“… I’m only partially joking!”
Every Monday morning we fire five questions at a leading C-suite figure. Today we’re pleased to be joined by Vaibhav Nivargi, co-founder and CTO of conversational AI and IT support company Moveworks.
Biggest Challenge for your Clients?
Companies struggle to get employees help when they need it — whether it’s onboarding them to a new technology, fixing their computer, or answering a simple request for information — instantly and with minimal disruption to their daily jobs. This was and continues to be a huge problem for CIOs and IT support teams across the world.
Balancing the costs of managing IT with creating a great employee experience is a huge challenge. Many of the IT teams we work with simply can’t hire enough service desk professionals to give everyone inside their organizations “white-glove service,” mainly because it would be too expensive. This has made the IT ticket resolution process painfully slow — it takes three entire days on average to resolve an IT ticket — which means employees aren’t getting the help they need when they need it. Not only that, but IT spends a large part of their day tending to highly repetitive tasks like resetting passwords and unlocking accounts when they’d rather focus on more strategic projects.
Making smart decisions about which technology solutions are the best fit for this problem can also be challenging. Most conventional automation technologies, IT ticketing systems and self-service portals often don’t provide the desired help because employees find it hard to discover and use them effectively. These systems are unable to make that direct connection between what the employee needs and the mechanism to trigger the resolution. We designed Moveworks to trigger and manage this entire process so employees can stay productive.
Technology that Excites You Most?
I’m very excited about the renaissance in natural language processing and innovations like transformers, GPT-2, XLNet, and BERT (and all its variants — AlBERT, RoBERTa, guessing there’s a DilBERT and BERTrand in the works somewhere!). It’s been amazing to watch these techniques develop over time and to witness their power as we leverage them at Moveworks.
Looking outside my domain, I would cite innovations happening with CRISPR in relation to gene editing and the promise it offers in healthcare, especially for curing very serious medical conditions. My cousin is doing research in genomics and neuroscience, and chatting with him regarding the innovations in this space is fascinating!
For me, it’s not so much a specific point in time in my career, but more about the overall journey. I started with hacking on the Linux kernel over 15 years ago (some of my code is still running), then came to Stanford to specialize in distributed systems and AI. From there, I joined a startup building massively scalable databases and worked on map-reduce engines, columnar storage, and postgreSQL internals. At my last company, I was building highly scalable data analytics infrastructure using Apache Spark.
Now I’m at Moveworks leading one of the top teams in building conversational AI to resolve employee support issues autonomously. I’m also very proud of the connections I’ve made with people who have been supporters, mentors and colleagues for many years now. Their support has been invaluable.
Early in my career, I was of the staunch opinion that I could outwork anyone, and did a terrible job leading teams and delegating work. This not only resulted in poor individual output, but I struggled with the effects of burnout.
I would also take every negative thing that happened as a result very personally. It took me a good 1-2 years to recover from this mistake, and learn the lesson of delegating and trusting the teams around me, as well as investing in the right collaboration and mentorship structures.
This model has led to rewarding success in my recent endeavors. As a side effect, I got much better at handling pressure and stress, and building and scaling teams which can deliver at a high level consistently. Now I see myself as a “player coach,” to use a sports analogy.
In Another Life, I’d Be…
How about an MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) competitor!? I’m only partially joking! I’ve been very interested in martial arts since my younger days and have been a dedicated student of Taekwondo, boxing and Jiu Jitsu on and off for several years.
I find the science and art of these martial arts quite interesting. I’ve often wondered if I would have gone further down that route in another life. I have to admit that what I do now is much better for my long-term health, so I’m not complaining!