“Life has changed. And when life changes, you need to come with the new technology."
The COVID pandemic increased the market opportunities for KMS Lighthouse, CEO Sagi Eliyahu tells Michael Matias
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Tell me about what knowledge means to you. Did your childhood resonate with this passion that you have for knowledge management?
As a child, you don't call it knowledge management. You go to school, you study, and everything that you study and you want to consume, this is knowledge. Knowledge management is your ability to get the information that you need when you need it.
What would you do without Google? I'm not sure we can do much in life. Knowledge management is knowledge that Google doesn't have. It's knowledge that exists in people’s brains. It's knowledge that exists in a business: procedures, processes, definitions, and things of this nature. When you need to provide service or to get the knowledge right, you need it now and you want the local Google to work for you. Gartner, IDC, Forrester estimated that an employee spends one hour a day looking for information.
Why is it so difficult? It’s not just how do we keep knowledge, but also how do you provide the answers in the minimum amount of time.
The way to get knowledge is by training and education. We'll take the example of a call center with a new agent. This new agent starts to get calls. You want to close the case, and you want to respond right. There are multiple ways to address it. One way, you learn everything by heart. The other way, you give him a platform where he can ask a human question, and he gets the answer. It sounds easy, but this is a challenge in the technology. There are now new technologies trying to overcome a problem that existed for the last 20, 30 years.
For example, if you take AI: it's a technology that enables us to predict, enables us to understand, enables us to get the intent of the person. This is a technology that is changing the way you consume knowledge. Instead of learning everything by heart and trying to remember each situation, you're asking a question and the engine works for you. This is what we are bringing in KMS Lighthouse to the table -- a new technology that is actually resolving a problem that has existed for many, many years.
What's been happening? Why did you decide to focus your time on this issue and how do you go about resolving it?
It starts with, first of all, understanding there is a problem. You speak with customers, you learn what challenges they have. During those discussions and calls, you figure out that the problem is huge. It's really massive information that currently is really distributed in silos. And for each problem, they have a different system.
For example, a bank will have a system that supports regular employees. It will be a different system for agents. It will be a different system for bankers in the branch. It will be a different system that supports the customers online. We figured out that there isn't a single system that is enterprise wide.
You want each person to see what he is allowed to see. You want each person to get different answers. If you're an internal employee, you want to get a certain answer. If you are an external customer, maybe a different answer. We understand the challenge; we understand the problem. And then we start to work with our customers. We said, "How can we make your life better in terms of knowledge management?" The real story is a customer, one of the largest banks in Israel, that had several agents that moved to the branches. The agent said, "Why don't we have Lighthouse in the branch?"
Why are you in this? Why are you so excited about knowledge management?
First of all, I think it's a huge problem. Analysts said the market is billions of dollars. The solutions that are over there for me, they are dinosaurs. The systems are not friendly. The search is not advanced. You need to know exactly what you are looking for. We need to train the agent how to search. Why do you need someone to train you on how to search? Often the search is there, but it's totally not friendly, and they want to move to the next generation. And we are providing the next generation. And again, it's not only search, it's decision flows. They need to have a decision flow that takes them flow by flow in order to provide the right answer.
I can tell you a customer of ours, GE Healthcare. All their MRI and big system machines are being supported by a call center. It's being powered by KMS Lighthouse. The customer says, "Listen, if I could ask for a Christmas present, this is what I want. This is exactly what I wanted."
You're re-reinventing the way that we're thinking about these solutions, but the problem has been there for a long time with partial solutions. I'm sure that you have some great sense of satisfaction when you have an exec from GE say, "Without this technology, we wouldn't be able to answer a lot of the questions we're answering."
This is exactly the case. By the way, the pandemic was good for us as a company, not as a person. Before that, you had the call center, 3,000 people sitting in a room. They can ask each other a question. Now he is at home and someone is calling him; he needs to resolve the problem. He cannot get advice; he cannot ask anyone what to do. This has created for us a huge market opportunity. Things are moving, and this move removes the opportunity to train. It's difficult to train.
AIG, a customer of ours, says, "I don't know how I could even recruit new employees without your system. I interviewed them by Zoom, and they start their first day at home.” Life has changed. And when life changes, you need to come with the new technology. You need to come with a new offering. You cannot train as you trained before. You cannot support, physically even, the employee as you supported him before.
I want to hear the story of purchasing your first car.
You asked me to provide something funny. Since I was a small child, I wanted to have a car. Starting at the age 12 or 13, I started to wash cars in my neighborhood. By the age of 17, I had enough money to buy my first car.
Next are some fun, quick questions. What was one of your favorite subjects in school up through high school?
I love mathematics. This is probably the only thing I love to do. By the way, I was very good at it. This is probably why I love it.
One of your role models?
I like to watch Denzel Washington. He's speaking about leadership and saying that if you fall, you fall forward. You never fall back. Even if you lose a deal, you lose an opportunity, forget about it. Don't do a root cause analysis. In your stomach, you understand why you lost it. Always think about the good thing, what is left on the table and focus on the places you are about to win. I don't know Denzel Washington personally, but when I listened to his speech, this is, I think, the model. Look forward, don't look back.
Three words you would use to describe yourself?
Always smiling, energy, and winning. People ask me how come you’re smiling all the time. I'm smiling, that's it. I don't know. It's part of my body.
Michael Matias, Forbes 30 Under 30, is the author of Age is Only an Int: Lessons I Learned as a Young Entrepreneur. He studies Artificial Intelligence at Stanford University, while working as a software engineer at Hippo Insurance and as a Senior Associate at J-Ventures. Matias previously served as an officer in the 8200 unit. 20MinuteLeaders is a tech entrepreneurship interview series featuring one-on-one interviews with fascinating founders, innovators and thought leaders sharing their journeys and experiences.
Contributing editors: Michael Matias, Megan Ryan