Activity Stream: Artificial Intelligence for Smarter Business
Stefán Baxter, Founder & CTO Einar Saevarsson Co-founder & CEO
Activity Stream provides Operational Intelligence— by unifying, enriching, monitoring and analyzing business activity across silo-based enterprise systems, Activity Stream enables organizations to distribute actionable insights to a team. In an exclusive interview with CIO Applications Europe; Stefán Baxter, Founder & CTO and Einar Sævarsson, Co-Founder & CEO of the company talk about applying AI to create value across industries.
1.Can you explain what you do?
Activity Stream is Applied AI for business engagement, both internally and externally. Specifically, we help everyday colleagues not only access the data they want; we suggest data that is relevant and take a step further to predict what’s coming in their workstream. In industry terms, this is augmented analytics.
Gartner defines augmented analytics thusly: augmented data preparation, augmented data discovery, augmented data science and machine learning. Without going into exhaustive detail, we use artificial intelligence, including machine learning, to empower citizen data scientists to automatically find, visualize and contextualize data relevant to their job. We take this a step further, with data suggestion, error prevention, and proactive data predictions. Activity Stream achieves this in a system-agnostic way, without a traditional data warehouse.
2.How do users benefit from Activity Stream?
From the point of view of the business, we can provide almost instant value, as our lean approach and adaptive data model is not time intensive. To give an example, one customer said candidly to us after implementation, “You have been able to do for us in four weeks what we’ve been unable to achieve internally for four years.” That was a real quote.
What does this hyper-relevance look like to an everyday colleague? We empower employees to search and filter anything. Visualize, zoom-in and zoom-out on either time or topics, or both. Subscribe to notifications about today’s priorities, collaborate with co-workers. And, most importantly, receive answers to questions you didn’t even know to ask and suggestions on how you can do your job better.
3.What makes you different?
Activity Stream’s approach is different in several ways: user experience design, how we work with our customers, our delivery model, and our go-to-market strategy.
Activity Stream’s approach is different in several ways: user experience design, how we work with our customers, our delivery model, and our go-to-market strategy
Other companies in the space are helping their clients to SEE their data and MONITOR internal or external business interactions. We take it a step farther by partnering with our customers to translate data and ACT, we leverage data to SUGGEST next steps, and we provide context to data and eventually PREDICT actions to empower a proactive employee.
Our peripheral competitors start with the point of view of optimizing the data scientist experience OR improving the systems that interface with the customer. The reason we don’t have a direct competitor in this space is we went big. We approached this from the point of view of the everyday colleague, in that we wanted the cacophony of systems to be invisible to the end user, yet deliver the data in a way that is sticky, addictive. Also, we aimed to improve BOTH internal systems optimization and customer engagement systems, at the same time. It was a bold move at the time. It still is.
4.So how does it work?
In our genesis, we worked backward from the vantage point of the person, as the fundamental desire every company has to create the ultimate proactive employee. So we asked ourselves, “What do we all need to be successful in our jobs? And how do we want to receive those data sets and insights?” All of our delivery decisions started with this premise first, the proactive employee, instead of the data scientist. So we designed the interface to be intuitive, customizable, and hyper-relevant to any end user.
From a technical perspective, creating the ultimate empowered employee scenario forced us to solve this from many angles. It required us to have a holistic approach: provide infrastructure, analytical capabilities, and delivery. We simultaneously built infrastructure to collect and combine data; adaptive modeling for complex data combinations in real-time; analytical capabilities leveraging an arsenal of AI; and real-time delivery that is sticky, almost gamified.
5.Is AI applicable in every industry?
We say yes, but we chose a go-to-market strategy based on our strengths. Our entry market was one that we knew well, one where we had a good network. This allowed us to engage from the get-go with our customers as partners, which is fundamental to our entire customer success strategy. We are now replicating our success in other markets like energy, building management, and retail to name a few.
AI is the 4th industrial revolution, already spawning new AI-first businesses, ready to disrupt most existing value chains and models. We simply believe it will not be friendly to the late-arrivers, and our strategy is to partner with you to get an edge on *your* market. So your success is our success.
6.What is your product vision?
To leverage the ethical application of AI for galactic progress. We say that with humor, the “galactic progress” part, but truly we seek to become an indispensable partner in AI. In the near term, we are creating an augmented analytics platform, with the end user experiences as gamified work intuition. If we hit our mark, this will empower people-- the exact opposite of the fear that automation will destroy jobs, it will save money on operations, improve customer relationships, and help employees excel.