SalesTechStar Interview with Brian Bartell, Vice President of AI and Machine Learning at Conga
AI and ML backed capabilities are set to transform most core business operations and functions, including sales. Brian Bartell, Vice President of AI and Machine Learning at Conga shares a few thoughts on this evolution in this catch up with SalesTechStar:
Hi Brian, welcome to this chat. Tell us more about yourself and your role at Conga?
Hi Paroma, thank you for your time — excited to speak with you today! I am the Vice President of AI and Machine Learning with Conga. Within my role, I’m tasked with Conga’s Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence strategy.
I have been building text analytics, machine learning, and content normalization systems for nearly 30 years. I have founded, or as CTO have been instrumental in the growth of, a variety of successful technology startups, one of which being Contract Wrangler.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on the recent Conga-Contract Wrangler acquisition? How will this new offering that the acquisition leads to enable salespeople?
With this acquisition, we are excited to expand our existing product suite with Contract Wrangler’s innovative contract ingestion, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) capabilities. This cutting-edge combination of AI and ML enables companies to accurately uncover insights into contracts to manage risk and optimize revenues. The fully integrated, native, AI-based contract ingestion capability gives customers the option to quickly and accurately analyze their legacy and on-going contracts. This will fuel renewals, facilitate search, enable risk analysis and expand the value of our contract lifecycle management product family.
Overall, the acquisition revolutionizes how business leaders manage their contract data. With these capabilities, for example, salespeople can better manage business critical contracts and uncover key insights, while maximizing their revenue potential.
Why is better management of contract data beneficial to sales teams today and what are some best practices that you feel should be followed in this market?
Contracts are crucial to every business, therefore it’s important to end the era of manual and disjointed contract processes. Conga’s contract management solutions empower companies to not only improve customer and user experiences, but also increase visibility, speed up cycle times, and lower risk.
Automation is one best practice that can have a number of benefits for sales teams and their customers. For instance, automation can expedite authoring, negotiation, approvals, and reporting for salespeople. It can allow salespeople to rededicate their time to their customers while also improving the proposal and quoting process to speed up the sales cycle and overall speed to revenue.
How will developments in AI and ML backed capabilities further transform how revenue contract management platforms evolve in future?
We have already seen a number of promising developments with AI and ML backed capabilities and their potential to transform business operations. As I mentioned with the Contract Wrangler acquisition, companies of all sizes can holistically manage all of their contracts, whether on the company’s or third-party paper, to manage risk while optimizing revenue. And with the innovative AI and ML capabilities, companies can more accurately uncover insights into contracts to manage risk and optimize revenues.
This is just one example of developments in AI and ML… Another area is automatically establishing linkages across multiple contracts. For example, a single Master Services Agreement (MSA) might be surrounded by a family of amendments, statements of work, purchase orders, correspondence (letters and emails), and other documents. An accurate and actionable view of the current status of a partner relationship requires reconciling all these components. Via the Contract Wrangler acquisition, we have the ability to make those linkages and generate a holistic view of the relationship.
In what ways have you seen industry leaders in sales/marketing use revenue management platforms such as these to boost their internal processes?
Our customers already reap a number of benefits through revenue management solutions. They are a time-saver for businesses and save users the headaches often associated with manual processes. Through revenue management platforms, these tools can help businesses with billing, order management, and promotions.
Specific to sales and marketing, revenue management platforms can also provide essential guidance on a wide variety of aspects of the sales and marketing relationship with the customer. Many decisions like pricing, discounting, and assessments of the health of accounts and segments – these can be made utilizing the best available data, translated into optimal decision recommendations by machine learning. It will really add confidence and awareness to these kinds of processes.
For sales / marketing teams who are looking at optimizing their contract lifecycle management, what tips would you share?
For companies that have time-consuming, lengthy contract processes, I’d recommend implementing automation.
Automating a business’ contract process can lead to improved customer or employee experiences, increased visibility, less risk and a quicker cycle time. If businesses are uncertain where to start with the process, I’d recommend getting in contact with a contract lifecycle management provider.
Automation of the contracting process allows for quicker turnaround for the contracts, fewer deals that slip because the process takes too long and an overall better customer experience. This also relieves some of the tension between sales and legal while reducing risk and the chance of errors.
What are some of the other upcoming innovations from the Conga platform that users can look forward to in the near-future?
Data and automation – There are plenty of companies that extract data. However, most of the time they don’t do anything with it because it’s a very manual process that hardly ever gets managed. By automating, identifying and using the data to be actionable, allows for an extremely user-friendly experience. Conga is automating the Revenue Operations process to create a seamless flow from the initial transaction through the life of a contract.
Some last thoughts before we wrap up?
Automating business processes doesn’t have to be complicated. I’d recommend that business leaders take a bird’s eye view of their operations. For pain points or bottlenecks that their employees or customers are experiencing, business leaders should identify and set goals for improvement. In identifying these areas, business leaders should ask themselves, “Is this an opportunity to enhance my operations for a better employee and customer experience?”
Conga, a global leader in Commercial Operations transformation, helps businesses simplify and automate their approach to the essential quotes, contracts, and documents that drive commerce. Conga helps customers become more agile, so they can adapt quickly to change and create a fluid, connected customer experience.
Brian Bartell, PhD, is a text analytics and machine learning specialist, accomplished software professional, and entrepreneur. He thrives simultaneously as an executive leader and strategist, and also as a hands-on innovator in advanced technology. He has founded, or as CTO has been instrumental in the growth of, a variety of successful technology startups. This includes: Contract Wrangler Inc (legal analytics), Notiora Inc (text analytics in life sciences and travel), Covario Inc (search engine analytics), ContentScan Inc (academic meta-search), and GeneCraft (gene cloning analytics). Brian’s doctorate is in Computer Science from UC San Diego specializing in learning algorithms for natural language processing.
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