AiThority Interview with Sagi Dudai, Chief Technology Officer at Vonage
Know My Company
Tell us about your journey in technology and how you started at Vonage.
I began my career as a Developer in the Israel Defense Force, where I worked on Classified Software and Hardware Engineering projects for Israeli intelligence. I completed an intense Computer Science training program and fell in love with IT. After spending a few years in the cyber division of the Israel Defense Force, I went on to earn my Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science and Business Administration from Tel Aviv University.
As my career progressed, I became immersed in technologies like Cloud, Mobile, Machine Learning and AI. Prior to joining Vonage in 2012 as VP of Mobile Development, I held engineering leadership roles.
In my current role as Chief Technology Officer at Vonage, I am responsible for leading the company’s technology vision, architecture and design. I oversee technology development across the company, including new products, the technologies behind them, and R&D. Prior to becoming CTO, I was SVP of Software Engineering and network and led all the software development and network divisions for Vonage.
Tell us about Vonage’s AI offerings for the Communications industry.
Vonage has invested tremendously in Conversational AI for the future of business tech. With the acquisition of Voice AI platform provider, Over.ai earlier this year, Vonage has committed to building more opportunities for businesses to leverage AI capabilities via the One Vonage platform.
Vonage’s entire suite of AI offering provides intelligent Virtual Assistant functionality via APIs, enabling businesses to enhance their IVR; handle complex interactions with real-time human-like interactions over phone lines, and lower operational costs while significantly improving service.
The power of these AI-driven capabilities provides businesses with a balance between automation and human support to deliver the service that customers demand.
Though the Vonage Connect API Partner Program, a community-based, collaborative ecosystem of technology and AI platform partners, partners have access to our comprehensive programmable communications platform, giving them the ability to leverage technology to build unique solutions to help customers differentiate themselves from the competition which includes core communication APIs across Voice, SMS, IP messaging and Video.
With more than 100 partners strong, the program is designed to help Vonage partners find new opportunities, strategize to stay ahead of the competition, and ultimately create more compelling customer experiences for the enterprises they serve through AI. With Vonage APIs, our AI Platform partners are meeting the needs of enterprises that require complete solutions customized to their unique requirements. Several industry leaders, including Microsoft, Facebook, MuleSoft, Built.io, Tray.io, Converse.ai, and Aspect Software are already a part of the Vonage Connect API partner ecosystem.
Almost every industry is heavily disrupted by Big Data, AI, Blockchain, and Predictive Intelligence technologies. What kind of future are you building with your AI and ML products?
With AI we are moving from digital unified communication to intelligent communication. By harnessing AI and ML we have the ability to introduce products, processes, and services that can continuously learn and evolve from every interaction, whether that interaction is with a customer, employee or even other machines.
The main elements we see for intelligent communication are Big Data – accurate, granular, complete (with robust metadata) and low latency, Advanced Analytics – to create continuous learning and adapting processes, and deliver actionable insights and Intelligent Applications – enabling Human-Machine interactions.
How does Vonage impact Sales and Marketing with AI in Contact Centers? Which Contact Center capabilities are making the most impact on current tech stack and budgets?
Call center market spends on salaries is estimated at 150B in the US only, with more than 3.4M contact center workers. Globally, the market is even bigger and at scale. HR challenges for the contact center go beyond costs. There is a consistent increase in call center minutes across all industries, which is responsible for increased operational costs.
Agent turnover tends to be highest among entry-level agents – about 27%, with 6.2% leaving within 30 days. More than a third of HR executives believe it’s harder to fill open positions now than it was last year. Introducing our Conversational AI platform to the market not only taps into a huge revenue potential, revolutionizing and disrupting an industry that hasn’t changed for the last century, but it also solves a dramatic HR and operational problem.
Apart from the ones in the US, which industries and geographies are you currently targeting?
We’ll be deploying AI as part of the infrastructure, services and supporting languages across Vonage’s footprint, including the EU with its strong contact center market and APAC with its strong adoption for API and messaging.
What are your predictions on the future of AI-based Unified Communications in 2020-2024?
APIs will continue to change the business Cloud Communications market, elevating the role of the developer as organizations look to drive customer experience innovation.
With the increasing availability of open APIs (which will grow in 2020 and in the years to come), application and programmability capabilities like AI and ML are not an either/or equation anymore. It will no longer be the case that businesses will have to build everything from scratch in order to create a solution tailored to their particular needs.
Sophisticated APIs have brought about a new generation of application development, through which voice, messaging, and AI services can be embedded into next-generation applications and channels and we will continue to see this trend become more mainstream in the years to come.
AI will become an integrated component in the Unified Communication technology stack allowing for rapid deployment or intelligent applications. Next-generation productivity and collaboration services will mainly be driven based on data and advanced ML analytics.
The Crystal Gaze
What digital technology start-ups and labs are you keenly following?
What other emerging technologies within your industry are you interested in?
API security, AI in the call center space, and IaaS
Do you think AI-enabled technologies will become ubiquitous to every Marketing and Sales operation?
Yes, they will. They will not only become ubiquitous to Marketing and Sales functions but to every operation within an organization. Let’s take a look at the example of an airplane.
One area that I think AI will quickly evolve in is evidence: everything is starting from cars to planes to SOMETHING ELSE, pretty evolved, if i can take this to our own domain, UCaaS, evolution of Machine Learning and AI, will continue to improve quality of agents, some of the problems that exist today in regards to call quality are caused by loss of packets, the voice that transfers from you to me and me to you, it doesn’t go outside as it should be, what if we could predict patterns and autocorrect it. If i told you something and the data got scrambled, what if the machine could tell what you actually meant to say.
Evolution that is happening, a few years from now, call quality wasn’t good, we won’t be able to think of that
What are the new emerging markets for these technology markets?
Another area where AI and Machine Learning is getting a ton of attention is within fraud detection. Amazon can understand where fraud is happening based on AI and ML. PayPal is using Machine Learning to predict fraud and react to fraud in real-time. PayPal applies two-factor authentication, doing this on a day to day basis and successfully. All these organizations apply Machine Learning algorithms in real-time to prevent fraud.
Another example, there are customer retention issues, one way to address that is to apply Machine Learning algorithms to follow the user behavior and analyze what an engaged customer is and what customers are likely to have attrition, then you can act upon that before that churn. Settle, provide discounts, etc.
What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?
Keep mobile phones outside of meeting rooms as much as possible
Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read.
Steve Fisher, Bezos, Mask.
Thank you, Sagi! That was fun and hope to see you back on AiThority soon.
Sagi Dudai is Chief Technology Officer. In this role, he is responsible for leading Vonage’s technology vision, architecture and design, overseeing all aspects of technology development, including new products, their enabling technologies and R&D. Prior to being named CTO, Mr. Dudai was Senior Vice President of Software Engineering for Vonage, responsible for software development company-wide.
Mr. Dudai has more than 20 years of experience at the forefront of the fastest moving technology industry trends, including cloud, mobile, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). Prior to joining Vonage in 2012, he held engineering leadership roles at various technology companies, including three startups – Mercury Interactive, TelMap & fring – which were later acquired by Hewlett-Packard, Intel and GenBand, respectively. Earlier, he also worked on a number of classified software and hardware engineering projects for Israeli intelligence.
He graduated from the prestigious IDF computer science training program and earned his B.A. in Computer Science & Business Administration from Tel Aviv University. He also holds an Executive M.B.A from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
Vonage is redefining business communications once again. We’re making communications more flexible, intelligent, and personal, to help enterprises the world over, stay ahead. We provide unified communications, contact centers and programmable communications APIs, built on the world’s most flexible cloud communications platform. True to our roots as a technology disruptor, our flexible approach helps us to better serve the growing collaboration, communications, and customer experience needs of companies, across all communications channels.