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What does it feel like to have a robot as a colleague?

Having a robot employee at an Estonian company or government organization is more common than you might think.

The development of artificial intelligence and other new technological solutions play a bigger role in people’s work lives day-by-day with state of the art solutions reaching more and more consumers.

There are numerous examples of success stories that robotic colleagues deliver: Smart chatbots are employed by two of the biggest telcos in Estonia, Telia and Elisa and tens of other private companies; An AI and satellite based system is in use by the Estonian Agricultural Registers and Information Board to check how state agricultural subsidies; The City of Tallinn uses machine vision to measure traffic density. And that is not it – there are tens of other AI solutions for saving energy, matching job-seekers with relevant jobs, helping website users to find relevant data, etc.

What is it like to work with an artificial colleague?

Britt Kauts, a customer service specialist of Elisa Eesti, the Finnish-owned telecommunications company active in building its AI-based chatbot explains in the company’s blog what it feels like working side-by-side with artificial intelligence: “While a person can reply to one letter – and maybe ask an additional question, the robot can deal with even hundreds of enquiries if needed. The reason is simple – there are limits to what a human can do.”

Another customer service specialist Liisa Pruler adds that the service specialist will come to your aid when the question is more difficult to deal with, needs to be dealt with more emphatically than a machine could, or a special solution is needed.

“At the same time, the routine tasks that often seem boring to the human workers, are often the ones that create important value for the customer – so they should not be underestimated,” Kauts adds.

How a robot assistant helps the Estonian Investment Agency?

Even we, at the Estonian Investment Agency, are happy to have an artificial colleague helping us. Thanks to our electronic investment advisor, called Eia (from the words “electronic investment advisor” or “Estonian Investment Agency” – and after the star of a recent Estonian children’s movie), we can focus on adding a more personal approach to our service.

“Since December 2018, when we first employed our internally-developed robot colleague, we have saved hundreds of hours of valuable work time,” Andero Kaha, the digital channels development manager at Estonian Investment Agency explained. “People can focus on projects where their unique knowledge is needed and let Eia deal with some of the more routine tasks when providing information to our clients. It might be a bit unusual but at this year’s Investment Agency summer seminar Eia even received its first ever diploma – for providing outstanding results.”

“For me Eia acts like a true Estonian – she is not too talkative but hard-working and precise,” Kerli Saar, Eia’s colleague from the Sales Support team adds.

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