The Pavilion Podcast
The Pavilion Podcast

Episode · 1 year ago

Ep 17: The Role of Intelligent Automation in the Future of Work featuring Rashmi Vittal, CMO of Conversica

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Ep 17: The Role of Intelligent Automation in the Future of Work featuring Rashmi Vittal, CMO of Conversica

PTO topee tpute e Te te to Oto eteverybody at Sam Jacobs, welcomed to the revenue collective podcast. This isa special bonus episode. We've got Rushmi Vatelle, the chief marketingofficer from Conversica in a really interesting interview about the futureof work and the use of intelligent virtual assistance. I vas in the FrontOffice to help qualify, leads to help rout the right contact information, anthe right people to your sales team and really how this era of automation andthe future of work plays into what's happening with the pandemic, what'shappening with budget cuts and how certain companies are taking advantageof this of this automation in order to make do with less less head count morefocus on cost. How do you enhance all of the productivity of your existingteam using things like intelligent virtual assistance, so Rushmanis also along time Cmo, but before that she comes from really a world of productand professional services and transitioned into the marketing worldover time at IBM. So it's a really interesting conversation. Before we goand get to the conversation, we want to think our sponsor Gong. The number onerevenue intelligence plot form FIR mote sales, Gong and revenue collective arethrilled to announce our strategic partnership were bringing you the bestevents, content, research and spaces to engage with your peers and, of course,to kick it off. They're sponsoring the breten collective podcast new stuffevery month, don't miss outstay up to date, the latest collaborations ofGongdot IO, Foardslash R C without further Du. Let's listen to myconversation with Rushme FATALP, everybody Git, Sam Jacob's, welcome tothe reveond Colective podcast today on the show. We've got one of the great cMos in the valley. We've got RUSHMI FATEL WHO's, a chief marketing officerat a company called Conversica, and she was actually a guest at our revenue,collective offsit back in April and she's here today to talk to us aboutsort of the future of work, and let me just redeue our bio, because it'simportant and it's impressive with more than twenty years of PR IPO and largecorporate enterprise software experience, rushmay loves to buildwinning teams that bring to market high growth, enterprise, software solutionsfor CMO and CIO buying centers. She Excels: It scaling businesses withRevenue General to go to market strategies and focused execution thatdrive market awareness and pipelan growth prior to joining Conversicarushmaylead marketing for sap customer data cloud. After the successfulacquisition of Gigya the leader in customer identity management, she hasheld various marketing leadership positions at IBM, Oracle and Newstar.Rush me welcome to the show Sam. Thank you for having me I'm happy to be here.We're excited to have you, so we like to start with just a little bit ofcontextualization, so we know that you're, the chief marketing officer atConversica, but we want to give you an opportunity to tell us what isConversico and you know what does the company do and and then Wel we'll diveinto a little bit about your background yeah happy to answer that. So you knowCONVERSCA's a really NEAT company. We are really bilour. Vision is to buildthe largest augmented work force in the world, and what does that mean? Will weoffer intelligent virtual assistance? Think of intelligent virtual assistanceas AI powerd virtual team members that help front off his organizations likemarketing sales, customer success teams, even finance teams, to engage withtheir perspective, buyer or customer in a natural too way, interaction Didetermine what that perspective, buyer or that customer wants to do next. Soyou can imagine in a in a marketing sales set of scenarios. It's how can anintelligent virtual assistant hep qualify, your leads to determine iftheir sale's ready and if they are sals ready, then pass hem on to sales andthe postsail side of the house. How can an intelligent virtual assistant workwith your customer base to do really important things like setting up thataccount, review or finding opportunities to renew or seeing, ifthere's an opportunity to do an upsell, O crosscell or expand the lifetimevalue of that opportunity, so really...

...running the gamute of that fullcustomer revenue, Lifecycle, R, Ivas or helping organizations attract anquireand grow customers at scale? In fact, Conversga has helped our customersgenerate over twenty billion dollars of revenue as a result of using our IVA.So it's it's really impressive wow. So how long have you been there? I joinedat the end of two thousand and eighteen, okay, so o so maybe coming up on two years. Yeah.Let's, let's hear a little bit about your background Becaus, you know wewere going to dive into the future of work and to understanding intelligentvirtual assistance and I've got a lot of questions but walk us through how?How did you be? What's your original background, you know I re d. i read theBio bout, Walku throug, how you got here yet not on a straight line forsure. That's you know. Interestingly enough, I purposely tookjust a random path to get here. I wanted to learn everything about asoftware company, so I I feel like I've done it all. I've been in TWA I've beenin product development, I've been in professional services, so everythingfrom helping bill product making sure product works to then making it work ata client site gave me just all the understanding of the importance ofunderstanding Your Voice of Customer Wilh. Your cusmer needs your cusomarwants and delighting customers. So that led me to the opportunity. I was at IBMa part of my stint. I was at IBM for ten years and yea the latter alf ofthat time. I got to oversee kind of a new budting set of technology productsthat they wanted to turn into a product. We boots drapped that together, thesewere research assets that came out of the Wattson labs, the boogig in labsand the Yamato Labs, and we put it together to form what was called IBMcontent analytics. We pushed that out into market, it served just it was annobility to analyze unstructured text. So, if you're seeing a pattern here,yes, there is a pattern from where we are today a conversego. What I did inmy past but m the things around natural language understanding. You knowunderstanding a large volume of unstructured content to surfaceinsights, right insights, you' neverly, never would have known and then usedthat to help drive better business decisions. It was really fascinatingand what I worked on was what is, I guess, technically could say, was likethe precursor to what is now Watson and and how and in all the ways that IBMhis expanded Watson. So that was really exciting and and I've been in bigdatand analytics for for a long time and then made the pivot over into marketing and specifically run ATEC andMARTEC solutions and how these organizations can benefit from digitalidentity and whether you're stitching together digital identity. On a from ananonymous point of view to then figuring it out on a more of adeterministic point of view, and then how do you build profiles off of thatand and those profiles could then be used to have more targeted marketing,more targeted sales, more targeted service, and so that's that, from kindof an overview of of my background from a technology point, I've always beenfascinated about being on kind of cutting edge products. kind of leadingthe way breaking trail and Conversga just fits right nicely into that path.You mentiond this transition from kind of product development and almost CUASIgeneral management to marketing. was that a difficult transition for you oror did you feel like? How did you to yourself qualify yourexpertise and ensure that, as you transitioned into marketing, you felt,like you were best position to be a Worl Clas Cemo, as you clearly are well.Thank you. I perhaps to BA mabe out on that but m. You knowwhat what it is I'll, never forget this an IBM executive, a business unitleader at IBM. You know I had an opportunity to have a multiskip levelwith him and he told me one thing you was you know the number one thing youalways want to make sure you do in your career is understand the perspective ofthe customer and if you can delight the...

...customer, regardless of what Jo Rol youhave, and you always keep that mindset of what. What do we need to do todelight the customer you're always going to stay ahead, and I rememberedthat, even when I was in professional services, I did two stins ofprofessional services, one first startup company named Brio Technologiesand later on at IBM in Lav in their laps services, and I always rememberedthat because, if you understand, if you cand put yourself in the shoes of thecustomer, the market that you're targeting then you're always going tohave that North Star, and I think that is super important. When you come tomarketing 'cause, that's all we do right. We are trying to figure out whoour customers are, who our market is, where the revenue that our products andsolution should be coming from, and then who are obviously the persoos ortarget buyers and then all the homework. You need to do to resonate with thatwith that group, and so you know that's a sential foundation for good, solidmarketing and then everything there you just build on top of it. Whether thatnow comes to how do I drive awareness? How do I drive to man Gen, you know howdo I enable sales teams? It still comes with that core foundation of trulyunderstanding who your customers are, what they care about, and how can yoursolutions actually help them? That makes a lot of sense. So, let's talkabout Conversicu, so having all of that in mind, you know I'm curious, first,just from a marketing perspective, because it sounds like the I v a thisinten intelligent virtual assistant concept is pretty horizontal in a sense like it could beused for a variety of different applications. How do you as the CMO?How do you think about who to approach and who to target and who youre youknow primary ideal customer profiles or versus Your Secondary Once Yeah? It's agreat great question, and here at Kobersca, we've always been vwe startedout very much so focussed in bridging the marketing and sales gap right, ifyou think about marketing in sales. Today, it's been in just an age oldconversation that defines the relationship between marking itsellsright. What does marketing want marketing wants to drive and have ahigher contribution into pipe lane and revenue targets right? What does saleswant from markening, better leads right and qualified leads, and so marketingis always complaining that sales ever follows up with leads enough and andsales is always complaining that they never get enough. Quality Leaves FomMarketing. This is the classic Glangary Glenross, discussion and, and thequestion is, how do you fix it right? Well, the best way to convince a salesteam that they have quality is to show that the prospect themselves is sayingI'm interested in talking to you right and that, and that is what we focusedon with our AI assistance it. It started very simply as determiningvalue out of the Leeds that the sales team were working and if you can workthe lead and what I mean by work, te led is engage in a in an actualinteraction or two way. Conversation with that lead to determine, if they'reinterested, to talk to a salesperson and guess what, if they raise theirhand and say that we're interested thats, pretty good darned gone youowproof that a sales guy should go work that leate right and h. Why do theyknow the rough pricing you know like, provided they? The budget is somewhataligned with your solution. Well, et's assume that you, you have a decentmarketing practice and you've you've done that homework. I was talking about.You know who your ideal company profile is and causom a profile is, and theleads are generally within the context of that profile right, and so that iswhere it began. It's just really trying to say: okay, let's make sure that weare showing the value to sales of the leads that were generating for them andthen it evolved from there. It evolved, because marketing has additionalusecases to support like especially now more than ever right. We are investingin, let's say, digital events. You know before cove nineteen, a lot of peoplewere just Inv, investing in a lot of mix of events between physical anddigital. But how do you drive people to those events that you're putting a lotof money in and how do you make sure you're, following up with those whoeither register or attended in a timely...

...fashion? That followup is typicallydone by your sales team and they typically don't follow up in a timelyfashion, and we know that if you can actually follow up with them withinlike ten minutes or a half an hour of them joining that that call r that Webnar or attendingthat event eave a twenty one times more likely chance that they're going torespond back to you. You know today that sales people aren't able to meetthat S. l a whatsoever so and we shouldn't expect them to do that. Theyhave other things that they're trying to focus on and do as well. So anothergreat example of how you can use m. You know an intelligent virtual s withintelligent automacious solutions to help drive these kinds of needs. Andthen you asked about how do you go into secondary? Well, you know we take alook at it of of it. This way, we're not right now in in what people mightcall back. OFFHICE operations like we're, not we're not in the business ofH, right now of providing employee specific intelligeint rertolist likeintelligent, virtial assystamcs that could support the employee base, we'relooking at it from the perspective of how can an intelligent virtualassistant work alongside and augment an existing team to work with people thatare outside of their forewalls right, so their prospects, their customers,even let's say, partner relationships, and so that is our focus. Is that we'relooking at those front office operations all driven around revenue,acceleration revenue generation that helps these organization meet thosegoals while also driving better operational efficiencies? One of theissues I've had when I've worked at kind of big data analytics companies isaccess to enough of a Dataset that machine learning, algorithms andnatural language processing alborithms can actually be meaningful and anditerate well enough, so that so it feels like a more human interaction. Sohow? How have you solved that problem? Where is that not a problem becauseyou're using kind o open source Dataset, so that the interactions aren't eventhat complicated? It's like hey. We saw that you're on the website. You want tolearn more stuff like that howhave you solved that issue yeah. It's a greatit's a great question, so we actually run our. We actually have our own AImodels and we're we. We we've been at this for a while. So so, we've been atthe sense two thousand and seven we have had yeah. We have had almost aquarter billion of interactions run through our systems, which is at toyour point, is really key and making sure that our AI models aresuperaccurate. We've also invested a lot in the conversations themselves, soone of the key kind of benefits is, and also I say, a struggle that some peoplehave when they're thinking about this type of technology, or maybe it's kindof like it's sister technology like chapoughts, are things like you have todo a lot of the heavy lifting you have to write the conversation you have towrite the email. In our case, you don't have to do that. We've done it for you,so we have invested in building a very robust conversation library based on aseries of skills that ar I v a support and because it's gone throughquarebillion interactions, those conversations are pretty tight right,meaning we know these are the best type of conversations to use for theusecases you're trying to support. We always provide kind of you know. Likeanything else, people have business specific language that theywant to use. They have. You know they have things whether it's the off theproducts bgouse ter services, that they offer the language of the business, theindustries that they're targeting you can add that flavor and spice, and tothe conversations really easily it's not hard at all, and then you can runrun with those and so to your point, we really do work on those ai models. Wewe do have our R R and D teams focusing on that and we continually are havingmore and more data coming through the system. Here's one interesting note:You know during coved our platform saw an increase of twenty percent ofinteraction, traffic versus a decrease...

...like so our ivies were used more duringcovid than less. Is that because teams were downsizing and replacing maybetraditional human enaction with I vs. Ah, there's a littlethethere's thatthat that's definitely picking up, I would say that's picking up more on thetrend of of the recovery of the economy, I think, and when people were in thatkind of survival mode inhitionow, if you guys, if you recall the the emailsthat we're going out a ith, the headline of business cantnuty likewe're here, we're not going anywhere. Those were really important messages toget out. The thing is: is that that's a hard message to get out in apersonalized manner at scales, so people were using our Ivas to help themdo that and then to their existing customer set and then for new cusomers.That exactly I mean, as as budgets were kind of shut down andhiring freezes were put immediately in place and work force reductions werehappening. Now we were there to help pick up kind of pick up that that slackand and continue to drive some business progress. Do you feel like like there'salways there's this tension? On the one hand, maybe there's a goal of making, Ivas feel as human as possible, but there's another world where me as auser. I might be OK with knowing that I'm interacting with a BOT providedthat maybe that's transparent and maybe I can see the benefits of it, becauseit's like a scheduling system like coundly, or something like that in thesense that I'm OK, that it's that it's it's an algoritm that I'm interactingwith, because I know that it will actually be more efficient and moredirect. And to the point, do you find that you're really trying to makethings feel as human as possible or or are you open to the idea that maybethey coan just be transparently algorithmic? I think it all mattersabout the customer experience right. At the end of the day, you've got to putyourselves in the customer shoes and what is it that they want? How do theywant to be interacted with? I don't know about you, but I don't like when Igo to a website and I just finally find t a thing that I'm looking for and Iget interrupted by a CHAPA. It's not doing that because it knows somethingspecific about me. It's doing that, because I've Beeng configured 'causeit's programatic to pop up right, and then you know once you're interactingwith it that it is programatic that is very limited and you can get veryfrustrated because if you ask it anything outside of its happy path,right, it's going to wig out on you and just say, you know, sorry can't help orcontact this person. What we see is that you can have a good balancebetween the human likeness and the human like behavior, along with theefficiencies hat automation and these AI technologies can bring you so thatpeople feel what like nobody wants to feel like they're waiting rights orthey don't want to be impolitely Talkd to orther that there isn't sufficientfollowup right. But if you can do these things, if you can actually engage in avery polite manner, if you can respond quickly to any of their questions witha very relevant response and if you can help direct them to the next step rightwhere they want to go, and you can do that all within a good time frame andyou're doing it- I mean literally our IVS. do it with a smile, then you'regoing to get far better engagement right. So that's that's exactly kind ofwhat we're just seeing play out. You can be efficient, but you could beefficient and polite in human like in that a, and I think people reallyrespond to it a and I think people really respond to it, especially nowthat they're so digital right right now that that it's like a lot of our oloveurengagement right now, is digital and so being able to deliver that humankindness in that human ligkt. This on digital is, is beneficial. There'sthere's not a negative. Let's put it that way. I imagine that I mean my hypothesiswould be that that Converseis, one of those businesses that benefits UN youknow, fortunately, or unfortunately, from a global PANDAMAC and from a lotof emphasis and pressure on cost...

...reduction or cost savings, and maybepreductions and force how's. Your company responded to the last sixmonths of this global pandumic. Yeah. Really. Well, I mean look. I think Isai really well now it was hard, as we shifted from t one to Q. Two, because,like everything else, everybody just kind of went, he old businesses justfelt like they went constipated unless you were Ixom, and so we had beentering into twenty twenty. We had a really robust strategy. You know setover the course of you know three to five years and part of it was going toget. You know we were going to do some pivots and shifts that were going totake. You know, twelve to eighteen months, to execute and then coe it hit,and we looked at that we said wew. We actually have to move faftte. We haveto accelerate our pivot so that we can be poised for the demand that was goingto come thereafter, because, exactly to your point, you know, budgets arerestrained. Work Forces are reduced. You know, I know like. Let's think,let's talk about CMOS, I mean we were all directly impacted from theperspective of. We had to really evaluate our budgets more tightlyscrutinized by finance teams to ensure that whatever we were investing inworging t at was going to get an Rli sales teams, unfortunately had to dealwith a just a slow down in their pipeline progression right well, whilethat first quarter, if you recall rit April, Mar the end of March April maypeople are just like what is this n and what's the impact, as we all shift todigital, and I think for us. You know that those first few months, because weaccelerated our strategy and executed in ten days, ND and repivoted, and thatpivot was largely focused on the markets that we went after and the typeof customers that we went after. We saw a turnaround on our company so much sothat in that Q, Two we became profitable. So for a start up like us,it was awesome to make that type of a pivot, because that originally part ofthe Plam. No, it wasn't as I we were going to take. We were going to try andget to cashf break even by the end of o Thouand d twend a twenty and we were able to turn profit in Q towe are continuing to invest to grow. We secured we just announce last week thatwe secured our series defunding so superexcited about. Congratulations.Thank you and you know how hard it is to you know. Raise funds during thistime is also a testament to the fact that what we did to execute and prepareourselves for covet was hisis really paid off and now we're poised for agrowth for really the growth and the high growth that we're looking for intwosand and twenty one. So yeah, I think for us. You know blessing andcurse at the same time, right really really difficult to to see the impactthat it's had economically worldwide. At the same time for us, I think R, CEOreally did a great job in leading the way in driving the shift and pivot thatwe needed and get us on the track that we needed to get to where we're wellpoised now for twent y twenty one, and are you because everybody's you knowwe're recording this in the middle of September, people are either needeep or about to get ne deep intotwosand and Twenty one planning is your twenty twenty one plan the same as itwas nine months ago, higher lower, you know e. do you feel confident aboutyour forecasting capabilities? Ot this point? Given everything that's happened,I think there's still some. You know, I think, there's still some economicvolatility and I think they're, while we're coming out of it. I'm seeingrecovery signals you know from hiring to again seeing others getting fundedand moneys being flowed. I think those are all positive signs, but I stillthink we're entering into the fall season an the winter season, and weknow we've been hearing right, Um that y from the lest appendemics impact. Thenumbers will go up in the winter as as things settle down and get cooler andcolder, and so we are keeping an eye out on that and what the impact has.But I think overall, we ere really...

...bullish on what Twen y twenty one isgoing to offer. So we're we're poised for growth and because we acceleratedour execution on our strategy, we're really driving forward on what twentytwenty one's going to be. So we didn't dramatically change what our strategywas. We just accelerated it and we're set up for we're right now, putting allthe building blocks in places that we need so that we can hit the groundrunning further and harder and faster in twenty twenty one. Do you feel sortof like w? You know thinking about. Maybe the last topic is just sort oflike the general future of work. It feels like conversicais really wellpositioned for a new world where maybe there is more emphasis on cost orexpenses. How do you integrate sort of this idea of of intelligent virtualassistance with Kindof like where the general work forces going yeah? I Ithink I all analysts, surveys and Indu Industry surveys indicate that CEOS cios business leaders are taking ahard look at you know how can they adopt ai technologies like intelligentautomation, solutions like intelligent, virtual assistance to help them becausesee in this in this digitally enabled world? You have to be a digital athleteand think about what that means, whether you're a marketing leader orsalesleader, or a customer success leader. What does being a digitalathlete mean to you, and so you know for a sales leader, it's more than justbeing good. Now on zoo, once you were used to having face to face meetingsand closing deals face to face now, you need to do that digitally for sure, andthe question is beyond zoom. What other tools do you have to assist you toeither drive more pipeline or close more deals, and this is where I think,when you think about an intelligent, virtual assistant should think of itabout it. This way, right? How can I augment my team to drive greaterperformance and productivity, and how can I do that fast and- and the otherthing is like you know, in today's Day and age, when you think about it, itslike, how can I ramp up work, force, productivity and performance on demand,because if we are still going to go through Economic Volutilitye, sometimesyou need o ramp it up like and create more productivity and performance onOndemand, and sometimes you need a Ratcho that down and if you're, ifyou're solely relying on human capital, to do that. That's impossible right,'cause! Think about the sales salls, the average sales rap average sales repto ramp up takes four to six months right. You don't sometimes have thattime, and so, instead, what you can do is is you can bring an an intelligent,virtual assistant to help drive that pipeline? While then, the not? Maybethe Tenye raps you need, maybe the five new reps you need can then take thatnew demand and go run with it to try and close it. So I think you're goingto see people's minds are shifting, not just because of the cost, but alsobecause they still got to drive that that topline revenue number and growth,and so so, I think I think, you're going to see a more bronding of thatand the technologies are just getting better and they're only going to keepgetting better so from an accuracy and confidence level. That's just not goingto be really a question because already like I could even say this day, our IVas er are more accurate than than a human is, so it's it's a little scary,but but it's true, and so so it's Um one of those things where, as thetechnology gets more robust, you're going to see teams thinking about okay,how do I bring on you know? How do I bring on a little help to make us bemore to make us be higher. Performing makes a lot of sense rush me. It's beengreat. Having you on on the revenant Colectof Podcast, if folks arelistening, and you know they're interested in learning more potentially,maybe they want to engage converse, Goa in a sale cycle and they're happy toinrack with a BOT to prequalify...

...themselves, but what's the best way toget in touch with you folks want to follow up? Oh yeah, absolutely you canreach out to me on Linkden rush me. The tall and I've got my lincon profile.The best way to reach out to me no problem at all, or you could reach me aT. Rushme at Conversga. Do Com awesome, folks, Wan, to reach out to me: You canit's Samo Rov e, neclective, dotcom or Linccoln dotcom forge lash in for clast,AMF, Jacob's, washed, me think so much for being on the REVN ECLECTE potcast.It was great Chattin with you, Sam. It was great to be here thanks for havingme, everybody hope you enjoyd thatconversation with Rushman I really enjoyed talking to where she was aguest at r virtual offsing over the spring and conversico sounds like oneof those really interesting platforms. As you mentioned, they just raise theirseries D, one of those companies that is both incredibly exciting becauseit's taking the best of machine learning and natural anguage processingand turning in into these things, these intelligent vircial assistance, whichcan improve followup and prequalify, leads indto. All of those great things.At the same time, Thet Kobeska represents you know, one more steptowards the replacement of human beings for so many different jobs and the slowevolution in the slow devourment that technology has overmanual humanactivity. So it's both a blessing and a curse, and one day who'll have tofigure out how to replace all the people who no longer have jobs. Becauseof all this intelligent virtual automation. But on the other hand, itcan help you do right now, more with less and Conversi sounds like a reallyinteresting company. If you want to reach out to me, Samon revenue,Collectov, tcom wo're, going to be bringing you more episodes with our newhost Casy Goranlet. If you want to be on the show- or you have ideas for theshow KCKAC, I e at rethnuclective, dtcom and otherwise make sure yousubscribe, make sure that you click five stars, make sure that you'regeering up for this big membership drive that we're going to be doing inOctober. We've got a bunch of great incentives for people that Refirmembers that end up joining, including five years of Free des for people thatrefer Sig a certain amount of people. So it's going to be excing and we'rereally trying to make October the biggest month of the year as we've hadinto twenty twenty one and Wi'll hope. You'll join us. If you have questionSama Rubn eflective dtcom, if you need anything from Rervin ecrective dropinto the helpdesk channel on slacks. Otherwise we hope to talk to you soonand if you need anything for me, you know my email addressing where to findme S. we'll see you next time.

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