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Intelligent Automation Radio
27 minutes | Jun 1, 2021
Oded Karev, General Manager of Robotics Process Automation at NICE Ltd.
Who among us hasn't called a contact center at some point for customer service, tech support, or some other matter? Usually those interactions are mundane, unremarkable, and ultimately forgettable. You get what you need and go on with your day, blissfully unaware of what transpired behind the scenes to provide you that friction-free encounter. It turns out however that automation & AI often play a key role in delivering those satisfying outcomes, and NICE Ltd. (formerly Neptune Intelligence Computer Engineering) is a key player enabling those experiences. Oded Karev runs NICE's RPA division, and has a lot to say about how the attended & unattended real-time automation they’ve innovated has digitally transformed their contact center customers. He joins us to share his insights about some interesting use cases, whether or not all the various forms of automation will eventually merge into one singular platform, and briefly talks about NICE’s next major innovation - robots building robots.
27 minutes | May 15, 2021
Susie Wee, Senior Vice-President & CTO of DevNet Ecosystem Success at Cisco
Prior to their acquisition by Oracle, Sun Microsystems operated under a memorable tagline - "The network is the computer". Their slogan illustrated the maxim that tapping into the combined computational power of an entire network would yield far more impressive results than what a lone desktop could deliver on its own. That principle is center stage again today, thanks to the promise of intent-based networking (IBN), which leverages AI & machine learning to automate many network processes now managed manually. The pandemic accelerated demand for IBN-driven network automation when organizations were forced to accommodate the work from home mandate with an agile infrastructure. Consequently, network automation has emerged as one of the most important areas of focus for enterprise digital transformation, and Cisco is one of its leading providers. As Cisco’s Sr. VP & CTO of DevNet Ecosystem Success, Susie Wee is the executive entrusted with growing the community of developers & IT professionals whose skills will deliver the promise of network automation worldwide. We talk with Susie to learn her motivation in founding DevNet, the skills necessary to succeed in network automation, and what IT leaders can do to create an innovation mindset that enables their teams to solve complex network automation challenges.
20 minutes | May 1, 2021
William Falcon, Founder and CEO of Grid.ai
Failing fast is one of Agile development’s conceptual pillars. Embracing the principle of failing fast leads to lower cost of failure, accelerated learning, and innovation-driven organizational culture. In the AI & machine learning world however, where testing & fast failing of models is heavily dependent on access to computing power, these desirable benefits are often out of reach. If your employer is computationally affluent like Facebook or Google, your machine learning models enjoy the best environment to fail fast & get rapidly fine-tuned towards a minimum viable product. If your employer doesn’t have those resources, then not so much. William Falcon wants to remedy that inequality with a Training-at-Scale system that compresses research & testing from months into days. Expediting that process not only gets machine learning models into production faster, but can also accelerate an organization’s journey towards digital transformation. We talk with William about how his startup Grid.ai will provide this “superpower” and how doing so can provide enterprises with a competitive advantage.
24 minutes | Apr 15, 2021
Gaurav Dhillon, Chairman and CEO of SnapLogic
The trenches of technology's marketplace battlefield are strewn with the remains of high-tech leaders, undercut by adversaries marching in with the next great innovation. It's a manifestation of Creative Destruction, economist Joseph Schumpeter's famous theory about the continuous cycle of annihilation & creation that enables the new to replace the old. Of course "old" is a relative term in IT, but some are beginning to view automation in its current form as a legacy encumbrance. If it is, then what's next? To find out we turn to Gaurav Dhillon, Chairman and CEO of SnapLogic, a leading provider of Integration Platform-as-a-Service. Integrations are the synapses of the online world, enabling creation of neural circuits between applications, which ultimately coalesce into a computational nervous system we call the internet. Gaurav believes that combining iPaaS with AI will redefine how enterprises interact with their employees and their customers. The result will be organizations whose whole is greater than the sum of their parts.
32 minutes | Apr 1, 2021
Krishna Gade, Co-Founder and CEO of Fiddler
There's a quote circulating on the internet that "trust takes years to build, seconds to break, and forever to repair". Its author was almost certainly referring to human relationships, but it turns out this sentiment applies equally to AI-driven decision making. Complex machine-learning models feeding AI algorithms can take a long time to develop. However, if they result in people's credit applications being erroneously rejected or medical conditions being misdiagnosed, confidence in that AI will evaporate, and possibly never be restored. That's where Explainable AI comes in. Explainable AI seeks to transform a "black box" model into a fishbowl, so that its outputs are understandable, explainable, and ultimately trustworthy. One leading proponent of Explainable AI is Krishna Gade, a software engineering veteran of Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Microsoft who Co-founded Fiddler Labs, an Explainable AI company. Krishna joins us to discuss how Explainable AI can address unconscious or unintentional bias, expedite debugging of AI models, and accelerate acceptance of and trust in AI-driven decision making.
31 minutes | Mar 15, 2021
Mariesa Coughanour, Head of Automation Advisory at Cognizant
It's been remarked that while Fred Astaire was a great dancer, Ginger Rogers had to do everything he did, backwards, and in high heels. If there's a parallel to be drawn between tap dancing and the technology field, it's that high tech often requires women not only cut a rug as gracefully as men, but do so while enduring added constraints. So when a young female executive like Mariesa Coughanour overcomes any hindrance posed by our industry's disquieting gender gap and advances to such a prominent position in our profession, we take note. As head of Cognizant's Automation Advisory, Mariesa runs a practice for one of the world's leading professional services companies that transforms hyper automation from a buzzword into a reality. By tying together analytics, AI, and automation, Mariesa's team has generated tens of millions of dollars in savings for Cognizant clients. She joins us on the podcast to share her insights about the key issues surrounding hyper automation and discuss implementations she’s overseen in the pharmaceutical, insurance, and airline industries.
28 minutes | Mar 1, 2021
Robert Hutter, Founder and CEO of FireStart
"If you can't describe what you are doing as a process, you don't know what you're doing." That quote was coined by William Edwards Deming, the famous 20th-century management consultant, who viewed process excellence as a sine qua non to performance excellence. When it comes to digital transformation, process excellence is very much foundational to automation excellence. Yet surprisingly, many organizations can't fully describe what they're doing as a process, suggesting that Deming was more prescient than many realize. One man on a mission to bring process excellence to the mid-size market is Robert Hutter, Founder and CEO of FireStart. His firm focuses on human-centric process modeling, documentation, and enterprise workflow automation, resulting in holistic digital transformation. We chat with Robert to learn how enterprise workflow automation differs from robotic process automation, the natural limitations facing citizen developers, and why you should value process as the most relevant asset in your company.
22 minutes | Feb 15, 2021
Bob Friday, Vice President, CTO, and Co-Founder of Mist Systems, a Juniper Company
If a parallel could be drawn between the history of Artificial Intelligence and a professional star athlete who rehabilitated his career, it might go something like this. As a rookie, AI flashed occasional signs of brilliance that enthralled a million minds with the promise of greater possibilities. Then it floundered, getting sent down to the minor leagues to overhaul & revamp itself. Eventually it worked its way back up to the big leagues, and began fulfilling the expectations of greatness many had predicted. Now that AI is delivering consistent superstar results, organizations seeking their own operational victories want to sign it to a long-term contract. Has AI finally redeemed itself enough to gain everyone’s trust though? That’s a topic of particular interest to Bob Friday, Vice President, CTO, and Co-Founder of Mist Systems, a Juniper Company. As a pioneer in smart wireless networking, Bob has seen a lot in his storied Silicon Valley career. He stops by to share with us why 2014 was a watershed year for AI, why adoption of AI is accelerating for enterprises with complex networks, and the risks for companies who don't develop an AI for IT strategy in the coming year.
23 minutes | Feb 1, 2021
Michael Heric, Senior Partner at Bain & Company
Bain & Company, one of the world's three largest strategy consulting firms, has been at the forefront of digital transformation for many years now. Leading global organizations retain Bain’s services both to keep pace with technology advances, as well as gain competitive advantage in their markets. It’s not a bad place to be employed either, as evidenced by Glassdoor ranking Bain #1 on their list of Best Places to Work (four times!). No wonder then that Bain attracts the best, both customers and employees, which in turn leads to some of the best insights available on the state of automation. We take a peek inside this prestigious firm by interviewing Michael Heric, Senior Partner at Bain & Company, and the executive in charge of their Automation Center of Excellence. In his 20 years at Bain, Michael’s seen a lot, and he shares with us why automation is increasingly sitting outside of IT’s jurisdiction; how Bain took a disappointing automation program that yielded only a few million dollars in savings to one generating savings of over a hundred million dollars a year; and why it’s unlikely there will ever be a single platform delivering all of an organization’s automation needs.
30 minutes | Jan 15, 2021
Dave Wright, Chief Innovation Officer at ServiceNow
Longtime Harvard professor Theodore Levitt once said “Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things”. By that measure, ServiceNow must be among the most creative AND innovative organizations in the world. The disruptive product stream they've introduced to the ITSM market just in the last decade alone has propelled their growth into a $100 Billion software leviathan. They don't appear to be slowing down either. Accordingly, much of the IT world wants to know - can they maintain the same level of entrepreneurial creativity & innovation necessary to sustain that blistering pace? For insight, we speak with ServiceNow’s Chief Innovation Officer Dave Wright, the man in charge of nurturing his company’s innovative results & ensuring its market dominance. Along the way, we learn about the three different vectors ServiceNow uses to measure the maturity & effectiveness of everything from digital transformation to hyper automation; some of the most innovative automation use cases ServiceNow witnessed due to the pandemic; and the one really important skill IT professionals must have in order for them & their organizations to succeed.
33 minutes | Jan 1, 2021
Pascal Bornet, Author & former Head of AI, Automation, and Digital Innovation at McKinsey & Company
If you've already started & led the intelligent automation practice for McKinsey & Company, one of the world's three largest strategy consulting firms, and prior to that you did the same for Ernst & Young, one of the "Big Four" accounting firms, where do you go next? If you're Pascal Bornet, you and your co-authors publish a book that instantly becomes the standard reference work on intelligent automation. In this opus, you collectively distill all the valuable experience & insights gained over the years working on some of the world's biggest & most complicated automation projects. By doing so, you not only illuminate and dispel much of the mystery surrounding automation, AI, and digital transformation, but you advance its democratization for the masses. And you title it, what else, “Intelligent Automation”. We speak with Pascal about the monumental work he and his co-writers recently completed. Our discussion ends up revealing how automation raises the importance of the employee experience to the same level as the client experience, the key to getting middle management on board supporting a digital transformation, and the three most important metrics which best capture the effectiveness of automation to an enterprise.
27 minutes | Dec 15, 2020
Chaz Perera, Co-Founder & CEO of Roots Automation
Bots. They're everywhere, proliferating fast, and evolving their capabilities. Most of us are familiar with them in the form of chatbots, crawlers, and of course RPA bots, but what about an emerging class of autonomous software programs called Digital Coworkers? They’re not just next. They’re now, and are already impacting the future of work in verticals such as the insurance industry. To learn more about Digital Coworkers and how they’ll interact with their human colleagues, we talk with Chaz Perera of Roots Automation. As the former Chief Transformation Officer of AIG (America’s 4th largest insurer by assets, as of 2019), he sought a better way to deploy robotic automation in enterprise operations. Chaz explains to us why Digital Coworkers succeeded where other bots failed. Along the way we'll learn what the magic number is of automatable processes organizations need to have in order to justify establishing their own Center of Excellence, why a bot's greatest value might be freeing up staff so they can spend more time with customers, and what a future with Digital Coworkers might look like.
32 minutes | Dec 1, 2020
Kieran Gilmurray, Global Automation Lead, and Internationally Recognized Intelligent Automation Expert
The Great British Bake Off is a popular BBC reality TV series showcasing contestants' baking skills as they advance through a series of challenge rounds. The final baker remaining after weeks of elimination stages is declared the winner. It's a grueling competition requiring culinary dexterity that encompasses numerous skills & techniques. It's also a microcosm for the future of work. In the 4th Industrial Revolution, professionals (like bakers) will need to expand their repertoire of expertise in order to acquire the digital dexterity enterprises will need to compete & win globally. London-based Kieran Gilmurray is an internationally recognized intelligent automation expert. He's been preaching the gospel of digital dexterity for some time, and has some dire predictions for organizations failing to heed his advice. He joins us to share his insights, and along the way we learn why implementing a Center of Excellence is Automation 101, what the minimum ROI percentage should be to justify automating a process, and what some of the biggest disruptions will be due to digital transformation over the next few years.
18 minutes | Nov 15, 2020
Balaji Uppili, Chief Customer Success Officer for GAVS Technologies
Wikipedia defines Customer success as "...the business method ensuring customers achieve success, their desired outcomes while using your product or service." If automation is your product/service, what are the keys to ensuring it succeeds for your internal and/or external customers? When digital transformation projects have a documented failure rate as high as 84%, how should you approach implementation of automation to be part of the 16% that succeed? For answers we turn to Balaji Uppili, Chief Customer Success Officer at GAVS Technologies, one of the leading global IT service providers for midsize enterprises. As the man tasked with assuring GAVS clients get the desired outcomes they demand, he's developed critical insights on how to increase their odds of success. He shares some of his accumulated wisdom with us, including why cost reduction shouldn't be your most important measurement of success.
25 minutes | Nov 1, 2020
Kevin Collins, CEO & Founder of Charli.ai
Is conversational AI all it's cracked up to be, or is hype eclipsing hope when it comes to deliverables? Has the gap between expectations and reality grown so wide that disappointment is inevitable, both for end-users and enterprise decision-makers? Or have the majority of chatbot vendors simply been targeting the wrong use cases, inadvertently leading their customers to insurmountable dead ends? One man with a clear-eyed vision of the market opportunity uncluttered by misconceptions about the technology's potential is Kevin Collins, Founder & CEO of Charli.ai. Following GE Digital's acquisition of his IoT company Bit Stew, Kevin set out to build a personal AI Chief-of-Staff front-ended by a chatbot. With Charli.ai recently emerging from stealth mode, Kevin joins us on the podcast to explain why despite expert predictions falling short about conversational AI's advances he's still enthusiastic about the technology; why front-end conversational interactions must never exceed back-end automation capabilities; and how CIO's should approach conversational AI implementations.
26 minutes | Oct 15, 2020
Peter Voss, Founder, CEO, and Chief Scientist at Aigo.ai
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has divided AI's evolution into 3 distinct waves. Currently, we find ourselves in the 2nd wave, dominated by machine learning and big data. The 3rd wave however, is nearly upon us, and will allow AI to go from learning and perceiving to reasoning and possibly even generalizing. The ability to generalize is AI’s holy grail. Though rarely mentioned by its name – Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) – it’s often depicted in SciFi movies and books. DARPA predicts that next-generation methods will be required in order to achieve AGI. Peter Voss is the man who coined the term AGI and is one of the field’s foremost thought leaders. Peter joins us on this episode to discuss cognitive architecture, a theory of computational structure he advocates for, and which he believes is our best path to an AGI future. We chat about a number of interesting subjects, and along the way learn why the very nature of cognitive architecture may eliminate the problem of bias in AI, why conversational AI is the killer app for cognitive architecture, and why the Turing Test isn't very useful for appraising a machine's intelligence.
24 minutes | Oct 1, 2020
Dwayne White, Vice President of Technology Automation at LPL Financial Services
Some of you were introduced to automation in school, or at work, or perhaps even by a family member or friend. Our guest on this episode began his automation journey in the US Marine Corps. Corporal Dwayne White's first automation project involved "digitally transforming" a manual process done on a Xerox typewriter into a far more efficient solution done on a PC. From there, he progressed through successive levels of technical & executive responsibility, until reaching his current position as VP of Technology Automation at LPL Financial Services. As the largest independent broker dealer in the country supporting nearly 17,000 financial advisors, technology plays an outsized role in LPL Financial's success. Dwayne was instrumental in leveraging automation to power LPL's growth, both as a hands-on techie and as a manager. He shares some key insights with us in this episode, and we learn how automation mitigates risk for LPL Financial, the specific kinds of processes LPL automates, and why you shouldn't look at automation as a replacement for your staff.
25 minutes | Sep 15, 2020
Yousuf Khan - Partner at Ridge Ventures
Perhaps you've heard the famous African Proverb "If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go with others". Our guest on this episode has gone far, but he's also gone pretty fast. Yousuf Khan has been CIO for a number of high-profile startups, a couple of them quite notable in the automation space. His talent and vision led him to those roles, but his networking and outreach allowed him to excel. Now as Partner with an early stage venture capital fund, he advises both CIOs and startups on how they can work together to bring next generation innovations to market. We learn quite a few insights from Yousuf in this discussion, including when it's better to use artificial intelligence versus automation, how IT executives can prepare themselves to become CIOs, and why the CIO Group Therapy Dinners he started have not only led to better CIO decision-making, but better features in technology products.
31 minutes | Sep 1, 2020
Charles Lamanna - Corporate Vice President, Low Code Application Platform at Microsoft
"To me, Microsoft is about empowerment... we are the original democratizing force, putting a PC in every home and every desk." That quote by CEO Satya Nadella, of course, reflects the ubiquity achieved by the Windows operating system. His company’s feat of democratization however, is just prologue to the coming revolution Microsoft foresees in automation. An upheaval expected to be so disruptive to the status quo, it will empower the information worker masses to finally overthrow the oppressive yoke of robotic tasks smothering their productivity. With newfound freedom to unleash their ingenuity, they’ll not only enrich their own lives, but add greater value to the organizations employing them. The Microsoft executive charged with redressing the imbalance between toil & talent plaguing white collar wage earners is Charles Lamanna. As Corporate Vice President, Low Code Application Platform, his portfolio of responsibility encompasses all the critical assets needed to bring Microsoft’s lofty vision to life. In this wide-ranging discussion, we get first-hand insight from a senior executive on the vital role automation plays in the software giant’s Cloud-First, Mobile-First strategy. Along the way we’ll also learn why the shifting ratio of repetition to creativity within a given task will determine which automation type it’s best suited for; the automation skills one should master to position themselves for success in the future; and what the single biggest disruptor for automation will be over the next few years.
29 minutes | Aug 15, 2020
Mark Settle - Author & former CIO of Oxy, BMC Software, & Okta
HBO’s emmy-nominated comedy series Silicon Valley offers a humorous behind-the-scenes take on the trials and tribulations of technology startups. Its techie-driven dialogue is unusual for mainstream entertainment, but refreshing for those of us in IT. Pulling back the curtains on life at Silicon Valley IT departments is a specialty of our guest on this episode, Mark Settle. As a 7-time CIO of companies such as Oxy, BMC Software, & Okta, Mark reveals quite a bit in his latest book "Truth from the Valley, A Practical Primer on IT Management for the Next Decade". Drawing upon his many experiences leading IT shops, Mark succinctly articulates both the problems with current approaches to IT, and his prescription for how people, processes, and technology must adapt to a digitally transformed future. Along the way we’ll learn what he thinks are the top three characteristics a CIO should look for when hiring an IT professional (other than intelligence), the key to overcoming robophobia among staff, and why a CIO’s success depends on them picking a handful of things to be Best-in-Class at.
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