Special Thanks: Nikos Takoulis and Tomas Werner
What is Citrix Assistant?
Citrix Assistant is a virtual assistant available with Citrix Workspace. It provides an easy medium to accomplish tasks such as viewing employee information, finding expense reports, and finding tickets.
The virtual assistant pulls data from connected applications and helps you quickly find the information you need. It uses automated intelligence, machine learning capabilities, and natural language processing to understand the app context, conversation context, and user intent.
Why Citrix Assistant?
The time employees spend looking for internal information, learning how to use new applications, and context switching between apps can lead to a loss of productivity. Low productivity has a negative impact on employee engagement.
The Citrix Workspace virtual assistance feature improves employee engagement and productivity by providing immediate access to relevant content and business data.
Three key benefits of the virtual assistance feature are:
- Keeps the user experience simple by using a natural, conversational style.
- Improves employee engagement by reducing the number of context switches, logons, searches, and click-throughs.
- Enhances productivity by finding information quickly within the user’s context, and by automating repetitive routine tasks.
How to access Citrix Assistant?
You can interact with Citrix Assistant from any endpoint that is enabled by Citrix Workspace:
- from the Citrix Workspace app on any device.
- from within an application context such as Microsoft Teams.
From Citrix Workspace, click the Citrix Assistant icon to start using its capabilities.
Citrix Assistant supports various skills such as a directory skill (Who does that person report to again?), a PTO skill (How many PTO days does an employee have left this year?), a learning courses skill (What courses are available to an employee?), and many more.
For a complete list of available skills, click the Skills menu on the Citrix Assistant interface.
Citrix Assistant supports the following apps:
- MS Dynamics
- SAP Ariba
- SAP SuccessFactors
Citrix Assistant is offered as a feature of Citrix Workspace. To familiarize yourself with Citrix Workspace, see Citrix Workspace documentation.
Skill: A rich set of capabilities provided by the virtual assistant to the users of the Workspace clients. The skills enable end user conversations with the virtual assistant. This allows the user to perform a specific query or task on the available SaaS applications/System of Records. For example, skills include PTO, Email, Calendar, and Company Directory.
Utterance: A phrase entered into the Citrix Assistant by the end user querying for information from the assistant. For example, “show my team’s time-off requests” is an utterance. The user expects the assistant to provide with the appropriate information in response to an utterance.
Response: The answer provided to the end user in response to the utterance. It is based on the intent that the virtual assistant processes. A response might include data from the appropriate System of Records or other responses to help the user supply the proper phrasing to achieve their true intent.
Intent: A pre-defined set of questions that users might ask the Citrix Assistant. Each intent is a use case or workflow that a natural language request translates into. For example, “who is Billy Taylor” would translate into the intent Directory.Lookup.
Entity: An intent modifier used by the virtual assistant to provide the user with personalized and accurate responses. Entities help the virtual assistant to extract important information from the natural language input such as phone numbers, names, and places. For example, in the utterance “show all time-off requests pending my approval” the entities are “all,” “pending,” and “my.”
Microapps: Small, task-specific applications that deliver highly targeted functionality. These apps allow users to accomplish single-purpose activities in a simple and quick manner. Microapps deliver actionable forms and notifications. Microapps can write back to source systems.
Microapps service: Refers to several components inside Citrix Cloud focused on delivering actions from your applications into your Workspace or other channels. Microapps service includes the microapps administrator, the microapps server, and cache.
Resolver: Provides the configuration of the mapping between the virtual assistant’s natural language understanding and the API calls to microapps API. Citrix assistant resolvers on the Microapps service are required to process the queries sent from the assistant to the microapp. The resolver retains specific data sent from the microapps database to the assistant. When you create an integration in the Microapp service, the Citrix assistant resolvers are configured by default. You can edit these resolvers and you can also add new resolvers.
How Citrix Assistant works
Citrix Assistant uses machine learning and automated intelligence to parse natural language into structured language and retrieve the requested information.
The following image shows the high-level steps that the virtual assistant takes to get information to end users.
As shown in the preceding image,
The user sends a request to the virtual assistant in natural language. For example, “show my time-off requests.”
The virtual assistant then sends the request to a service to parse it into intent and entities.
Next, the virtual assistant sends the parsed text to another service to resolve the context, for example, what does “my” mean.
The virtual assistant communicates with the Microapps service to retrieve intent-specific information.
The Microapps service queries the cache database to retrieve the requested information. For information about the Microapps service, see Microapps.
Citrix Assistant resolvers, pre-configured on the Microapps service for each integration, process the queries sent from the virtual assistant to the Microapps service.
For information about Citrix Assistant resolvers and how to edit or add resolvers, see Configure Citrix Assistant resolvers.
Architecture and process flow
The virtual assistant architecture includes different μ-services. Citrix maintains all components and hosts them within the Citrix Cloud control plane. The following components and µ-services are used by the virtual assistant.
Endpoints: Enables users to interact with Citrix Assistant. You can interact with Citrix Assistant from any endpoint that is enabled by Citrix Workspace:
- from the Citrix Workspace app on any device.
- from within an application context such as Microsoft Teams.
Bot μ-service: Manages all end user requests and sessions. It routes all utterances or events to appropriate μ-services to fulfill the requests and return a response to the end user.
Utterance μ-service: Uses natural language processing (NLP) to understand and extract the meaning of a user utterance (request). An example of a user utterance is “show my time-off requests.” The user interacts with the virtual assistant using natural language. However, at the back end, this language must be understood, processed, and structured to retrieve the correct response for the end user. The utterance μ-service performs the following activities:
- Processes text utterances to perform spellcheck.
- Communicates with the NLU μ-service to extract the intent and entities of the utterance.
- Processes the intent and entities and presents them in an acceptable format by the other μ-service.
Spellcheck μ-service: Corrects anything that is misspelled in the user’s natural language request.
Language models: Detects intents of and parses entities from the user utterances.
Skills μ-service: Manages dialogs and conversations with the user by fetching specific data from the Microapps service to create a response.
- Microapps service: Refers to several components inside Citrix Cloud focused on delivering actions from your applications into your Workspace or other channels. This is responsible for providing information to the virtual assistant.
The following image shows the high-level architecture and process flow for the virtual assistant:
Pre-requisite to using Citrix Assistant
Before end users can use Citrix Assistant from any of the endpoints, you must do the following:
- Enable Microapps service on Workspace. For more information, see Getting started with Microapps.
- Ensure that pre-configured Citrix Assistant resolvers are available with the app integrations.
Configuring Citrix Assistant resolvers
The Citrix Assistant resolvers process the queries sent from the virtual assistant to the microapp. A resolver includes the configuration of the mapping between the assistant’s natural language understanding and the API calls to Microapps.
When you create an integration in the Microapps service, the Citrix Assistant resolvers are configured by default. You can modify these resolvers and you can also add new resolvers.
For information about Citrix Assistant resolvers and how to edit or add resolvers, see Configure Citrix Assistant resolvers
Authentication and authorization
The end user authenticates to Citrix Workspace to interact and engage with the virtual assistant. Communication between services in the back end is encrypted using TLS encryption 1.2 or above. The bot μ-service, the skills μ-service, and the Microapps service uses RSA key pairs with one-time tokens to enable trust between the services. The authorization path must be implemented on the Microapps service platform.
For information about Microapps service security and service authentication, see:
Working with Citrix Assistant
The availability of Citrix Assistant on any device helps you take care of many tasks on the go and between meetings. It eliminates the need to launch your application, remember your sign-on information, or navigate to the required information.
Consider a scenario where Amy is the manager in a company and her organization uses Workday to track time-off details.
Amy wants to view time-off requests submitted by her team and pending her approval. Instead of launching and signing in to Workday, she uses Citrix assistant and types in natural language “show all time-off requests pending my approval.” Citrix assistant immediately shows her the list of all pending time-off requests.
Amy can also click View to see more details of each time-off request. In this example, she can view details such as date when the request was submitted and the reason for the time-off request.
If Amy wants to view time-off request of an employee, she can type “find billy taylor’s time-off request” and get the information immediately. To see more information such as the reason for the time-off request, she can click View Details.
Before your employees begin using the virtual assistant, you must ensure Citrix Assistant resolvers are configured on the Microapps service. For more information, see Configure Citrix Assistant resolvers
In this article
- What is Citrix Assistant?
- Why Citrix Assistant?
- How to access Citrix Assistant?
- Supported apps
- How Citrix Assistant works
- Architecture and process flow
- Pre-requisite to using Citrix Assistant
- Configuring Citrix Assistant resolvers
- Authentication and authorization
- Working with Citrix Assistant