PegaWorld 2019: Daily recap

Leanne Russell,

Monday recap | Tuesday recap

MONDAY, June 3rd

Wow! PegaWorld 2019 welcomed more than 5,000 industry and IT leaders in style last night with a poolside reception courtesy of Titanium partner Accenture. Then this morning, attendees packed the MGM Grand Garden Arena early to hear Alan Trefler, Pega product leaders, and guest speakers from VodafoneZiggo, SiriusXM, and Girls in Tech talk candidly about customer engagement, digital transformation, and the steps individuals and organizations can take to advance the benefits of digital technology for businesses, customers, workers, and the tech industry in general.

Getting to the heart of digital transformation

Pega Founder and CEO Alan Trefler opened the event with a focus on what is really at the heart of digital transformation – making it easy to connect experiences from end to end. Whether it’s B2B, B2C, getting all of your business and IT workers on the same page, or connecting legacy systems, processes, and data from front to back end, real digital transformation means using technology to automate and eliminate the gaps that prevent you from achieving the outcomes you and your customers want.

And to get the outcomes you want, you have to think differently. Specifically, in terms of microjourneys – roadmaps for finding and creating value in an iterative and agile way. Pega has built into the platform the ability to quickly and easily design the stages, steps, and processes for each microjourney so clients can store business intelligence centrally, then build out a system architecture that is operational across any channel and allows clients to manage enterprise technology in the way that best suits their needs.

Thinking differently also requires a design thinking approach – an approach that enables organizations to do radically different things. Alan challenged the audience to stop thinking about individual objective requirements. Instead we need to put ourselves in the minds of our customers to first define the outcomes that are important, organize our thinking, then determine where to specialize for channels or system. This empathetic approach to app development is now built into Pega’s dev environment.

Alan also highlighted other evolutions that Pega has engineered to make the Pega Platform™ and Pega Infinity™ suite of software more open and powerful – like adding new low-code features to simplify app development and augmenting Pega’s cloud capabilities with microservices and APIs to support multitenant and private cloud deployment options, containers, and serverless environments. All of these changes are not just “technology for technology’s sake,” but part of a continuous evolution across Pega’s platform and functionality that makes it possible for our clients to move into a future that is increasingly unpredictable – which continues to be Pega’s mission.

Closing out his keynote, Alan reminded the audience that it takes much more than tech to create significant change. It takes heart, courage, and empathy.

Creating meaningful relationships

Nicole Verburg continued on the topic of customer journeys. As the Director of Customer Value Management for VodafoneZiggo, her team’s goal is to create meaningful dialogues with customers, bringing emotions into the decision making process. It’s about making interactions personal, and this requires relevancy. As customers are becoming more empowered, VodafoneZiggo is moving toward person-based marketing that focuses on building individual, long-term relationships. To help them, they developed a tool called Guru that orchestrates all communication via all channels, inbound and outbound, and uses machine learning to adapt and become more relevant with each customer interaction. By using a central decisioning tool for AI-based adaptive learning and taking next-best-actions informed by that learning, VodafoneZiggo is able to have relevant interactions with each individual. It takes marketing to the next level and it’s helping VodafoneZiggo achieve their ultimate outcome – customer happiness.

Unleashing the superpowers of Pega Infinity™

Before introducing the next keynote, Don Schuerman, Pega’s Chief Technology Officer provided an overview of Pega’s new DX Heroes™ award, which recognizes industry leaders that are using technology to make monumental changes to the way their organizations connect people and systems to create new ways of thinking and engaging.

Building on this theme of digital transformation heroes, Pega’s Senior Vice President of products, Kerim Akgonul, described the colossal challenges that many organizations are facing – legacy systems, organizational silos, hard-to-change code, and increasing pressures from heightened customer expectations. To overcome these challenges, one of the most important super powers an organization can have is the ability to react and engage in real time. That’s why Pega developed tools like a Next Best Action Designer that makes it easy to apply AI and machine learning to every customer interaction. By putting the power of technologies like real-time analytics, machine learning, and natural language processing at their fingertips, organizations are able to operationalize AI-based models and personalize every engagement.

And following on Alan’s topic of microjourneys, making them easier end-to-end is why Pega is rolling out other new app features, like a built-in case designer, deployment manager, integration designer, robot manager, expanded messaging capabilities, and updates to dashboards and mobility capabilities. Pega has also built into its platform a DX API that gives the UI a more modern look and feel, as well as faster page loads in real time. Together, these updates provide clients with augmented, simplified, and seamless multi-channel customer service.

Kerim was joined onstage by Moshe Pridan of Sirius XM, who described the success Sirius is realizing by embracing digital change. By leveraging new digital capabilities that make it possible for them to move from product-focused marketing toward a more customer-first approach, Sirius XM is transforming from what was essentially a radio format to become a provider of personalized media. The AI-based digital technologies that allow them to create context-aware relationships also makes it easier to orchestrate seamless customer experiences that better fulfill their customer promises.

Transforming more than just technology

The final keynote speaker of the morning, Adriana Gascoigne took the opportunity to talk about transformation of a different kind. As founder of the non-profit Girls in Tech, she reminded the audience of our ability to empower and engage on a personal level, and the importance that individuals and organizations have to foster inclusion and diversity within the tech industry. Through classroom training, bootcamps, entrepreneurial programs, and events like Hacking for Humanity, Girls in Tech is educating and empowering the next generation of female tech leaders around the globe. Her presentation was a call to action and reminder that when tech is inclusive and strives towards a diversity of gender, region, ethnicity, and economic class, everyone benefits through the innovation that is sparked from new connections. Technology can help people build for change and create change that matters.

This afternoon, the Tech Pavilion is where it’s at

Wowed by this morning’s keynotes, the audience streamed into dozens of breakout sessions and PegaWorld’s huge Tech Pavilion to immerse themselves in hands-on learning, a mind-blowing Infinity Room experience, and more than 200 live intelligent automation, customer engagement, and digital process automation product demos from Pega and our partners. The night ends with an amazing client appreciation event – Grammy-nominated band OneRepublic heats up the arena stage with an exclusive concert.

What innovations will tomorrow bring? Check back here for Tuesday’s recap.

TUESDAY, June 4th

This morning, PegaWorld keynotes dove deeper into the research and thought leadership behind digital transformation, artificial intelligence, and how to harness the power of tech in responsible ways.

How digital technology impacts business transformation

According to Jeanne Ross, Principal Research Scientist at the MIT Center for Information Systems Research (MIT CISR), the nature of change and the speed of change is … changing. What you’re doing today will eventually be totally wrong for the future. And that’s a disrupting thought. So how can companies structure themselves to thrive today while preparing for tomorrow?

It’s important to understand that there are two main types of digital transformations: the improvement of back-office operations through technology, which has been slowly going on for years and is important in establishing a solid operational backbone; and empowering people with technology to rapidly innovate, which is tech-driven and more recent. It’s this rapid innovation that is providing new business opportunities and customer models, and will inspire solutions that we haven’t even yet imagined. 

To successfully navigate digital transformation organizations need a digital platform that has both strong operational backbone capabilities to support daily work efficiently, and digital components (sensors, data, etc.) that enable leaders to understand their customers and create the new solutions that are relevant to customers. Connecting these two sides of the platform with APIs allows businesses to more seamlessly accomplish what they need to do today, plus inspire and innovate new solutions for the future.

Most companies have not yet built out this type of enterprise digital platform. So Jeanne’s recommendation: start small. Establish collaborative, cross-functional teams and have them tackle one problem at a time. It’s a different approach to operating, but one that is critical to succeed in this ever-increasing digitally evolving world.

The evolution of AI for business

Yesterday Kerim Akgonul borrowed a line from Spiderman, reminding us that with great power comes great responsibility. Today, Pega’s Vice President of Decision Management and Analytics, Rob Walker reminded us why. With the digital tools available today, it’s easier than ever to manipulate pictures, videos, and data to create false realities, fake news. Whether generated automatically through the power of AI and machine learning algorithms, or manually by a human, we should be concerned about the authenticity and motives of the digitally-driven information being presented to us.

But we have to remember that the tech that powers our world is also powered by the people who design it and implement it on the other end. And that requires responsibility. We should build transparency into our tech and be compelled to question the people in charge of it. Just as we shouldn’t trust completely in AI to evolve itself, we shouldn’t trust completely in the people writing the algorithms to evolve the AI.

That’s one of the reasons Pega has designed a Customer Empathy Advisor, which can control the level of empathy in a customer engagement strategy. Operationally, it allows organizations to track the level of empathy built into next-best-actions and offers. Besides providing a level of transparency and trust, it also helps organizations determine the cost of wasted interactions. And in an increasingly one-to-one relationship-based economy, the cost of wasted moments could be significant – in dollars, time, and customer relationships.

Closing the gaps to deliver one-to-one engagement at scale

Connecting the theoretical to the practical, Pega’s Chief Marketing Officer, Tom Libretto provided more insight on how AI and digital technologies affect customer engagement. Not only have consumers become empowered, but they’ve tuned in to the information gaps around them – what’s real, what’s fake, what’s important, what’s manufactured, and ultimately, what matters.

And what matters to customers is for you to know them. According to a Pega survey, customers don’t think organizations are doing a good job of understanding them. Less than a quarter of the survey respondents (23%) think the organizations with which they do business know them on an individual level. Leveraging technology to understand your customers better and on a more individualized level should be a top priority.

Tom invited up to the stage Vaishal Gariwala, Head of IT for lending at ING, who demonstrated how ING is collaborating across teams and using digital technologies to engage with their customers on that critical one-on-one level. ING is creating seamless experiences that allow a lot of the credit decisioning and processing to happen on the back end while the customer interacts with an easy, intuitive UI on the front end. 

Bob Skinner from FordDirect continued the conversation onstage, describing how they are beginning on a journey of updating the way automobiles have been marketed for the past century. With a focus on building out a new digital environment for Ford Motor Company and their dealers, FordDirect is closing the gap between data and operations to create an ecosystem that will support more relevant engagements, next-best-actions, and customer lifecycle journeys.

2019 Partner Awards

Our partners are important to us, and that’s why we’re proud to devote an evening at PegaWorld to recognize the alliance partners that demonstrate an extraordinary ability to drive customer success, accelerate growth, and provide thought leadership on customer engagement and digital transformation. The recipients of Pega’s 2019 Partner Awards are:

Partner of the Year

  • Accenture for overall excellence in delivering successful outcomes and impactful business transformation for clients.

Rookie of the Year: 

  • Hexaware for excellence in driving organic growth and utilization of the University Academic Program.

Excellence in Growth & Delivery: 

  • Accenture for commitment to growing and developing new business in emerging markets.
  • Capgemini for the development of a team dedicated to driving customer value with Pega and overall excellence in pre-sales enablement.
  • Cognizant for the commitment to driving new business impact and the creation of the Pega Cognizant Digital Innovation Center.
  • Infosys for innovative practice development and continued investment in the growth of a strong delivery practice.
  • Incessant & RuleTek (NIIT) for commitment to driving thought leadership through Pega Community engagement and overall delivery excellence.

Excellence in Digital Transformation: 

  • Accenture for leadership and expertise in developing and delivering customer service solutions built on Pega for numerous clients.
  • Eventus for leadership and expertise in developing and delivering customer service solutions built on Pega.
  • EY for leadership and expertise in developing and delivering Know-Your-Customer solutions for clients with complex regularly environments.
  • Merkle for leadership and expertise in developing and delivering marketing solutions built on Pega.
  • srcLogic for leadership and expertise in developing and delivering digital process automation solutions for clients within the U.S. Federal marketplace.
  • Tata Consultancy Services for leadership and expertise in developing and delivering digital process automation solutions particularly for clients within the financial services industry.
  • Virtusa for leadership in developing and delivering digital process automation solutions for clients within the healthcare industry.

These organizations are empowering our clients to maximize the value of their technology investments while helping them achieve their business goals.

Learn more and connect with others during PegaWorld

  • Start a conversation on Twitter with the #pegaworld hashtag.
  • Can’t be here in person? Livestream our PegaWorld keynotes.
  • Check Pega’s Facebook and LinkedIn pages for special live coverage throughout the event.
  • Download the PegaWorld mobile app (iOS and Android) to stay up-to-date on conference happenings.
  • See the conference agenda for a complete list of sessions.
  • Relive the experience by watching video replays of our sessions, available on our PegaWorld webpage and YouTube channel.


  • Thème: PegaWorld

About the Author

Leanne Russell, managing editor of Pega’s blog, helps high-tech leaders share their knowledge, experience, and success stories.