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AI in Context: WalkMe’s Workflow Automation Preps Users for AI Success

AI in Context: WalkMe’s Workflow Automation Preps Users for AI Success

The News: On May 2, WalkMe, a Digital Adoption Platform (DAP) company, held an Analyst Day in New York City. Industry analysts, investment analysts, and several clients attended the briefings. I focused on the company’s AI features and direction, which I discuss in this Research Note. For more information, visit the WalkMe AI web page.

AI in Context: WalkMe’s Workflow Automation Preps Users for AI Success

Analyst Take: The AI features shown across the WalkMe product demonstrate many years of research and engineering, providing a well-designed automation foundation for seamlessly integrating generative AI (GenAI) and increasing user productivity.

What WalkMe Does

In the beginning of software applications, there were monoliths, and the monoliths could do everything. We were at the mercy of the monoliths, for they knew all our data and knew best how we should accomplish every task. Over time, independent and more agile applications arose and challenged the monoliths. They could do some tasks better and became increasingly programmable. Our data spread across these upstarts, and they, too, started to grow large.

The cloud came, and we moved some business-critical apps and data off-premises. The web ruled! The browser was the host UI for many of these apps, and our data was … somewhere. We spread tasks over many cloud-based platforms. Business processes became more challenging to connect and synchronize, and each organization used a different collection of apps. While life was often easier if you worked entirely inside one app, that was hardly ever the case.

Through a combination of AI, rules, templates, and documentation, WalkMe lives over these apps and connects the UIs semantically. This smart layering allows you to automate a workflow over best-in-class, customizable, and tailored business tools while getting the guidance and actions to perform the entire process from beginning to end.

Enter AI

Before we get into AI’s good and approved uses, let’s discuss shadow AI. IT departments have long restricted the software applications that employees can use within their organizations. IT may implement the rules because of known security problems, commercial license stipulations, or concerns over free and open-source licenses. Employees may have monitoring software on their computers and phones to ensure adherence to the restrictions.

Shadow AI is the unauthorized use of AI applications. Business owners worry about employees passing sensitive or secret information to a large language model (LLM). The data might include code, protected personal information, strategy documents, etc. Imagine if I had a product plan for the next year and put it into an open web-based LLM with the prompt “Make this document more concise and dynamic.” That company-secret plan is now in the LLM, might be used for training, and could be used to respond to some other user.

WalkMe allows you to track all uses of AI, shadow and otherwise, through your employees’ browser-based productivity apps. You may then intercede, perhaps installing a safe and private version of that LLM that protects your information. WalkMe can remind your employees about the company’s data policies, and so has a just-in-time educational function for Responsible AI use.

Since WalkMe sits on top of the browser-based tools, it can analyze how efficiently your employees use them. Does it take longer to add information than it should? Are specific fields particularly prone to input errors? You can use this information to redesign forms or offer usage guidance. It is unclear to me how “AI” this is right now versus statistical, but as long as it works within the framework of making the user’s life easier, I don’t care what you call it. We’re not looking for any notion of AI purity here but rather the necessary tools to make users more productive, fulfill their business goals, and get the most from the software investments.

Action, Not Words

If I were to prompt an LLM with “Fill out my travel expense form for the New York City trip last week,” I would not be happy if it gave me a list of instructions for how to do so. Text-to-text is interesting, but text-to-action is invaluable. WalkMe doesn’t guess how to do this process; it uses customizable templates, the data in the relevant business apps, and learning to help you perform the task. It increasingly incorporates GenAI based on foundation models augmented with the data companies use to operate. It respects the security and access control of your other tools. It performs tasks both mundane and complex and can generate the contextual content and guidance your users need.

Key Takeaway

The best business AI is the AI you don’t even know is there. We live in a world of powerful web- and cloud-based apps with our data distributed among them. With its history of automation, WalkMe is increasingly incorporating practical AI to make business users more efficient and companies more “correct data”-centric.

We will not return to the age of monolithic software. Instead, businesses will be free to use the best tools available and not allow vendors to lock in all their processes and data. I appreciate the connectivity and automation implemented between pairs of tools, but we need full DAP coordination over our essential operations. WalkMe’s features are impressive and show the framework on which the company will extend its AI and other capabilities.

Disclosure: The Futurum Group is a research and advisory firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this article. The author does not hold an equity position in any company mentioned in this article.

Analysis and opinions expressed herein are specific to the analyst individually and data and other information that might have been provided for validation, not those of The Futurum Group as a whole.

Other Insights from The Futurum Group:

Companies Lose Money, Employees Lose Time Without Digital Adoption

WalkMe for Shadow AI: Guardrails and Guidance Within the Flow of Work

WalkMe Q4 2023: The Company Reaches a Record Profitability Milestone

Author Information

Dr. Bob Sutor has been a technical leader and executive in the IT industry for over 40 years.Bob’s industry role is to advance quantum and AI technologies by building strong business, partner, technical, and educational ecosystems. The singular goal is to evolve quantum and AI to help solve some of the critical computational problems facing society today. Bob is widely quoted in the press, delivers conference keynotes, and works with industry analysts and investors to accelerate understanding and adoption of quantum technologies.Bob is the Vice President and Practice Lead for Emerging Technologies at The Futurum Group. He helps clients understand sophisticated technologies in order to make the best use of them for success in their organizations and industries. He is also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University at Buffalo, New York, USA.More than two decades of Bob’s career were spent in IBM Research in New York. During his time there, he worked on or led efforts in symbolic mathematical computation, optimization, AI, blockchain, and quantum computing. He was also an executive on the software side of the IBM business in areas including middleware, software on Linux, mobile, open source, and emerging industry standards. He was the Vice President of Corporate Development and, later, Chief Quantum Advocate, at Infleqtion, a quantum computing and quantum sensing company based in Boulder, Colorado USA.Bob is a theoretical mathematician by training, has a Ph.D. from Princeton University, and an undergraduate degree from Harvard College.

He’s the author of a book about quantum computing called Dancing with Qubits which was published in 2019, with the Second Edition scheduled for release in April, 2024. He is also the author of the 2021 book Dancing with Python, an introduction to Python coding for classical and quantum computing.Areas in which he’s worked: quantum computing, AI, blockchain, mathematics and mathematical software, Linux, open source, standards management, product management and marketing, computer algebra, and web standards.

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