Gil Pekelman, Atera: How businesses can harness the power of AI

Gil Pekelman, Atera: How businesses can harness the power of AI Duncan is an award-winning editor with more than 20 years experience in journalism. Having launched his tech journalism career as editor of Arabian Computer News in Dubai, he has since edited an array of tech and digital marketing publications, including Computer Business Review, TechWeekEurope, Figaro Digital, Digit and Marketing Gazette.

TechForge recently caught up with Gil Pekelman, CEO of all-in-one IT management platform, Atera, to discuss how AI is becoming the IT professionals’ number one companion.

Can you tell us a little bit about Atera and what it does?

We launched the Atera all-in-one platform for IT management in 2016, so quite a few years ago. And it’s very broad. It’s everything from technical things like patching and security to ongoing support, alerts, automations, ticket management, reports, and analytics, etc. 

Atera is a single platform that manages all your IT in a single pane of glass. The power of it – and we’re the only company that does this – is it’s a single codebase and single database for all of that. The alternative, for many years now, has been to buy four or five different products, and have them all somehow connected, which is usually very difficult. 

Here, the fact is it’s a single codebase and a single database. Everything is connected and streamlined and very intuitive. So, in essence, you sign up or start a trial and within five minutes, you’re already running with it and onboarding. It’s that intuitive.

We have 12,000+ customers in 120 countries around the world. The UK is our second-largest country in terms of business, currently. The US is the first, but the UK is right behind them.

What are the latest trends you’re seeing develop in AI this year?

From the start, we’ve been dedicated to integrating AI into our company’s DNA. Our goal has always been to use data to identify problems and alert humans so they can fix or avoid issues. Initially, we focused on leveraging data to provide solutions.

Over the past nine years, we’ve aimed to let AI handle mundane IT tasks, freeing up professionals for more engaging work. With early access to Chat GPT and Open AI tools a year and a half ago, we’ve been pioneering a new trend we call Action AI.

Unlike generic Generative AI, which creates content like songs or emails, Action AI operates in the real world, interacting with hardware and software to perform tasks autonomously. Our AI can understand IT problems and resolve them on its own, moving beyond mere dialogue to real-world action.

Atera offers Copilot and Autopilot. Could you explain what these are?

Autopilot is autonomous. It understands a problem you might have on your computer. It’s a widget on your computer, and it will communicate with you and fix the problem autonomously. However, it has boundaries on what it’s allowed to fix and what it’s not allowed to fix. And everything it’s allowed to deal with has to be bulletproof. 100% secure or private. No opportunity to do any damage or anything like that. 

So if a ticket is opened up, or a complaint is raised, if it’s outside of these boundaries, it will then activate the Copilot. The Copilot augments the IT professional.

They’re both companions. The Autopilot is a companion that takes away password resets, printer issues, installs software, etc. – mundane and repetitive issues – and the Copilot is a companion that will help the IT professional deal with the issues they deal with on a day-to-day basis. And it has all kinds of different tools. 

The Copilot is very elaborate. If you have a problem, you can ask it and it will not only give you an answer like ChatGPT, but it will research and run all kinds of tests on the network, the computer, and the printer, and it will come to a conclusion, and create the action that is required to solve it. But it won’t solve it. It will still leave that to the IT professional to think about the different information and decide what they want to do. 

Copilot can save IT professionals nearly half of their workday. While it’s been tested in the field for some time, we’re excited to officially launch it now. Meanwhile, Autopilot is still in the beta phase.

What advice would you give to any companies that are thinking about integrating AI technologies into their business operations?

I strongly recommend that companies begin integrating AI technologies immediately, but it is crucial to research and select the right and secure generative AI tools. Incorporating AI offers numerous advantages: it automates routine tasks, enhances efficiency and productivity, improves accuracy by reducing human error, and speeds up problem resolution. That being said, it’s important to pick the right generative AI tool to help you reap the benefits without compromising on security. For example, with our collaboration with Microsoft, our customers’ data is secure—it stays within the system, and the AI doesn’t use it for training or expanding its database. This ensures safety while delivering substantial benefits.

Our incorporation of AI into our product focuses on two key aspects. First, your IT team no longer has to deal with mundane, frustrating tasks. Second, for end users, issues like non-working printers, forgotten passwords, or slow internet are resolved in seconds or minutes instead of hours. This provides a measurable and significant improvement in efficiency.

There are all kinds of AIs out there. Some of them are more beneficial, some are less. Some are just Chat GPT in disguise, and it’s a very thin layer. What we do literally changes the whole interaction with IT. And we know, when IT has a problem things stop working, and you stop working. Our solution ensures everything keeps running smoothly.

What can we expect from AI over the next few years?

AI is set to become significantly more intelligent and aware. One remarkable development is its growing ability to reason, predict, and understand data. This capability enables AI to foresee issues and autonomously resolve them, showcasing an astonishing level of reasoning.

We anticipate a dual advancement: a rapid acceleration in AI’s intelligence and a substantial enhancement in its empathetic interactions, as demonstrated in the latest OpenAI release. This evolution will transform how humans engage with AI.

Our work exemplifies this shift. When non-technical users interact with our software to solve problems, AI responds with a highly empathetic, human-like approach. Users feel as though they are speaking to a real IT professional, ensuring a seamless and comforting experience.

As AI continues to evolve, it will become increasingly powerful and capable. Recent breakthroughs in understanding AI’s mechanisms will not only enhance its functionality but also ensure its security and ethical use, reinforcing its role as a force for good.

What plans does Atera have for the next year?

We are excited to announce the upcoming launch of Autopilot, scheduled for release in a few months. While Copilot, our comprehensive suite of advanced tools designed specifically for IT professionals, has already been instrumental in enhancing efficiency and effectiveness, Autopilot represents the next significant advancement.

Currently in beta so whoever wants to try it already can, Autopilot directly interacts with end users, automating and resolving common IT issues that typically burden IT staff, such as password resets and printer malfunctions. By addressing these routine tasks, Autopilot allows IT professionals to focus on more strategic and rewarding activities, ultimately improving overall productivity and job satisfaction.

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Atera is a sponsor of TechEx North America 2024 on June 5-6 in Santa Clara, US. Visit the Atera team at booth 237 for a personalised demo, or to test your IT skills with the company’s first-of-kind AIT game, APOLLO IT, for a chance to win a prize.

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