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A Valuable Journey of Customer Data

Kabir Shahani, CEO, Amperity

A Valuable Journey of Customer Data

While his business has grown into one of Seattle’s most respected and sought after enterprise software companies, Kabir Shahani is in the business of people. He believes in connecting people with technology to help them be more successful, improve business results, and get more value out of their daily work. “Though technology is often misunderstood to be better suited than humans to solve the most complex problems,” Shahani says, “we must not lose sight that it is best used to enhance and augment human capacity.” For instance, most modern businesses’ real capital is knowledge, and how it is spread and shared across organizations has a large impact on the effectiveness of the businesses. Today, Artificial Intelligence (AI) helps to organize, promote, and retrieve that knowledge from many internal systems and processes. Keeping this as a foundational principle, Amperity was born. “Our mission is to help people use data to serve the customer.”

Amperity offers brands a way to leverage their existing customer data to enable insights about their customer base or recommend actions which will improve customer-centric decision making, customer experiences, and marketing. At Amperity, “we study the obstacles teams face when there is no single source of truth about the customer, with every system asserting its own representation of an individual,” notes Shahani. The common wisdom in marketing technology circles is that the way to address this problem is to try to “normalize” data to a common format and find a single identifier to rule them all (typically a loyalty number or an email address). But in practice, this approach seldom works. That’s because of the realities of real-world customer data: customers supply a host of varying identifiers across channels; key pieces of data are missing; typos and errors run rampant; identifiers change or are added with marriages, moves, and job changes, new data sources; new data sources and channels are constantly being layered into a brand’s ecosystem. This creates a tsunami of customer data that most businesses are drowning in, despite knowing it’s their most valuable asset.

“Amperity takes a different approach. In order to build the richest and most accurate view of customers possible—even when data is incomplete, inconsistent, and lacks identifiers across systems—Amperity uses AI to find the hidden connections and insights in all of a brand’s data. This lets businesses unify all customer data, from any source, without it being limited to a single format or set of identifiers. It’s a complete Customer 360 view for deep and contextual understanding of customers at the individual level, and it’s durable as data continues to grow and evolve.”

The Unique Approach

Shahani has always been passionate about capturing the value of customer data through modern technology. Most companies have a glut of data which could fundamentally transform their businesses, but they can’t extract value from it due to both the scale and expertise required to understand and manage it effectively. Amperity’s approach handles the inherent complexity and scale of customer data by applying machine learning, enterprise-grade security, and cloud efficiencies across every facet of customer data management—from identity resolution to predictive insights.

They take company data about customers and use patented identity resolution models, which can “stitch” together customer records from multiple data sources at billion-plus scale in order to deliver a high-quality customer-centric profile of each customer and how they behave. These profiles can be used to provide customers with relevant, more personalized brand experiences across every interaction. “We also generate dozens of predictive insights on every customer—who’s likely to churn, who’s warming, who’s cooling, who is likely to respond to which offer of product—and automatically surface the insights that matter most to your business,” points out Shahani.

The Design

In a world where customer data is massive, full of errors, takes on different shapes and formats, and is impossible to unify and maintain using existing tools and approaches, Amperity invented next-generation customer data management capabilities, powered by AI, and designed for the complexities and messiness of real-world customer data. These tools provide the sophistication, flexibility, and scale to finally deliver (and easily maintain) a Customer 360 view in a fraction of the time.

They also provide interactive visualizations to track customer metrics and capabilities to generate and compare audiences, so companies can quickly find the insights, audiences, and actions that move all the right needles in all the right directions. Moreover, Amperity connects seamlessly to companies’ existing campaign deployment ecosystem, not trapping their data or making them rip and replace overlapping capabilities. Shahani adds, “Things change. Our customers want the flexibility to try a new tool or cloud provider, turn off a data stream, or launch a new set of use cases. Amperity adapts to these changes, scales to their data, and ensures their investment stays future-proof over time.”

The Focus

“This year, I’m committed to controlling the six inches between my ears. It’s about mindset. There were a number of moments in 2019 when I lost track of how important that is, and how powerful it can be when given priority and focus. Ultimately, how we think affects how we feel, and how we feel affects how we behave.” Being a determined leader, Shahani pays attention to his thoughts and intentions in order to make them more productive and helpful. “Every single action—every single outcome—starts with the mind.”

It is with this same spirit and acceptance, he drives the team at Amperity. Shahani’s courage in stepping forward exemplifies boldness in the face of a foundational data challenge that marketers, analysts, and IT teams have been battling with for over 25 years. “For me, failure isn’t an option, so it doesn’t become a fear. If you never give up, you’ll find a way to succeed, even if that means doing something a different way or doing something different altogether.”

The Vision

Being the only Customer Data Platform (CDP) that is using AI and patented technology to solve the biggest challenges standing between having customer data and using customer data—giving brands the power to know their customers, make strategic decisions, and take the right actions to serve individuals—Amperity envisions ubiquity. “I haven’t yet attained my dream of every D2C business in the world leveraging the power of Amperity’s technology.”

The problem they solve is highly technical, ever-evolving, and specific to the business needs of companies of different sizes, different capabilities, team structures, and industries. “For our customers, we see job satisfaction dramatically increasing. For any world-leading consumer brand, the need is to work on the most impactful initiatives that will grow the business. If 80 percent of their time is spent working on data hygiene, this isn’t feasible.” By replacing that work with AI and technology that will do it for them, Amperity helps teams carve out time to work on the businesses’ most valuable problems and allows them to unleash their best ideas. “We see it as accelerating the flywheel for our customers to create value for the consumer. Any brand that wants to build a future, must embrace advancements in technology such as AI and cloud-scale. And that starts with building a data foundation that enables them to finally take control of their customer data.” Shahani ends.

Company: Amperity

Website: amperity.com

Management: Kabir Shahani, CEO

Founded Year: 2016

Headquarters: Seattle, Washington

Description: Amperity, the leading Customer Data and Identity Platform, helps the world’s most loved brands take control of their customer data.

AI

MemryX: a new Edge AI startup that has developed a highly efficient and scalable AI accelerator.

Keith Kressin, President & CEO, MemryX

MemryX: a new Edge AI startup that has developed a highly efficient and scalable AI accelerator.

As the CEO of MemryX, Inc., an innovative Edge AI startup founded by professors at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Keith Kressin has been a passionate entrepreneur. Prior to joining MemryX, Keith was a SVP at Qualcomm, leading a spate of activities including the Snapdragon roadmap, technologies for application processing, company strategy, competitive analysis, and more. In an interview, he speaks on an array of topics. Excerpts:

Conception of MemryX

“Our team wanted to develop an AI accelerator that was customer friendly in terms of ease-of-use and scalability, while providing excellent technical metrics.” Adds Keith that the team wanted to develop a hardware accelerator that could be adapted to any trained AI software model, rather than needing to train and then modify the model to run well on target hardware. “So our focus from the start was on developing technology to meet a key customer need and hence MemryX was born.”

Challenges galore – AI technology

AI continues to grow in a variety of different applications and industries as it is used to make cities, companies, and hospitals smarter, help increasing manufacturing efficiencies, better support education inside and outside the classroom, and more.  “AI can add a layer of intelligence into any device that computes. Of course, every new technology is just a tool and those tools need to be used to increase to increase productivity and quality of life, rather than the limit freedoms or increase natural biases.” MemryX envisions accelerating Edge AI by providing a highly efficient and scalable solution that is simple to deploy and support.”

The key is the company’s innovative MemryX architecture.  “Our architecture was designed to natively support pre-trained AI models with high efficiency and utilization.  If one doesn’t consider model structures and framework, and only focuses on HW efficiency the result is theoretically strong, but practically weak.  MemryX architecture was designed not for white papers or theoretical achievements, but for broad customer scale and deployment.” The combination of at-memory computing, pure dataflow, and our unique memory-based fabric interconnect all support our ability to scale verified models into high volume with a very simple to use software SDK.

One trap for AI is focusing on the core technology itself, rather than the practical application of that technology throughout the entire value chain.  As in most industries, solving customer needs be in the forefront. AI is extremely complex with many facets.  It is also very exciting and dynamic field that attracts individuals with a wide variety of background and skills. The key is to stay focused on the larger picture while being extremely adaptable to market and technology changes.

Leadership traits

“It all starts with clear and transparent organization & communications.  People need to understand objectives, timelines, and be given the tools/resources to achieve well defined goals.  Teams need to be encouraged to be open and honest.”  Realistic, approachable, in-tune with all functions of the entire organization, humble, goal-centric, empowering, and one who honestly cares about the company, the team, and the individual. Keith’s leadership style is approachable with realistic expectations and stays in-tune with all functions of the entire organization. He honestly cares about the company, the team, and the individual.

“Fear in failing is usually rooted in the reaction to the failure in terms of embarrassment or punishment. However, if leaders encourage an intelligent risk-taking culture where we learn from our failures, then we grow to become a stronger organization. Further, failures from risk-taking can be minimized through proper hiring, organization, funding, and goal setting.”

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RAIN Defense + AI: Creating synergies between AI and defense sectors

Norine MacDonald KC, President & Founder, RAIN DEFENSE + AI

RAIN Defense + AI: Creating synergies between AI and defense sectors

Norine MacDonald is the President and Founder of RAIN Defense + AI, an exciting new global platform on AI and Defense. She was formerly President and Founder of The International Council on Security and Development (ICOS), an international security and development think tank founded in 2002. Ms MacDonald is a former Distinguished Research Fellow for National Defense University in Washington and a graduate from Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management program in Artificial Intelligence (AI). In an interview, she speaks on an array of topics. Excerpts:

Conception of RAIN Defense + AI

For Ms Norine MacDonald it is clear that the business of war is being overtaken by the advent of AI, and a competitive and fast-moving global environment. Western governments need to be competitive with other countries, primarily China, that have been investing heavily in the sector.

The AI + Defense sector offers significant investment opportunities, particularly for non-traditional business players. The global AI + Defense market is projected to grow to $61 billion by 2027.

“There is no specialized single company or platform for the AI + Defense sector to source comprehensive, intelligible and relevant knowledge/data and connect to all the players globally” said Ms Norine MacDonald.

RAIN Defense + AI is an exciting new venture working at the critical intersection of AI and Defense:

  • RAIN INDUSTRY provides access to expert knowledge and data analytics on current and emerging AI technologies on defense platforms for all market participants across sectors and geographies.
  • RAINCLOUD creates a global community content platform with a validated network of multidisciplinary professionals, with curated data and news and product info in AI and defense.

RAIN, the AI and defense solution: the RAINCLOUD global platform

To understand and unpack the complex world of AI and defense, RAIN  produces commercial INDUSTRY Reports which provide:

  • benchmarking  various defense sector platforms and AI, along with trends and forecasting.
  • complete information “Who’s Who” data on individuals working in the field of AI and defence.
  • a data and directory on Venture Capital players active in AI and defense. Norine says: “We have mapped the 500 most influential individuals in the US in our RAIN 500 and we have done an extensive report on the 40 main venture capital firms in the US and the 150 defense and dual-use startups they invest in.”

As a gateway to RAIN Research data and content platform RAINCLOUD will be launched in 2023.

“For RAIN, our access to government clients has been made much easier through our business connection as a data provider with Grist Mill Exchange, which functions as a data marketplace for government and national security enterprises. Through Grist Mill Exchange we will be able to provide our INDUSTRY reports to  government stakeholders and to onboard them to the RAINCLOUD global platform where they can connect with  AI startups, venture capitalists, defense companies and scientists working in the broad field of AI and defense.”

AI and Defence: a new Ethical Challenge

“AI solutions in defense are now more than ever driven by the commercial sector and dual-use technology. While onboarding such technology in the military world is revolutionary in terms of competitiveness, we cannot ignore the important ethical questions inherent in their adoption.”

AI enables unprecedented opportunities for more autonomy, and this changes the human-machine interaction. Therefore, we decided from the beginning that RAIN would also have an Ethics Division, which helps unpack the ethical and legal arguments involved and supports discussion and debate on these issues, she observed.

Leadership Traits

“The RAIN team has been working together for more than 20 years on international security and policy issues in Afghanistan, Latin America and the Middle East. To launch a new company requires both creativity and stamina. We are lucky to have a close-knit team that works well both independently and together.” Norine believes in having a hands-on approach to the work in the sense that she involves herself in the conception, research and implementation of projects, from field work in conflict zones contexts to testifying at the highest levels of government. “If you have a good business idea stick to it –  but at the same time be flexible and adapt as you go along. Hard work, high standards and discipline will never fail.”

AI, the Defense sector and start-ups

In the AI and defense sector, there are exciting new companies developing defense and dual-use technology. These start-ups benefit from new ways to work directly with the government to develop and test their prototypes. At the same time, there are new venture capital firms that focus especially on defense and national security-oriented startups.

“We want to bring all these actors together on our RAINCLOUD platform for mutual benefit. Companies will be able to showcase their latest products and services in our virtual trade show”, MacDonald said.

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Optimizing Industrial Business Processes with AI

Rudolf Felix, CEO, PSI FLS Fuzzy Logik & Neuro Systeme GmbH

PSI FLS Fuzzy Logik & Neuro Systeme GmbH: Optimizing Industrial Business Processes with AI

Rudolf Felix is the CEO of PSI FLS Fuzzy Logik & Neuro Systeme GmbH, a German company that specializes in developing and providing software solutions for complex technical systems. Rudolf Felix has been with FLS in the PSI Group since 2008 and has been the CEO since already 1992. Under his leadership, the company has grown to become a leading provider of software solutions for technical systems, particularly in the fields of energy, industry, and transportation. Rudolf Felix has also been involved in various research and development projects related to fuzzy logic and artificial intelligence and has published numerous papers in these fields. In an interview, he speaks on an array of subjects. Excerpts:

Conception of PSI FLS Fuzzy Logik & Neuro Systeme

Says Rudolf that making decisions is crucial for successful and efficient operation in every industrial business process. Decision-making processes that are based on business goals must reflect both long-term strategies and the current operational situation. If the decisions are based on data and the pros and cons between the business process goals are machine evaluated, machine learned and optimized, business process owners and operators get the best possible benefit. “An optimized and explainable decision support is particularly helpful here. And this is exactly what PSI FLS and the specially developed Qualicision AI technology is all about. It combines both technical and economical business goals. An efficient, easy-to-use, and explainable software that is used for business process optimization is what we deliver. It is data-based, and balances out conflicting business process goals ahead of classic algorithms and provides for the performance that our customers across many industrial sectors appreciate.”

AI- Challenges galore

According to Rudolf, many of the industry’s industrial AI use cases have long been developed and in use. Perhaps in the pandemic time, the constant work with computers at home is an additional momentum. “But in my view, business processes in industry have evolved in their objectives rather because of the growing importance of topics such as digitalization, exploitation of data, sustainability and green energy or new possibilities to integrate automatized decision-making in context with many new important aspects in business processes. Therefore, the complexity of the processes has rather increased.”

PSI FLS Fuzzy Logik & Neuro Systeme AI solution

Qualicision AI stands for qualified support with decision-making when optimizing business processes. Qualicision technology was originally based on fuzzy logic which has been extended by a full stack of AI methods that combines the advantages of all of them. In this combination Qualicision AI helps to integrate decision-making expertise of people with business process know-how and connects it with data-driven AI. In addition, the Qualicision AI software has been extended by highly automated deployment. Machine-learned explainability mechanisms are part of it, too. In business processes there are a lot of pros and cons when decisions must be made. Therefore, uncertainty is intrinsic even if all data is clearly measured and in good shape. Automated recognition of these kinds of uncertainty, in particular stemming from the variety of the data and interaction between decision options, is extremely important. “Our Qualicision AI based tools help to identify and to exploit tolerances in the business processes and to optimize out uncertainty. Many use cases show that once Qualicision AI is introduced the business process efficiency increases by 10 to even 25 percent compared to the previous unoptimized status quo.”

Leadership traits

Trying to get inspired from people for whom and with whom you work and trying to inspire them, too. Everything else is the right technology you must have and the passion to work with it.  “When you work on something with passion, the thought of possible difficulties is more of a drive. This is especially true when you are working on the implementation of something you have been involved in from the beginning on.”

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