Hi everyone! Welcome back to the Leader Show with Lou Carter. Our guest today is Mihir Shukla, the CEO of Automation Anywhere, a highly sought-after company that provides barrier-free automation technology to empower individuals to reach their full potential.
So, without further ado, let’s find out what makes Automation Anywhere a Most Loved Workplace®.
Lou begins the dialogue by asking Mihir about Automation Anywhere and what the company does. Shukla highlights that it is an enterprise software company focused on robotic process automation and artificial intelligence. Their technology enables customers to automate manual work processes quickly and easily, freeing up time for knowledge workers to focus on more fulfilling tasks.
The company’s mission is to democratize this technology and put it in the hands of every knowledge worker to allow them to unleash their full potential. Shukla emphasizes that work should be more human and workplaces should empower employees to be great, and Automation Anywhere’s purpose is to enable this.
Subsequently, Lou asks Mihir how Automation Anywhere’s software products enable the unleashing of human potential in the workplace. In reply, Shukla cites how automating processes in call centers allows employees to focus more on the needs of customers and solve their problems instead of being distracted by note-taking or searching for information.
Carter agrees that automation can improve customer service and notes that while singularity is not yet achieved, there is still much potential for basic technology to make a difference in the workplace.
Moving on, the speakers discuss Automation Anywhere’s Customer Zero program, which involves using their own software products as the first customer to create an environment of accountability and continuous improvement. Shukla explains that this program empowers employees to automate their own mundane tasks and focus on creative work, while also allowing the company to better understand their customers’ automation needs.
He cites how the legal team automated their contract processes, relieving pressure and allowing for more efficient work.
Next, Mr. Carter asks Mihir what he thinks makes Automation Anywhere a Most Loved Workplace. Shukla suggests that it is a combination of what they do and why they do it. According to him, the company’s focus on automation and cutting-edge technology attracts individuals who enjoy creative processes and imagining things that were never possible before. Their mission to unleash human potential and transform the definition of work itself is a privilege and an amazing opportunity for their team.
Mihir mentions that they also work hard to create a culture where employees are empowered and have a work-life balance. The company acknowledges contributions from team members and provides wellness programs to reward its employees.
On a similar note, Lou asks Mihir about his vision for the future of Automation Anywhere. The latter highlights that the company’s purpose is to automate everything that can be automated so that people are empowered to do what human beings do best, unleashing their potential and bringing fulfillment to their jobs.
He suggests that the company believes that talent is evenly distributed, but opportunities are not, and by democratizing automation, they will create more opportunities for people all around the world. Shukla also shares his vision of the potential of the human race, where people can achieve unprecedented levels of efficiency and productivity, which will allow them to explore the universe and take advantage of new energy sources.
Next, Louis and Mihir discuss the importance of trust in the relationship between humans and automation. They mention how trust is essential for both parties to progress together and how asking if the world would be a better place as a result of the partnership of humans and automation is crucial. On that note, Mihir cites how 98% of our body is automated, allowing us to perform involuntary activities like breathing without even thinking about it.
He also emphasizes the need to harness the power of technology and automation to make the world a better place. He shares some of the things Automation Anywhere is doing to achieve this, including empowering employees and democratizing automation to create more opportunities worldwide.
The speakers also talk about the importance of work-life balance and how automation can improve it. Lastly, Mihir expresses his excitement for the future of automation, noting that the impact it will make in the next five years will be greater than the last 20 years combined.
Lou and Mihir go into much greater detail over the course of this conversation. Thank you for listening!
Lou Carter : We're here with Mihir Shukla. Wonderful to have you here today. He's the CEO of Automation Anywhere. Welcome, Mihir.
Mihir Shukla : Pleasure to be here, Louis.
LC : First of all, I want to congratulate you on becoming a Most Loved Workplace.
MS : Thank you for that. The credit goes to our employees, as you know, they vote and great to have support of our employees.
LC : One of the most beautiful things you've told me, just, you know, it before, is the power of unleashing the human potential. I want to talk a little bit about that today as well as, you know, why your employees think that your most loved workplace. And before we even go into that, love to hear more about Automation Anywhere and what it is you do, right? What you provide. Could you tell us more, Mihir?
MS : So, Automation Anywhere is an enterprise software company. We are focused on categorical robotic process automation and Artificial Intelligence. What this technologies allows our customers and partners to do is we have lots of manual work in our workplace, whether you're processing claims, processing mortgage applications, generating report, transferring data, and many of those work is very robotic and it doesn't bring fulfillment to us.
And we, our technology allows customers to automate these processes easily, sometimes within matter of days. And it is so easy to use that any, virtually any knowledge worker can use it. So by bringing the power of automation to every knowledge worker, democratizing this technology and giving, putting in the hands of nearly a billion knowledge worker when we are successful, when we fully achieve our mission, is our goal. That brings us to what you started with is the reason that is what we do. But why we do that is there is a, we have a deep belief in the human potential, and we think we weren't put on this planet to be robots. Work should be more human and workplaces should be where employees are empowered to unleash their potential. And the purpose of automation is, as our tagline says, is to allow employees to be great. That mission drives us.
LC : That's so cool. Number one, that is so cool that you say that. And because the software products that you create often allow for that unleashing of, they do allow for the unleashing of human potential. How does that show up? How does that manifest that you've seen, that excites you, that you're passionate about?
MS : It shows up in almost for every employee in every workplace. And few that I have seen it in front of my eyes, and it's so delightful to see, I'll take an example that most of us can relate to, on a call center employees, when they automate processes, call center employees are able to more focus on your needs. We all have been calls first on a long hold times, and then you're talking to the call center agent, and then in between there is, silences because, you know, somebody's typing there or looking for things and searching for things. And instead of talking to you and understanding, you know, why did you call, I have an urgent need and I need this tomorrow, and what can you do about it? That's the real problem.
So, when you see those where we have recorded some of the calls before and after, and is day and night difference when people are able to care for other people and solve their problems and not worried about typing it right. Amazing things happen.
LC : It is, and it's sort the note taking aspect and being heard and being typed out before you, and then summarizing those kinds of things are things that, you know, can be automated. And, you know, we're, we're not achieving singularity yet, right? We're not quite there, [laugh], you know?
MS : Yeah, not at all. We're at the ground floor here. There is so much of basic stuff that, you know, basic technology can do. And by putting power of this to everybody, I think there is so much intellectual capacity, creativity, humanness that we can unleash
LC : That humanness that your ability, what really what you're doing is you're studying human behavior and saying, well, what is it? And then really surveying, observing like you did, what is it that can be automated? And let's do that in a very eloquent way, which kind of, it gets us to the second part of this, which is, you know, your workplace itself unleashes their own human potential. And if you said you sort of, you drink your own champagne, and you launched a Customer Zero program, and, I want to hear more about Customer Zero program where, the first customer of everything you do, and that's what makes AI a better place to work. So tell me more about the Customer Zero Program and how that really makes you a Most Loved Workplace.
MS : Yeah, so we, you know, having heard of passion, we decided that we have to be customer. We drink our own champagne. We have to be the first customer of all of our products. And it created an environment where, when anything that you created, when you are the first one to consume, it creates an accountability. Sometimes if it breaks one or two things here and there, it breaks it for us, and we get it right and fix it before it reaches to thousands of our customers. But it creates an environment most importantly where if you, today, Louis worked for Automation Anywhere, and if you wanted to do the most human thing, create things, listen to customers, understand their problems, and automate some of your mundane things, you won't have to argue about it in Automation Anywhere. That is the first thing everybody will help you do.
Anyway you can be empowered to do all you can do and not have to do the robotic work. You will get all the support here, and that creates a culture for it. I'll share an example, there was a specific quarter, Louis, where our legal team had just a plot of new contracts and they were working very hard and how could you say no to more business? So, but it was a lot to handle, and our team stepped in and automated all of those processes and improved the contract. 80% of the process were automated and thus, you know, relieving the pressure on our contracts team. Things like that would happen all the time here. And that, there's something good about that part where, you know, you are empowered to do what you would like to do.
LC : What I like about that too, Mihir, is that you're able to spec or really look at your, observe your own human behaviors that you're better able to serve your customers' automation needs. So as customer zero is, I come first, I look at what I do, I practice it before I preach it and enable it for others.
MS : Is correct, simply right,
LC : What, what a great experience.
MS : Yeah.
LC : So you were saying sort of, you know, what do you think it is that makes your employees say, we are a Most Loved Workplace? What do you think?
MS : I think probably few things. Combination of few things. I think maybe the first thing, it starts with what we do and why we do it, right? So, I mentioned what we do is automation, and we use the most cutting edge technology there is. and in some areas you are inventing new things and laying out the new foundation, new roads. And it's exciting, if you are that kind of an individual who enjoys doing that. And part of what we do, Louis, is you know, the purpose of technology is not just to make things better, faster, smarter, obviously that's what technology does. But I have always believed that technology allows you to do things that you could never do before. Sometimes you could never imagine before. And our team here comes together and imagine things that were never possible before. And it is exciting to do that, and a very creative process.
So people like that. I think why we do this is probably even more important. Louis, I mentioned that our goal is to unleash the human potential, but sometimes we as a team talk about our role in history. If you think about it, every software changes how you work. That is not a new phenomena, but what is unique about us is every hundred to hundred and fifty years human race changes definition of work itself. You know, we used to fills and farms and then, you know, definitions evolve as we, as the progress is made. I think by the time we achieve our full mission, we would've transformed the definition of work itself to be a lot more human. And that opportunity, regardless of who you are, comes to you at every a hundred to hundred and fifty years.
And our ability to contribute in the society at that size and scale in whatever little way we will end up doing that is a privilege, is an amazing opportunity. And I cannot believe we have that opportunity because you have to be in the right place, right time, in the right seat with the right technology, and that is exciting. So I think that there is this foundation of, you know, one of the reasons why people love it.
I mentioned we work hard to create a culture where people are empowered, they don't have to do as much of mundane work, use automation themselves. We also create a culture where, again we work hard at it, none of these are destination. It's a continuous work in progress, but create a work-life balance. We create a stress-free day every quarter where the entire company takes a day off except maybe customer facing some of the members.
And next time when we meet, we talk about what did you do before we talk about work. You know, how was the day off? We acknowledge contributions from our team members. So every other week I have a CEO town hall where all the employees participate. We start the town hall by asking what or who made you proud this week? And it is amazing to see hundreds of names surface up, and many times they're not the same every other week. And it reminds us what it means to be a team, a great team together where everybody's contributing to the best of their ability. We take effort to do wellness programs. We have a woman's empowerment circle to coach, mentor, sponsor women. We have mental health programs. We try to do few things like that just across the board to create an environment where it is, you know, we foster employee growth.
LC : There's so many aspects of what you said that fits our model, really about collaboration and co-creation. If the first one, especially with customer zero and positive vision of your future, alignment of values with each other, how you establish respect and connect that to outcomes. Tell me about your vision and you know, how you see the future of Automation Anywhere. Is there something that you see for the future for the company that everybody kind of, that they believe in as well?
MS : So I often think, I'll paint my picture of what our next 500 year looks like, because we, all of us have a role to play in our lifetime contributing towards a, you know, larger story. And you kind of understand your role in the history, then everything makes sense. I think, Louis if you think about it, the potential of the human race. Think about a hundred years from now, we'll be skiing on the slopes of the Mars. Two hundred years from now, we'll be surfing on the rings of the Saturn. Five hundred years from now, you'll be tapping black hole as an energy source. These are the potential of the human race. And you cannot do any of these things if 70% of our workforce is engaged in a robotic work, you know, moving data from one place to other or doing something else.
So, you have to accept that in order to make a progress, we have to use the human potential because that's the biggest force of all. So what our purpose in this journey is we believe everything that can be automated, that should be automated, must be automated so that people are empowered, unleashed to do things that human beings do the best.
And then we can do it at scale. We could do without errors and bringing fulfillment to our jobs. We also believe that talent is evenly distributed, opportunity is not, and the part by democratizing automation, we will create more opportunities in every part of the world. There is some boy or a girl somewhere in Africa, somewhere in Kansas, somewhere in some other parts of the world that is waiting to leverage all of this technology and create the next multi-billion dollar company. You know, we should make this opportunities available.
So, I think the vision for companies is to automate as much or everything that can be automated and achieve an unprecedented amount of efficiency, productivity, and scale that we've never been able to achieve before.
LC : What I love about what you said, and it has such a meta, relationship, right? Because we're looking 500 years down, right? whether we're surfing the rings of Saturn, or the incredible or taking in the energy of a black hole, which would give us the ability to go faster into alternate universes.
MS : That's right.
LC : And there's amazing power in where we're going and power and energy as well, energy sources. And when we open our minds to that possibilities and think that far out 500,000 years and a place that in our present, what we're actually saying, I believe is, we have a new relationship with technology because in 500 years likely, there will be robotics and we have to relate to robotics. We have to be empathetic to the robotics and say, I understand. Oh, you're in trouble. Let's spec. I will help you and I will teach you, and thus you will teach me and we will both be human, whatever humankind really means, right?
MS : I think the journey to harness the power of technology is not a new phenomena. When the steam engines came, people had similar concerns to computers, to internet, and yet there are more higher paying and more fulfilling jobs today than any other time in history. It’s just a fact, right? So I think we have to continue to harness the power of technology so that from quality of life improvement to everything else that we have accomplished continues it. We always have to be cognizant that whether it's automation or any other technology, it is a force for good.
It is a subject that is close to our heart. And, we mention it, many of our employees, we talk about this together, say the key question around that is: Is world a better place because of our company is in it? And you start with that question because that's a foundational question, and the answer has to be resounding, yes. And then we answer why is it that way? Why is automation force for good? And are we harnessing technology to make world a better place? And I feel like I can share some of the things we have attempted in that area, but it is an integral part of the conversation, for us and not an afterthought.
LC : It is, I like how you said that, is the world a better place as a result of us being in it? And the other question, you know, just as in relationships, is the world a better place as a result of us being partners, as a result of us being together? Are we better off? And we have to ask yourself that question, and especially for the future, because the future could easily go to a place of that isn't trusting. The core of all of this is trust. For automation to trust us, for us to trust automation because when we don't trust automation, automation doesn't trust us. We cannot progress.
MS : That's right. That's right. You know, one of the example we use, with us in our customers is 98% of our body is automated. The reason why I'm able to have this delightful conversation with you is because I don't have to think about breathing. Isn't that wonderful?
LC : It's an involuntary response. Involuntary activity
MS : That's right. Yes.
LC : It's a lovely thing. And to, to make those things that we do act well, exercising, eating properly, nutrition, these meditation, work-life balance, these things that are, we take for granted and we to automate and make them involuntary as if we're doing an asana, you know, we're doing our Ujjayi breath, you know, the ujjayi breath every 30 seconds, [laugh], you know, in our involuntary breath every, you know, every moment. It's lovely way, what you're doing in what your company is truly revolutionary.
MS : It's exciting for us and our customers. And this is a journey with our customers and partners, we collaborate with them. You know, path to future is often uncertain and you discover it together, but it is so fulfilling at various levels. I'll tell you Louis, I was in one of our events before the Covid and, I was meeting customer and young daughter of one of my customer came and said, give me a card, and said, thank you. I said, why? And said, you know, my mom used to come back from work at eight o'clock and now she comes back at five.
From a child's perspective, that was the most important thing as it should be. Then I asked the mom and she said, look, I'm in finance towards the quarter and close, you know, whatever it takes towards the end of the quarter, and now the automation takes care of it, and I'm back home. When you hear stories like that, it fills your heart.
LC : What's so cool about that, Mihir, is that is actually automation. We look at the system's thinking element, the system's variables of a human system. And what you said is, I'm going to look at this from an engineering mindset. If we don't allow for this work-life balance, and we don't allow for the breath and then family will suffer.
MS : That's right.
LC : Our life will suffer. Thus productivity will go down. It's systems thinking, it's automation, and your beautiful mind and the beautiful minds of everybody at Automation Anywhere have identified that and solved for it.
MS : We are excited with the journey. As I said, none of these are destinations, but wake up every day more excited than ever. I'll share this, for our current and future employees. I think the impact we will make in next five years on this space will be more than last 20 years combined, because technologies are ready, markets are ready, customers are ready. And the last two years have proven that this is not optional anymore.
You know, just to look at our current supply chain challenge. You can't assemble a car without getting some of this automation going. You can’t stock the shelves of the grocery store without automation anymore. I think next five years would be the most, one of the most impactful for technology. And can't wait to see the impact.
LC : And, and I too, I can't wait for it, Mihir. I can't wait for it to see the skyrocket of your wonderful company continue to grow. Thank you so much for joining us today.
MS : Thank you, Louis. Appreciate it. Thank you. It's a pleasure.