How AI can help to understand the customer

Ahead of us is a significant change in the way brands use customer experience (CX).  We are already starting to see the switch from companies competing on price and product to competing on CX. But what exactly do we mean by CX? Gartner defines CX as a customer’s perceptions and feelings caused by the one-off and cumulative effect of interactions with a supplier’s employees, systems, channels or products.   

Previously, the communication flow between customers and companies was either in person, writing or via a telephone call to the support line. Now, there are increasingly more ways customers can interact with brands, and when they do, they expect a high-quality experience “on demand.” 81% of marketing leaders were expected to mostly or completely compete based on customer experience by 2019, as revealed in the 2017 Gartner Customer Experience in Marketing Survey.  

There are many tools already giving insight to CX, such as NPS and Customer Success Scores. However, when companies need to make quick decisions, real-time insights are what’s helping decision makers. Technologies such as AI are now gathering these insights by allowing companies to organize and categorize data based on business needs, helping to make sense of all these interactions.  

To understand the customer from a CX perspective, and give some real-world examples, we can filter down a myriad of AI technologies and categorize them into three buckets: 

  • Speech Analytics: understanding, interpreting and analyzing voice conversations. Example: understand sentiment, IVR systems.
  • Image: capturing, processing and analyzing images, photos and video. Example: customer patterns, social media image analysis. 
  • Natural Language Processing: analyzing human expression and emotion. Example: text, chatbot, email analysis.  

The below table shows CX use cases and examples of these AI technologies in action:  

Source: Gartner 2019

Are data scientists the only ones needing to understand these technologies? No, it’s extremely valuable to both marketing and CX teams to gain an understanding of these tools. Every company has unique needs depending on CX goals and business objectives. Teams need to make a well-informed decision and understand which tools are most useful to their business, which will essentially lead to more accurate decision-making and a customer-first approach.     

Now, are people rushing to adopt these new AI technologies for CX? In Gartner´s 2018 Enterprise AI survey, it was revealed that businesses that are already deploying AI, 26% are implementing it to improve customer experience. Although it may not seem urgent to start implementing these technologies right away, it’s important that businesses are aware and start to familiarize themselves with these AI applications.  

A good place to start is mapping out a customer journey and finding the ‘dark spots’. These are the areas that could benefit from deeper real-time insights, such as understanding the mood of a customer when they are talking with a chatbot. Having these insights will allow you to hand over the conversation to a human based on the customer’s emotion.  

Companies are dealing with an increasing number of interactions happening across multiple channels and devices. With customer expectations are at an all-time high, it’s not easy to connect all these touch points and deliver an excellent customer. AI can help provide rich insights allowing you to get faster, real-time understandings, and optimize the overall customer journey. 

Recapping the week at MWC19

Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2019, the world’s largest exhibition for the mobile industry, welcomed leaders from mobile operators, device manufacturers, technology providers, vendors and more.  

This year’s event saw a focus on two core concepts: 5G and Artificial Intelligence. It was said to be one of the most important events in recent times for the mobile industry. In the days leading up to the show, a warm buzz of anticipation filled the air as attendees were eager to hear about the new groundbreaking technologies. We were excited to be surrounded by leaders in the field and pleased to be a co-exhibitor for the Washington State Delegation of Commerce. 

With a large number of keynote presentations, panel discussion and exhibitors, there were many outtakes from the event. A hot topic that continued to emerge was AI bias. On day two I was able to discuss this topic with other like-minded people: Elena Fersman (Ericsson), Beena Ammanath (HPE), Beth Smith (IBM) and Kriti Sharma (Sage), who are all working towards an unbiased future for AI.  

We discussed ‘Democratizing AI and Attacking Algorithmic Bias’. The discussion of bias in AI continued throughout the event as many people came to speak with us about how to overcome this problem. If you missed this talk and want to hear more, see an edited version here.  

We also attended the Applied AI Forum: an exclusive conference that brought together telecom leaders, AI specialists, start-ups and academics, with an aim to spur debate and discussion on the practice of AI across the digital economy. Google and IBM Watson held an interesting panel discussion that explored ‘Applied AI: new trends and strategies’. In this forum, we were able to share lessons learned and discuss recent breakthroughs with both data scientists and global leads from several large enterprise companies.  

Another key highlight of MWC was our exciting hiring announcement! On the second day, we released our plans for the year: to double the size of our company by the end of 2019. With the rapid growth of AI applications seen across all industries, there is an increasing demand for high-quality data. And with this, our company is growing faster than ever. We are looking for more talent to join our team in Portugal, Japan, and the United States. See our careers page for more information.  

What a big week it was as we move into a new era of Intelligent Connectivity. A huge thanks to GSMA, a body representing the interests of mobile networks globally, and everyone we met at the event.  

We’d love to continue the discussions we had, especially around the topic on bias in AI. Reach out at pr@definedcrowd.com, we’d be glad to hear from you. We are already thinking about what next year might hold.   

Job description: talent for a smarter AI

We’re in a huge growth stage and are looking for talent to join our global team in Portugal, Japan, and the United States. Check out our careers page for current openings.

We accelerate the evolution of Artificial Intelligence initiatives by delivering high-quality training data to enterprise companies. We are investing heavily in our business and the people to make this happen. Over the coming months, we’ll be searching for professionals who are looking to embark on an exciting career while making a difference in AI.  

So, who are we? We’re an 80-employee startup based in Seattle, with offices in Lisbon, Porto, and Tokyo. Our CEO, Daniela Braga founded DefinedCrowd in 2015 to fill a gap in the market by offering high-quality training data to help machine learning products reach the market at optimal quality and speed. And with the rapid growth of AI applications and the high demand for this data, our business is growing so quickly that we are looking to nearly double our team by the end of 2019.

“We have a very ambitious goal –  to be the number one provider of data for AI in the world. This year will be crucial to achieving this goal, as we mature our product, grow our client base, and increase our partnerships with the companies that are leading the AI revolution.”

Founder and CEO, Dr. Daniela Braga

We are currently hiring positions in the following departments: Development, Product, Marketing, and Operations, with several openings for Software Developers (Frontend, Backend, and Full Stack), QA Automation Engineers, and Machine Learning Engineers. These positions are available within our four offices and will have an important role in the expansion of the company’s product: an all-in-one data platform.  

Earlier this year, DefinedCrowd was selected as one of CB Insights top 100 AI startups. Our client list includes many Fortune 500 companies including BMW, Mastercard, Nuance, and Yahoo Japan. We also have partnerships with IBM, Microsoft, and Amazon.  

“We are looking for the best talent to join our team in this exciting moment, and to be part of the construction of a smarter AI”

Founder and CEO, Dr. Daniela Braga

For anyone interested, make sure you keep an eye out on our careers page http://careers.definedcrowd.com, where there will be new jobs added throughout the year.  

5 trends in AI for 2019

It´s not easy to project trends in a market evolving as rapidly as AI. However, through analysis of cross-industry data and experience with a diverse client-base, we’re willing to make some bets. From automating mundane daily tasks to leveraging computer vision for more accurate medical diagnoses, here are 5 trends in AI we expect to emerge in 2019. 

TREND 1: “EDGY” AI 

Edge AI refers to processing AI algorithms locally instead of relying on cloud services or data centers. 

Smartphones, cars, and wearable devices are examples of devices that need to make faster and more accurate real-time decisions. Autonomous vehicles, for instance, need to make hundreds of decisions per second – brake, accelerate, turn on lights, identify and interpret traffic patterns, signals, and speed limits – all while simultaneously responding to the driver’s voice commands. These decisions must take place in a fraction of a second, and they need to be independent of the connectivity issues that come with cloud computing.  This means that autonomous vehicles need powerful chips to process all this information rapidly and accurately.  

Tech leaders like Nvidia, Qualcomm, Apple, AMD, and ARM are investing in developing and delivering chips that can handle these kinds of workloads. 

In 2019 we’ll see more models being deployed at the edge as well as specialized chips allowing AI models to operate independently from the centralized cloud, or on the “edge” if you prefer.

TREND 2: AI IN HEALTHCARE 

 Last year the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) approved IDx-DR, an AI-enabled software that can independently diagnose diabetic retinopathy before severe complications (such as blindness) emerge.  

The FDA also cleared Dip.io, a product developed by startup Healthy.io, as a class II medical device. This diagnostic tool can monitor urinary tract infections and track pregnancy-related complications by analyzing photos of dipstick urine tests. It’s as simple as uploading a photo, the model takes it from there.   

2019 will be a remarkable year for AI in healthcare. 

TREND 3: PREDICTIVE MAINTENANCE 

Equipment failure is one of the main causes of production downtime, a huge line-item for any asset-intensive business. However, today maintenance teams spend 80% of their time collecting data but only 20% analyzing it.  

Factory and field equipment generate mountains of unleveraged data that could go a long way to solving these issues. Alongside cameras and sensors, ML-driven algorithms can learn to check assets’ “vital signs,” catch small irregularities (a loose screw) before they turn into larger ones (a damaged turbine) and provide productivity predictions, allowing firms to plan accordingly.      

With sensors becoming more affordable, and edge computing gaining momentum, machine learning will become even more heavily incorporated in industrial processes in 2019. 

TREND 4: CONVERSATIONAL AI 

We say conversational AI, what pops into your head?  If it’s chatbots, you’re not alone. While that’s certainly a huge part, the technology is much broader as it is integrated across messaging apps and voice-enabled virtual assistants who go far beyond the scope of chatbots.    

In 2019 we can expect to see even more AI deployed to handle routine customer service interactions. Whether you’re booking a flight, searching for a new restaurant or requesting the arrival date of your next purchase, AI can assist you.   

Research from eMarketer shows that this year 66.6 million Americans are expected to use speech or voice recognition technology. Banking and retail are great examples of industries already using conversational AI initiatives, and as the technology continues to mature in 2019, we expect to see even more use cases in even more industries.

TREND 5: RPA / BACK OFFICE AUTOMATION 

RPA (Robot Process Automation) covers a variety of back-office tasks that can be automated by bots. It’s not a new concept, nor is it AI. But here are some interesting facts:   

  • According to McKinsey, RPA will have an economic impact of around $6.7 trillion by 2025.   
  • Forrester Research also mentioned that RPA market is estimated to grow to $2.1 billion by 2021.  

Although RPA is not considered AI – since it’s rule-based and can’t learn anything on its own – there’s been a collaboration between RPA and AI.  Due to its capacity of automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks, RPA can save employees tons of time, at the same time it can ensure processes are running smoothly and precisely. On the other hand, AI can enhance RPA.  

For instance, take a bank that’s onboarding a new client and needs to adhere to Know Your Customer/Anti Money Laundering Compliance Regulation. RPA is great for doing a lot of manual work. What AI can do is analyze the data the RPA’s pull in a more sophisticated manner, and arm a Compliance officer with more useful information.  

Whether there is a need to automate processes or implement solutions in this field, RPA has been mainly leveraged by large companies – until now. In 2019 we can expect to see small and medium-size businesses starting to adopt RPA, due to its clear benefits and increased popularity.  

Daniela Braga’s journey with DefinedCrowd

Earlier this week, DefinedCrowd was Featured in Jornal Económico, a premium financial publication in Portugal. We’ve translated the article from the original Portuguese for our English- speaking friends. Enjoy!

Original Article by
António Sarmento

Founded in Seattle, USA, DefinedCrowd is a startup specializing in training data for Artificial Intelligence. The company counts Amazon, IBM, and EDP as investors and clients. 

DefinedCrowd provides services so that data scientists can gather, structure, and enrich datasets for Artificial Intelligence, helping companies improve speed to market and the overall quality of their AI products. DefinedCrowd accelerates enterprise AI initiatives by combining machine learning technology with human-in-the-loop collection processes. Founded in August 2015 by entrepreneur Daniela Braga, the company is headquartered in Seattle, has R&D centers in Lisbon and Porto, and a sales office in Tokyo. 

Three months after its founding, the company opened their first R&D office at Startup Lisbon. Since then, DefinedCrowd has blossomed from an initial team of three employees to a workforce of more than 70 that is still growing.

In 2016, the company raised $ 1.1 million in seed funding, with investors such as Sony, Amazon Alexa Fund, Portugal Ventures, and Busy Angels.
In July 2018, DefinedCrowd closed a Series A funding worth $11.8 million, led by Evolution Equity Partners. EDP Ventures, Mastercard and Kibo Ventures joined as new investors, while Sony, Amazon, Portugal Ventures and Busy Angels bolstered their investments with additional capital for the data company.

“It is important to raise capital if we want to move fast, especially in the technological sector.”   

Daniela Braga to Jornal Económico

This influx of capital is being used to accelerate product development and accelerate team growth. Two-thirds of DefinedCrowd’s 70 employees work out of Portugal. The company expects to add 80 more team members by the end of 2019.

Over the past six months, DefinedCrowd has announced three partnerships: a formal designation as an Amazon Alexa Skills partner, a product integration with IBM Watson Studio; and participation as a featured vendor in Microsoft‘s co-sell program.

DefinedCrowd’s platform provides industry-agnostic data services and can support text, audio, and image annotation. The company’s clients span industries as a result: from Fintech, to Retail, Healthcare, Utilities, and the Internet of Things. Their client portfolio consists mostly of Fortune 500 companies, including BMW, MasterCard, EDP, José de Mello Saúde, SoftBank, Yahoo Japan, Randstad, and Nuance

DefinedCrowd’s goals are ambitious. The company aims to become the world’s number one AI data provider through expanding their client-base and forging new partnerships with industry leaders. 

With a degree in Portuguese Language and Literature, Daniela Braga has spent her career examining the rigorous use of language, the perfect foundation for her business. “We deal daily with data in 70 languages and dialects. Our clients need, at a minimum, native-level speakers and sometimes even require linguists or specialists in language sciences for all of them” says the entrepreneur.

After graduating with a master’s degree in applied linguistics, she went on to earn a PhD in Speech Technologies at the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Porto and taught at the University of A Coruña for two years before joining Microsoft (whom she worked for in Portugal, China and the United States).

After leaving Microsoft in 2013, Daniela moved to American company Voicebox. Simultaneously, she was invited to teach Data and Crowdsourcing for Speech Technologies at the University of Washington. It was during this time that she saw the gap between the Artificial Intelligence data scientists wanted to develop and the training data available to build it. She decided to found her own company as a result.

Waving a well-paid job goodbye, and with few personal resources, she started meeting with investors in Seattle, and quickly received an initial check: $ 200,000 in financing to start her business. A business that is now signing contracts with some of the largest companies in the world.

DefinedCrowd is in constant growth and employee numbers have been updated to reflect our current position.

An Interview With Dinheiro Vivo

At last week’s Web Summit, we were lucky enough to sit down with Dinheiro Vivo, a leading financial publication in Portugal. Our conversation touched on everything from the quality-focused approach to training data to AI use-cases across industries. Watch the full interview here (in Portuguese), or check out the English transcription below:

Dinheiro Vivo [DV] – For those who still do not know your work, what does DefinedCrowd do?

Daniela Braga [DB] – We are a data collection and cleaning platform for Machine Learning and for Artificial Intelligence. Our platform combines crowdsourcing with machine learning. A mixture of people and machines working at the same time.

Artificial Intelligence is the imitation of a human brain, artificially. To develop our own intelligence, we go to school, we read many books. It takes a lifetime for a person to be able to react and make decisions in their daily lives. The way machines learn is similar. But with the computational capacity that is currently possible using the cloud and our platform, in just 3 months we can combine thousands of human brains in the same computational memory.

Our platform combines crowdsourcing with machine learning. A mixture of people and machines working at the same time.

DV – And then (the data) is used in applications that we use every day?

DB– Namely Apple Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa. Self-driving cars and even more industrial applications like machines that are doing quality control instead of having people doing it. Or at airports with automatic flight controllers.

DV – And this year was a dazzling year, an investment round, new partners, an office in Tokyo. What have you done to achieve this success?

DB – Especially in the United States, our largest market is still the United States, followed by Japan and followed by Europe. Clients are more open, they’re investing in Artificial Intelligence.

There are many companies in machine learning but there is practically no one doing data cleaning and treatment like us. It’s like the spades and pickaxes of the gold rush. We are making the shovels and picks of AI, of modern times.

DV- And coming to Web Summit also makes all the difference, right?

DB– Our growth milestones have been basically aligned with those of Web Summit. We have been here since 2016, which was the first year Portugal hosted Web Summit. We had closed our seed series. Last year (2017) we basically met the group of investors to close the series A. And this year we are here to be on the list of the top 10 AI companies in the world.

DV – And finally, when you leave Web Summit, what do you expect to take with you?

DB – This year it’s basically a visibility and recruitment maneuver- we are in an aggressive recruitment phase. We want to demonstrate that this is really the best place to work in Portugal. We’re also looking to continue developing partnerships, and solidify go-to-market strategy. Next year, I would like for 50% of our revenue to come from partnerships.

Bringing Inspiration Home: Our COO Reports on Microsoft Inspire

Hi everybody. Happy to be writing you from the cool PNW air after spending the first part of the week at the Microsoft Inspire Conference in Vegas.

Inspire was a fantastic opportunity to get face-time with colleagues from the Microsoft Partner Network’s startup ecosystem. I made fantastic business contacts, had great discussions, and most importantly, got a few days to dedicate my focus to DefinedCrowd’s long-term growth next to a lot of smart people with firsthand knowledge of the pains startups experience when they begin to scale.

Microsoft Inspire first day

I also had the opportunity to attend presentations and think about the AI revolution we spend our day-to-day grinding toward on a macro-level. I was—I’ll just say it— inspired by a presentation on Microsoft’s AI Earth initiative and the development of ML models that improve conservation, farming practices, and understandings of diverse ecosystems. At DefinedCrowd, we’re proud to be leading the way to a future where AI plays an essential role in solving some of our biggest societal ills.

That’s not just some line I’m being fed from marketing. For us, it’s a pillar. Before founding DefinedCrowd, our CEO Daniela spent years developing and advocating for widespread use of speech interfaces as the basis of assistive technologies (Cortana and Alexa have since proved her right) mainly because she saw the benefits to the blind, elderly and infirm. We believe in what we’re building and in the possibility for a world where fateful calls from freeway shoulders disappear, and no doctor has to say “if only we’d caught it earlier” ever again.

However, we know the AI revolution only gets us to that future if there’s a moral code at its foundation. That’s why I want to close with the idea of a “Hippocratic Oath” for AI, first proposed by Microsoft’s Brad Smith and Harry Shum in their book The Future Computed, and further drawn out by Oren Etzioni at TechCrunch (If you don’t read them you should. Right now. Start here, or here, or even here to see what they’ve been saying about us.)

I won’t lay it out entirely. Instead, here are some lines that stuck with me:

“1. [We] will apply, for the benefit of the humanity, all measures required, avoiding those twin traps of over-optimism and uniformed pessimism.

2. [We] will remember that there is an art to AI as well as science, and that human concerns outweigh technological ones.

3. My [Our] AI will seek to collaborate with people for the greater good, rather than usurp the human role and supplant them.

DefinedCrowd will grow this year. A lot. At Inspire, I heard a ton of buzz surrounding “new” use cases for AI in industries like Fintech, Food & Drink, Retail, and more. None of those use cases surprised me. Because our product offering is, and always has been, industry agnostic, we’ve been doing work across industries like these since day one. We’re in a fantastic position as more kinds of businesses find more solutions in AI and ML models. Just know that as we grow, we’re thinking hard about how to do it the right way.

A talk at Microsoft Inspire about Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Thanks to everyone at Microsoft who helped put Inspire on, and who took some time to meet me in Vegas. I can’t wait to see where we are this time next year.

In the meantime, if you want to know how AI can solve problems for you, Check out  our  solutions. And, speaking of growth, we’re hiring. A lot. Check out our  Careers page for opportunities to build incredible things with us at DefinedCrowd.

We’re looking forward to hearing from you.