I was recently in Las Vegas for Pegaworld iNspire 2023, Pegaannual customer event. It’s the first time in four years that it’s been held in person, and it’s been great to reconnect with many familiar faces, meet some new ones, and catch up on all things Pega.
I’ve always loved Pega as a company. I love their people, what they stand for, their vision of customer engagement and service, their technology and how they always seem to be at the forefront of emerging customer and technology issues, like next best action strategies, how to be more empathetic of the customer experience and the responsible use of AI.
Here are four things that stood out to me at the event:
1. Autonomous Company
In his opening speech, Alan Trefler, founder and CEO of Pega, introduced the concept of the autonomous companya company that applies AI and automation to decision making, operations and maintenance across the organization to make it self-optimizing to achieve maximum efficiency, effectiveness and better customer outcomes.
This announcement felt like a realization of something Pega had been alluding to and working towards for some time. Rob Walker, Pega’s GM 1:1 Customer Engagement, described a similar vision to me in 2016, on my podcast, when he said: “They (Pega) will eventually be able to use their data, analytics, AI and machine learning capabilities that come from their ‘always on brain’ (the Customer Decision Hub) to help businesses help all the different actions, interactions and reactions that take place between each customer and themselves, so they can optimize their operations and customer experience in real time. This means that their technology will eventually be able to ‘steer’ a small part of the business.”
Moreover, when asked whether the rise of generative AI had changed their vision or just accelerated it, the answer was unanimous: it had only accelerated it.
2. Generative AI developments
Like many tech companies, Pega’s team has been hard at work over the past few months building an initial set of 20 new generative AI-powered applications, what they call “boosters,” that will be deployed on the Pega Infinity™ platform.
These include things like helping marketers produce more compelling marketing messages by providing text and image suggestions, understanding how AI decisions are made (particularly useful for brands operating in regulated industries), helping launch and accelerate of the low-code application development process, automatic call or interaction summaries for both salespeople and customer agents, faster access to knowledge and easier access to operational insights.
While many other customer experience and engagement tech companies are developing their capabilities similarly, it was some of the little things between their feature sets and demos that stood out to me.
For example, the integration of Cialdini’s Principles of Persuasion that marketers can use to make suggestions on how to change their copy and messaging to improve impact and engagement felt considered, innovative and transparent.
In addition, an innovative live demo where setting up a new loan application workflow in Turkish was completed in less time than it took to make a Western omelette showed how easy it is to use their new Gen AI opportunities in real time .
3. Process Mining
Powered by Pega’s acquisition of Everflow last year, another big announcement was the launch of Process Mining. This will use AI and special algorithms to model and analyze existing processes based on event log data. This allows it to pinpoint bottlenecks and other pain points impacting customers or employees and then suggest and prioritize more efficient ways for staff to refine their processes.
As brands increasingly automate more of the simpler tasks that customers and employees deal with, I think the release of Process Mining is really interesting because it will allow brands to target the “messy middle” of customer service.
It’s important to remember that a company’s ability to deliver a great customer experience doesn’t just exist at the outward-facing edges of an organization. It’s also at the heart and in the deepest recesses and, in particular, the ability to connect and empower all the teams, systems and resources needed to deliver that standout experience. Process Mining helps identify all the blockages and obstacles that prevent that, and that’s good news.
4. The underlying buzz
Overall I am still impressed with Pega, their people, technology and vision and what Pegaworld showed is that the possibilities with their platform are endless.
However, the underlying “buzz” emanating from the conference is that it’s not technology slowing brands down.
The technology offers more than enough possibilities and its implementation is well known and well understood.
The biggest roadblock seems to be the business transformation part: understanding the problem, getting the vision clear, articulating the why, achieving alignment, taking people on board, developing the business case and doing the work to make the changes needed to deliver the improved outcomes that organizations want.
It doesn’t have to be fancy. It just has to be pragmatic and focused on delivering results and value.
So brands have the tools. Now they have to watch the buzz.