“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 Hussain, CEO 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.
Actionable Data at their Clients’ Fingertips
Leveraging their deep experience with Supply Chain processes and challenges, along with a stellar Data Science and Engineering Team Algo.ai has created Algo™ – the world’s first Supply Chain Analyst Bot built on an advanced analytics engine that connects data from manufacturers, distributors, and retailers across the globe. Algo™ crunches a half billion data points daily to optimize complex supply chains using AI.
Non-technical supply chain practitioners can work with their data using a Natural Language interface in real-time and receive Algo’s response in the form of actionable, forward-looking reports and alerts. Algo™ helps make mission-critical decisions such as forecasting and planning demand, allocating shelf and warehouse space, reducing excess inventory, and predicting new product performance. Algo™ utilizes AI algorithms to prioritize its client’s needs, opportunities, and actions. Since Algo™ interacts with users using Natural Language queries, over time the platform learns from these interactions and gets smarter, more personalized and more efficient.
AlgoVision Lab: Connecting Novel AI with Production Ready Architecture
Part of Algo.ai’s rapid growth and success can be attributed to a proven B2B integration framework combined with deep domain and industry knowledge and a strong record for successful enterprise implementations with tight SLAs. Most new startups developing novel AI applications often have very little experience putting them into production in a complex enterprise environment, which can lead to uncertainty at best and failed implementations and lost time and money are all too common, unfortunately. Seeing this reality in the marketplace led the Algo.ai team to establish AlgoVision Lab, an internal R&D lab that focuses on experimenting with cutting-edge techniques in the areas of Augmented Reality, Natural Language Processing, Computer Vision and other Deep Learning architectures and building them into applications ready for the enterprise.
AlgoVision Lab started with a group of five highly proficient Engineering Scientists led by Taleb Alashkar, Ph.D, a prominent researcher and practitioner in the area of Deep Learning and Computer Vision. The AlgoVision team scours university publications and papers from leading R&D centers at large companies to find new methods and algorithms that could give their customers a competitive edge. Taking a novel approach from an academic setting and building production-grade architecture around it for enterprise use is a unique value proposition Algo.ai can offer its customers through the AlgoVision Lab.
CEO’s Motto “Take Care of Your Employees and They’ll Take Care of Your Business”
When asked to share a thought that inspires him, Amjad referenced a quote which he heard back at MIT, “Leaders are dispensers of hope and managers are dispensers of caution”. In other words, it’s his job to paint the vision and direction while clearing the roadblocks and obstacles preventing the team’s performance. In that spirit, Amjad works towards finding the best talent, grooming and retaining them, while selecting the most meaningful work to keep them focused, on course and building software that continues to delight customers.
Today, Amjad devotes much of his time on developing his team. Commenting on his unapologetic commitment towards employees, Amjad says, “As CEO, my people are my #1 responsibility. This is something that in my view you can’t outsource. We move fast, so it is important for me to create an environment where failing is ok, and teammates learn from that, in fact, it is rewarded.”
To that end, Amjad and the management team try different things to improve employee performance and wellness. A few times a week, they provide organic and healthy catering and encourage motivational practices like meditation and spirituality. People can take breaks and have flexible working hours, allowing them to go out for personal development classes like yoga and fitness. Even the C-suite executives lead by example in this area. Personally, Amjad likes to take long walks and Jason Kummerl, Algo.ai’s CTO, often does yoga in the early afternoon. To foster creativity and a positive work environment, the corporate office offers workspaces that are full of natural light and plants with adjustable standing desks, ionizers, and the likes. In addition to the in-office benefits, Algo.ai offers a high-end healthcare package which covers 100% of employees’ premiums to reduce stress related to health care expenses.
Looking Towards the Future: Growing Algo.ai
As Amjad and his team continue to build a high-performance team, hiring 1-2 people per month in the next year, a special emphasis will be placed on increasing the capabilities of the AlgoVision Lab. When asked to comment on the feature roadmap of the Algo™ platform, Amjad says the team will be focused on improving the Natural Language aspect of Algo™, making it smarter, more sympathetic and understanding towards a user’s needs. The intent is that Algo™ will become more of a colleague rather than just a machine. One day intelligent machines like Algo™ will offer productivity along with emotional IQ.