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Get to Know Dr. Venky Krishnaswamy, Founder & CEO, Koopid

Friday, November 6, 2020 | by: Koopid

Koopid was born from a simple premise: that a business and its customers should engage in a transparent and persistent conversation. We believe that interaction silos—voice, chat, digital self-service, IVR and chatbots—should be consolidated into a single, elegant paradigm. The only way to achieve this is with an AI-powered Digital Engagement Platform: a radically simple architecture for the modern contact center.  

In this seven part series, we will get the inside scoop about Koopid and how they’ve reimagined the customer experience in the contact center directly from Dr. Venky Krishnaswamy, Founder & CEO, Koopid.

This Q&A is taken from the video transcript of Meet Venky Krishnaswamy, CEO of Koopid.

Tell us a bit about Koopid.

Koopid was born from a simple premise that we want to eliminate the silos of channels and boundaries put in automation and live agent service to deliver seamless experiences to our customers. The call center industry is a mature industry - it's been around for about 30 years and essentially was born out of the invention of the toll free number. Telcos were really mature in their infrastructure and it seemed like a fantastic way to serve customers.

It has stood the test of time, but as with anything that's been around for over 30 years it has accrued layers of complexity and functionality that is no longer used. We have all had our tale of war when it comes to bad experiences in the contact center. For example, not being able to understand, or sitting in a queue for a long time, being transferred to the wrong person, the list goes on and on. Our belief is that most of those bad experiences are a result of the complexity that is built into the infrastructure and unwinding that takes time and vision.

Tell us a bit about your background.

I've spent my whole career in the communications collaboration industry, it's such a fascinating, beautiful industry. It's not just rich in technology, but it's rich in the values of communication. It's in some sense its the technology that supports humanity. I started my career at Bell Labs, which at that time was the Mecca of everything communication as most of you know considering the telephone was invented there. The patent that relates to call centers came from Bell Labs and all of the speech technologies were germinated and grown in Bell Labs.

It was a fantastic place to spend my early career soaking in that technology. I rose to be the head of a Bell Labs Innovation, which was one of the spin-off from Bell Labs. Then I went over to Avaya, another great player in the industry and the leader in enterprise communication technologies, that I was grateful to be able to contribute at. One of the things that I'm particularly proud of is that I probably built the world's first voice over IP (VoIP) telephone back in the mid-nineties. It could do CD quality voice video web collaboration all in the form factor of a phone that could connect to the internet.

Any one of these things would have been unusual in those times, connecting a phone to the internet, or being able to do video conferencing, or play audio or do audio at high fidelity - but bringing all that together in a span of a project of about 12 months is something that I am truly proud of. The other thing that I'm proud of is getting into the artificial intelligence (AI) game very early in my career. I recognized the power of what was emerging. AI is now a relatively mature discipline. I was exposed to it when I was doing my PhD at Yale, but around 15 years ago, the notion of using some of the mathematical techniques that were coming up in the area of machine learning and applying them to communication and collaboration problems was truly fascinating to me. I led a group at Avaya Labs that brought a notion that we called the awareness engine, which was all about how do you surround a person's communications activities with everything that they need to know in order to be effective communicators. For example, if you're on a conference call who you're talking to, what are their backgrounds, what activity has taken place as a prelude to this conference call, how do you even get to the conference call, can all be done easily with one click.

How do you capture the results and the outcomes and annotate the actions that were up there - these are all the surrounding activities. People are used to picking up the phone and making a call to get into a conference, but the productivity or how to get the outcomes that you want were left completely to the very unstructured human realm. People used to do that by email or hallway conversations, so we built a framework to bring software and structure to that process and a lot of it was about AI, which is fundamentally software systems that seem to have somewhat human and their characteristics in some way that are intelligent. In this case, we applied it to a stream of activity that has been recorded, how can we make sense of it to provide influences that make sense to the humans who are involved in that activity or who are going to have continued involvement in that activity.

I am particularly proud of that work which resulted in being awarded a patent of the year by the state of New Jersey which is affectionately called an "Eddy." I along with my colleagues were awarded the Thomas Edison patent award for that. I hope, and I do believe that's prepared me and my team for this mission that we have at Koopid, which is to change the game in the call center industry. I have a fantastic team of very highly qualified technologists and PhDs on our team. They have authored over 250 patents with some of them being extremely influential in our field. I truly believe that we have a unique team, the likes of which are very hard to assemble and we're uniquely positioned to tackle this problem of the call center for the future.

>> Don't miss next week when we talk about how Koopid is helping contact centers deliver on their digital transformation goals.

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