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AiThority Interview with Oded Karev, General Manager of Robotics Process Automation at NICE

AiThority Interview with Oded Karev, General Manager of Robotics Process Automation at NICE

Hi Oded, please tell us about your role and the team / technology you handle at NICE. 

I am the general manager of NICE’s Advanced Process Automation line of business. NICE is an enterprise software portfolio company, and I am responsible for the entire RPA business, including all elements of the automation life cycle that we address with our customers. I oversee all the functions within the automation business such as R&D, marketing, sales, customer success, and professional services. I have been with the company for eight years, and members of my team have honed their automation expertise over two decades.

I originally worked in NICE’s corporate strategy division and within this role, I saw the huge potential for NICE to thrive in the world of RPA due to its strategic positioning and technological expertise. And with that, I was given the mandate to lead NICE’s RPA division.

With my strong background in corporate strategy development focusing on digital, customer service, and customer journey transformation, my vision is to lead NICE’s automation business into an exciting and dynamic customer experience and service-centric future. We believe that by bringing people and robots together, organizations can enable intelligent process optimization while unleashing their employees to deliver exceptional customer experience.

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How did your role evolve through the pandemic months? How did your previous experiences with technology management help you scale your efforts and meet unprecedented challenges?

Being in a global role requires working across different geographies. When the pandemic broke, we managed to successfully set up a robust remote work infrastructure for NICE employees across the globe. In addition, we came up with creative solutions to support our customers through these dynamic and challenging times. We knew that our solution could actually act as a facilitator for our customers, and wanted to get it on as many contact center agent desktops as possible to help them continue servicing their customers flawlessly – even as they too transitioned to work from home. To achieve that, we created special pre-defined, fast-to-install, and realize value packages.

Our fast turnaround allowed for our business continuity, as well as our customers’.

RPA trends are positively influencing workplace culture. How is NICE leading the path as an industry leader to improve the adoption of RPA capabilities across various industries?

The main trend we are seeing is the increasing importance of the human factor when executing enterprise business processes.

We believe that humans will play a critical role in implementing operational processes in the foreseeable future. The trend of humans and robots working side-by-side and collaborating in the workplace is growing. The commonly held view of RPA replacing human employees will shift towards acknowledging the role of process bots in augmenting human performance and potential. This will be achieved by attended bots providing the right data and real-time guidance to the employees at the right time, in addition to taking away all the repetitive and mundane processing tasks. This enables employees to be at the forefront of making complex judgment calls and showing empathy to customers.

To increase RPA adoption success, many enterprises are acknowledging the importance of better embracing and understanding the psychological components that form an integral part of any change management intervention.

By understanding that robots exist to augment human employees and by involving relevant employees in the automation program from the onset, the chances of a successful adoption are higher. Another critical component is to ensure ease of use via rich and interactive interfaces and by personalizing each bot to display and articulate the unique verbal and visual language of each organization.

If we were to evaluate the RPA maturity trends, which industries have been leading in RPA adoption? How do you enable the slower / lagging industries come to pace with RPA adoption?

There has been a significant uptake and adoption of RPA within the financial services, telecommunication, and government sectors, and we see RPA steadily moving into other industries as well, such as technology and IT. Financial services players demand automation solutions to enable them to realign their resources to focus on high-value, customer-facing and strategic roles instead of repetitive tasks. Attended automation further enhances the ability of employees to deliver highly personalized service to customers while also processing customer requests accurately and in full compliance, a critical element in building trust.

Ultimately, RPA is not a verticalized solution and any industry can enjoy the value and benefits that it brings. RPA is a platform from which process automations are developed and deployed and it is subject to the unique operational complexities facing specific organizations within different industries. The greater the volume of process automation deployments within the organization, the greater the ROI obtained.

Could you tell us what kind of IT and Data Management infrastructure does a company require to successfully transform into a RPA adoption center? What kind of support does NICE provide in this regard?

This largely depends on whether the organization prefers to deploy RPA in the cloud or on-prem. Generally, IT needs to install the software and set up the preferred infrastructure. An RPA adoption center or dedicated automation unit within an enterprise is generally known as an Automation Center of Excellence (CoE). An automation CoE includes the people, processes, and technology necessary to maximize the benefits of automation. It is crucial to finding new automation opportunities, scaling and managing automations within the organization, and carrying out the long-term vision.

NICE provides all the education and content needed to help organizations to successfully establish their Automation CoE’s.

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Tell us more about your product “Automation Finder”. How does it leverage AI and Machine Learning capabilities to kick-start an RPA journey? 

Automation Finder is a unique and home-grown innovation that was born from our inspiration to solve one of the most pressing issues facing the RPA industry – selecting the right business processes for automation to ensure deployment success.  Automation Finder leverages desktop analytics and unsupervised machine learning to collect and analyze employee desktop data. The business insights gained result in clear and accurate recommendations of process sequences best suited for automation. This enables ongoing process optimization, effective RPA expansion and scaling within the organization.

Conversely, how does NICE RPA help to create an effective AI ML-based roadmap for all your products?

Tell us more about the composition of your AI ML development team and how they work with your RPA product marketing team?

We adopt both a narrow AI approach by investing in a team of data scientists within our R&D department to build out-of-the-box solutions  based on AI engines that provide value to our customers, as well as  integrations with leading AI platforms such as AWS, MS Azure, and others. Our goal is to help our customers build customized AI solutions to support their specific needs.

Our approach at NICE is to build the right ML models to solve very specific use cases or problems that our customers are facing. Then, we train the correct model, collect the correct data which is followed by testing and validating the models with our customers.

An example of how our unique AI-driven approach works in practice is via our intelligent automation opportunity discovery tool Automation Finder.

Real employee desktop data is collected, followed by automatically generated recommendations based on the unsupervised ML algorithms. Over time, the recommendations keep improving, based on the input that the system receives from the Business Analyst.

Hear it from the pro: How can healthcare services companies and healthcare insurance providers benefit from using RPA for their various operations? Could you explain the scenario in healthcare RPA with your own customer success stories, if any?

We have a number of customers within the Health Care industry globally who are experiencing the positive impact of attended automation on their business operations and service delivery.

One example is the National Health Service (NHS) provider in Scotland with over 1.3 million employees. In the past year, they experienced significant operational pressures in terms of long wait lists for patients, little capacity to focus on effective triaging and a sharp increase in urgent referrals that needed to be manually processed by clinicians.

We brought in NEVA, our Attended Automation solution, to automatically handle the triage process. NEVA alerts clinicians to priority patients and reduces the triage processing time by 50%. As a result, the NHS realized increased efficiencies and processing accuracy, in addition to a 10-20% increase in customer satisfaction. Their estimated savings are £800,000 per year with a 12-20% decrease in employee training time.

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Your predictions on the future of RPA and how NICE is planning to stay ahead of the competition:

My first prediction is that there will be a proliferation and greater adoption of Attended Automation due to the significantly higher value and ROI obtained from robots on the employee desktop.

My second prediction is that there will be growth in applying analytics to process automations. Organizations will start to see the value of robots being able to aggregate data in addition to automatically processing a variety of different tasks on behalf of employees. This data can be used in many different shapes and forms such as analytics frameworks, reports, etc.

Lastly, there will be an increasing need for ethical implementations in the RPA space and the need for senior executives in governance roles.

As a result, we will see a widespread top-down approach as senior executives play a vital role in the outcome of establishing a symbiotic robot-human relationship within the enterprise.

In 2021 and beyond, large enterprises will value transparency and rely on leadership to audit and test AI to routinely minimize the risk of harm, negative impact or bias.

Your favorite technology webinar/ podcast that you keenly follow: 

I was recently interviewed for a radio podcast called Intelligent Automation Radio. Being on the show, I was exposed to other episodes and thought the topics and speakers were very good in providing valuable content around RPA and intelligent automation.

Any advice for young technology professionals looking at RPA with eagerness; 

RPA is so much more than merely developing process automations.  If you want to have a successful career in the RPA domain, you need to understand both the business and technology aspects. I recommend building experience in business analysis and change management, as this is how you will grow value to the organization and yourself.

Thank you, Oded! That was fun and we hope to see you back on soon.

With extensive experience in corporate strategy and operations, Oded leads NICE’s global Advanced Process Automation line of business, covering the full spectrum of robotics solutions. Prior to his current role, he served as Director of Corporate Strategy at NICE, leading some of the company’s key growth initiatives. Before joining NICE, Oded specialized in delivering multi-channel strategies, operating model designs and digital transformation projects for Accenture.

Oded is a respected industry thought leader and keynote speaker in the field of Robotic Process Automation and is frequently quoted in global media.

NICE is the worldwide leader in Attended Automation (700 customers and 800 000 robots) and has been setting industry-wide standards in Robotic Process Automation for over 20 years. NICE’s intelligent automation suite enables process optimization while unleashing employees’ potential to ensure exceptional customer experience.

  • Attended Automation, via NEVA (NICE Employee Virtual Attendant)
  • Automation Finder, AI-infused process discovery tool
  • Leading Robotic Process Automation, with an embedded OCR engine
  • Industry’s first Robo-ethical framework

NICE develops and manages its RPA portfolio from a single platform, holds the largest scale automation projects in the market, and is known for driving digital transformation across the enterprise.

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