Upward Citizen Spotlight: Flamingo AI
“When we hear our clients saying, ‘We've done more with Flamingo AI in a month than with [IBM] Watson in a year,’ we know we're onto something...
And yes, I want that quote on a t-shirt.”
- Bob Hilborn, Head of North American Operations at Flamingo AI
'Artificial intelligence,' a buzz-phrase used in nearly every sphere of modern industry, is a largely misunderstood concept to the average person living and working by the systems designed to achieve this level of "futuristic" efficacy. According to Merriam Webster, artificial intelligence (AI) carries two meanings:
artificial intelligence (noun)
1. a branch of computer science dealing with the simulation of intelligent behavior in computers
2. the capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior
The first definition speaks to the practical element of AI as an academic study and/or industry in which humans devise a simulation for computers to behave "intelligently." The second definition captures that which is often portrayed in pop culture: the robot who can adapt uniquely human tendencies. While the former typically inspires interest, the latter is often tied to a sense of fear or dread, as the media shares images of AI that seem beyond human control.
But what is AI, really? Who is responsible for harnessing these high-tech capabilities and using them for the betterment of the world as we know it today?
Enter: Flamingo AI.
According to Flamingo AI's website, the company started in Sydney, Australia "with an idea to improve customer experience through using AI and machine learning." A few years later, Flamingo expanded to the United States to center itself within its target market of the world's leading financial services companies. Along the way, Flamingo "[has] employed the smartest people in the field, built its own IP and engaged some of the biggest brands in the world."
What began as a complex and incredibly high-powered suite of products designed to guide customers through unassisted online sales and service journeys has recently transformed to serve a new set of end-users: employees.
"We tested and learned," said Bob Hilborn, Flamingo AI's Head of North American Operations. "In our testing phase, we gained critical insight into our customer's most painful points of doing business - and these pain points were not the same as those we initially came on the market to address. So, we pivoted, and created a new, hyper-focused solution designed to maximize the experience of a different end-user: the employee."
"What we found was that 20% of an employee's work week is spent looking for information, and 40% of necessary information is limited to one or two actors, which stalls new-hire onboarding, departmental transformation, or an existing employee's total efficiency," continued Bob. "Flamingo AI's goal now is to accelerate proficiency for new employees, harvest and retain corporate knowledge from places not currently accessible (like a local hard drive or human brain), and to capture essential value across the internal employment experience."
Flamingo AI's Knowledge & Collaboration Sharing Hub - referred to as "the Hub" - was built in direct response to customer feedback. One client in particular, a Fortune 500 insurance company, admitted that their key performance indicators (KPIs) for customer service solely applied to the experiences of external clients (i.e. a policyholder or broker), and did not address those of their internal “customers” (a.k.a. teammates). While many corporations boast best-in-class knowledge management, collaboration, and communication platforms for their employees, Bob Hilborn and his team at Flamingo AI saw the opportunity to bridge the gap and bring these tools together for a seamless internal knowledge exchange that only gets more intelligent over time.
"When we announced our new direction at a conference in Las Vegas last year, everybody in the audience went 'We have that problem!' Then we knew we were onto something that would have tremendous impact."
What makes Flamingo AI's Hub a "smart" tech solution?
"The end-user isn't seeing all of the machine learning capabilities at work on the back-end: it's a really simple interface, written in plain language for ease of use by businesspeople [versus technologists]," explains Bob. "But here's how the AI piece works...
It traditionally takes about 4-6 months' time for data scientists to tag specific pieces of information provided by an organization to generate a baseline for their company's specific AI solution. In contrast, Flamingo AI’s approach employs a 4-6 week customer-assisted preseeding phase; their patented “semisupervised learning” capabilities are then used to grow the Hub’s ‘Brain’ through real-world usage.
"Data is fuel to an AI platform - the Brain can only grow with the exercise of questioning."
Once a new Brain has been operational in one group or user community, the solution is typically adopted by new departments within an organization, thereby furthering the Hub's breadth of knowledge and access to information across an entire company. The result is a quick, accurate, and compliant knowledge retrieval and sharing platform that is co-powered by human input and a highly complex machine-learning algorithm.
"While the Hub is doing many things to enhance the employee's day-to-day experience, it’s also pioneering behavioral analytics solutions for leadership," shared Bob. "The Hub can suggest new training opportunities to company leadership based on the frequency of specific employee queries to the platform...and that's only the start of its intelligent capabilities."
What's in store for Flamingo AI's Hartford office in 2020?
"We launched into the new decade with an exciting partner program that I am really looking forward to bringing to Hartford's industry community," said Bob. "The partner program allows for risk-free use of the Hub within a company's unique environment with unlimited users for a 6-month piloting period.
While we are currently working with key players in the insurance and finance industries, we're excited to roll out this program with manufacturing, consumer products, and educational partners as well. There are endless use cases across industries, and we look forward to Flamingo's future as that go-to solution for employee productivity and organizational efficiency."