Alexa, Please Schedule My PTO

A few weeks ago, we wrote about whether smart assistants like Alexa are the future of work. Ultimately, we decided that they have a lot of potential to transform common enterprise processes—but only when coupled with intelligent automation.

Well, the future of work is here!

For the past few months, we’ve been hard at work creating voice-enabled connectors. Though it’s still a work-in-progress, we’re excited to share the initial use case with you, so you can get a feel for what’s possible with Workato and smart assistant technology.

Voice: The New Interface for Employee Requests

This use case is based on an experience almost everyone has had: looking at your work schedule for the next few months and wondering whether you can squeeze in some much-needed R&R. But before you can hit “book” on that island getaway, you need to submit a request for vacation time.

For most employees, that can be a real pain. You have to log into your HR portal (such as Workday) or visit HR to see if you have any vacation days left, submit a request, wait until the correct person approves it, block off the days on your calendar, and maybe set an autoresponder. If the approver is busy or if it’s after-hours, you may have to remind them in person or via email or Slack.

At Workato, we’re no strangers to how automation can make approvals like this one easier. Now, we’re making it even easier to submit and approve requests by turning Alexa or Siri into a new interface for getting work done. Here’s how it works.

Submitting and Approving PTO Requests with a Smart Assistant and Workbot

Submitting a Request using voice

Like all requests, the workflow begins with an employee asking for something. In this case, it’s time off. When you ask Alexa to submit a PTO request, she will prompt you for all the important details—like what dates you want to take off. From there, Workato uses Workbot to actually create the request. Workbot will look up your manager, create the request in Workday, and submit it for approval. This step can also include another app like ActiveDirectory, depending on your company’s HR processes, as well as your calendar app to block off your calendar and set an auto-responder.

This entire workflow also works with Siri, so if you have an iPhone or Mac, you’re covered!

Automatically Notifying Your Manager via Chat

The next step is letting your manager know that you’ve asked for time off. Once the request has been submitted, Workbot notifies them via Slack (or any other collaboration tool). This Slack notification is actionable, meaning that your manager can approve or reject the request directly from the chat app. Workbot will also send you a copy of your request for your records.

Updating Workday And Informing You of Request Status

Once your manager has approved or rejected the request, Workbot will record the outcome in Workday and update your PTO balance accordingly. You’ll instantly receive a Slack notification letting you know the outcome of your request—so you can go ahead and book that vacation!

This workflow is a great example of how voice technology can function as a new interface for getting work done. In the future, we hope to support many more use cases involving Alexa, Siri, and other smart assistants—so keep your eyes out!

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