Theo Fleury’s greatest goal: The hockey legend turns to tech to help others (like him) heal after trauma | Transform

The Fleury family had three boys, with Theo the oldest. He was small in stature but aggressive in attitude. His father and mother each had withstood their own emotional wounds as kids, leading them both into substance abuse. His dad was an alcoholic and his mother was addicted to prescription pills, he says. (Both are now sober.)

Theo stands between his parents Donna and Wally at a ceremony where he received an honorary doctorate degree. Theo is wearing a red graduation gown and cap.
Fleury with parents Donna and Wally in 2015 as he earned an honorary doctorate from Brandon University.

“I grew up in a home that was violent, chaotic, crazy, insane,” he says. “I watched my parents’ childhood trauma fight with each other every single day.”

But the little town had a hockey rink and Fleury found the game at age 5, blending natural talent with home-grown combativeness, creating a fierce force on the ice.

As a young teen, he attended an elite hockey camp in Manitoba. One of the camp’s instructors was a pro scout, Graham James, who took instant interest in Fleury and told him he had the skills to someday make it to the NHL.

James recruited Fleury, then 15, to play for his junior hockey team in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan during the mid-1980s. In his 2009 memoir, “Playing with Fire,” Fleury revealed that James repeatedly sexually assaulted him during those years.

Fleury kept those attacks a secret because, he later explained, he feared other players would bully him and he believed the stigma would kill his NHL dream.

He reached the NHL in 1988 with the Calgary Flames, blossoming into one of the league’s most dynamic scorers. He was named an NHL All-Star by 1991.

He also was addicted to alcohol, drugs and sex, he says – all to mask the haunting pain of his younger years.

By 1996, at age 28, he was widely considered one of the game’s greats. That same year, Fleury’s junior hockey teammate, Sheldon Kennedy, then playing for the Boston Bruins, publicly revealed that James had sexually abused Kennedy as a teenager. (James later pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting Kennedy, Fleury and other players. He was sentenced to multiple prison terms.)

“When Sheldon came out with his story, I thought I was doing OK. My secret nobody knew. But here it was, in front of my face again, and now I’ve got to take a look at it. I just wasn’t ready to take a look at it,” Fleury recalls.

“Because of that, my addictions became even more prevalent because I didn’t want to think about it. So the drugs, the alcohol, all those addictions, allowed me to numb out.”

They ultimately ended his NHL career. Days before the start of the 2002-2003 season, the NHL suspended Fleury for violating the terms of the league’s substance-abuse program. In April 2003, the league suspended him again for the same reason. He was 34.

Theo Fleury appears with five other hockey players, all smiling and wearing gold medals, at the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Fleury, upper right, helped Team Canada win gold at the 2002 Winter Olympics. (Getty Images.)

His dream was dead.

He became sober on Sept. 18, 2005. But it was nearly 10 more years before Fleury began to map out the contours of his deepest discoveries on healing.

That began as he worked on his second book, “Conversations with a Rattlesnake,” published in 2014 and co-authored by therapist Kim Barthel. The writing provided Fleury with four revelations on trauma that now inform his public talks and drive his own recovery.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Nasuni CEO: Enterprises now think ‘cloud first’

Nasuni CEO Paul Flanagan said plenty of things keep him awake at night, but he doesn’t worry about major cloud providers coming out with on-premises storage or enterprises bringing data back on site.

Flanagan said the cloud NAS vendor’s customer count has grown from about 300 to 435 during the past year. He also claimed Nasuni deployments are expanding at a greater pace than in the past, especially among big-name enterprise customers.

Boston-based Nasuni sells a cloud-based file system that provides a single namespace to manage unstructured data. The vendor caches data on premises in physical or virtual appliances and shifts less frequently accessed data to private or public cloud object storage.

Flanagan joined Nasuni as president in April 2017 and shifted into the CEO role at the end of 2018 when founder Andres Rodriguez moved from CEO to CTO.

“[Rodriguez] and I spoke, and it was the right time for Nasuni to bring somebody in with a little bit more deep operating experience and who has taken a couple of companies public,” said Flanagan, previously CEO of StorageNetworks and CFO at Vistaprint — now Cimpress.

Flanagan said his tenure at service provider StorageNetworks was a key reason he decided to invest in Nasuni when he was a managing director at Boston-based Sigma Partners and later at Sigma Prime Ventures. “I believed in the concept of delivering storage as a service,” he said.

We recently caught up with Flanagan to discuss cloud storage trends.

What have been your areas of focus in the past two years since joining Nasuni?

Paul Flanagan: We’ve raised $70 million in two rounds of financing from Goldman Sachs and Telstra Ventures and a number of other investors. We’ve grown the company from 80 to 230 employees. I’ve spent a lot of time recruiting. We’ve put in a lot of processes and policies inside the company to help us to scale — from onboarding a new customer, to professional services, to building what we think is a world-class customer success and support organization.

That’s a lot of work that is not spent thinking about where the technology needs to go. When you’ve got somebody who’s as talented as [Rodriguez], you don’t necessarily want him spending all his time raising money, recruiting, putting in processes, doing interviews, setting up systems.

What are the hottest customer trends in your market space?

Flanagan: The fact that the market is starting to think cloud first is driving momentum. Nasuni now is finally in a spot where some of the largest enterprise companies in the world are using Nasuni to manage their unstructured environment and their file data.

A lot of that is the momentum of customers starting to think about how they can use the cloud to manage a complex unstructured environment, change the way the business is run and change the way they collaborate on data to do designs for buildings, athletic wear or builds.

How have you had to improve or change your product to respond to the latest customer trends?

Flanagan: The secret sauce of our business is the ability to think and collaborate on data across multiple locations around the world. As we’ve gone into larger enterprise environments, the product just gets stressed. It gets put into environments that we haven’t conceived of or haven’t tested for. So, we need to constantly get better on performance, on availability — just making it truly enterprise-class, best-of-breed network-attached storage technology.

There’s a lot of stuff that we can do around ingesting data and getting data directly to the cloud in a faster, more seamless way. Once we get the data into an environment, we’ve got our Nasuni management console. But you [have to] be able to manage a multi-cloud environment, [because] you can have your data in both public and private storage, object store providers. And [you have] to be able to move data from one cloud to another cloud and access your data using best-of-breed applications, like search or analytics, from another cloud.

So, there’s a lot of integration work that we need to continue to build out and enhance. Between primary and archive, and then on top of sync and collaborate, we want to make it so that customers don’t ever have to back up their data again, and they don’t ever have to move their data again.

To us, there’s just active data and inactive data. Your active data’s more valuable. Your inactive data is a little bit less valuable — still valuable. We want to charge you accordingly. But we don’t want to put the burden on you to have to move that data off of more expensive infrastructure to less expensive infrastructure. We’ve got it all built into this one platform.

Are most companies using the cloud now? And do you think hybrid cloud is going to win in the end?

Flanagan: I would say more than 50% of companies are using the cloud, and they utilize a minority of the capabilities. We’ve got a lot of customers that are using the cloud now, but we’ve only got like 10% of their available capacity. This could expand by a factor of 10 or 50 for us. There’s a tremendous amount of expansion opportunity.

A majority of companies are still early in the adoption. There’s a lot of testing and onboarding. We do a lot of NetApp replacements. It’s not that we’re going to go in and sweep the floor of a data center and take out all the NetApp in one fell swoop. We might get a particular application or a particular location where we’ll replace some NetApps that are up for a refresh, or Windows file servers or [Dell EMC’s] Isilon.

We’ll get a piece of the business and demonstrate our wherewithal, and we get more and more. We might get 50 TB, and in two or three years, it might be 500 TB. It could be a 1 or 2 PB. We’ve got a number of examples like that. And not only that, it’s new use cases inside those enterprises.

As far as hybrid, I would say it’s going to be the winner for a long period of time. Maybe someday everything will be cloud-based. But I think hybrid solutions will be around a long time, possibly past my shelf life.

Who is your main competition these days?

Flanagan: A lot of times, it’s NetApp, Windows file servers or sometimes Isilon. As far as other competition, the other companies that were all kind of categorized in the same class when we started were Ctera and Panzura. We see them occasionally, but we don’t see them a lot competitively in deals. I think that’s more a function of how big the market is. I doubt the three of us are all getting every single deal off the market.

The third group of competition is AWS and Microsoft Azure’s own solutions, which help companies lift and shift their data into their object stores. But those aren’t file systems. I wouldn’t call them competition as much as they are confusion in the market.

A prospect will say, ‘Why can’t I just use Azure Files?’ And it’s like, ‘Because Azure Files doesn’t do A, B, C, D and E.’ You do have to sell around that, but we don’t lose deals to Azure Files or to the AWS Gateway. There are some good use cases for AWS, Azure Files and AWS Gateway. Those are not use cases that we’re going after. They don’t need a global file system.

Do you expect the major cloud providers to encroach into your space?

Flanagan: Sure. Microsoft and Azure are pretty smart companies. There’s no question they look at what we do and see value in it, because of the joint wins that we have with our customers. Now, they’ve got a backlog of things that they’re trying to build from a technology standpoint. When are they going to have the truly global file system and the permissions, the hierarchy, the ability to sync, collaborate and scale, the global [file] lock? I have no idea where a global file system resides on their pipeline or on their product roadmap.

But from a customer standpoint, let’s just say [the cloud providers] have the same product as us, and you decide to go to Azure. Now, you’re kind of locked into Azure cloud. So, if you want to use multiple clouds, you don’t have a console to be able to manage multiple clouds, both public and private. You can use Azure’s applications, but let’s say you want to run Google Analytics on it. You do not have the ability to do that.

With Nasuni, you’ve got the ability to put your data into a particular cloud or in multiple clouds and access that data from other clouds to run best-in-class applications across that data. You’re not locked in with that one particular cloud.

What are your thoughts on the public cloud providers’ on-premises options, such as AWS Outposts or Google Anthos?

Flanagan: It’s not something that we spend a lot of time worrying about right now internally, and it’s not something that’s impacting our business. We see our customers looking to move more and more [data] off prem than on prem.

So, you’re not worried about the trend of companies bringing some of their data back on premises?

Flanagan: No, I just don’t think the market’s going to go that way. There’s a [lot of things] that keep me up at night. That’s not one of them. We’ve had great customer retention. In fact, we see our customers expanding.

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Announcing Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 18912 | Windows Experience Blog

Hello Windows Insiders, today we are releasing Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 18912 (20H1) to Windows Insiders in the Fast ring.
IMPORTANT: As is normal with builds early in the development cycle, these builds may contain bugs that might be painful for some. If you take this flight, you won’t be able to switch Slow or Release Preview rings without doing a clean-install on your PC. If you wish to remain on 19H1, please change your ring settings via Settings > Update & Security > Windows Insider Program *before* taking this flight. See this blog post for details.
If you are looking for a complete look at what build is in which Insider ring – head on over to Flight Hub. You can also check out the rest of our documentation here including a complete list of new features and updates that have gone out as part of Insider flights for the current development cycle.
Not seeing all of the features in this build? Check your Windows Insider Settings to make sure you’re on the Fast ring.

Narrator Improvements
“Click me” link solution: Do you get frustrated tabbing through “Click me” links? Narrator can now tell you the title of the page that’s linked to—just press Caps + Ctrl + D, and Narrator will take the URL of the hyperlink you are on and send it to an online service that will provide the page title to Narrator. If you would like to disable all online service usage by Narrator, you can turn this off in Narrator Settings. If you find links that don’t give you a meaningful page title, please send us feedback. Thanks!

We fixed an issue resulting in some Insiders experiencing unexpected green screens in the last flight which cited an error with win32k.sys.
We fixed a high hitting DWM crash from the last two flights that was resulting in the screen frequently going black (and then everything showing again).
We fixed an issue resulting in Focus Assist unexpectedly enabling via the full screen automatic rule for some users after minimizing all apps.
We fixed an issue where, if you used remote desktop to connect to an enhanced session VM, the taskbar search results were not visible (just a dark area).
We fixed an issue where certain emoji weren’t being read out by Text to Speech (TTS).
We fixed an issue where, when selecting a color filter in the Ease of Access settings, it may not have taken effect right away unless the color filters option was turned off and back on again.
We fixed an issue where users navigating to the Graphics Settings page in the Settings application may have experienced Settings application crashes.
We fixed an issue where double-clicking the update icon in the taskbar would result in Settings launching, then immediately crashing.
We fixed an issue that impacted emoji panel and clipboard history reliability in the last few flights.
We fixed an issue that caused the IME candidate window for East Asian IMEs (Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, and the Japanese IME) to not appear sometimes.
We fixed an issue where Chinese Pinyin and Wubi IME text candidates couldn’t be selected by number keys in the Numpad.
We fixed an issue where the size of tooltips for the Chinese Pinyin IME candidate window were an inconsistent font size.

For Home editions, some devices might not see the “update installed” on the update history page.
For Home editions, some devices might not be able to see the “download progress %” change on the Windows Update page.
There has been an issue with older versions of anti-cheat software used with games where after updating to the latest 19H1 Insider Preview builds may cause PCs to experience crashes. We are working with partners on getting their software updated with a fix, and most games have released patches to prevent PCs from experiencing this issue. To minimize the chance of running into this issue, please make sure you are running the latest version of your games before attempting to update the operating system. We are also working with anti-cheat and game developers to resolve similar issues that may arise with the 20H1 Insider Preview builds and will work to minimize the likelihood of these issues in the future.
Some Realtek SD card readers are not functioning properly. We are investigating the issue.
There’s a noticeable lag when dragging the emoji and dictation panels.
Tamper Protection may be turned off in Windows Security after updating to this build. You can turn it back on.
We are aware of an issue with the Bopomofo IME where the character width is suddenly changed to Full width from Half width and are investigating.
[ADDED] Some users have experienced an error code while downloading this build due to high RAM consumption. It will slowly work through the download process, but that will take much longer than usual. If this delay will cause problems for you, you might want to skip this build. We have a fix for this issue in progress and plan to have it for you in the next build.

If you install builds from the Fast ring and switch to either the Slow ring or the Release Preview ring, optional content such as enabling developer mode will fail. You will have to remain in the Fast ring to add/install/enable optional content. This is because optional content will only install on builds approved for specific rings.

It’s Bing’s birthday, but this year Bing is the one giving the gifts. Celebrate Bing’s 10th birthday with featured home pages through the years, wallpaper downloads, fun Bing facts, free Rewards points, and even a big travel giveaway!
If you want to be among the first to learn about these Bing features, join our Bing Insider Program.

Listen to Episode 20 of the Windows Insider Podcast: Quantum Leaps and Windows Updates to take a fascinating dive into Microsoft’s approach to quantum computing. Then, get an inside look at recent improvements to the Windows Update experience. Machine learning and increased transparency are helping the Windows team track user feedback and deliver our best update experience ever.
Listen via your favorite Podcast app or on our website.
No downtime for Hustle-As-A-Service,Dona

Join the live global Education Fast Forward debate: Insights from the latest OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) |

Quality Teaching is vital

Quality teaching is vital for improving student learning. Improving the efficiency and equity of schooling largely depends on ensuring that competent people want to work as teachers, their teaching is of high quality and all students have access to high quality teaching.

Our own research, the Class of 2030 and Life-Ready learning noted that the teaching profession is one least at risk of being impacted by automation. In fact, the profession is predicted to green and grow, that is, become larger and younger over the next few decades.

The OECD’s Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) helps countries face diverse challenges by asking teachers and school leaders about working conditions and learning environments at their schools. TALIS 2018 builds on the surveys of 2008 and 2013, focusing on teacher professional characteristics and pedagogical practices at both the institution and teacher levels.

Andreas Schleicher to highlight key findings

Education Fast Forward is partnering with the Education Policy Institute and Microsoft to host the global debate to discuss the key findings which will be presented by Andreas Schleicher, Director of Education and Skills, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The event will take place in front of a live audience in London while simultaneously broadcast in more than 9 countries.  Experts and educators will gain insight into the findings and discuss the results.

The launch is coordinated by the Education Policy Institute and Discovery Education, while Cellcove and Imagine Education are providing resources to enable the launch and the EFF debate to take place.

For teachers and leaders at all levels of education systems

Anyone who wishes to join the debate can follow via the live stream of the debate and comments can be made to the debate using the moderated hashtag #EFF21 on Twitter.

Background

In late 2017 and early 2018, the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) surveyed more than 240,000 teachers and 13,000 principals in nearly 50 countries and economies. The study surveyed lower secondary schools in all countries, with some countries also participating at the primary and upper secondary levels. When released in June 2019, results from the survey will provide insights about the conditions in which teachers work and, more importantly, their perspectives on a wider range of educational matters. Through comparing TALIS 2018 results to those from previous cycles (2008 and 2013), we can also gain a sense of how their perceptions of education issues changed (or not) across time.

The conceptual framework for the survey is organized around 11 themes, covering both emerging issues in teaching and learning, such as innovation, and those that endured across previous cycles, such as school leadership. The framework incorporates major concepts from research literature as well as policy interests and was developed in consultation with international stakeholders and participating countries and economies.

Register today for the event on June 19, 2019, in London and online across the globe, 1pm UTC.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Wanted – DDR3 Desktop ram 4GB or 8GB

Discussion in ‘Desktop Computer Classifieds‘ started by Hughwp, May 21, 2019.

  1. Hughwp

    Hughwp

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    WHY 1333 speed or better 1 or 2 units
    Inclusive prices please

    Location: Yeovil

    ______________________________________________________
    This message is automatically inserted in all classifieds forum threads.
    By replying to this thread you agree to abide by the trading rules detailed here.
    Please be advised, all buyers and sellers should satisfy themselves that the other party is genuine by providing the following via private conversation to each other after negotiations are complete and prior to dispatching goods and making payment:

    • Landline telephone number. Make a call to check out the area code and number are correct, too
    • Name and address including postcode
    • Valid e-mail address

    DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

  2. avidmuffin

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    I’ve got 1 x 8GB Samsung 1600MHZ you can have for £20 delivered? Or 2 x for £30?

  3. Only if it turns out @Hughwp is not interested, I would certainly like two of those for £30. (Just to confirm it’s 240 pin DDR3 suitable for a desktop pc?)

  4. avidmuffin

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    No worries at all. I’m pretty sure it is, but i’ll check this evening for ya.

  5. avidmuffin

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  6. Looks like they are the right modules for my PC.

    Happy to wait a few days to give

    @Hughwp a chance to return to his thread.

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Altaro Physical Server Backup – Available Now in Beta

Hello everyone! I come to you today with a very happy announcement and it’s an announcement that many of you have been waiting to hear from Altaro for quite some time now! Due to popular demand, we’re adding physical device support to our lineup of backup and recovery products!

Altaro Physical Server Backup

Available for download today, Altaro Physical Server Backup is officially in public beta, and we’re looking to the community to help test it!

Also, note that we’re so happy to have the community help us with this endeavor that we’re sending valid testers an Amazon voucher worth €100/£90/$115! More information on the vouchers can be found here

Here is what we’re releasing with this beta:

  • Backup physical server running a Windows Server OS to a local disk, removable disk, or a network path.
  • Restore backed up servers as a VM on a Hyper-V host
  • Restore the backed up server’s disks as a virtual disk (VHDX)
  • Manage and monitor the solution through a local management utility
  • Change Block Tracking is included meaning change scanning isn’t required, resulting in much faster backups
  • App consistent backups via VSS

While very much a beta release, this product will start filling the gap we’ve had in the product set when it comes to physical devices. We anticipate adding more features as the product matures and as we continue to get more feedback from the community.

Altaro physical server backup

PLEASE NOTE: As this is a beta release, we HIGHLY recommend that you do NOT install it on a production system at this time.

If you have questions or feedback please feel free to reach out to us at [email protected].

We hope you enjoy using this new product as much as we have creating it, and we hope you’ll try it out and let us know what you think!

Thanks again!

Andy Syrewicze

I currently have the distinct pleasure of acting as a Technical Evangelist for Altaro Software, makers of Altaro VM Backup. I’m heavily involved in IT community, on Altaro’s behalf, in a number of different ways, including, podcasts, webinars, blogging and public speaking. Prior to that, I spent the last 12+ years providing technology solutions across several industry verticals working for MSPs and Internal IT Departments. My areas of focus include, Virtualization, Cloud Services, VMware and the Microsoft Server Stack, with an emphasis on Hyper-V and Clustering. Outside of my day job, I spend a great deal of time working with the IT community, I’m a published author, and I’ve had the great honor of being named a Cloud and Datacenter Management MVP by Microsoft. I have a passion for technology and always enjoy talking about tech with peers, customers and IT pros over a cup of coffee or a cold beer.

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Author: Andy Syrewicze

Growing up off the grid paved the way for Microsoft’s chief environmental officer – Microsoft Life

Lucas has long been driven by two things, wonder and worry, both as they relate to the natural world. Wonder around how it works, how it’s built, and how it’s evolving. Worry around what’s becoming of this world and our impact as humans.

Though his penchant for spending hours outdoors would be what you might expect for someone with such a post, his trajectory has been a bit more unexpected. He’s leapt often and looked later.

Lucas started his studies taking an entry-level zoology course, which stoked his passion for science and wonder about the world around him. After the first class, he went straight to the admissions office and declared his major in ecology.

Now, he’s heading up Microsoft’s AI for Earth program and team, and part of their work is to try to make the importance of our everyday actions and their impact on Earth tangible. The program, now a $50 million investment for the company, grew from Lucas’ passion for the planet and an idea that captured the attention of Microsoft’s leadership—and ultimately resulted in another leap, to the company’s headquarters in Redmond.

“Nature fascinates me. Trees. What are these things?” he says, pointing outside the window. “How are we protecting them? What is our future?”

Once he found his passion as a zoology student, Lucas leapt again, applying for a rigorous PhD program.

But first, he and his wife, Jamie Joppa, newly married at the time, set off for Malawi for a two-year stint in the Peace Corps where Lucas worked at a national park and Jamie was a health-care volunteer. He returned to the United States and to North Carolina to finish his doctorate in less than three years—lightning speed by most standards.

Lucas’ doctoral advisor, Dr. Stuart Pimm, says that Lucas’ working in the field in Africa complemented his efforts in the classroom and beyond, adding that he was impressed early on by Lucas’ flexibility in different environments.

“It’s one thing to be good in the field. It’s quite another to put on a suit and tie and pound the corridors of power,” he adds.

Lucas took a job at Microsoft in the Cambridge, UK, research lab, where his world first intersected with Josh Henretig, a Microsoft employee based in Redmond, Washington, working on Microsoft’s sustainability efforts.

“He is brilliant,” says Josh, who now works as a senior leader on Lucas’ team. “He challenges conventional wisdom and brings insights into new areas.”

Josh, who has worked at Microsoft for 16 years, says he admires Lucas’ clear sense of purpose. “We all look for new perspective to help us refresh. He’s helped reinvigorate that in me. His career path and professional ambitions are something that I’m inspired by.”

Josh and Lucas also spend time outside together, hiking, biking, and skiing. “The thing that surprises me about Lucas? It’s a little comical, despite his interest in the outdoors, how prone to accidents he is.”

I mentioned the dislocated shoulder. “That, and a broken thumb, broken wrist, cracked knee, messed up face. And that’s just this year,” Josh chuckles. (Lucas assures me that the year has been atypical. He’s not usually that accident prone.)

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Pegasystems Customer Empathy Advisor AI tool gauges ethics

LAS VEGAS — With the new Pegasystems Customer Empathy Advisor, the CRM and business process automation vendor takes aim at what it sees as a need for ethical AI in marketing.

Pegasystems Customer Empathy Advisor is a new AI tool embedded in the Pega Customer Decision Hub, which analyzes customer data to guide customer-facing agents and digital assistants to take the next best action with each customer.

Fine-tuning empathy

With the empathy tool, launched at the PegaWorld 2019 user conference here, business and nonprofit users can measure and calibrate the degree of empathy in customer interactions, ratchet up empathy levels of next best actions and improve customer experience, or what Pegasystems calls customer engagement.

The AI empathy tool will be available for all Customer Decision Hub customers near the end of the year at no extra cost.

Corporate uptake uncertain

While the Pegasystems Customer Empathy Advisor appears to be a useful and beneficial means to improve customer relationships, it might be a difficult sell to profit-minded businesses, said Brent Leary, analyst and co-founder of CRM Essentials, an Atlanta-based consulting and advisory firm.

Alan Trefler, Pegasystems
Pegasystems’ CEO and co-founder, Alan Trefler, giving a keynote at PegaWorld 2019

“Trying to institutionalize empathy with a technology platform is really a cool idea. I just don’t know how many companies are ready to buy into it,” Leary said. “I think it’s an important thing, and I think it’s one that will work if companies actually dedicate themselves to using it.”

For Pegasystems’ CEO and co-founder, Alan Trefler, the empathy tool is a way to move AI beyond inflated marketing jargon into a realm in which ethical and humane considerations are a more integral part of business, and consumers will trust AI more.

“What this is about is a different way to think about your business,” Trefler told conference attendees in a keynote speech. “Businesses can regain control over their technology and really change the equation in fundamental ways. We need empathy.”

Survey: Consumers suspicious of AI

With the unveiling of Customer Empathy Advisor, Pegasystems also revealed the results of an international survey of 5,000 consumers it commissioned recently, which showed widespread distrust of AI among consumers and an ingrained conviction that AI is biased.

Some 68% of the survey respondents said organizations have an obligation to do what is morally right, beyond what is legally required. Only 40% said AI can improve customer service. More than half said AI is unable to make unbiased decisions, and 70% said they still prefer to speak to a human, rather than an AI system or chatbot.

Trying to institutionalize empathy with a technology platform is really a cool idea. I just don’t know how many companies are ready to buy into it.
Brent LearyAnalyst, CRM Essentials

One Pega Customer Decision Hub user, United Methodist Communications, the communications arm of the international United Methodist Church, took on Pegasystems for marketing, sales and CRM after a 2017 request-for-proposal process that also included Pegasystems’ competitors Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics.

The church communications office is enthusiastic about injecting more empathy into its interactions with constituents and potential church members, said Myca Alford, director of customer experience at the communications agency, based in Nashville, Tenn.

A tool such as Pegasystems Customer Empathy Advisor would fit with the communication office’s strategy of trying to reach younger people with messages tailored to them on the channels they use, including text and chat, Alford said.

“It’s more suggestive, recommendations; it’s trying to see the nuance behind their request. So, they may be asking for one specific thing, and you can intuit from that what they’re really trying to accomplish,” she said. “Going for the long-term relationship, rather than the short-term sell, that’s where the empathy comes into the selling process.”

Pegasystems Customer Empathy Advisor tool to build trust with customers
Customer Empathy Advisor, a new capability of Pega Customer Decision Hub, uses AI to build better relationships with customers by adjusting empathy levels in marketing campaign strategies.

Empathy ROI

The creators of Pegasystems Customer Empathy Advisor developed the system on the basic concepts of analyzing empathy in any engagement and predicting a “return on empathy” similar to an ROI termed ROE.

The empathy tool dashboard breaks down elements of empathy involved in an organization’s marketing, sales and service operations to consider:

  • Relevance: Is the action of interest to the customer?
  • Suitability: Will the action cause harm to the customer?
  • Value: Will the customer benefit?
  • Context: Is it consistent with the customer’s recent activity?
  • Intent: Does it account for the customer’s likely goals?
  • Mood: Does the action align with the customer’s frame of mind?

Pegasystems’ executives frequently turned to a financial services use case to illustrate how the empathy system works. For example, a company would use it to ensure it would not try to sell a mortgage to a customer who would not be able to afford it in the long term.

“We already have this next best action strategy running that typically contains thousands of propensity models and algorithms,” Rob Walker, vice president of decision management at Pegasystems and principal architect of the Pegasystems Customer Empathy Advisor, said during a media briefing.

“Now, we want the AI to start favoring things that are working under more empathetic conditions,” he said.

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