Digital employees are increasingly becoming a staple in the business world.  The way we work and the way we interact with technology is changing, and so are the expectations of employees. In order to stay ahead of the curve, businesses need to change the way they think about workflows and how they manage employee productivity.

In today’s business environment, it’s no longer enough to simply provide employees with access to the latest technology. To remain competitive, businesses need to find ways to use technology to automate tasks and improve employee productivity.

One way to do this is by leveraging digital employees. Digital employees are being hyped as a game-changing solution for businesses across industries. But how much of this hype is justified? And what are digital employees really capable of?

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at digital employees and how they can help businesses automate tasks and improve employee productivity.

What is a Digital employee?

A digital employee is an interactive agent that can be composed using a simple natural language dialogue to complete business processes. 

  1. First, a digital employee can understand and carry out complex tasks by reasoning over multiple pieces of information, just like a human. For example, you can ask a digital employee to “find me a customer that spends more than $1,000 per month and lives in New York,” and the digital employee will know how to find that customer in your CRM system.
  2. Second, you can train a digital employee on the fly using natural language. For example, you can ask a digital employee to “show me how to file a customer complaint,” and they will walk you through the process.
  3. Third, digital employees can be deployed on any channel, including chat, email, SMS, or even in virtual reality environments. This means that you can have one helping you with customer service over chat, while another is handling product returns via email.
  4. Fourth, digital employees are constantly learning and getting smarter over time. As they are used more and more, they get better at understanding the context of conversations and become more efficient at completing tasks.

Understanding the importance of Digital Employee:

A digital employee is a sophisticated combination of technologies that work together to create a complete entity. From planning to contextualization to learning, each piece of the digital employee is important in its own right.

According to IBM publication on the Art of Automation, the Anatomy of the digital employee has the following key components:


A digital employee needs to be able to find the best course of action to address an incoming event using a planner. The planner evaluates the set of skills that the digital employee has at its disposal and scores them based on how confident the skill is that it can address the incoming event. 

If there are multiple skills that could address the event, the planner will disambiguate between them and choose the best one. Additionally, the planner can learn and improve its scoring algorithm over time.

When an event comes in, the planner will select the best skill to handle it. However, sometimes a skill may require additional information in order to be executed properly. In these cases, the planner needs to be intelligent enough to sequence skills as needed in order to get the necessary information. 

For example, if a manager asks a digital employee to add an employee to a promotion nomination list, the “Add to Nomination List” skill may require additional information such as the time in current position, last salary increase amount, and last salary increase date. 

The planner would then need to determine which skills it has at its disposal can output the values needed as input for the “Add to Nomination List” skill. Using this technique, the planner can sequence two or more skills as needed in order to properly execute a workflow.


What we’ve discussed so far is how the planner can be intelligent in its skill selection and sequencing. But there’s another layer of intelligence that needs to be added to truly enable digital employees — an understanding of the business process they are orchestrating. This is more than just knowing which skills to execute and in what order. The digital employee needs to understand the high-level business context of the workflow it is executing.

There are two important layers for understanding. First, understand the self including its skills, its goals, its objectives, etc., and team context. 

The second layer is understanding the business process context. This includes understanding the input parameters required for each skill in the workflow, what output to expect from each skill, how to handle errors, and so on.

Understanding both of these layers is critical. With self and team context, they can understand what they are capable of and leverage that knowledge to execute a workflow. With business process context, they can understand exactly what needs to be done to complete the workflow successfully.


Without an identity, the digital employee is just a collection of skills. It’s the identity that gives purpose to the intelligence and orchestration capabilities.

There are two parts to identity: persona and brand. The persona is the face of the digital employee. It’s the part that interacts with users and represents them to the outside world. The brand is the set of values and attributes that define the digital employee. Together, these two parts create an identity that gives it a purpose and a place on your team.

It’s important to note that the digital employee’s identity is not static. As business needs change, so too will the digital employee’s identity. For example, if the company decides to roll out a new performance management process, the digital employee’s identity will need to change to reflect the new business process. The persona and brand will be updated to reflect the new capabilities and context of the digital employee.


Skills can be thought of as the building blocks of the digital employee. They are the individual pieces of functionality that, when combined together, enable them to carry out their purpose.

There are a different number of skills that should acquire:

  1. Analytical: Making recommendations and drawing insights from data. For example, a digital employee might be able to recommend a new product to a customer based on their purchase history. Or, might be able to detect fraudulent activity by spotting anomalies in transaction data.
  2. Communication: Interacting with users. This can include everything from responding to questions via chat to giving presentations. The goal is to be able to carry out natural conversations with humans.
  3. Integration: Connecting to other systems. This might include everything from connecting to a CRM to fetch customer data to integrating with a company’s financial system to make payments. 
  4. Productivity: Being more efficient and effective in work. It involves automating repetitive tasks or using data to make better decisions, which enables them to do the job faster and more accurately than a human could.
  5. Orchestration: Managing complex workflows, including coordinating meeting schedules, managing a sales pipeline, and more. 

Use case: A digital Employee in Marketing Department

To further understand how a digital employee can be used in practice, let’s take a look at a specific example. In this example, we’ll imagine that the company has a digital employee in the marketing department.

The digital employee’s persona is that of a marketing assistant. Its job is to help with the day-to-day tasks of the marketing team. This can include things like scheduling social media posts, sending out email campaigns, creating reports, and so on.

If we take the task of scheduling social media posts in specific, the digital employee is able to automate this task. This means:

  1. login to the social media platform
  2. select the correct account
  3. find the right scheduling tool
  4. create the post
  5. schedule the post

At each step of the process, the digital employee is carrying out a task that a human marketing assistant would typically do. The difference is that the digital employee is able to do it faster and more accurately.

Of course, the digital employee is not a replacement for human employees. Rather, it is a tool that can help to make human employees more efficient and effective in their roles.

Looking Ahead

As we move into the future, it is likely that we will see more and more companies using digital employees to help with a variety of tasks. As artificial intelligence and machine learning technology continue to develop, their capabilities will only increase.

They have the potential to transform the way that work is done, automate tasks, connect to systems, and manage workflows. In doing so, they can help to make businesses more productive and efficient.

If you’re not already using digital employees in your business, now is the time to start. What do you think? Do you think they are a valuable addition to the workforce? Or do you think they will replace human workers? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!