We recently had the opportunity to sit down with UIB CEO and Founder Toby Ruckert. With UIB’s UnificationEngine Conversational AI platform, Toby is humanizing technology and forever changing the way all of us communicate with our connected devices and chatbots.
Who is your ideal leader? And Why?
This is a tricky one. I dont have an ideal leader. The reason is simple, no one is perfect. Other people can only be an inspiration to what they have achieved, but I want to be an inspiration for myself, to what I can achieve. The ideal leader to me, therefore, doesnt look at him/herself to be ever ideal but always in progress.
What are the qualities of a good leader?
A good leader can inspire not just him/herself, but also a team of people with diverse backgrounds. Being able to shape vision and strategy in a team with different academic, professional, and personal backgrounds is very important. More importantly, leadership is neither a solo sport nor a sprint. Its simultaneously a team sport and a marathon. So leaders must be able to maintain their loyalty and help sustain the passion of their people to successfully execute their long-term vision and strategy.
As a leader what are the challenges you have to face and how you conquer them?
You have to have strong physical and mental health. Many leaders often underestimate taking care of themselves in the process of leading others. If I am in a bad mood, it can easily affect others and my ability to make good decisions. If I am not feeling well, I cannot focus and work productively and effectively. There are in numerous challenges leaders face and investing in being both physically and mentally fit ensures you are ready for whatever challenge comes at you next. I try to live a healthy lifestyle, eat well, exercise a bit, consciously — and pro-actively — take breaks when needed, and regularly meditate.
Tell us something about your team? What is the importance of a team for a leader?
For a leader, their team is everything. Diversity — supported by our six values of respect, resiliency, accountability, open communications, smart thrift, and global productivity — is UIBs edge. How and why we do things define us even more than what we make and sell. For example, my Chief Technology Officer and I have worked together for almost two decades, cementing a track record of successful execution.
What is the story behind UIB? Why and how did you begin?
You could say that the seed for the idea that eventually became UIB started back in 1994 when I first became involved in AI.
I used speech recognition to have my phone dial my friends without lifting a finger. Today that is normal, back then it was pretty cool.
Today at UIB, we use Natural Language Processing (NLP) to make human to machine communication as simple and as natural as human to human communication.
I started UIB with the mission of giving people back time by creating technologies that would enable people to simply communicate. We want people to choose who they want to be able to access their data (i.e., their conversations with machines).
Right now, those choices are pretty limited. In the future, we hope to play a role in giving people choice, whether they decide to own their data (and monetize it themselves), trust a device manufacturer to own their data, or trust an ad-sponsored service.
How do you define UIB?
I define UIB as a universal translator between humans and machines, leading a new market category of Conversational IoT which allows us to simply communicate. Communication has become quite complex and with the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT), we now not only communicate with each other but also with things. Just as Gottlieb Daimler forever changed transportation, UIB is forever changing communications — allowing people with a single UnificationEngine -powered SmartContact in their smartphones Contacts to use natural language text and voice messaging to talk to any cloud-connected software, service, ERP, chatbot, or device on over 30 of the world’s most popular communications channels (including WhatsApp!) in any language.
What is that one unique quality that differentiates UIB from its competitors?
Many unique qualities differentiate UIB from our competitors. One that our customers tell us they love is that they 100% own and control their users conversational data and analytics, as our platform is fully encrypted end-to-end and works on-premise as well.
How do you see the future of UIB over the next decade?
With our agnostic and inclusive technology platform, UIB is well-positioned to serve the entire US$2 trillion IoT market. For the next decade, we will target the sectors with the highest growth potential and most practical use cases for human to machine messaging (e.g., customer service, facilities management, and post-sales asset tracking chatbots along with smart home, city, and enterprise IoT). UIB will be the world’s #1 Conversational IoT platform.
Tell us about the change you wish to implement in the world.
To simplify communications between people and machines and provide people with better ways to deal with the overload of digital information is our passion. Bringing together IoT, AI, and unified messaging in UIBs powerful, multi-patented Conversational IoT platform will have a profound impact on future generations. We are humanizing technology. Channel neutrality is a fundamental principle of our business. We act as independent information brokers — our customers retain control of their data, regardless of the connected device and communications channel.
What advice you would like to offer to young leaders?
My advice to young leaders is this — never stop learning and realize that confidence comes from putting into practice what you have learned. Always work with, not above, under, or next to people. Everyone has something to learn and everyone has something to teach. Actively seek out people who look at the world from perspectives different than your own, and people who have both the courage to clearly articulate their point of view as well as perform as part of a team, especially after decisions are made that may not align with their approach. Once decisions are made, even if you are not in complete agreement with them, execute them for the teams success.