Feature photo: IQ Workforce

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been in the news for some time now. Commentators express concern that advancements in AI will make us humans redundant. Specter of jobless growth and large scale unemployment are frequently made.

Claims of massive job losses and other doomsday scenarios have been made in history every time a transformative innovation impacted large sections of humanity. We have seen each time the doomsday analysts have made these predictions, they have been proven wrong. But predictions still and will in the future too continue. In the meanwhile human productivity has risen. The nature of jobs, though, gets altered. Societal disruption is often observed.

Many of us who use the internet frequently for work, communication and pleasure have observed how much better and smarter has search become. Google, Facebook, Amazon and others have invested hugely into innovation and building of machine learning capability. Microsoft too under Nadella, among the big boys of the technology world, is giving a lot of attention to new technology development including AI.

Other well publicized AI technologies include voice based recognition tools, machine based translation systems, voice based query and response tools. Now we are talking of systems that are able to interpret human emotions. Microsoft windows users are greeted by an image recognition window that enables rapid and seamless login of a registered user.

Artificial intelligence is still in its nascent stage though. Use cases using AI are being simultaneously created. Startups are putting these technologies to use. They are building new solutions that will benefit more and more segments of society.

AI tools are now extensively used in fintech, marketing and sales, communication, biotechnology, sports etc. They are now becoming quite ubiquitous. Wherever data collection and analytics on scale is required AI tools are getting employed.

As part of my weekly coverage of a startup from across the world, I interviewed Kaiesh Vohra Co Founder of a customer acquisition enhancing tool startup – Lucep. They are using an AI algorithm in the Lucep tool. This application can be installed on the business to business provider website. It appears as a widget on the site.

The tool captures data of a visitor querying for a service or a product on the businesses site. As the prospective customer logs in a query, the message is auto directed to the first available sales person. The AI algorithm integrated into the Lucep tool culls out intelligence on customer taste and preferences from the data shared on the site by the visitor. This analysis is shared with the sales person to whom the query request is directed.

The Lucep tool helps reduce customer response time dramatically. Faster response enhances prospect of converting a lead into a deal. It is observed that customers often buy from the business that responds promptly and is able to meet customer need fully. Kaiesh claims that the customers that are using the Lucep application have observed an increase of lead conversion by 30 to 50 percent.

The Lucep application has a monitoring, supervision and reporting functionality. It can be integrated with any existing CRM too. The reporting system helps business managers, sales, supervision and management to analyze response time and conduct wins/losses analysis.

At the heart of the Lucep tool is the AI algorithm which Kaiesh has named Sales Guerrilla. I was not able to get much more information on the AI functionality. The only additional thing that I learnt during the interview was that Lucep intends, over the next year or so build three versions with improved functionalities. They have named them David, Charlie and Ben.

Based on my interviews of other startups engaged in integrating AI solutions into their customer acquisition software, I have understood that most startups build their applications using APIs of AI packages built by major service providers. Some of these are proprietary solutions. Others are built on open source platforms. Lucep would be getting their Sales AI tools built using one of the APIs of these platforms.

An AI solution theoretically should be able analyze and interpret the data that is received from the information shared by the customer. It is also possible to draw out intelligence from the customer’s social media and internet presence. The information could be any format – unstructured text, image, audio and video. I did not review the functionality of the Lucep tool therefore I cannot comment on the available capability of Lucep.

The existing AI applications are smart. They can even analyze personality, tone and emotion of the person raising a query. As more and more queries are raised more information becomes available to the system. Machine learning kicks in and data analytics becomes more and more precise.

The system with time gets more and efficient. Recommendations and analysis becomes more accurate. Lucep Sales AI tools therefore should over a period of time get smarter. They should provide to their customers better quality analytics. This should lead to improved customer acquisition rates. Sales personnel, armed with this analytics, will be able to offer products and services that are better aligned to an individual customer need.

The use of AI in enhancing customer acquisition is a smart use case. Lucep business decisions are also smart. Kaiesh and his co Founder Zal Dastur had originally created a startup in Bengaluru India. Regulatory hurdles forced them to move to Singapore. They moved even though up to forty percent of Lucep customers are from Indian mid sized and small companies.

The development team still is based out of Bengaluru India. They are leveraging the considerable engineering talent available in the city. Lucep organization model is leveraging on business friendly Singapore and customer rich market of India.

Marketing, customer outreach and continuing to invest into improving the Lucep application, integrating and improving AI functionality will make it more and more attractive to companies. If Kaiesh and his co Founder play their card’s right Lucep should do well.

Researched links:

  1. http://www.ibm.com/watson/
  2. Future progress in Artificial Intelligence – Vincent C Muller and Nick Bostrom- Book with ISBN 9783319264837

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