VoiceTech Summit Middle East brought together industry professionals, key stakeholders, and senior executives keen to discover the potential of Conversational AI and Voice Technology for greater customer experience (CX).
Uniphore, a Conversational AI global company, showcased its range of solutions for contact centers, which earned it a visible spotlight. Uniphore is disrupting an outdated customer service model and bridging the gap between humans and machines by focusing on conversations.
Here is a fireside chat by Ravi Saraogi, Co-Founder and President APAC, Uniphore with Abid Mustafa, Director Strategy and Customer Experience PMO, Etisalat. Chris Mackintosh, COO, CCU Global, a seasoned call center veteran, moderated the session.
Chris: Given Uniphore’s rapid expansion, in what CA (Conversational Automation) services do you see the most room for growth?
Ravi: Over the years, call centers have been prevalent, and investments have gone into converting them to contact centers over time by moving from analog signals to digital (emails, chats, social media, etc.). But what has been left behind is the actual front office where conversations happen between agents and customers. In today’s era, what trumps in terms of customer retention and acquisition of new customers is how brands deliver the overall experience, and that’s where most room for growth exists.
Chris: What impact did conversational AI have on customer services across the MENA region? How open are MENA consumers to Virtual Assistants being used?
Abid: A PWC report cited that by 2030 the AI contribution to the UAE market’s GDP will be $96 billion and Saudi Arabia $124 billion. These numbers indicate that there is a huge growth opportunity for AI in this part of the world.
Chatbot and Virtual assistants are currently employed within call centers across different industries, or as Ravi mentioned, contact centers have multiple channels, and because call centers are costly to run, they’re under constant pressure to reduce costs and increase efficiency. I don’t see fewer chatbots and virtual agents pro-life rating the Middle Eastern market. I also see, “Virtual Reality Augmentation”, meaning we’ll probably have Avatars that would mimic agents’ personalities to interact with customers.
Chris: Aside from CX, where else do you see AI having the most value as far as enhancing a business goes?
Abid: There is this notion that AI is a temporary phenomenon –I think this is a wrong impression. AI is here to stay, and the present decade is going to be the decade of AI.
There’s a whole range of use cases about to be discovered, and businesses that have three things will succeed: Access to data. Sophisticated AI algorithms and, ability to think out of the box and generate use cases. Companies will need to partner and collaborate with other businesses to deliver services in the next few years
Chris: To what extent did COVID increase demand for CA services?
Ravi: As the world went into lockdown, we were forced to WFH. The number of available agent representatives for enterprises diminished by a staggering 23% to 24%. WFHfor agents became necessary, and companies began supporting WFH agents through technologies like CA. We also observed amongst our customers globally and across industries that due to pressures on sales, balance sheets, and thereby the profitability and EBITDA margins, enterprises were compelled to focus on bringing in productivity gains and cutting costs at Uniphore.
The most significant chunk of resources enabled by large enterprises was in the contact center, which was the first digital transformation area. Real-time analytics, after-call-work automation led by AI took a big shape in the enablement of RPA in the front office.
Organizations planning their digital transformation journey as a long-term, phased approach were plunged into this shift overnight.
Chris: Uniphore acquired two companies in 2021 – Emotion Research Lab and its intent to acquire Jacada. What are the roles of these companies in Uniphore’s growth story?
Ravi: John Chambers, who’s our investor and board member said, “When there is a downturn in the market, and if you stick to your culture and aggressive goals, and come out of that, you will have an opportunity to become the leader in that market.” This advice got us to figure out how to differentiate ourselves and continue growing during the pandemic.
Uniphore was focused on building our Conversational Automation platform with capabilities around voice and AI coming together. With video AI, we found enough opportunities and use cases for us to focus on and bring a combination of voice and video AI together, which can be highly transformative in how the world is progressing.
With Jacada, the idea is to go into motion to enable the entire platform with low code/no code to allow our customers and partners to execute use cases that they wish to without having too much technical knowledge of the platform but having the industry experiences.