Pega: From CRM to Infinity

Move over Pega CRM Suite, Pega Infinity is here. That was the big announcement at PegaWorld 2018 this morning.

In March 2017, CMO Tom Libretto told me that Pega, the global BPM and “operational excellence” leader was putting CRM first. In those 15 months, the space and the technology have evolved so fast that the term CRM just doesn’t cover it any more. As Pega CTO Don Schuerman told me, in a press briefing yesterday, “You can’t deploy a new customer experience solution without automating the process behind that. The lines between traditional CRM, traditional BPM apps, and robotic automation will continue to blur.” 

Pega Infinity replaces Pega CRM Suite as the “umbrella term” covering the marketing, sales, and service solutions — and Pega Customer Decision Hub — to emphasize that this is intended to be “a single unified platform,” Schuerman said, with end-to-end automation.

Since its acquisition of robotic process automation vendor OpenSpan in 2016, Pega has been expanding opportunities for customers to develop and customize robotics within the Pega eco-system (think chatbot-type automation, but with wide application). It has previously been an add-on option, but with Pega Infinity robotics will be automatically embedded in the solution.

As part of the Pega Infinity launch — described by SVP of products Kerim Akgonul as “our biggest product launch since 2013, which was Pega 7 — Pega is highlighting a new capability within Pega Marketing, Pega Self-Optimized Campaigns. “Everybody we talk to wants to move to one-to-one marketing,” Schuerman explained. “A lot of clients have said to us that they don’t quite know how to get there.” Self-optimization takes the AI capabilities necessary to a one-to-one marketing model and applies them initially to traditional marketing campaigns. 

The solution automatically identifies the optimal audience; the campaign is broken down into a series of “waves”; with each wave, the Pega AI adapts and optimizes both the audience and the next best offers, actions, and engagements. The AI will be able to “shrink the waves,” as Schuerman put it, until the campaign is being optimized for just one customer.

Other product announcements included enhanced AI capabilities for email. In addition to using natural language processing to identify content and sentiment within emails, allowing tens of thousands of them to be treated as “structured cases” along the lines of Pega’s BPM model, Pega will now deploy AI-powered OCR to scan and understand attached and embedded documents like PDFs. 

Pega is also getting into the blockchain game — nothing to do with cryptocurrency, Schuerman emphasized — with a proof-of-concept blockchain kit to help banks with customer onboarding. The context is the onerous and repetitive due diligence (called “know your customer,” or KYC) banks are required to undertake to onboard corporate clients. The process is document-heavy, time-consuming, burdensome for the customers, and inevitably makes the first customer experience with the bank an experience to forget.

By using a private blockchain to store the data and documentation required each time a business is onboarded by a bank or similar institution — with the business holding the key — an arduous, high cost, and high risk process is streamlined. To provide this capability, Pega is integrating with Ethereum, a premium blockchain technology.

Finally, Pega is seeking to “mitigate the impact of automation on business,” as Schuerman put it, by expanding its Pega Community offerings, aimed in turn at expanding the software-building community. New educational opportunities will include Pega Launchpad, which replaces lengthy certification models with “bite size missions,” training packages which can be completed in a few hours or a day.

Pega’s stealth mission to become a recognized leader among customer experience and engagement suites has been reflected by its progression through the Gartner and Forrester ranks. It was a “visionary” in this year’s Gartner Magic Quadrant for multi-channel hubs; it’s a Gartner “leader” in real-time AI and customer engagement; and Forrester ranks it at number one for digital automation.

CEO Alan Trefler may be a chess master — he kicked off PegaWorld as usual by playing 15 games of chess simultaneously in front of an audience — but this is Vegas, so it seems more appropriate to say that Pega has just put a lot of chips on the table.

More reporting from PegaWorld, including Trefler’s reflections on the state of Pega, to come.

Pega covered DMN’s expenses to attend PegaWorld

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