The Generative AI landscape: The good, the bad and the boring – Interview with Don Schuerman of Pega


Share on LinkedIn

Today’s interview is with Don Schuerman, the CTO and Vice President of Product Strategy and Marketing at Pegasystems. Don joins me today to talk about the upcoming PegaWorld iNspire 2024 (PegaWorld is taking place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas from June 9th to the 11th and there is a money back guarantee!), what he’s most looking forward to at the event, the good and bad about the tech offerings out there in the market right now, and why it’s the “boring” use of AI that really will help enterprises work smarter and harder amongst other things.

This interview follows on from my recent interview – Episode 500: Some reflections on the last 13 years – and is number 501 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders who are doing great things, providing valuable insights, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to both their customers and their employees.

Here are the highlights of my chat with Don:

  • PegaWorld is taking place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas from June 9th to the 11th and there is a money back guarantee!)
  • We’re at the point in the hype cycle around AI, that it’s time to start having real pragmatic conversations about how we can use this technology for real and where the real value drivers are.
  • I do think we are at the beginning of what’s gonna be a pretty profound change in business and technology. And I wouldn’t… be surprised if in three, four years we look back and feel like this was as impactful, say, as the internet in terms of what it’s done to our customer experiences and our workplaces and frankly, even our lives.
  • It’s quickly becoming apparent that there’s a set of capabilities that are going to become table stakes i.e. summarisation whether it’s an email or a customer interaction history in a contact center or an operations case that somebody may be working on or a document.
  • Those will be productivity enhancers, but they’re quickly not going to be differentiating for vendors like PEGA who are trying to stand out in the marketplace, nor frankly for organizations and enterprises themselves.
  • Most organizations are actually figuring out that it’s relatively easy and straightforward to stand up a GenAI environment that is secure and protective of data and but also provides a place for both employees and leaders to go in and actually try their own prompts, ask their own questions, see how they can actually use it.
  • If you’re not using this stuff, you’re never going to be able to actually get to the level of detail you need in order to find where the real value is.
  • Paul Greenberg: We talk too much about things like delighting customers but, most of the time, customers actually don’t need to be delighted. They want things to be easy.
  • We’re seeing that Gen AI has real power to help organizations change their thinking around what it means to be easy and what it means to deliver easy customer experiences.
  • Check out Pega’s new tool: Gen AI Blueprint.
    • Ask it to help you design an app or a new process and by using the power of GenAI and a library of some of our best practices, it will recommend an optimal process for customer service and lending, say, or the optimal collection of processes for customer service and lending, for example.
    • Blueprint forces you to take a starting point that is optimized and both customer and outcome focused from the beginning,
  • Here’s a way of thinking about AI:
    • There is left brain AI and there is right brain AI.
      • Left brain AI is analytical. It makes decisions. It’s basically a statistical AI that looks at data, finds patterns and makes predictions based on that data. And there are forms of statistical AI that regulated industries have been using for decades that predict business behavior and recommend next best actions to clients.
      • Those kinds of left brain AI, you can generally train them on your own data so you don’t have to worry about somebody else’s pre-trained expectations coming in. You can also, if you use certain types of models, you can have them be very, very explainable. This is especially important for financial service organisations who have to be able to explain their credit risk ratings or loan decisons. And it can be done in a way that is safe, is customer centric, adheres to ethics and transparency.
      • Then there’s right brain AI. This is generative AI that creates things and makes things and creates new content. What it can do is astounding. But, we should know some things about generative AI. We actually don’t get any explainability from generative AI. Most enterprises don’t actually have enough data and content to train a generative AI model on their own. So they are going to have to rely on an open source model from Meta, Google, OpenAI, Microsoft etc and that means not having as much control around transparency and bias, et cetera. However, there are emerging techniques like retrieval augmented generation (RAG), which can help with those aspects.
      • Check out Pega’s product called KnowledgeBuddy and the video called HowKnowledgeBuddyWorks where they talk through a little bit of this. In short, RAG is a way of basically using your own content to restrict what an AI model can actually say and answer.
  • We need to keep in mind that these are just tools and techniques and the essential thing we have to be clear about is… what is it you’re trying to do? What do you want to achieve? What are you trying to build and deliver and why?”
  • Only when you get clear on that, will you then get a better idea of what sort of tools you’d like to draw from the toolbox, whether that’s left brain or right brain.
  • We’re seeing a lot of brands going back to a core competency model of operations. For example, Google uses Pega for a lot of workflow automation. When asked about why they use Pega and don’t build the technology they need themselves, one of their senior engineers basically said, “Well, customer decisioning and workflow is not our core competency. Our core competency is search, ads, network power and cloud computing. So we want to focus on our core competency and bring in people to help us with the things that we need to support that and complement it.”
  • Gen AI is going to operate not just as a productivity enhancer, but also as a tool to help pull and push our thinking in new directions.
  • Don’s best advice: Take a deep look at the workflows and processes that actually deliver your customer experiences. And, check out Gen AI Blueprint as a really quick and easy way to maybe shift some of your thinking.
  • Don’s Punk XL brand: Australian Customs.

About Don

Don SchuermanDon Schuerman is CTO and Vice President of Product Strategy and Marketing at Pegasystems, responsible for Pega’s industry-leading low-code platform for AI-powered decisioning and workflow automation. He has over 25 years of experience delivering enterprise software solutions for Fortune 500 organizations, with a focus on digital transformation, mobility, analytics, business process management, cloud and CRM. Don has led enterprise software implementations and provided technology and architecture consulting to senior business and technology executives from Fortune 500 organizations, including American Express, Citibank, JP Morgan Chase, and BP. Don holds a BS in Physics and Philosophy from Boston College.

As a longtime improv comedian, Don believes that “Build for Change®” is more than a tagline – it’s a mindset, and that great teams bring adaptability, diverse voices, and a sense of fun to all they do.

Check out Pega, say Hi to Pega and Don on X (Twitter) @pega and @donpega and check out Don’s LinkedIn profile.

Credit: Image by Talpa from Pixabay

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adrian Swinscoe
Adrian Swinscoe brings over 25 years experience to focusing on helping companies large and small develop and implement customer focused, sustainable growth strategies.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here