August 30, 2021
High 5 - A conversation with David Bos
With over two decades in the technology and data field, our Chief Technology Officer, David Bos, has overseen his share of technological change. Self-confessed tech nut, data mogul, ideas man, and all-around-great-guy, we jumped at the chance to pick his brain. Our own VP of Marketing, Marlon Heckman, sat down with him to talk shop and discover exactly what 5CA has up its sleeve for its clients.
What developments in the technology and data field most excite you?
For data, developments in cloud data architecture, artificial intelligence and machine learning have opened a new world. On how we apply data to 5CA and how we make a difference for our clients and agent community.
The data field is maturing rapidly. Five to ten years ago, companies struggled to even get access to all their data. Once we gained access, we had trouble to collect useful information from all the data. Nowadays, we do have access to data in our advanced data cloud, which means we can innovate and create actionable insights. And add AI and machine learning components. One example is a solution we’re developing called Agent Help. We picture Agent Help as this small, virtual genius sitting on our agents’ shoulders, whispering the right answers in their ears. We’ve already applied it to several projects.
From a technology perspective I strongly believe in so-called citizen development: our agents building apps and automating processes and workflows as non-developers. Applying business logic with no-coding, based on our data fundament with an out-of-the box user-interface. Creating and innovating from within the business, closest to our clients.
Do you see any of these developments as threats or opportunities? Particularly for 5CA, but also the CX world at large.
We get questions around data security and dependence on technology. This is why we focus on security and scalability by design; both for solutions and our work-from-home model.
Having your job replaced by machines is also a worry that often comes up. But we believe technology creates more and new jobs and opportunities. You can shift into the fear, uncertainty, and doubt mode or you can embrace change. Our strengths must lie in that — because changes will come, and you’d better be prepared.
I’ve worked in this field for more than 23 years, at the intersection of data and technology. I’ve seen a lot of developments. They all bring threats but also new opportunities if you’re able to anticipate them. This is the core of 5CA. We are pioneers, embrace opportunities and stay ahead of the curve. Not only for us but our agent community and clients, too.
"Our agents are the front runners for innovation."
Given 5CA's operating model, what gives us an advantage over competitors when it comes to data?
5CA is a work-from-home pioneer. We’ve worked in the cloud for a long time. Data’s importance was always part of our CEO & Founder, Otto’s, vision. It’s a focus he’s invested in for a long time.
Our advantage is, as a data-driven company, the combination of CX content with in-dept sector knowledge and technology. This enables us to transform data into insights and make these also truly actionable.
We currently have a team of 25 data specialists dedicated to working in the data analytic space. Looking at our competitors, that’s quite large in relation to company size.
Size-wise, we’re a nimble organization. We experiment a lot, test a lot, and do a lot. This pragmatic can-do mindset — combined our Microsoft platform which enables us to test and learn quickly — gives us a head start with our competition.
What does the future hold for our operating model? Will it be a more hybrid way of working?
Data and technology impact our operating model through three angles: automation, insights, and augmentation.
First is how we use technology and data for automation. Citizen developers, using low-coding and no-coding, are crucial in our automation strategy. These enable our agents to automate from within the business and its processes, bringing content expertise together with automation. We also use automated translation services, chatbots, and knowledge base AI like Agent Help. In any case, our focus is increasing business value and the experience for our agents.
The second is providing actionable insights from data. Insights about customer journey, player journey. Sentiment analyses and feedback on product development. We give that feedback to our clients.
Finally, the third area is augmentation. We help our agents make better decisions and the clients get better results. We’re constantly working to improve customer satisfaction and player satisfaction by augmenting our agents with the latest technology. For example: using AI to access the knowledge base and to share best practices.
Those three areas impact not only our operating model but also affects the way we earn money and the services we deliver. It all ties back to our company’s innovation.
Innovation is, in fact, not just thinking about new solutions, but exploring business models. It’s capturing our peoples’ mindset and enable them to improve and achieve more. Putting automation at their fingertips with low-coding is a good example. That’s why I personally don’t see changing our business model as a threat. On the contrary, I see it as a tremendous opportunity.
"Innovation is not only about new solutions, but how it impacts business models."
How will this affect our agents?
We are an insights-driven organization where people make the difference. You could say, “Oh, you’re a data guy, so you like robots more than people.” I don’t fit that stereotype. I’m a people person and I truly believe that people will always make the difference.
Agents have a paramount role in innovation and data. Not only to provide current services but to develop new ones. For a lot of our agents, 5CA is one of their first jobs. It’s the stepping stone of their career and they can learn a lot in the CX field.
We offer MOOCs (massive online open courses) and programs to give them even more skills. But we also use their capabilities because they’re the ones working with for clients with the end-customers.
Our agents are the front runners for us. They’re the tip of the spear. Our most valuable asset.
So, for me, it’s about technology and about people. We can’t have one without the other. The company sells, the tech sells, but it’s our agents who make the difference.
What is the relationship between the data & technology team and our agent community? Are we looking at a more blended way of working?
We have data and tech specialists, and we have CX specialists: our agents. Citizen development is the glue between the two. We’re using Microsoft Power Platform which involves what we call no-coding and enables everybody to build applications and automate processes and flows. We bring these to help our agents do a better job and to learn. And to innovate from within the core.
Using these tools and with our MOOC’s, are agents can grow towards a data role or tech specialist function. We’ll have specialists with data as their day-to-day job and agents who have customer service as their day-to-day job who also work with data.
And we don’t develop solutions in splendid isolation; our agents are the starting point for many new products and innovations. Often, good ideas come from them, our clients, or people actively looking into the market.
We strive to maintain an outside-in view rather than an inside-out view. It’s where we can make a difference to our agents while also being more client-centric. That’s what we want to do.
In broad strokes, can you give us an introduction to 5CA’s data strategy? What's the client's role in this and how will we be collaborating with them on the solutions?
We see data as the fuel for our organization, providing the basis for automation, to create insights and machine data to augment our agents. Focusing on the right things is important to make our services as lean as possible. It’s the insights that create new avenues.
When we start an initiative, we start small. We come up with a proof of concept with a launching customer and develop it further together. From onboarding to scaling, we productize our solutions step-by-step.
We’re very alert and look closely at developments in emerging technology. We call it ‘The Art of the Possible’. The Art of the Possible starts when we combine in a workshop what’s technically possible with concrete business problems and applications to inspire our clients to make better decisions and to increase the impact of their products. Using new tech, we want to stimulate the idea: reinvent yourself by working smarter.
"We pro-actively look at developments in emerging technology"
How about the 'shadow side' of our data strategy? In which areas do we need to improve?
One of our key learnings is focus. A common trap is developing new products and work on things for months but without clear defined business value. That’s always a pitfall because enthusiasm can make people forget what’s necessary and how the definition of success looks like. We need to remind ourselves of that every day.
We need to focus, innovate with small iterations and take baby steps, focus on business value and not underestimate the impact of what we do as a data and technology team. We differentiate by combining data with our CX content and sector expertise.
What does the data and tech department have in store for 5CA? Can we expect any exciting new products or services?
We have two very successful solutions we’re already rolling out to clients.
One is Agent Help. We’ve seen a lot of hyping in the market about chatbots, but a lot of failures in that area, too. Agent Help is perfect for companies looking to enhance their chatbot solutions but also a great way to start with bots.
We’ve also started to deploy a translation portal enriched with CX terminology and sector specific content. Basically, ticket information comes in from 90+ languages and our platform translates it into the language you want. For example, English agents answer in English, the program then translates the answer back to the language from the original query. All in real-time and which the enhanced content. We have specific gaming content specialized for CX in the gaming industry, for example. It helps standardize and increases quality, so the customer isn’t thinking, “Hey, I’m talking to Google Translate.” So, if you have a specific gaming slang, you receive a translation that makes sense.
David Bos in 5CA recording studio
We're not the biggest player in the market, nor do we have Big Behemoth Budgets. How can we keep up with bigger competitors?
There are companies with more resources than us. That’s the case. But our size is also our strength. With it, we move quickly, make speedy decisions, and can adapt fast. When you’re a behemoth company, everything is slow. We’re nimble and can bend around all kinds of angles.
We’re also not reinventing the wheel or developing technology. We take what we have and make smart combinations. As a Microsoft content partner we work closely with them and leverage their platform and frameworks. We take their proven technology platform and add our CX content knowledge and sector expertise.
One innovation I want to mention is predictive analytics. For example trending topics and sentiment analysis. We use that to bring actionable insights to improve customer experience and satisfaction.
I believe our approach will make the biggest difference in the industry.