‘AI will lead the next big disruption in communication technology’: Ravi Saraogi of Uniphore

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Uniphore has introduced Conversational Automation for the Enterprise that could interpret emotions and analyze conversations in real-time

The 2nd edition of VoiceTech Summit Middle East was held from 15th-16th September, 2021. The virtual conference saw participation from over 2000+ industry executives, developers, customer experience professionals and adopters of voice and chat bot technology. The participants included the top executives of some of the global pioneers of the voice technology platform, including Athear, Xina AI, Majorel Egypt, Raya CX-Egypt, Bank of Jordan and many others. 

International Business Magazine had the privilege to talk to one of the leaders in conversational AI technology, Ravi Saraogi (pictured below), co-founder and Co-founder & President-APAC, leads Sales, Delivery and Customer Success for Uniphore. Ravi was the key speaker of the event who shared his perspectives on the transformations that could take place in contact centres around the world. He talked about ways in which AI and voice automation technology could ensure customer satisfaction while addressing and resolving their queries seamlessly. 

Ravi Saraogi, Co-founder & President-APAC, leads Sales, Delivery and Customer Success for Uniphore

When the market talks

Customers of telecom, banking, insurance, food delivery, ride-hailing and other similar apps are approaching the customer service agents through chatbots, messaging services, voice calls and even social media today. A lot of conversations happening between the agent and the customer can be automated and analyzed on a real-time basis using a single layer of the conversational AI tool. The tool can also be used for post-facto analysis to generate a summary of the entire conversation.  This way the entire unstructured conversation can be presented in a structured manner, enabling the enterprises to use it for its benefit.

In the B2B sector, large enterprises have a huge dilemma of managing  a remote work culture. Ravi cites a survey report by Uniphore where it was found that over 60 percent of the population have reported an increase in video communications during the pandemic.  The pandemic has essentially changed the way video communication tools are being leveraged by students, employees and family members. The pandemic has introduced innovations in the market that were meant for the next five years.

The customer service segment had an overall jump in the overall addressable market. From 380 billion USD, it is currently pegged at around 470 billion dollars. This has happened in the last 18 months. Ravi observes that most of these businesses were generated from Egypt, India, Philippines and some Eastern European regions. As the intensity of the pandemic reduces the trend for digital transformation is forecasted to increase, subsequently giving a boost to the conversation technology platforms.

Facing the new tune of innovation

Ravi has revealed that Uniphore was predominantly focussed on voice and AI-based technologies for contact centre markets and customer service markets. Uniphore propelled its way through the market with its conversational service automation platform. As per reports, this platform is operating for some of the largest BPM players in the market. As conversational AI platforms were being extended beyond contact centres in a digital mode to video communication channels Uniphore acquired  Emotion Research Labs based out of Spain. Uniphore thus claims that it is the only company that has voice and video AI being enabled in its platform.

Ravi emphasizes on the importance of emotions behind the conversations as it plays a major-role in the entire decision-making process. He explains, “When we are doing a voice call, we tend to listen to the conversation and try to gauge what the person is trying to mean here. With the video we get an even deeper connection with the individual we are talking to. This becomes even more important when the call involves 10-12 individuals at the same time.WIth the AI layer, it could detect if any of the participants are distracted or are showing lesser interest in the conversation. This way the speaker can divert his/her speech in a manner that attracts the attention of everyone again.”

Graphical Representation of the ‘7-38-55’ rule by Professor Albert Mehrabian of the University of California

Professor Albert Mehrabian of the University of California in Los Angeles introduces the 7-38-55 rule. This rule basically showcases the role of emotional attachments when it comes to decision-makings. The rule states that the verbal elements of a communication plays only 7 percent role in the overall decision-making process. The rest of the factors are connected to the empathy or the emotional connect that we have towards the conversation. Out of the remaining 93 percent, 38 percent weightage is in the tonal input, which is the pitch and the speed or the rhythm in which the words are spoken. The biggest chunk of influence, 55 percent, in any conversation comes from the facial expressions and the subtle signs given out by our body movements. This is where Uniphore is leveraging the technology and the expertise of Emotion Research Lab. This partnership also opens up a whole new European market for Uniphore.

Uniphore claims a conversational AI that is patented, enterprise-grade SaaS, supports Robotic Process Automation (RPA), voiceprint biometrics, intelligent decision support and self-service guidance.

Ravi exults, “Today, Uniphore is a one stop platform that could cater to the present day needs as well as that of the coming years. It is a future ready platform being built on a ton of micro services and continuously expanding across verticals and across products.”

Pioneers today, Champions tomorrow

It is being rightly said, ‘AI is doing today what the Internet was doing in the late 90s’. Companies that migrated into the internet domain during the 90s are enjoying the benefits over its peers today. The same is being predicted for the AI platform today. Explaining the trend of the latest technologies, Ravi tells us, “The methods of conversation are going to transform completely and everything will revolve around AI and IoT. People would be talking a lot more to the machines and the digital avatars.”

Reports are already doing the rounds as to how some of the IT leaders are already excited and interested in AI-based technologies. In one of the reports, it was highlighted that almost 39 percent of the IT leaders today have experienced AI technology in their organizations and almost 33 percent  have expressed interest incorporating it in their organizations in the next 5 years.

Agent Verification System

Segregating the AI technology developments region-wise, the US, Japan, South Korea and some of the European countries have always been in the forefront of embracing latest innovations. The recently concluded 2nd edition of VoiceTech Summit Middle East showcased that some of the Middle Eastern countries are also keeping up with the developed countries. Ravi points out that the developing countries are at an advantage here for being the new entrants to the latest technologies. Instead of evolving from an existing technology, they could directly skip to inducting the new technology into their system.

Tackling the security threats that some of the new technologies invite, Ravi explained to us that a global technology company like Uniphore has to form local partnerships to ensure that its platforms are deployed within the enterprise or within the country, if it is a cloud-based service. It is absolutely essential for them to work in the ambit of the new and sometimes ever-changing complacency laws of the region. 

Real-time analysis of the call

AIding future developments

During his stint in India, Ravi Saraogi was part of the technology sub-group at MPFI (Mobile Payment Forum of India) that developed a solution for payment transfers from one mobile to another. He revealed that this later led to the development of NPCI (National Payment Corporation of India), the RuPay cards and the UPI (Unified Payments Interface). UPI is the platform that enables mobile payments and interbank transactions in a big way in India. So much so that, today, India clocks almost double the transactions over mobile as compared to that of its next competitor, China.

India, the upcoming economic global superpower is set to come up with a national AI strategy to promote the technology indigenously. Citing an example of FreshWorks that was recently listed at Nasdaq with a valuation of more than 10 million USD, Ravi offers due credits to the efforts of the Indian government. He appreciates the support from the Startup India program and the Software Technology Parks of India (STPI). 

Conversational technology pioneers like Uniphore are confident of the future investments that are directed towards the sector. Ravi is highly aspirational about the future of AI and Voice Automation technology in some of the developing countries like India, with the customer service segment experiencing disruptions in the communication tools. His advice for the budding entrepreneurs in the sector – ‘Be aggressive about the short term goals but be as patient as possible for your long term goals. Persistence will definitely lead you to success.’

Excerpts of an interview by Ujal Nair

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