Client Q&A: How an AI service desk inspired Brazil’s BRF to think differently

By: Adam Kleiner

With more than 30,000 enterprise technology users in locations around the world, the IT service desk for Brazil food company, BRF, keeps as busy as any.

This reality was part of the Itajai, Santa Catarina-based company’s interest in implementing an AI-powered help desk.

In 2017, BRF implemented IBM Workplace Support Services with Watson and gave the user interface a persona known as EVA—for Exceptional Value Assistant. The company now is exploring how it might expand use of the technology to other parts of the company.

We sat down with Leo Rahn, IT services coordinator for BRF, to hear what his team has learned so far in the journey of deploying and managing an AI service desk solution.

What were the key end user challenges that started the conversation about an AI service desk? What problems were you looking to solve?

Our primary motivation is to satisfy our users, to make sure that their requests for the IT area are being fulfilled. We began talks with IBM in view of providing greater agility to our users. We wanted to provide faster and easier access, reduce response times and also scale up our productivity.

Tell us about the process of bringing EVA online.

First we looked at what users were looking for the most. The primary orientations that helped guide us were identifying the processes that users had the most difficulties with or some concerns about; observing those opportunities, and providing a response for them—a response that can be instantaneous, or that could guide them to get what they need to achieve their end goal.

In about six months we were able to set up the cognitive service desk with several interactions.

Any hard lessons learned through implementation?

The process was very well executed. From BRF we had about 4 people involved. Process people. People from IT. And there were four more people from IBM, who knew the technology. That’s very important. You have to have a mix of people who are familiar with the technology and with the processes. Bringing together those viewpoints made the project much easier to manage.

What’s been the response to EVA among your users?

We’ve had very good approval from our users. They give us very positive feedback about the responses—primarily for the speed of the responses and ease of access. Among people who interact with EVA, 86 percent are satisfied with the services.

How frequently are users reaching out to EVA?

EVA is currently providing responses in approximately 2,000 interactions per month. And the volume is increasing every day. Today the main answers that EVA is able to provide our users involve things like unlocks, network password resets, various access requests.

What’s great about it is that formerly they had to start their calls at the traditional service desk. Today they can get instant answers. In one minute or two minutes at most, our user has the answer to their question or need.

How has the solution addressed the challenges you sought to resolve?

It’s facilitated faster responses and assertiveness. And with that we’ve been able to increase the satisfaction of our users, as well. The main thing we’re monitoring in this process of implementing Eva and in regard to the results is producing satisfaction for our user base.

I see that for years to come, we’re going to be able to have a lot more self-service. We’ll be able to have much faster responses and much more efficient interactions.

So no looking back now that EVA is on the job?

I’d say a traditional service desk is a service desk that’s stuck in the past. I don’t see much opportunity there to do things in a different way. Our users today want something different, something that surprises them. And cognitive service, like Watson, I think has really revolutionized the market.

With Watson and other cognitive intelligence that we have available on the market, it makes people start to really think differently. They can bring about different results and add value to the services provided for their end customers.

I think this is one of the main things that’s different from the old service desk to what you might call the new service desk—the cognitive service desk. It’s this revolution that Watson brought about for us.

This new technology has gotten us thinking differently.

See video of the extended interview with Leo.

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About The Author

Adam Kleiner

Content Director

Adam Kleiner is a creative lead, experience designer and design thinking consultant for IBM. He has written for more than 20 years on topics ranging from education and health to technology, travel and transportation. His work has appeared in numerous consumer and branded media titles.

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