Artificial intelligence (AI) is an area of computer science that emphasizes the creation of intelligent machines that work and react like humans. Some of the activities computers with artificial intelligence are designed for include: Speech recognition. Recently voted one of the 20 most innovative companies to watch in 2019, Algo is here to make sure you are ready for the AI revolution that is coming to a business near you. ARE YOU READY? In this episode, Amjad Hussain, CEO of Algo joins me to talk about how they got started and why they are working with companies to help them get ready for the AI revolution. He will walk us through a real-life example of how his clients are benefiting from working with Algo, what you should expect when introducing AI, how they set themselves apart from their competitors and finally Amjad gives us his half-crazy intuitive prediction for the next 5 years of the supply chain.

Questions I Ask: Why don’t you tell us about Algo? Where did you start? What do you do? [0:34] Why don’t you tell us a little bit about the companies or kinds of companies that you are working with now or that you want to work with. [4:44] Can you pinpoint maybe one customer you have worked with and how exactly have they used Algo and what did it do for their business? [10:26] How do you differentiate yourself? What’s different about Algo compared to other competitors in the market? [19:32] What is your half- crazy, intuitive prediction for the next five years in the supply chain? [25:17] What’s next for Algo? [30:31] In This Episode, You Will Learn: Algo, what they do and who their team is. [1:00] Algo is a vertical software solution. [4:58] Who Algo works with. [5:05] Creating value [8:30] Allocation accuracy. [12:20] What makes Algo stand out? [20:00] The future of supply chain. [26:02]

Today, data is becoming one of the most valuable assets for many enterprises. From Manufacturing to IT, every industry is trying to find ways to become more data-driven and optimize their operations. The supply chain arena is no different, with most practitioners thinking about how to use data and quantitative methods to improve decision making across all levels of the supply chain.

However, the sheer quantity of data is exceeding the analyzing capabilities of many organizations. As a result, many supply chain professionals are struggling to collect, clean, and manage the right data across their departments, sources, and siloed systems. It is no wonder that Supply Chain is one of the areas most behind in the adoption of AI according to several new studies.

This is where Algo.ai comes in with its industry-specific full-stack Enterprise AI platform that not only solves customers’ data problems but also creates immense operational and strategic value through successful Supply Chain AI implementations. The company provides a robust vendor-managed inventory and supply-chain analytics platform for retailers and their suppliers. AlgoTMhelps customers launch new products, optimally manage their inventory, and takes the guesswork out of in-store merchandising. Algo.ai also offers a unique, risk-free rapid implementation process that gets to ROI much faster than traditional approaches.

The journey to Algo.ai

Before founding Algo.ai

In 2016, Amjad Hussain and his partners built SilkRoute, a Vendor Managed Inventory SaaS provider. Amjad’s background included building data-driven supply chains and business intelligence tools for some of the world’s largest distributors of media products. This background, combined with some groundbreaking research done with Dr. Dimitris Bertsimas and Dr. Nathan Kallus at MIT, led Amjad to found SilkRoute in 2008.

Silkroute started its journey as a Vendor Managed Inventory SaaS platform and IT services provider, and over the years, the company expanded its solutions to include mobile application, business intelligence, IoT and other custom software applications. SilkRoute’s first customer — Tesco, the UK’s largest retailer, started them down a road of providing mission-critical and data-heavy applications for Fortune 500 enterprises.  Reflecting on his entrepreneurial journey, Hussain says, “It gave us some revenues, so we could invest any economic margins back into the company and develop many more products and solutions. That is how it started.”

The success of Silkroute’s SaaS products and the increasing demand for predictive and prescriptive analytics led Hussain to conceive and build a unique horizontal Enterprise AI platform for data analytics powered by a Natural Language interface. Today, Silkroute is being operated as part of the Algo.ai family and is seeing rapid growth due to its mixture of cutting-edge technology and long-lasting relationships with many fortune 500 companies. “To this day, we have retained 100% of our customer relationships and reinvested our revenues in growth and product development,” says Hussain.

Vertical Specific AI

To effectively leverage the power of Big Data and AI, a team must both have the rare combination of technical know-how and domain expertise.  The Silk route team includes domain experts in retail inventory management, retail analytics, in-store inventory planning, and warehouse inventory planning. Pairing domain experts for each functional area with a highly skilled team of data scientists, machine learning and software engineers has allowed the company to develop flexible, full-stack solutions that leverage the AlgoTMplatform, which uses a conversational interface to accomplish an array of data analytics and smart workflows comprised of both people and machines. Further, Hussain says, “Predictive and prescriptive analytics are used heavily along with other machine learning algorithms in making optimized decisions under uncertain conditions and tradeoffs for millions of products faster than humanly possible.”

SkyLight + AlgoTM

SkyLight is Silkroute’s longest running SaaS solutions. It is a robust vendor managed inventory tool, which optimizes all aspects of the retail demand chain with a mission to sense demand, stock smart, sell more, and see everything. SkyLight receives POS (Point of Sale) data from the world’s top retailers and merges it with internal and 3rd party data to effectively manage multiple product categories for the retailers as well as their suppliers, wholesalers, and distributors.

SkyLight’s key functionality includes new product introduction, demand sensing, and shaping, demand driven replenishment, assortment optimization, and reverse logistics. Now, powered with AI from the AlgoTM platform, SkyLight employs superior demand forecasting, perpetual inventory management, and assortment optimization algorithms. “SkyLight is a high performance rapidly deployable and easy to use solution with a global and growing customer footprint,” says Hussain.

Customer Relationships

“As a bootstrapped company we have had to rely on our customers to fund our growth; hence our customers are our #1 priority,” says Hussain.

Algo.ai’s most important focus is on customer success. The company believes that the most effective source of new business is through its customer’s referrals and references. Therefore, it develops solutions according to customer needs and ensures that customer relationships are built on trust and a mutually shared mission.

Hussain proudly remarks, “We work hard to deliver, and our customer relationships reflect that.” He adds, “Our very first check was just a couple of hundred thousand. Very soon, that relationship became over a million dollar a year relationship that is long-standing and still growing. To effectively support large enterprise customers, you have to be willing to grow and fill the gaps they have and support their missions like they are your own.”

This attitude and focus on customer success has proved to be pivotal in gaining significant market share in niche categories such as Home Entertainment and Music distribution. Additionally, Algo.ai was recently recognized in an Entrepreneur article highlighting the journey to achieving “negative churn,” often considered the holy grail for SaaS companies.

Looking Ahead

Amjad kept hearing from customers that they have unique problems that they want to solve with some novel AI and ML approaches, but they needed a partner that can produce more reliable outcomes than their in-house efforts. To this end, Algo.ai recently launched AlgoVision Lab, an internal R&D department that works to design, test, and deploy novel AI methods using their proven B2B integration framework.

Going forward, Algo.ai intends to expand its business across the globe. It has already extended its reach by launching a new office in London last year. They are also on the hunt for new talent and technologies: “We believe in a smart M&A strategy and are always interested in talking to small entrepreneurial teams with great talent, innovative concepts, and unique technologies that can benefit our enterprise customers” concludes Hussain.

One of the most important things about our culture at Algo.ai is that we value diversity of thought and backgrounds because we believe it gives us a competitive and creative advantage.

The real strength of a team comes from its diversity in creativity. All people are creative and imaginative in their own ways— embrace and foster your team members’ individual creative thinking to help deliver great experiences and customer satisfaction.

Jason Kummerl, CTO Algo.ai

To that end I will be attending VerveCon 2019 a conference for Women Leaders in Tech in Santa Clara, CA next week Tuesday, May 7th.

VerveCon aims to empower women in technology and build a community that helps them in their career path and prepares them to be an impact maker, to solve the real problems, to prepare them to take tough decisions.

I will be giving a talk on the State of Enterprise AI and participating in a Career panel titled Is Mentoring the Be-all and End-all for Career Growth?

Hope to see you there!

Nikki

P.S. You can register here and use code VC-Nikki for a $200 discount

Amjad Hussain, CEO and Founder of Algo.ai, shares his insights on the relationship between data, artificial intelligence and how the two can combine to offer a new form of value in the modern economy.

“Observable, Accessible, and Interesting” are the attributes one must add to a Data Universe according to our founder, Amjad Hussain, CEO of Algo.ai. If this can be accomplished, you are well on your way to helping Data become the New Oil.

A new way of architecting the data, brain and workflow layers are the keys to maximizing the utility of the Data Universe and achieving competitive advantage. Companies that adopt this new way of thinking will undoubtedly establish a lead in the market and realize the goal of leveraging Data as the New Oil.

Mirror Review Magazine included Algo.ai on a list of the 10 Revolutionary Artificial Intelligence Solution Providers in 2019. As always we appreciate the shout out and the time they took to publish a profile on what we are up to including some gems from Amjad himself on the outlook of AI for jobs and the economy.

“Disruption can be positive as well as negative. I am a ‘cup is half full’ kind of guy, so I look at Artificial Intelligence as positive disruption,” says, Amjad HussainCEO of Algo.ai – a three-year-old startup using big data and AI to make optimized decisions about what products to stock on the shelves of retailers worldwide.

Like skepticism of past industrial revolutions – electricity, the automobile, and the internet – fears of a dystopian future caused by AI are unfounded. These technologies have changed human lives for the better, and AI has the potential to do the same – making lives more joyful and meaningful. Amjad believes the next wave of AI is where machines and people will get to work together, and by focusing on our relative strengths, we can make our weaknesses irrelevant. Already on this path to human-machine collaboration, Algo™ gets trained to take over tedious workflows and time-consuming, redundant tasks, enabling people to do more strategic and proactive work multiplying the overall productivity of enterprises.

Read the full article Algo.ai: Disrupting Supply Chain Management With Artificial Intelligence

Or check out the Digital Magazine edition The 10 Revolutionary Artificial Intelligence Solution Providers of 2019

Insights Success Magazine has once again included Algo.ai in it’s editorial list of companies to watch. We are working hard on one of the most innovative AI platforms out there and appreciate the shout out!

Read more about what we are working on, what drives us, and what’s to come in 2019 in the full article: Algo.ai: Where Artificial Intelligence Meets Enterprise Decision- Making

Amazon’s Alexa platform may be helping users get accustomed to voice-driven interactions, but its underlying purpose isn’t just to help get weather reports or control smart-home devices. As a storefront, first and foremost, Amazon’s original intention with Alexa places a virtual assistant at your fingertips or in your home to help you shop.

Through AI tools like natural language processing, Alexa has led the retail industry in its rise towards conversational commerce. As if a customer was interacting with a clerk in a retail store, conversational commerce makes it possible for users to engage with software to research, purchase, or get customer assistance with products and services across a wide range of industries.

With Alexa, for example, users can ask any Alexa-enabled device to add an item to an Amazon shopping cart, set a purchasing reminder when a product is running low, or carry out a complete purchase without having to access a shopping cart. The result is a seamless conversational experience that enables consumers to carry out transactions as quickly as it takes to speak a sentence.

On other chat-based platforms, conversational commerce makes it easy to engage with brands without the need for human intervention. AI-based chatbot technology gives users a recognizable chat-based interface to ask product questions or purchase items. Chatbots also don’t always require their own separate app download, offering interactions over popular platforms like Apple’s iMessage, Facebook Messenger, and Google Home.

For many common user requests, it’s possible for chatbots to offer better user experiences with more efficiency than a phone call or email to customer support. A product return, for example, could be automatically coordinated through a chatbot instead of having to go through the lengthy process of speaking to a representative for return authorization.

One of the clearest models of the future of conversational commerce is Jetblack, the product of Walmart’s Store №8 tech incubator for the future of retail operations. Jetblack is an entirely chat-driven store currently serving Manhattan, where users can make shopping requests, get customized recommendations, and process returns.

While an exclusively chat- or voice-based shopping experience for all scenarios may never completely replace the in-person experience, conversational commerce will continue to grow as an added method of convenient and efficient communication. As users continue to become more accustomed to engaging with chatbots and voice-driven interfaces, expect more innovations in the space as brands continue to develop their unique conversation-based solutions.

Article originally published on Medium and reposted with permission from Humans for AI.