Pega combines customer journeys with AI-driven next-best-actions

Pega this week announced the launch of Next-Best-Action Customer Journeys, a portfolio of capabilities aimed at unifying the marketing team’s understanding of customer journeys with automated, AI-driven next-best-actions, prompted by the customer’s real-time context — the stage of the journey he or she has reached. The solution is part of Pega’s Customer Decision Hub.

No compromise on next-best-action. “We’re recognizing that marketers have really put a lot of work into analyzing distinct stages in the journeys,” said Shoel Perelman, Pega’s VP or product, 1:1 Customer Engagement. “We’re letting them list the actions the AI should consider in each of those journeys. But we’re not compromising the principles of next-best-action; we’re still going to let the customer’s propensity at that moment drive what should actually be said to them in that moment.”

This makes use of the marketing organizations understanding of what messages would actually make sense at different stages on the journey, while unleashing the AI to make a real-time selection from them based on propensity scoring, the scoring generated in turn by aggregated customer’s behavior.

“From my own experience, marketers are very proud of a ten-foot print-out, with all of these intricate lines that they’ve put together,” said Perelman. “But in the past, they saw next-best-action as competing with the work they did to script out those journeys. I don’t believe it needs to be competitive.” The AI, in effect, applies predictive capabilities to choosing the next step in the journey — and since this is working 1:1 with individual customers, AI is needed because of scale.

Visualising the journey. At the same time, Pega is not denying marketers visibility into the journey spontaneously created by the AI. Journey visualization capabilities create graphic representations of the end-to-end customer experiences, updating in real-time as the journey takes place. This should help marketers understand optimal journeys and also see where customers are getting stuck or bailing on the experience.

Why we care. This attempt to unify the traditional customer journey crafted by marketers with Pega’s AI capabilities is a reflection of the reality of today’s customer journey, which is radically non-linear and jumps between different channels. “It’s also this recognition that there isn’t just this one journey,” said Perelman. “It’s not like you’re taking someone out of one journey and putting them on another. They really are on all these journeys at the same time.”

It also surely reflects the hesitancy of marketing organizations to relinquish any form of control over the customer journey and let the AI drive it from beginning to end, teaching itself along the way. It’s part of a long-standing attempt by Pega to ensure that AI is safe (and ethical) as well as effective.

About The Author

Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space. He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020. Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.

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