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John Kucera, the VP of Product Management at Salesforce, and Taksina Eammano, VP, AI & Automation, Service Cloud at Salesforce, work together on a mission to bring automation into the hands of customers. On this episode of IT Visionaries, they explain what they focus on when thinking about automation, and they discuss the role automation and RPA will play in the future of work and life.
- Automation can create better customer experiences
- When looking at RPA, you have to understand your processes before you automate
- Automation can and will be used to solve really big problems
What John and Taksina focus on
At Salesforce, making the lives of customers easier is a top priority. For John and Taksina, the best way to do that is through automation. They both believe that the time is ripe to implement automation in any number of processes and services in ways that will make everything from sales to decision-making so much simplerorder to help customers unify sources of insights and make better decisions, Salesforce created Einstein Next Best Action.
“We have to ask, ‘How do we use automation to really improve productivity and really reduce customer resolution times for both our customers, our agents, and all of those mobile fieldworkers?’” –Taksina
“What I’m super excited about is that there’s never been a better time to be in automation.” –John
What role can automation play?
When you think about how automation is coming into the world today, Taksina notes that you see that there is an element of self-service surrounding the world of automation and opportunities to help customers in easy ways with automation. But, she believes there’s more that can be done using automation to create a really good customer experience. Often, workers are actually hampered by the tools they have rather than using them to their potential. Taksina believes there is a way to leverage the tools workers are already using and put automation into them to create uses that will enable better experiences. And from John’s point of view, he sees automation as a tool that was once only accessible by those who had the time and money to spend. But because of how far the technology has come and the products that Salesforce and others have built, automation is becoming accessible to the masses.
John believes automation can be used to save time and make better decisions. You can use automation not just for million-dollar problems, but problems of all sizes and scale, and that can help you transform your services, help you sell more and help delight and serve customers. The goal at Salesforce is to make automation tools more and more accessible and easier to scale.
One example given to illustrate the role automation can play is in the HR field with onboarding. Onboarding is an intricate process and one that becomes more difficult as you scale. By introducing automation into the process, you remove the need to constantly be hiring more and more people to manage your onboarding process and do things like set up systems and create new logins for employees. Instead, you are giving your HR team the time to focus on other more critical responsibilities.
“We’re in a place where all these automation tools that we can have can really create a much more seamless experience for our customers. And bridging all of that together is really the challenge and opportunity we have.” –Taksina
“I view automation as fundamentally a technology to save humans time or help make better decisions.” –John
Where RPA comes into play
With something like RPA, Taksina explains that it is important to look at the process itself before you try to automate anything. The reason is that it is extremely hard to automate something, but it’s worse to automate an already bad process. You have to be deliberate in going through all of your processes and finding the mission-critical ones that can be automated. When you find a process that is necessary and also time-consuming, you can use a mix of APIs and RPA to build something that will add to your workforce in a positive way. Making bots an extension of the workforce and digitizing work is one of the main objectives for Salesforce.
John says that it’s not about taking an analog process and throwing bits and bytes at it to automate it. Rather, you have to look at a process, understand each step and figure out why each step is or is not important and automate from there.
However, as with any technology, RPA comes with questions, and one of the biggest is about governance. You have to maintain a view of the flow of data so that you can always trace back what happened, when and by who or what. This transparency is the only way to create trust. So, when implementing RPA, you have to make sure that you have governance and transparency.
How does automation impact the future of work?
Each organization is going through the process of using automation to augment processes and then figure out how to reallocate resources — including human resources — when they are freed up thanks to automation. Einstein Next Best Action is Salesforce’s automation tool that John says is helping people work smarter. There is a tool which is free to get started with called Strategy Builder in which you can upload insights, use rules to implement your business logic, and have Einstein Next Best Action spit out a recommended action.
“Einstein Next Best Action really is your decision making assistant. And this is a great example of automation that isn’t replacing a person. It’s helping you be smarter.” –John
Recommendations on getting started with automation
There are opportunities to address really big problems using automation, and problem-solving is always going to be a part of being in IT. With automation, you can solve problems that previously were too expensive or needed too many people to solve. At Salesforce, the belief is that there is a way to deliver automation to the masses and give it to people in IT and outside of IT so that it is democratized. But you have to deliver tools and capabilities throughout the organization and still have consistency with governance.
Taksina says that if you’re starting today, there are really easy ways to help customers use bots in order to free up humans. You have to think through the customer experience and find where you can add value to the customer and to the agent to enable him or her to do more work. You should be thinking about whether a process is something that’s business critical and will allow you to build upon it. Those are processes that should be automated, rather than focusing only on something that exists today and won’t necessarily last.
The future of automation
John says that automation is “eating the world.” There are hundreds of billions of process executions powered by Salesforce every month. Now there needs to be more process integration across tools to connect processes that were siloed in the past. That’s one of the things he and his team are currently focusing on.
Taksina says that today, automation is about digitizing processes. She thinks that the opportunity is fusing all the processes with AI in order to create a more seamless workflow.