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What do you think makes for a truly digital experience when it comes to talent management? An IT department that uses traditional recourse devices such as a helpdesk and internal support to understand how employees use their services? Or a team that leverages analytics and automation to solve employee issues and ensures digital adoption?

You needn’t answer.

Pedro Bados, Co-founder and CEO of Nexthink, a TCS COIN™ Accelerator start-up, talks about the need for innovation in the user-computing industry and how his firm is delivering cost-effective personalized workplaces through the world’s first ‘Digital Employee Experience Management’ platform. 

With the pandemic providing fresh impetus to the already growing significance of employee-employer relations, Nexthink is helping companies make IT teams proactive, drive digital adoption, and retain the best talent. Digital employee experience management is here to stay and is the key to understanding employee needs across a digital enterprise. Tap into all of these insights in the interaction between our host and futurist Kevin Benedict, and Pedro, on this brand-new episode of The Next Big Think!




Pedro Bados: Co-founder and CEO, Nexthink




Pedro Bados is one of the Nexthink co-founders and is CEO. He brings his leadership and vision to lead the organization and ensure its continuous growth. Bados holds an MSc. in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of Saragossa, Spain, and spent a few years as a researcher in the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology). While at EPFL he developed the first real-time end-user monitoring technology, and he is the author of two patents on behavior modelling that are part of Nexthink’s core technology. Bados currently is a board member of the Alpine chapter of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), he serves on the board of several startups and he’s an occasional lecturer at EPFL on entrepreneurship and new technologies.

Episode transcript

Kevin Benedict: Welcome to the podcast. I'm Kevin Benedict, a futurist and partner here at TCS. And I want to thank each of you for joining us. My guest today is Pedro Bados. He's the CEO and co-founder of Nexthink, and author of two patents on behavior modeling. We'll learn more about that here in a moment. But Pedro, I just want to welcome you to the show.

Pedro Bados: Thank you, Kevin, it’s really a pleasure to be here with you all.

Kevin Benedict: Let's just jump right into it here. I love talking to entrepreneurs, you're a CEO and the co-founder of Nexthink, tell us about how that was formed. Nexthink, you know, what was the idea or the catalyst for starting the company?

Pedro Bados: Originally from Spain, moved to Switzerland, actually, I was at the university. And at that time, I was, I was really passionate about artificial intelligence when artificial intelligence was not so hyped, and one particular area for me of interest was really trying to understand what people do with computers, what is normal, not normal, and trying to see if there is a way to model that behavior. The initial use case was really about identity theft. So, trying to understand the role of your machine is sending data in the middle of the night. And that's not something you do, oh, maybe it's, you know, an identity theft and, and no, an alert is raised and all that. But very soon, we realized that the whole visibility on what we call in user computing, so basically, you know, the services that they're provided to employees in companies was, was an area had been neglected in terms of innovation. And that's why we kind of started the project of Nexthink.

Kevin Benedict: Wow, very industry. So, in your description, your bio, it talks about two patents that you offered. Talk to us about that.

Pedro Bados: Yeah. So, as I said, it's very, it's very interesting, because when you talk to any IT department about who is their number one customer, they always say is the internal employee. My number one customer is really, and when you see the amount of innovation around visibility, understanding the experience, understanding the digital services, how the employees are consuming digital services, actually was close to zero 20 years ago. So, both patents one was really trying to model that behavior trying to understand—how can we create a model of the way employees are using digital services. So said it will be technical, so I will not go into the details. But basically, you know, it's a whole system of… of reporting and analytics and trying to simplify that problem. And the other patent is more about the visualization, that when I did it with my co-founder, Patrick Hertzog, because one thing is really trying to get the analytics, another thing is trying to make sense out of that with visuals, with visualizations, which are able to give the right answers. So that's, that's the main topic of both patents.

Kevin Benedict: So, let's go back to the whole digital employee experience. And what is the problem that you're solving, Pedro?

Pedro Bados: It is a very basic example is a very basic problem. And, actually, it's kind of a contradiction, as I say, in the world of IT. So, if you look at all these IT professionals around the world, their job is to provide a cost effective and personalized workplace with the right applications, the right performance to employees, so employees, they can work. So, before Nexthink, basically, the way they used to do it is, you know, kind of crossing fingers, and trying to make sure that we're providing something that worked, and hopefully, you know, going to the help desk, or support and getting some feedback about if it's working or not. So obviously, that's not the modern way of looking at how we should deliver services to employees. So basically, Nexthink is providing all the analytics, all the engagement capabilities, all the automation, that IT teams, and more specifically, we call them end-user computing teams need in order to make sure employees don't have issues in order to make sure employees can adopt new applications in order to make sure they can become proactive on potential incidents, and things like that. So, you kind of think of Nexthink, like all the information you need about how your employees are experiencing and adopting your digital services.

Kevin Benedict: We use a word here in our future of business team at TCS, we call it a catalyst, which means there's lots of innovations happening all the time. But, sometimes, it takes an external catalyst to actually increase or accelerate adoption of something, whether it be a trend, or a new technology or an ecosystem of technologies. How has COVID been a catalyst for you guys? And for companies supporting their digital employees experience?

Pedro Bados: Yes, great question. I think in the case of Nexthink is more a storm than really a catalyst, what happened for IT teams. So, basically, COVID forced people to work from home. So, basically, working from home was even less visibility about what works and doesn't work, you know, you have to use the network from your ISP, you have to make sure people were using maybe their own computers and things like that. So even you know, added a little bit more problems, you know, on the table of IT teams. That's one thing. Another thing that happened at the same time is this whole fight for talent, to companies are trying to figure out how they can retain their best employees. So, the whole employee experience is really one of the top priorities for any manager today, in our company. And making sure we provide great experiences today, with when all these experiences are digital. It's obviously at the heart of digital employee experience. And then if you put on top of that, the fact that more and more applications are SaaS, so basically, they are not even installed on the company premises. That's kind of what I call ‘The Perfect Storm’, because you need to make sure employees have a great experience from home without using your own applications. So that's why you know, we our system, and our sorry, our company has important tailwinds now with the current environment.

Kevin Benedict: Fascinating. So, you have a technical role as the CTO, or you did, and now you're the CEO. So, which one of those roles did you like better, which one was the hardest role for you?

Pedro Bados: I think when… when I was CTO of the company, we were probably 20-30-people company. Now we are a 900-people company. So, I think it's not only about the roles, it's also about the size of the business is very different. So basically, I kind of took over in 2008, the… the role of CEO so I've grown in as a CEO, once said I think it's especially when you are in a phase of growth of a tech company, I think it's really important to understand the product, and to understand also the… the toolkit of your customers and wonder why they are using the different technologies. And I think my background as a CTO has proven to be really useful when I define the go to market strategy, or when I define the… the roadmap strategy with my team. So, I think there's and there are many examples of very successful CEOs that they have a strong technology background, and I think it's actually a very strong asset.

Kevin Benedict: Very good. So how has the look, I want to return to the topic of the pandemic. How has the pandemic impacted the relationship between employers and employees in your opinion?

Pedro Bados: I think there are multiple perspectives on that. One is really the perspective of the of the employee. And I think what we realize at Nexthink is that there are different types of people, there are people that actually they feel very productive when they are on their own. And they don't really need to meet anyone in general, because it's not what they… they get their… their energy from. And actually, they sometimes they say, kind of liberating, in some sense, I mean, gives more time for them to organize their agendas and things like that. There are some other people that they are more, I would say people-focused, so they need to meet people at the office, they need to do a little bit more informal exchanges, and things like that. And these are the ones that they were struggling. And then of course there are people they have time, they have a space at home or not. So, there are multiple… so I think it's important that you know, to kind of segment the different populations. So, we saw that at Nexthink. Obviously, the relationship between companies and employees has changed because now they can switch company just, you know, in the same office that you work with today, so I think it's very important to put efforts on employee experience to make sure that people have a great experience, not only digitally, but overall with the company, I think right now is a must to have, because that's the only, I would say experience they have for eight hours in their in their homes. So, there are many things overall. And Nexthink, I would say, we were ready, because we have always been a very remote company. So, people, they had the choice to work from home or to work from the office, we were very flexible. So, we didn't experience all these problems that some companies they had, digitally. But I still think the culture has changed. Because, obviously, we wanted to make sure that everybody felt the culture of Nexthink at home. While some people they were feeling it more at the office. So that's the main thing that happened to us.

Kevin Benedict: Very interesting. Let’s open up and take a look at your solutions. But what is included in the category digital employee experience management? What are the different components that make up that kind of solution?

Pedro Bados: Yeah, there are basically five pillars. So, the solutions that they are in this category, they should be able to first provide the information for teams to make sure they can define a cost-effective and personalized workplace. So basically, they are able to understand the different personas in our organization. And what are the right applications and the right hardware tools that IT teams should provide them. Second, they should be able to make the IT teams proactive. So, understanding the issues, understanding the problems of employees with their digital services, before the users even they notice that. So, super important. Third, is really about driving adoption. So, these tools, they should be able to help IT teams to drive adoption. For instance, let's say they want to migrate from Zoom to Teams of Teams to Zoom. So how do you drive this adoption across 50,000 users, 100 countries, et cetera. So, these tools that should be able to do that. Fourth, of course, is measuring the employee experience more holistically. So, trying to engage with employees to understand where's their perception of the digital services. And fifth, which is sometimes a little bit neglected, is making sure the workplace is compliant, and sustainable. So, there's a lot of initiatives around green IT, making sure that everything works in the best way according to the internal policies. And that's also something that digital employee experience products, they are very good at doing. So, basically, these five pillars, which is a lot, but these are the five characteristics of these temporary experience products.

Kevin Benedict: Thank you for sharing that, Pedro. So, has the pandemic impacted your market for this kind of software?

Pedro Bados: Absolutely, because I would say some customers weren't visionary enough to understand that the world was heading towards work from home use of SaaS applications, employee experience, but the ones that didn't realize that before the pandemic, I think now they… they have all realized that is really important. And I think it's has probably accelerated a trend that we already saw in the market. So, yes, definitely, yes.

Kevin Benedict: So you know, it seems like everywhere you turn today you're seeing the word metaverse, the next generation of the internet, the web 3.0, where immersive 3D experiences are to be had and felt and experienced. Yes. So, I got that word in there. So, the topic of metaverse that pops up everywhere. So, are there any thoughts on how that might impact your space in the future? I'm thinking about immersive virtual presence kinds of experiences.

Pedro Bados: Yeah, well, my take on the metaverse is that it's a great kind of great PR campaign. There is some truth there. Obviously, our lives are more and more virtual. When you look at Nexthink and the world of work, I think it's already quite virtual. I don't know if that is part of the metaverse or not, but I already see all the digital. All the experiences between employees and their companies already digitalized more and more. You know, we are having this conversation over internet. So, from that perspective, it's very visual. I don't know if it's part of the metaverse or not I don't know if one day we'll do it in virtual reality, but of course, if we do it in virtual reality, I still will have to make sure that works well that everything will have a great experience. So, for the time being, that's not something we are hearing from customers. But obviously we are very open to… to see how this evolved.

Kevin Benedict: Oh, yeah, I think because it's such a hyped word right now it's obligatory, we have to bring it up. So, thanks for sharing it. I absolutely anticipate that if we are really getting into virtual presence, there's going to be a SaaS application behind that. It's going to be in the cloud, there's going to be employees using it. So, there will certainly be a big role for Nexthink as well. So, I want to thank you so much, Pedro, for joining us today from Boston, and for sharing your expertise around digital employee experiences. Thank you very much, Pedro.

Pedro Bados: Thank you, Kevin for this opportunity.

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