HR Tech Interview with Jeff Nicholson, Global Leader, CRM Strategy at Pega

The pandemic has definitely accelerated the need to explore better and more effective automation platforms for various remote working teams. Most organizations with a headcount of 50+ employees have been found to be performing better with their automation solutions even as others who are yet to invest in any kind of automation continue to struggle with their remote working workflows. Pega, the leading global technology company, leads the automation business with some very powerful solutions for various business operations. These past few months, Pega has been hard at work analyzing trends and data to make predictions on what 2022 has in store for businesses as they look to advance their digital strategies. In 2022, we expect new applications of AI and automation would further disrupt the global gig economy. In such a volatile scenario associated with the ever-transforming workplace demands, it has become all the more important for CHROs and CIOs to recalibrate their HR Technology stacks. To help us understand what key trends in HR Technology for AI and automation would rule in 2022, we have Pega’s Global Leader for CRM strategy, Jeff Nicholson.

Here’s what Jeff shared with us.

Customer service “gig work” becomes good work.

The COVID-19 era forced many businesses and employees alike to rethink the nature of work itself, giving birth to a new gig work economy. Most employees now had to work from their homes, no matter what their current position, resulting in many now rethinking the type of work (and hours) they may like best, resulting in “the great resignation.” Not only is it harder than ever to find great talent, but these employees are also entering fields such as customer service often for the very first time – and may not be long-term fixes.

Technology will increasingly be used to bridge this ‘knowledge gap’. By reducing the knowledge gap, we will enable to transform the agent’s workload by adding more autonomous service opportunities and we can up-level the job of a service agent and give them time to do the thing that humans are better able to do and that customers want them to do – deal with people 1:1. In this sense, the system is trained, instead of only training the employee. This deeper focus upon the employee experience (EX) in the gig economy is poised to reap great dividends for businesses in 2022.

Recommended HR Technology Insights: HR Tech Interview with Brent Weiss, Senior Director of Product Management at ADP

“Voice AI” technology goes mainstream

In years past, voice has been largely regarded as an “old-school” analog channel – but no longer. There’s a whole new buzz in the service world when it comes to the opportunity to optimize voice-based interactions in 2022. Powered by real-time speech-to-text analytics, Voice AI will serve as your agent’s all-new co-pilot, augmenting and elevating their abilities at every step.

Very different than the early examples seen in 2021 that produced little more than a call transcript, this new generation in effect provides agents with a new level of autonomous “hands-free driving” when it comes to each service interaction.

Here, the system analyses the conversation in real-time, and can automatically enter spoken data into the system without the agent needing to lift a finger. It can automatically recommend cast types and even automatically surface knowledge content based upon the context of the conversation. This game-changing technology allows agents to finally take their hands off the wheel, and instead focus on the most important thing in front of them – the customer.

Journey-focused “Autonomous Service” experiences provide greater scale and outcomes to support strategies. 

Primary research has uncovered that, thanks to the pandemic, customers are now more willing than ever to use self-service. The problem? 46% of customers don’t actually expect it to work. A new form of “autonomous service” technology is emerging to change things. Powered by AI, this technology is not organized around products and services, but instead around the customer journey and your customers’ state within it.

By finally putting each customers’ journey at the center, regardless of whether it is human or automated interaction, enables in many cases the very same level of resolution, whenever and wherever your customer chooses to interact.

This means that it will genuinely become easier for a customer to begin interaction in any channel and it really won’t matter. The result is not only reduced cost-to-serve, but a much-improved mean-time-to-resolution (MTTR) for customers.

Proactive & preemptive experiences push their way to the front of the line.

New primary research data has uncovered that almost 2/3 of customers now believe that companies should provide proactive customer service. And businesses now appear to be following suit, with 53% of of businesses now expecting to proactively monitor customers’ data, so they can make customers aware of problems before they arise. In this “applification” (Amplification of applications or API economy) of the service experience, the technology will serve as an enabler by predicting and even pre-empting a service issue. In some cases, businesses will be able to reach out and resolve the issue before the customer even knows about it.

And, this is more than a small trend. Leading analysts predict that we will move to a world where outbound (proactive & preemptive) service experiences will outnumber inbound contacts by 2025.

Top HR Tech News: Great Resignation, Employee Well-Being and Return to Office Drive Future of Work in Pacific Northwest

Data Privacy moves to the mainstream.

As the post-covid era economy finally commences, consumers and businesses alike will begin to refocus upon key topics which had previously taken a back seat, the largest of which, is the subject of consumer data privacy & protection strategy. The tides are turning and there are massive implications to the worlds of CX, marketing and CRM. Google has announced it will be eliminating 3rd party cookies by 2023 (delayed from prior 2022 date), and now business must rethink their digital marketing strategy. Legislation such as the EU’s GDPR, California’s CCPA & CPRA, and Colorado’s ColoPA, are in effect, with states such as Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania following close behind. This means that the compliance landscape is about to get very complicated for businesses that must now orchestrate processes to execute the nuances for each state’s varying rule sets.

Composable “servicetech” architectures maximize transformation while minimizing disruption.

2020 and 2021 have taught service leaders that standing still is no longer an option. The new mandate is to facilitate a true digital transformation of service strategy – for new levels of scalability, efficiency and effectiveness – without the wait of historical “big bang approaches.” Powered by microservices and channel-less strategies (where the journey and resolution is orchestrated centrally, regardless of the channel), businesses will be able to drive real transformation, while leaving many of the existing systems intact. For some, this will mean modernizing the service case management backbone across the enterprise, while leaving the existing service desktop in place. For others, it may mean infusing new levels of intelligence and automation (and resolution) into legacy channels. Even traditional channels such as IVR and email can now be modernized and reorganized around the customer journey, without needing to be replaced.

Thank you, Jeff, for sharing your HR Tech insights on automation and the gig economy with us! We look forward to hearing more from you about the IT and DevOps trends in the future. 

[To share your insights with us, please write to]

Jeff Nicholson is the Global Leader, CRM Strategy at Pega.

The corporate logo for Pega (PRNewsfoto/Pegasystems Inc.)

Pega delivers innovative software that crushes business complexity so our clients can make better decisions and get work done. We help the world’s leading brands solve their biggest business challenges: maximizing customer lifetime value, streamlining customer service, and boosting operational efficiency.

Pega technology is powered by real-time AI and intelligent automation, while our scalable architecture and low-code platform help enterprises adapt to rapid change and transform for tomorrow.