AKSHAY SABHIKHI BRINGS PRACTICAL AI TO THE MARKETPLACE
By Dacia Rivers
While most GPS applications serve only as roadmaps, Waze also uses consumer-supplied data to warn drivers of potential obstacles such as speed traps, highway construction or debris on the road ahead. Austin’s Akshay Sabhikhi says that with his company, CognitiveScale, he’s setting out to create a Waze-like solution for enterprise, helping businesses work through new and different processes using AI to harness consumer data simply and clearly.
Businesses and individuals generate loads of data, from pictures shared on Facebook and thoughts posted on Twitter, to completed medical forms and demographic data. CognitiveScale’s AI works to aggregate as much of this information as possible for its clients. The software reports the data in useful and practical ways, such as telling doctors when their patients live in food deserts, or giving insights into a patient’s lifestyle based on information shared online. CognitiveScale’s software uses deep machine learning algorithms to push this information into a company’s existing API (application programming interface) so it flows seamlessly into the company’s operations.
CognitiveScale works with businesses in the industries of health care, financial services and commerce. Their deep cognition engine is packaged into two products: Engage and Amplify.
Engage is all about putting the customer at the center. In health care, the software uses all the data it can access about an individual and their health issues to provide important insights helping doctors keep their patients on track.
Sabhikhi feels the health care system in the United States — like in many parts of the world — is too focused on disease, when it should really be centered around the patients.
“Our technology focuses on chronic diseases and patients who suffer from them, and gives them insight about things like their diets or their activities, recommending specific types of compliance from a clear perspective,” Sabhikhi says.
Engage is beneficial in helping clients with chronic illnesses, such as diabetes or hypertension. Sabhikhi says more than 150 million Americans will be diagnosed with a chronic illness by 2020, which presents a treatment challenge to health care professionals. With Engage, CognitiveScale’s health care clients have more insight into their patients’ lives, so they can offer more focused, appropriate care and counseling.
Massive health care organizations including MD Anderson and Intermountain Health, also use Engage to share this crucial health information with their patients, either through web portals or mobile apps.
Financial clients use Engage to account for all the available data — such as a client’s housing costs, how much money they’ll need to put their children through college, and what they should be saving for retirement — as they help their clients forge the paths to reach their financial goals.
In the retail sector, Engage helps companies show shoppers the items they are most likely to buy. Engage rifles through a retailer’s entire catalog of items and displays the ones that customer will likely be most interested in based on browsing history, tweets and Facebook likes. This way, someone shopping for a dress won’t have to dig through all 5,000 dresses a retailer may offer, but instead will be shown the ones most in line with her style preferences and budget.
Amplify, on the other hand, is AI that makes core business processes easier in any industry. This includes processes such as medical billing and procurement, a topic that is important to Sabhikhi, who spent years working at IBM and saw firsthand the way large companies lose money through procurement issues.
“Non-compliance in procurement results in anywhere from $2 to $5 million a year lost because people are going out to non-specific vendors without negotiated contracts; they’re procuring items they shouldn’t be procuring,” Sabhikhi says.
Using Amplify, a company can simplify the process for employees to procure work equipment. CognitiveScale’s AI analyzes the details of an employee’s job to determine which company-approved items would work best for that individual, then shares those results with the employee to drive a more informed and cost-effective choice.
In the health care sector, Amplify can be used to clarify and speed up the process of medical billing, keeping better track of what the hospital is owed and even identifying which bills are least likely to get paid and ought to be written off.
In the retail sector, using Engage translates to better customer engagement, which results in more sales.
“Using our technology, one of the largest retailers has seen a massive uptick in the amount of time shoppers spend on their website in the engagement side,” Sabhikhi says. “They’ve seen anywhere from 10 to 20 percent increases from the current conversion rate — that’s a substantially big jump in retail because at the top level, you’re talking about millions and millions of dollars that are spent.”
Health care workers are always in short supply, and care managers are inundated with phone calls from hundreds of patients requesting information. Sabhikhi says clients using Engage have seen a reduction in those calls, allowing managers to offer better, more efficient care to their patients.
Using Amplify to simplify business processes saves companies time, but in the case of procurement, it also saves money by ensuring that more employees buy approved equipment, rather than giving up on a complicated procurement system and turning to outside vendors like Amazon, whose processes may be simpler but whose product may cost more in the long run.
“The key outcome here is saving money,” Sabhikhi says of Amplify. “It’s about making your processes more efficient and compliant, it’s about efficiency and cost savings, and that’s the key metric that we’re driving.”
Sabhikhi is excited about the future of AI. He says even though AI has enabled interesting projects over the last 15 to 20 years, it hasn’t been used much to solve problems in a truly meaningful way. This is his aim with CognitiveScale, and it seems to be working. The company has seen significant growth in the two years since launching Engage and Amplify, growing its base to 15 clients. And the staff has expanded from just a handful of initial employees, to about 100 people.
“We’ve seen rapid growth in the last two years,” Sabhikhi says. “Revenue wise, the company’s done really well, tripling its growth since its founding.”
CognitiveScale just closed on a round of Series B funding in August, adding another $21.8 million to its finances. Sabhikhi says the company’s next goal is to use this funding to expand its client base, and he’ll be hiring a sales force to help with that effort.