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Robert Youngjohns, Chairman of the Board, ABBYY – Interview Series

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In April 2020, ABBYY Appointed Renowned Tech Executive Robert Youngjohns as Chairman of the Board to Drive Growth Strategy. In this position Robert will work with the CEO and executive management team to shape ABBYY’s global enterprise growth strategy and execution.

Based in Silicon Valley, Robert was previously the Executive Vice President and General Manager of HP Software at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. At HPE he was instrumental in the $9 billion merger of HPE’s Software Business Segment with Micro Focus and he served as a member of HPE’s Executive Council. Prior to HPE, Robert was President of Microsoft North America. Additionally, he has held senior leadership roles at Callidus Cloud, Sun Microsystems and IBM.

You have an amazing track record, including being the Executive Vice President and General Manager of HP Software at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. What was it that enticed you to join ABBYY as Chairman of the Board?

What usually entices me to join the Board of a company is I need to be personally excited about their technology, market and vision. Serving as Chairman of ABBYY’s Board really excites me because the company is well positioned to gain significant market share. ABBYY has a great story – they started in OCR to digitize documents and now have AI enabling technologies and solutions that enable organizations to gain meaning and understanding of their content and processes to make smarter business decisions. In doing so, ABBYY becomes a critical part of the fast-emerging market for intelligent automation. The impact their solutions make within business processes is more apparent now as companies have had to enact business continuity plans and/or ramp up automation efforts.

Can you discuss how you’ll be working with the CEO and executive management team to shape ABBYY’s global enterprise growth strategy and execution?

I’ll be making strategic changes to ABBYY’s Board by bringing at least one other member. The executive management team is strong with a clear vision but also open to guidance.

What do you view as ABBYY’s current strongest product?

ABBYY’s entire solution suite is strong. Their OCR engine is strong and used by the largest OEMs. It was extended into the industry leading FlexiCapture, a strong Intelligent Document Processing platform, then to Vantage which makes content intelligence skills consumable services that can be added robotic process automation (RPA) platforms to make digital workers smarter. Then when you bring in the Timeline solution – it’s just the icing on the cake. Timeline is a Process Intelligence solution that goes beyond traditional process mining tools. Timeline is a tool that every organization should be using before starting any digital transformation project.

What are some of your short-term visions for ABBYY?

Short-term vision is growth. Like all companies navigating during these unprecedented times, we’re focused on maintaining ABBYY’s multi-year streak of revenue growth. But more importantly, we’re dedicated to helping organizations optimize their business processes to increase automaton and efficiency, and improve the customer experience.

What are some of your long-term visions for ABBYY?

Whether short-term or gong-term, the vision is always growth. There’s a lot of market share to grab and my intent is to help ABBYY take the lion’s share. Of course, there’s innovative solutions on the roadmap and new uses cases, but the vision is two-fold on growth and solving customers’ pain points.

In an interview at The Cube when discussing how Uber disrupted the Taxi industry you stated that every industry will eventually be disrupted. What are some other industries that you view as ripe for disruption?

You could absolutely make the case that the data capture market is being disrupted. It was traditionally considered an OCR market to digitize documents and move organizations to go paperless. It evolved to include machine learning technology and neural networks to be able to read, extract and classify the data within documents. This was a relatively gradual evolution. Within the past couple years it has completely transformed where the IT department and developers are no longer the ones working with ML and AI for content and processes. ABBYY Vantage makes AI skills available to the business analyst, often dubbed the “citizen developer,” who works at the department level or across the organization.

Could you tell us about your views on augmented human intelligence?

I like to push the concept of machine augmenting human intelligence. AI was once thought of as a complete replacement to a human, but in reality it will be used to augment humans. Many people spend time on data and manual tasks, ABBYY helps automate this so human can focus on more value-added work.

Is there anything else that you would like to share about ABBYY or your new position there?

The way we talked about AI five years ago is finally coming of age within the enterprise. AI today is really pragmatic in the way it is being applied to solutions and the use cases within the enterprise to help make better decisions. It is being used for the next generation of productivity for the enterprise.

Thank you for the interview. Readers who wish to learn more should visit ABBYY.

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Antoine Tardif is a Futurist who is passionate about the future of AI and robotics. He is the CEO of BlockVentures.com, and has invested in over 50 AI & blockchain projects. He is the Co-Founder of Securities.io a news website focusing on digital securities, and is a founding partner of unite.AI. He is also a member of the Forbes Technology Council.