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An interview with Wang Guanchun, founder and CEO of Laiye, a leading player in intelligent automation
Wang Guanchun: Basically, our technology helps customers increase their productivity and efficiency, while lowering their costs. We emphasize the synergistic relationship between human and digital workers. Actually, the term digital worker can mean either human workers skilled in using automation and AI tools. But it can also refer to a software robot developed by a human worker that could simultaneously work on multiple tasks together with the human workers.
So it’s really a synergistic collaboration between human and digital workers. That’s what we are advocating. That’s what we think will be the norm for future-oriented organizations.
Gavin Allen: ChatGPT has grabbed a lot of attention. Some people are concerned about it. What’s your response?
Wang Guanchun: We’re very excited about ChatGPT, and other large language model capabilities. When Laiye was founded seven years ago, our original idea was to build a chatbot as powerful as ChatGPT. But the technology was not there yet.
I think it’s obviously going to create a lot of value for the entire ecosystem, because companies like OpenAI, specialize in making large language models better and better. But they will not think very carefully about what are the best use cases, the best scenarios to apply this technology.
This creates opportunities for companies like Laiye. We can build a middle layer, an automation tool that allows professional developers and student developers to build intelligent automation projects for enterprise customers. I think this will accelerate innovation in the entire digital ecosystem.
Gavin Allen: So, strategically, what’s your next move? Where are you directing your energies?
Wang Guanchun: Right now, our customers are adopting “single-point” automation projects: chatbots for customer service, robotic process automation bots for manufacturing.
But I think automation will be even more prevalent. Laiye will strategically incorporate these capabilities into our existing product lines, potentially unifying all this automation AI capability into one single platform. So no matter what type of tasks our customer or the developer wants to automate, they can use our tool to very easily develop and deploy it.
Gavin Allen: What can Huawei Cloud and companies like Huawei Cloud do to help companies such as yours?
Wang Guanchun: Huawei Cloud can help us on multiple fronts. I think Huawei Cloud has already deployed their computing and storage in a lot of geographies. We need to make sure the products we deploy on the cloud comply with local laws, for example, GDPR in Europe. By deploying our product on Huawei Cloud, this will automatically allow us to be very friendly to the local customers and local regulations.
Also, Huawei has a co-sell program. By joining the partner network, Laiye can sell into new markets in Latin America: Mexico, in Brazil, particularly. Without Huawei’s help, I don’t think we will even have operations there.
Gavin Allen: What do you say to an SME that is hesitating about how far to jump into digitalization, and what it can give them as a result?
Wang Guanchun: In today’s world, it’s actually to the SMEs’ advantage to fully embrace digitalization. In the past, when people talked about digitalization, they might be buying, you know, CRM tools from Salesforce, or ERP tools from Oracle, or SAP. Those tools are very expensive, and only large enterprise customers can buy them.
But today, digitalization is more about leveraging automation and AI tools to build digital workers. This is going to create even more value than just allowing you to record all the data. It’s about using those data to create business value. That’s the key.
So even if the SMEs only use Excel or Word, they can start building digital workers with all the new tools available like ChatGPT, or the intelligent automation tools Laiye developed for them.
And they can really adopt a “digital worker first” approach to challenge those incumbents, those bigger companies, because they can have an organizational structural advantage. Their workforce will be more productive if they have a lot of digital workers working for them. They will have a cost structure advantage. They will actually have a productivity advantage over the more established players.
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