; that was my initial focus,” he says. “I wanted the ability to invoke a conversation and get to a fast resolution so our team members and I could get back to the important work at hand.”
In 2021, Ballard’s team partnered with AI platform specialist Moveworks to create a central place for Toyota’s 45,000-plus employees in North America to turn for help at work. Dubbed AgentAsk, the service offers employees a ChatGPT-like experience that takes into account enterprise requirements, including permissions, integrations, security, privacy, and more.
In the past year, Ballard says AgentAsk has resolved nearly 70,000 issues and accelerated the resolution of about 100,000 more. He notes that the service now allows the company’s service desks to focus on important accelerated tickets such as hardware requests and software approvals, rather than password resets and account unlocks; each month, AgentAsk resolves about 458 tickets of the former and 164 tickets of the latter.
AgentAsk’s mean time to repair (MTTR) is 11.4 minutes, compared with an industry average of three days. The service has given employees and agents back more than 70,000 hours of productivity in the past year alone, according to the company. On average, AgentAsk is offsetting the work of about 25 level-one service technicians each week, Ballard says.
By way of example, Ballard notes that in the past, he’d spend a lot of time digging around in various enterprise systems trying to figure out how many outstanding approvals he had to deal with.