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Following its acceptance into the Barclays Techstars accelerator programme, I spoke to CEO of Inbotiqa Liza Russell about what the startup’s ambitions are, the company’s role in the fintech industry and her experience heading up the email solution organization.
As Russell explained, because a staggering 95% of business communication is now conducted over email, the volume of emails is no longer manageable by humans – this is where Inbotiqa comes in. Inbotiqa aims to solve issues such as missed emails, uncompleted requests and compliance failures with one single solution.
“Inbotiqa provide Automation and Workflow Management to boost productivity and customer service levels, reduce risk, increased revenue growth, add transparency and accountability, clear audit trails and unprecedented management insights via data analytics and machine learning.”
Taming the beast
With Microsoft Outlook as a major competitor, Inbotiqa is working towards solving the pain points affecting business email with this incumbent system, as well as in-house-built, which companies may find too expensive to replace and refigure, and cloud-based applications such as FrontApp and Asana, with a fit-for-purpose tool.
But why is this such a problem? Russell highlighted that unanswered emails are a significant issue. “Take teams in areas such as FOREX, Settlements and Corporate Actions, where missing or not responding to even one email has severe consequences for both the clients and organization. Aside from the financial, legal and regulatory risks involved, the reputational damage of failing to complete a request is immense.
“Within organizations, not responding to emails causes breakdowns in communication and workflow that have far-reaching consequences. Vast amounts of time are wasted just chasing emails that have not been acknowledged before we even consider the resulting loss of productivity and drop in customer levels that uncompleted requests cause.
“One of Inbotiqa’s analytics insights highlights exactly where the bottlenecks are occurring, enabling action to be taken to rectify problems and enable behavior change.” Inbotiqa is making waves as a fintech company, with the bulk of our clients and prospective clients in financial services.
Applications in finance
Russell said that her company is “suited to solve the pain points of middle-and back-office teams due to the nature of their operations and the high volume of emails they receive into group mailboxes. The have strict turnaround-times, international deadlines, compliance and regulatory requirements and many other challenges and difficulties we can help with.”
She went on to discuss how the inspiration for Inbotiqa emerged from the experience of developing solutions to email issues in the banking industry, but explained that the solution is not solely for the financial sector – having already served process outsourcing services, immigration legal services and accounting services.
However, as social media and business communications tools such as Slack and WhatsApp become increasing used, it questions whether email will be phased out. Russell had a different view and said that email will not be replaced because it will continue to be universally used.
“Email is also incredibly flexible, you can put anything into it, from a one-line instruction to complex contract negotiations or large-sized attachments. Alternative communication channels are also not official communication methods. If something official needs to be sent, whether that be an instruction or a contract, it will be sent via email. Over 124 billion business emails are sent every day and this figure is only projected to increase.”
Importance of AI and data analytics
Russell also reflected on the importance of artificial intelligence and data analytics as both technologies emerge as transformative for business and industry operating models, highlighting four trends associated with the future of email.
- ability for data analytics to provide intelligence on the nature and structure of communications within and between organizations.
- enablement of robotic process automation, where direct automated communications, escalation and actioning can be completed by the use of AI technologies.
- social and behavioural analytics, where ‘intelligent’ email would enable organizations to structure their functional units and specific, often geographically diverse, teams to operate with reduced friction, enhanced agility and greater operational effectiveness.
- AI and data analytics will be instrumental to ensuring that email is the enabling architecture to ensure organisations are ‘transactionally’ efficient.
“There have been many attempts to provide a ‘unification architecture’ within organizations, but they have tended to be either data- or workflow-centric which does not capture the dynamic of most organizations.
“Where intelligent email changes the game is through the ability to integrate people, communication, action and transactions through one integrated layer. Data, analytics, machine learning and AI provide the tools to ensure an integrated ‘transactionally efficient’ architecture.”
Liza Russell’s career has been varied and her experience shines through. Having started 20 years ago as a junior telephony agent at NatWest, she has worked her way through retail and private banking divisions and up to senior management positions at Coutts and PwC.
After Mark Hunt, Former COO and Head of Strategy of Sybenetix approached her in 2018 to join the management team to work on a portfolio of fintech companies, she could not refuse. In turn, when being introduced by Inbotiqa by co-founders Ludre Stevens and Vishal Shanbhag, Russell was excited by the prospect of combating a critical issue in the workplace.
As one of two female CEOs to be heading up companies accepted into the Barclays TechStars accelerator programme, Russell reiterates the importance of ensuring that Inbotiqa operates in a collaborative and inclusive way. “We have encouraged diversity and inclusion and this is definitely going to be our route to success – great team, fantastic product and an in-depth understanding of the market and the solution we are offering.
“I had very few female role models to follow in the banking industry but have had the opportunity of meeting several females leading the charge in fintech who are incredibly inspiring: Francesca Gomez, from Smarter Human, a fellow CEO on the Barclays Accelerator and Wendy Jephson, Head of Behavioural Science at NASDAQ, who was former co-founder and Chief Behavioural Scientist at Sybenetix. Both in different stages of their journey but real ambassadors for women in fintech.”
She said that getting more women into fintech roles is an important issue, especially after we continue to learn about the positive effects of gender and other types of diversity on the workplace.
“While progress is being made in boosting the number of women in tech leadership rolls, a combination of good practices at home and in education, government legislation, flexible working policies, and support and role models all contribute to moving the needle. Visible role models are crucial for girls and women, and this element will hopefully increase exponentially. Likewise with networks, mentors and support programmes.
“It is important pay attention to the language used in your company and not foster unconscious biases through, for example, the sole use of masculine pronouns. These sorts of actions will also help to foster an enabling culture within your company, and your attitudes and policies should be made clear to new team members during the onboarding process. We are very proud of the diversity of the Inbotiqa team and are determined to retain this as we scale.”
April 16, 2019 at 04:14AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs