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UiPath Executive Interview

Diego Lomanto, VP, Product Marketing, UiPath

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Sheri Greenhaus, Managing Partner, CrmXchange, recently met with Diego Lomanto, Vice President, Product Marketing, UiPath, to discuss current customer experience issues in the contact center and how UiPath’s solutions are elevating the customer experience while reducing agent frustration.

We have known each other for years and there have been many changes in the industry.  What are some of the major technology changes that you have seen?

Sheri, it's great to reconnect with you again. Throughout my career, I've spent time working for companies that provide technology that typically address a segment of work; whether it's helping employees work more efficiently, effectively automating work, or helping companies manage their workforce.

There is a lot of repetitive work in customer service; work that does not add value to the experience but work that has to be done.  This is what brought me to UiPath.

UiPath looks to help companies eliminate that redundant type of work as much as possible, to not only to drive the cost savings and profit, but to make every experience better for both the employee and the customer. Many of our customers use our product to make things easier for the employee which then directly make things easier for the customer.  This is done by simplifying the steps that customers have to take to engage and also by simplifying steps for the employee.

What does UiPath do to make it easier?

Let’s take a straightforward example where the customer calls to discuss a bill or an aspect of their service. Typically, the agent needs to spend time doing account lookup across multiple systems. We automate that process.  Instead of looking across multiple systems to find information and patch it together, we have what we call robots on an agent's desktop. These robots do work by pulling the relevant information and present it to the agent. With the information in front of them, the agents can concentrate on the conversation.

How is this different than agent desktop APIs that we have had for years?

Building agent desktops had been very complex with a programming approach, through APIs and through hardcore software development to bridge the systems together. The reality is, that's hard to do, costs a lot of money and can take a long time. A project could take you 6 - 8 months to roll out and it costs more than expected; and sometimes they don't even work.

We take a completely different approach.  

Instead of building a new application leveraging APIs and programmatically creating a desktop, the robot acts like a human by replicating steps of the contact center agent.  For example, if an agent needs to look in one system for an address, one for order status and another system for shipment details, the robot does that. The robot goes into each system, scrapes the needed data and pops up the data on the agent’s screen.  It’s fast and it is a groundbreaking way to do automation. Before UiPath no one thought of this approach.

How does the robot know what to do?

You could start in multiple ways: With real time speech analytics you can detect the information which is sent to the waiting robot or, if there is no analytics application the robot can grab the information as the agent types. There are multiple input methods, you can go completely automated, or you can provide the agent the ability to direct the robot. The robot is sitting there on the desktop waiting to be told what to do.

Does the robot know which systems will need to be accessed?

UiPath is an end-to-end automation platform. Our technology enables you to discover what to automate. If you're not sure, we have tools that'll help you discover what's automatable in your process and we'll analyze your processes.

We have a studio environment that an RPA developer or a citizen developer can use. It's a low code, simple to use tool with a lot of powerful features for more advanced developers.  Also, a business expert can build out a work flow with the tools that are available.

As part of our platform, you have tools to manage the automations and tools to measure the value of automation.

You map out the step and the robot follow the step-by-step instructions?

This is the common path. For example; the robot opens up a particular application, navigates to a screen, inputs this data, gets the new data, advances to the other application and pastes in there. It is all mapped out. At the end, you have an automation that just runs over and over with little variability.

It sounds like the system is flexible enough to do what whatever needs to be done, but the heavy lifting is done on the front end.

The system tracks what the agent is doing and captures how it is done.  Our tools do all of that. The tools follow the steps of the agent.

Did that ever cause any surprises - where a robot follows the process and the managers then discover that is not the best way to do something?

That is a really important part of the whole process.  Through the process mining tool, we will provide a clear picture of how the process is running through the organization. We find where the process works well, where the deviations are, where there is something wrong. We give insight into how things are done. 

Are your tools for self-service as well as agent engaged?

A lot happens for systems to work together for a seamless customer experience.  Often, the work involved requires bringing systems together through a programmatic approach which is complicated and costly. If you have a well-formed API, and you have a programmer ready to build – great. But a lot of times you don't.

Instead, you want to kick off a robot in the back end to propagate across all these systems. Let's say you want them to do a change of address. That can be done online or self-service

Our customers will build the underlying automation to do that. The front end could either be on the website, or it can be an agent. On the back end the address change needs to propagate through all of the systems. A robot does that. You put it in one place, whether it's the website or the agent screen, and then the robot can put it in the 15 different systems. If your organization has a lot of different systems that are not connected, this is a great way to make that connection both for self-service and for agents.

Where do most people start?

Every time we talk to a customer, I'm presented with some new use case I’ve never even thought of before because every business is a little bit different.  A good place to start is with an activity that requires very little thinking and is a repetitive process.  That’s why account lookup is good because you're taking the same data from system to system. That’s usually the entry point into the customer experience.

Is it easier with your system?

It is. You don’t have to have sophisticated programming. It’s low code. UiPath frees up your developers to go off and do other things.

What is the profile of the person that initially works on the system?

Along with customer service, UiPath is used in all different departments where there is a redundant process.  There are simple applications done over and over through all departments.  This can also be in finance, accounting, and in HR.  The process usually starts with someone inside that department who is a little more technically sophisticated.  We call them the system developer. They download our free product and they build an automation to handle an application.  The applications grow from there. 

Lately we have seen the CIO then gets involved.  CIOs start to see different departments using UiPath and they decide to centralize it by creating a center of excellence.  In the center of excellence, there are people on staff that are dedicated to automating processes inside the organization.

We have a tool called automation hub. There is part of UiPath where we can even send ideas to a nominating process. The ideas put them into automation hub. Now, you have a center of excellence and you have automation team that's looking across all opportunities and they decide what to automate and manage.

We are not limited by the underlying application changing a little. The automations are very resilient. They don't break that often, but if you do start to see something that goes out of whack, you get errors and the center of excellence will send someone in to fix the automation and maintain it.

It sounds like with the hub, a tool can be used throughout the organization, so if a customer calls in and there is a purchase or a change of information, that information is immediately distributed throughout the organization. Inefficiencies and redundancies are reduced as well as costs.

Exactly.  Companies are looking at this holistically. If the customer calls with a return, it’s not just the agent part of the return. Once the robot has all the data, the entire process is kicked off – both front and back end.   

Have any of your customers had applications that are unique?

There is a company that redesigned their entire finance function around this. They called themselves an automation first company.  Now, for any new process that gets designed, they consider what the automation component is going to be, if it can be automated, and then how the interface with the end user will work. That's a mindset.  As time goes on, we're seeing the evolution from ‘Let me just do this in a task-based way’ - to ‘let me design an entire department and determine how my department functions’.

Do you find companies might start with something small and then just keep rolling it out?

Less and less now.  They used to start with one or two tasks.  Now that the value is proven, many companies have an automation center of excellence. 

Is there anything we haven't touched on that you would want our audience to know?

We have spoken about applications for the contact center but we have not touched on the people who manage customer experience. We have a toolset that gives individuals the ability to automate their own tasks.  It’s a lower code version of the tool that gives the business users the ability to automate their own processes. A use case is for report creation.  We all have a lot of reports in the contact center.  You can have a robot that runs a report with particular data at a selected time. A company can save thousands of hours with that automation. 

Is the tool used throughout the organization - from something the individual is just doing, to the processes that it's improving efficiency and reducing costs?

It’s from top down, as well as giving people the ability to automate the long tail of tasks that we know about. It doesn't happen in greater enough quantity, but in aggregate has a huge benefit for the organization.