In this episode of the Futurum Tech Webcast – Interview Series, I’m joined by Angela Lepelley, the Sales Director, AI and Automation at Five9 for conversation about a topic that is steadily increasing in importance: AI in the contact center.
For most people, contacting a contact center is a dreaded task. Whether by phone, video, chat, or email, interacting with contact center agents, historically speaking, has been an onerous experience. We also know that customer experience is a top priority for businesses, and many have started to understand the value of also improving the experience in the contact center. But how exactly does that happen? Angela and I explore that in greater detail during the course of our conversation, and also covered the following:
- A look at the current, and often frustrating realities of the contact center for employees and customers and why AI is playing a role there.
- What is driving the adoption of AI in the contact center as well as common barriers to adoption that organizations are facing.
- Not everything in the contact center can be automated. We explored ways that organizations are determining what automation can augment and what still needs to be done by an employee.
- Automation and AI in the contact center, like an organization’s overall digital transformation, is a journey that is never complete. It is a constant evolution that businesses need to keep tracking, which can be a complicated process. We discussed what organizations should think about as they evaluate automation and AI platforms and potential vendor partners.
It was an excellent conversation with fantastic insights and one I’m sure you won’t want to miss. Watch the video here:
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Shelly Kramer: Hello, and welcome to the Futurum Tech Webcast Interview Series. I’m Shelly Kramer, principal analyst here at Futurum Research. On today’s episode, I’m joined by Angela Lepelley, the sales director AI and automation at Five9. We’re going to talk about today, we’re going to dive into a topic today that is steadily growing in importance, and that’s the topic of AI in the contact center and some of the amazing things that we’re able to do as a result of integrating AI into the contact center. Before we get there, though, I want to talk a little bit about contact centers. One thing that I say whenever I bring up customer experience and whenever I talk about contact centers is that no human being ever wakes up and says, “I can’t wait to call or contact a contact center. I’m so excited about this. I really look forward…” Everybody dreads this, right?
Angela Lepelley: Mm-hmm.
Shelly Kramer: But yet it’s a reality of our life and of all of our lives. And so whether we’re making contact by phone, by video, by chat, by email, whatever else, it’s kind of, ugh, a dreaded task. And so I think that as a vendor in this space, I feel pretty confident that one of the things that Five9 and your team thinks about on the regular is, “How do we make that experience less onerous for our customers? And how do we also make everything having to do with performing a contact center job less onerous for our employees?” So, that’s a big challenge, right?
Angela Lepelley: Mm-hmm.
Shelly Kramer: But it’s so important. And we know that customer experience is a top priority for businesses, as it should be. So our conversation today will really be focused on, how can we make contact centers better? And that’s exactly what we’re going to be talking about. So, Angela, welcome.
Angela Lepelley: Thank you.
Shelly Kramer: I’m so glad to have you. I love this topic.
Angela Lepelley: Thank you for having me.
Shelly Kramer: Absolutely. So before we dive into talking about AI in the contact center, I always love to hear about people’s personal career journeys. So tell us a little bit about your career path and a little bit then about your role at Five9.
Agela Lepelley: Yeah. Interesting to hear you say the contact center, when you say what you do, isn’t always the most exciting thing, but really, if I think about the last 20 years, I started doing engineering at university. At one point I was going to go to medical school. I ended up in this career almost sort of by mistake. I’ve spent 20 years working through various roles, always around the contact center in technical roles, and more recently really focusing on those elements of AI that are related to the contact center.
I think what’s interesting to think about is these elements used to be areas that people were innovating, it was testing and learning, and now if you look at a modern contact center, they really are in every part of it. It’s really infused in every step of the journey. And it’s a very exciting space to be in. It’s evolving all the time. We used to have incremental changes and incremental gains within the contact center. The last few years, it has absolutely exploded. I don’t think anybody really anticipated the changes that we’ve had through cloud adoption, but really, there’s this real shift of using AI within the environment. Yeah, it’s an exciting place to be now.
Shelly Kramer: As a consumer, it’s funny, every time I have an experience with a contact center that’s an amazing experience, I’m a tech geek, so I pay attention. I pay a lot of attention. And actually, I’m the customer who will email customer service after the fact and say, “This happened, and it was really terrible,” or, “This happened, and it was really great,” or whatever. But I do think that from a customer experience standpoint, when I personally experience situations where I know that AI is driving part of my interaction and I can see the efficiencies and I can see whether it’s leading me to a quick do-it-yourself situation or something like that, it’s just like, “Oh, this is so awesome,” and you appreciate it so much. I think it’s also, in many ways, it’s a competitive advantage. I mean, when you’re evaluating contact center solutions, things that make everyone’s lives easier, more efficient, more productive on the contact center staff side, I think all of those things are really, really important. So let’s talk a little bit about the nuances of how AI can be used in the contact center.
Angela Lepelley: Well, I think some of the recent data I was looking at was that two thirds of all contact centers now have some form of AI within them, but really where we see the biggest focus is around the field of conversational AI, so that’s the world of virtual agents. The likes of you and I will know that mostly from its speaking to technology, really. The Alexa was launched, I think, in 2014. This was our first introduction to, as consumers, being able to use voice to interact with everyday organizations. But you’re talking about it being an easy way to interact. I think that’s key.
I think we’re constantly surrounded by a little hindrance, I suppose, because speech, if you think about the evolution of a typical inbound experience into a contact center, we’re all very well aware of traditional IVRs with touch tone keypads and being faced with menus that have options that it’s not relevant to you. They’re very frustrating. A lot of those were speech enabled. We’ve been doing speech enabled IVRs for 15, 20 years, and that’s a form of AI. And I think this is holding it back a little because people think that that is what a conversational interface is, but really what has changed dramatically in the last few years is that these technologies are now infused with this AI capability, which is the ability to use natural language. So you can speak freely, you can use your own words, and the technology can pick out, really, the meaning from that, the context, the intent, what it is you’re trying to get done and pick out words and parts of that conversation to really have a much more natural experience to complete a task.
Shelly Kramer: That’s awesome. And so does this technology work alongside humans in the contact center? Is there a point where the AI says, “Oops, I can no longer process what this customer’s looking for”? And is there a seamless handoff or something like that?
Angela Lepelley: Yeah. So I mean, a lot of conversational interfaces are being used for automation, so doing some of those tasks that a human agent might have done. But before we get to the point of automation, they’re very useful in just answering a call and understanding who you are and what it is you’re trying to achieve, and then handing that over to the right place. That could be automation, but it could equally be passing that to self-service application.
Shelly Kramer: Yeah, absolutely. So I want to talk a little bit about what’s driving adoption of AI in the contact center. Now, we’re coming out of two years of a global pandemic, and it’s funny, every time I say that it’s like, it’s not over, but I think that navigating a global pandemic taught us a lot of important business decisions, and one of which is, I don’t think anybody ever manages to forget the important role that a contact center plays in pretty much all business operations, right?
Angela Lepelley: Yeah.
Shelly Kramer: But I think a global pandemic sort of intensified that, and it intensified, in many ways, a move to the cloud, right?
Angela Lepelley: Mm-hmm.
Shelly Kramer: We had to pivot customer service teams, contact center teams to work from home. So businesses who were already utilizing the cloud were in a prime position, right? So a global pandemic, a shift to work from home, talent, talent recruitment issues, and things like that. Tell me about what you’re seeing in terms of some of the things on your end that are truly driving adoption in the contact center, of AI, rather, in the contact center.
Angela Lepelley: Yeah. Well, I mean, there’s a few different areas that are driving adoption. I think you’ve reflected on the pandemic, this forced everyone to do things in quite different ways. If we look at retail, they had to close their shops. Lots of face-to-face options dropped off. And rightly, as you say, the contact center almost became the face and the front door of many organizations. We saw this influx of interactions, influx of calls. We had demand increase in those, that contact centers couldn’t handle that demand, and I think that did give way to people maybe rushing quite quickly at some of the automation elements of using AI. But I still think the main reason that the adoption of this is happening so quickly, it’s customers, it’s us, it’s us demanding a better service.
Shelly Kramer: Right, right.
Angela Lepelley: I think us as consumers, the way that we want to interact is changing. We want always on services, we want easy access, 24 hours a day. We’re definitely moving towards a trend of consumers wanting to self-serve.
Shelly Kramer: Exactly.
Angela Lepelley: So, often I get asked, “This is just, we’re just putting some technology in the way of speaking to a human.” But really look at all the research, and customers, when it’s something simple, a simple transactional task, you just want to get your balance, or you want to make a payment, or reset a password, these things we don’t want to speak to a human about, we want to just get them done really quickly. And the best way to do that is through some kind of conversational chatbot or virtual agent.
Shelly Kramer: Yeah. Yeah, it’s funny, these internet that the answer to our questions is right here. I think the proliferation of mobile devices also plays a role, right?
Angela Lepelley: Mm-hmm.
Shelly Kramer: I don’t want to wait until I’m sitting in front of my laptop or in my office or whatever to get done what I need to do. I want to be able to use my mobile device and get whatever problem I have solved, whatever information I need. And I think you’re absolutely correct in terms of our desire as consumers to solve the problems we can solve ourselves because it’s so much faster. I mean, we know how to navigate, I mean, most of us, right? And of course, there are many people, elderly people, things like that, who have more difficulty, but the reality of it is in many instances our world is designed so that what we need to do, we need to do online. And we know how to navigate those interfaces. And so what we’re looking for is quick, seamless, efficient, productive processes.
And when AI, I think, can help drive that, it’s noticeable, right? It’s definitely noticeable. I think that competing on customer experience and customer service is something that we see a lot of today. Businesses of every kind, I don’t care if you’re in the B2B space or B2C space, I mean, commoditization and the risk of commoditization is everywhere. I can buy whatever I need from Amazon, right? And nothing against Amazon, they’re an amazing company, but if that’s what you’re competing against and their ability to serve customers and quickly do the things that customers want, you need to be able to model that as well again. And I think that’s regardless of whether you’re working in the B2B or B2C space. So let’s see.
Angela Lepelley: Yeah. I mean, I really agree with that point, loyalty, I think to brands in general, is at an extreme low point. So competing on product is just no longer really something that any brand is doing. We have to compete on the customer experience. One bad experience, we’re all just not tolerating that anymore, not tolerating bad service. We can see it being done well in a lot of organizations. And I think in the contact center, this is where we see the biggest pain point is when you have that first initial touchpoint with whether it is that kind of old IVR experience. Or similarly, I think on websites where we see chatbots being delivered, it’s sort of, people expect to be able to pick up this technology, just program it up and put some FAQs in it, and, “Oh, that felt simple.” But actually doing it well, using conversational design and making these seamless, engaging experiences, you need to do this well, it needs to be joined up, and it needs to be really valuable to the end customer.
Shelly Kramer: I’m a big proponent of the most senior executives throughout any organization having to walk through a newly designed, ready to launch customer experience process. Because so many times, I know that you’ve done this, you’re in an interface, you’re trying to solve a problem. And again, nobody wakes up with a desire to run to a contact center and try to solve a problem, right? So there’s a reason, something isn’t right. That’s why we’re in this situation, right? We’re trying to fix it. But so many times I’ll be involved in a process, a contact center process, and I’ll just be so frustrated I go, “Oh my gosh, people at a senior level have not vetted this process. Somebody has not thought this all the way through.”
Sometimes it’s as easy as doing exercises that you assign to different members on your team to walk through the process to just make sure that everything’s vetted and that things do the things that they’re supposed to do, and you’re thinking it through. That’s truly one of my recommendations all the time when I talk to any contact center client is just make sure. Even people at the most senior level whose job it is not to design these things, right? Because when it’s just your design team or just the people who are close to it, sometimes we’re so close to things that we overlook it. But it’s those outside people or your partner or whatever, “Go through this process for me. Tell me where the hangups are,” I think that’s really an important part of the design process.
Angela Lepelley: It is. And I think another relevant to that is just making these experiences join up. Typically, when we look at the digital world, you’ve got digital teams and people in marketing leading some of the design, clearly, of the digital space like the website, and that might have flowed on to design of a chatbot. But we know that about 70% of the interactions that come into a contact center are fallout from failed web journeys or failed digital interactions. And so making sure we have a really consistent experience in digital interfaces as we do when we call up the contact center and maybe with your phone is making sure those experiences are connected together. Probably the second biggest frustration is having to repeat information. So passing that context, making sure a bot can translate that to a web chat agent and you can see all of the previous interaction, it’s vital to the design.
Shelly Kramer: Which, as a customer, is so important. There’s not many things I loathe more than having to tell my story. I started out frustrated, right? Now that I’ve had to tell my story five times later, I find myself saying to a contact center agent, “I’m really not upset with you. It’s just this process. It’s frustrating to me.”
Angela Lepelley: Exactly. Yeah. And remember, all of this technology is not just supporting the customer, because we talked about the impact on the agent as well. They don’t want to receive that angry caller. They don’t want-
Shelly Kramer: They don’t ever.
Angela Lepelley: … to do those. The AI capability is not necessarily to automate full processes. I think a lot of people talk about containment in the IVR and taking away the traffic, but really it’s about them working together. It’s, we’re moving towards, I think, a world where most interactions will not be fully automated, but they will be partially automated. So the front part of the interaction will be handled by some sort of bot. And then more often than not, we’re going to need a human to finish that interaction and to give it that human touch that it needs. But the pieces of the interaction, being able to understand who they are, taking a policy number, verifying who you are, just collecting some information on the way in, they’re simple things we can automate and enhance the experience, improve the experience, make it easier when it actually reaches an agent.
Shelly Kramer: I’m all for that. So we’re obviously both fans of AI and automation in the contact center, but the reality of it is there are some very real things that sometimes get in the way for organizations. So, Angela, that’s what I’d love to talk about next is what are some of the barriers that you see to adoption of AI in the contact center?
Angela Lepelley: Yeah, it’s an interesting one, because I think most of the barriers that we previously had have pretty much dropped off. I think previously one of the biggest barriers used to be cost. If we look at traditional speech deployments maybe just even a handful of years ago, they cost huge amounts of money. We had long deployment cycles. They were quite lengthy deployments. You need coders and developers. All of that’s really kind of melted away now it’s all in the cloud. We’ve got low-code, no-code kind of environments that we can use to build them. The cost has come down, so it’s really available to all. I think a lot of those barriers have come down. I think almost the biggest barrier is almost getting the knowledge out there that the technology really works. I think that sometimes our ability as consumers to use it hasn’t quite caught up with the technology, if that makes sense-
Shelly Kramer: Yeah.
Angela Lepelley: … and that we’re still faced with these kind of legacy chatbots and traditional IVRs and think that that’s the experience. But when we see it designed well, when we see it, as you said, when you experience a seamless journey supported by AI, the technology works exceptionally well when it’s designed and implemented well. So yeah, I think just making sure that we’re always focusing on the customer design, making that easy, engaging experiences is where we need to focus. Yeah.
Shelly Kramer: Yeah, that makes sense. So in the contact center, not everything can be automated, right?
Angela Lepelley: Mm-hmm.
Shelly Kramer: So if you’re beginning a journey of thinking about integrating AI into your contact center, how do you know what can and can’t be automated? I will say that my answer is always, I try within our own company and when I’m advising other companies, I try to advise people not to think they need to reinvent the wheel. And what I mean by that is that I think that we are at a time, I mentioned this briefly before, there’s the tech talent. Organizations are stretched in terms of their IT teams and you know what they’re handling. Sometimes there’s expertise internally, sometimes there’s not.
And for me, one of my biggest pieces of advice is find a trusted vendor partner and rely on them, because what they bring to the engagement is all of the trials and successes and not so successful things that happen, but they bring all of the experience that they’ve learned with other customers that they’re doing on a day-to-day basis, and they bring that to your engagement and your set of circumstances. I think that for me, it shortens the time to adoption. It shortens the time to value. It shortens the instances of frustration. So I’m a big fan of when you’re going down this path, figuring out who the right trusted vendor partner is and going that path. So I have a feeling that you’re probably not going to disagree with me there.
Angela Lepelley: No, I think that it’s very wise words. As I said, this technology’s become almost available to anyone. So a lot of organizations have rushed at picking up these easy development tools and creating their own bots, and I think coupled with the slight misconception that conversational AI can do anything. It’s hugely powerful, but it’s improving all the time. But I think in the reality is it is fairly complex. We’re dealing with speech recognition, we’re dealing with synthesis of text, we’re dealing with data, we’re trying to understand language and really complex strings of communication that people are speaking. It is actually a fairly complex thing to get right. So your advice of using a trusted vendor, absolutely. Starting small, absolutely. Starting with things that will work, that you test properly. You get it out in a small scale into the field and you use real customers to interact with it and build that.
And I think engaging the organization you’re working with from the very onset and knowing that it’s a journey you’re going to go on together, building these things. They’re designed around the specific nuances of your organization, what your customers are saying, what needs they have, and how you can improve that. So yeah, I think in terms of what’s good to automate and what’s not, clearly, looking at the simple to automate things, common small tasks that that are adding no value, that are really simple, like collecting that information on the way in, collecting intent, collecting ID. All those parts are very, very simple for us to do. That’s a good place to start.
Shelly Kramer: Right. Well, and I think you touched on this a little bit, but I think that really involving your internal team, especially those individuals who are working closest to the customer in the contact center, in conversations around developing a strategy for what you’re doing in the contact center, because they do these things all day, every day. We did some research a few years ago, and a lot of times when we do research surveys, our clients are interested in feedback at the executive level.
And in this particular study, it was very different in that what this customer was interested in, what this client was interested in was they were interested in feedback from more frontline and mid-level people within the organization about digital transformation and about automation and about how automation was changing the landscape of work and their work. And one of the big pieces that came out of that research is that across the board, those employees were saying, “We want to be more involved in these processes. We think we have something to contribute. So please don’t leave us out of the equation.” And I think that when you’re talking about contact center, that’s incredibly important to remember as well.
Angela Lepelley: Yeah, definitely. We’ve seen a lot of success with that. So if you think about how you train a virtual agent, it’s a bit similar to how you train a real agent. You have to give it some information, see how it goes, continually train it up, feed it with more information, more data. And really, the process to do that with this technology is to look at the responses you get from the customer. You need to train it with the right responses and the right information. And usually the best way to do that is to use some of the employees of that organization. We see that quite a lot where we take a group or take employees from the contact center to support that very process.
Shelly Kramer: Yeah. Yeah, right.
Angela Lepelley: By their nature, these technologies, inherently, the way that they are built are to sort of tune and optimize themselves as they go forward. So if you think about when we ask a customer, “What can I do for you today?” What they respond with, we may be able to start gathering the top intents, the top reasons why they’re calling and start to create some automated responses. But through those utterances, through the things that your customers are actually telling you that they want, we’re able to use that information to then really inform the roadmap for continual improvement, building up the responses, more and more things that the virtual agent can do over time.
Shelly Kramer: Right, right. No, that’s exciting. And I’m sure it’s as exciting to agents overall, right, contact center agents overall as it is to customers as well. So I think that one of the things that my advice always is is… I asked a question here a few minutes ago and I want to circle back and add something to it. How do organizations know what can and can’t be automated? So some of it is getting that internal feedback. Some of it is trial and error or testing things and things like that. And I think really an important part of that equation is just to be strategic about it, right, and to be strategic and know that this is an automation strategy within the contact center, right?
Angela Lepelley: Mm-hmm.
Shelly Kramer: And so you develop it in that way. I think the other bit of advice, and I would love to know how you feel on this front, I actually personally don’t… I think that going into it with a mindset that this is not a process, it’s a journey. And for instance, if I am… Is that my notification or your notification? I don’t think it’s mine. Sorry. I’m looking at it. I’m on do not disturb.
Angela Lepelley: Okay.
Shelly Kramer: Is that you or me?
Angela Lepelley: Sorry. I don’t think it’s me.
Shelly Kramer: That’s okay. That’s okay. Just, do you hear the dinging?
Angela Lepelley: Yes.
Shelly Kramer: Okay. I don’t think it’s me, but we’re not going to worry about it. We’re going to just pick it up here. So one of the things that I try to impress upon people as we’re talking about things like a contact center automation journey is that this is a journey and there will be different steps along the way of this journey. There will be different iterations. And the reality of it is if you’re doing it right, the journey is actually not ever going to be over because technology continues to evolve. And when we stop and think, “Oh my gosh, look at all the changes that we’ve seen in the last decade, in the last five years,” and we think, ” Oh my goodness,” well, the reality of it is that’s not going to slow down. That’s going to speed up, right?
Angela Lepelley: Mm-hmm.
Shelly Kramer: And so I try to make sure that when I’m talking about these topics, that people understand that it is a journey. And the cool thing is that we can do this with AI in the contact center today, and that’s going to continue to evolve as the technology changes and as new technology becomes available] and those sorts of things. Again, that’s part of the reason I’m such a fan of strong vendor-partner relationships, because when you invent the wheel and you try to do this yourself internally, you may or may not have the capabilities to stay on top of what’s happening with the technology. You may not constantly be exploring and experimenting with and upgrading to, right, the newest technology.
And so when you’re working with a trusted vendor partner, that’s part of the value proposition, right? You’re out there. When I’m working with the team at Five9, I’m relying on you and your team to always have your finger on the pulse of what’s happening and what innovative things that you’re thinking about, or we can do, or we can integrate, or, “Oh, here’s something we didn’t think about that’s working great for another customer,” things like that. But I do think going into this journey of contact center and especially thinking about how we can integrate AI into our contact center operations and how that’s a game changer is understanding that it is a journey and this is a step on that journey.
Angela Lepelley: Yeah. Yeah, I totally agree with all of that. Since joining Five9, it is continually evolving all of the time. We’ve talked a lot about virtual agents and chatbots today, but we refer to that as first wave of conversational AI. The second wave that’s now emerging quite at pace is around supporting the agent with AI. You may have had heard the term “agent assist.” Really, we’re seeing that rise up now, which is, I suppose, the AI listening to a live conversation. So a virtual agent being sort of pre-agent, the live conversation with an agent, listening into that, being able to suggest responses, surfacing knowledge, providing next best answers, even things like automating quality transcribing summaries of the call so they don’t have to write their own notes.
There’s so many uses for this technology that really it’s applicable to so many organizations and so many sectors. But yeah, the capabilities are just growing at pace that I think we started this conversation with saying almost every single touchpoint within the contact center, whether it’s customer facing agent, whether it’s supporting the business with analytics and ongoing business improvement, it’s really across every touchpoint of it now, but it’s indistinguishable from the contact center itself. It’s just part of it.
Shelly Kramer: Yeah, absolutely. Well, I’m glad you touched on how AI can be used to support contact center agents, because we also know that across the world, there’s a labor shortage. And so when you can use technology to make jobs more interesting, more attractive, provide more career opportunities, opportunities for growth, opportunities for learning, that sort of thing, I think that’s the kind of jobs that attract people. And I think that this isn’t a technology conversation. We talk about this all the time as it relates to digital transformation. Digital transformation isn’t just technology. It’s technology and processes and people, and all of those things working together to deliver better results. Well, Angela, it’s been such a pleasure hanging out with you today.
Angela Lepelley: Thank you.
Shelly Kramer: And I so appreciate the insights that you’ve shared. This is an exciting time for contact center, right?
Angela Lepelley: Mm-hmm.
Shelly Kramer: I’m going to ask you to leave us, if you have one bit of advice for our viewing or listening audience who may be thinking about contact center and how we can modernize our contact center operations, how, “Gosh, I wasn’t thinking about the role AI could play, but now I am because of this fascinating conversation,” what’s your one bit of advice you want to leave our audience with?
Angela Lepelley: Well, I think your piece of advice about coming to a trusted vendor is absolutely key because there’s so much of the capability out there, it needs that kind of thought, it needs knowledge. It needs people that have been through the experience and made the mistakes before you’ve, really. But I think my top kind of key takeaway would be wherever you start your journey using AI, it should be always putting the customer first, the customer experience. I think if you naturally look for where the pain points are in the customer journeys, call up your own IVR, call up your phone number of your organization, go on, use your own chatbot, walk the journeys that your customers walk, find those pain points and try and solve those first. If we fix the problems in the customer, then all the natural efficiencies and benefits will flow from there.
Shelly Kramer: Absolutely. Well, I cannot argue with that at all. So, Angela Lepelley, sales director AI and automation at Five9, thank you so much for spending time with me today. For our audience, know that I will include a link to Angela’s LinkedIn profile in case you want to reach out to her. I’m sure she would love to hear from you and answer any questions that you have. Again, Angela, thank you for spending time with me today. And to our audience, thank you for spending time with us as well. We’ll see you next time.
Angela Lepelley: Thank you.
Shelly Kramer is a Principal Analyst and Founding Partner at Futurum Research. A serial entrepreneur with a technology centric focus, she has worked alongside some of the world’s largest brands to embrace disruption and spur innovation, understand and address the realities of the connected customer, and help navigate the process of digital transformation. She brings 20 years' experience as a brand strategist to her work at Futurum, and has deep experience helping global companies with marketing challenges, GTM strategies, messaging development, and driving strategy and digital transformation for B2B brands across multiple verticals. Shelly's coverage areas include Collaboration/CX/SaaS, platforms, ESG, and Cybersecurity, as well as topics and trends related to the Future of Work, the transformation of the workplace and how people and technology are driving that transformation. A transplanted New Yorker, she has learned to love life in the Midwest, and has firsthand experience that some of the most innovative minds and most successful companies in the world also happen to live in “flyover country.”