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AI Implementation in the Insurance Sector

A tablet with an insurance form using AI

Artificial Intelligence is touching many facets of the world around us, and is being put into use in almost any industry you can imagine. The insurance sector is no different. At Sprout.ai, we are using the ever evolving power of AI to benefit insurers and the millions of people they serve.

What is AI? 

AI is best defined as intelligence performed by machines. It is not the same as rule-driven automation, which we see in the robotic assembly lines that have underpinned manufacturing since the 1970s. AI operations are far more advanced. They don’t just carry out repetitive actions according to their programming, but also develop through self-learning, without the need for human intervention.

How can AI benefit insurers?

To an extent, AI is already embedded in both personal and commercial insurance lines. Consider a motor vehicle accident claim – a type of insurance claim that almost everyone makes at some point in their lives. Numerous steps in the claims process are already streamlined and processed much faster thanks to AI. Identity verification, checking coverage is in place, collating information about the accident from forms, and performing checks for evidence of fraud would all fall into this category.

Sprout.ai takes AI capabilities to the next level. Our patented technology can process claims forms and extract the meaning of a claim far, far, faster than a human, which is ever more useful in a world in which data and digital footprints are growing exponentially. Its optical character recognition (OCR) capabilities can read handwritten language at a level that surpasses human competence, in languages from Greek to Japanese. It can help eliminate loss making or incorrect decisions by automating the process and referring to thousands of data points. 

This reduces manual workloads, shrinks the time to resolution, eliminates human error, and provides value for policyholders during their time of need. A claims process that might previously have taken weeks can potentially be wrapped up in hours. At the same time, costs are reduced for the insurer, and enhanced transparency boosts confidence for the insurer and their customers.

AI offers significant ROI for insurers:

  • 86% of insurance companies say they have created better customer experiences using AI
  • 75% of of insurance companies say AI helped improved decision-making
  • 75% of insurance companies say AI helped innovate insurance products and services
  • 75% of insurance companies achieved cost-savings using AI
  • 64% of insurance companies increased productivity using AI

Statistics from PwC 2022 AI Business Survey

AI for complex claims

As we mentioned, it’s not only routine insurance lines that benefit from the use of AI. Sprout.ai’s Natural Language Processing (NLP) can assimilate almost inconceivable quantities of policyholder and claims data, which significantly cuts down the time and manpower it takes to process highly complex claims, such as those in marine or commercial property. Sprout.ai’s conclusions give skilled and experienced insurance professionals a highly reliable and robust basis to inform their decision making.

Changing times in the commercial insurance market

Some business customers are already experiencing fully automated insurance processes. In the food industry, for example, sensors identify when a refrigeration unit goes down, resulting in spoiled food, and triggers a fully automated insurance pay out to the policy holder. These systems are now appearing in other areas of insurance. As challenger insurance companies offering premiums from as little as £4 per month take a growing share of the market, incumbent insurers will need to ensure they offer the optimal claims experience.

A common worry is that Artificial Intelligence is replacing people and eliminating jobs. In fact, AI removes the need to waste time on repetitive, time consuming tasks, such as data entry, freeing people to dedicate time to valuable and rewarding tasks which optimise the customer experience. This is akin to the revolutions in farming in the late 19th century and manufacturing in the late 20th century. 

In the years to come, AI will become even more ubiquitous across industries and applications. As adoption becomes the norm, there’s no doubt it will create new types of insurance products and new classes of risk. Inevitably, some players in the global insurance market will fully embrace these new areas more quickly and enthusiastically than others. One thing is for sure: at Sprout.ai we are proud to be at the forefront of AI and working with its early adopters to bring about a new age of insurance handling.

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Sprout.ai welcomes Roi Amir as CEO

Roi Amir, CEO of Sprout AI tech insurance startup

Sprout.ai is delighted to announce the arrival of Roi Amir, who has joined the company as CEO. Niels Thone steps down from the position and will continue as part of the senior leadership team in the role of Chief Growth Officer.

Roi arrives from insurtech company Tractable. There, as VP of Engineering, he gained substantial experience of the insurtech business and of the many challenges and inefficiencies that are inherent in the insurance sector. Roi played a crucial role in scaling both revenue and customer base during a key period of growth such that the business achieved rare unicorn status, meaning it was valued in excess of $1 billion, in June 2021.

Rapid growth

Roi arrives at a vital moment for Sprout.ai, as the company looks to continue the dramatic growth of the past couple of years. Over the past 12 months alone, the company has raised Series A funding, the team has tripled in size and the customer list has swelled to include several Tier 1 insurance businesses.

Co-founder Niels Thone has no doubt Roi is the ideal man to guide Sprout.ai through the next growth stage and to the ultimate goal of becoming the global leader in claims automation.

He said: “We can see the road ahead on this fast growth journey and the milestones we need to hit to achieve this. Roi brings the experience we need to get there, including the best routes to take and potential mistakes to avoid. Execution is key to achieving our ambitious goals, and having Roi on board will be instrumental in helping us to get there.”

A world class team

Roi said he was “humbled and excited” to lead Sprout.ai at this crucial time. He paid tribute to Niels and the rest of the team as he took up his new role and commented that he is looking forward to working with Niels and with Niclas Stoltenberg in their positions of CGO and CTO respectively. Roi described the entire team as “world class” and said they have built “a great company with mind-blowing technology.”

He added that Sprout.ai’s business proposition is strong and he is impressed by the close working partnerships that have been forged between Sprout.ai and its customers. Roi noted that there is clearly significant demand in the insurance market for what it has to offer. He said he has already seen in his previous role that with the right offering, the Insurtech sector offers businesses incredibly exciting growth possibilities. He observed that: “Sprout’s technology has huge potential to fundamentally change the insurance industry.”

The Path Ahead

The long-term aim is clear. Sprout.ai’s technology makes the insurance claims process faster and more efficient for people at a time when they are in the greatest need for support. The company has a vision to help more than 100 million people with their insurance claims by 2030.

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Celebrating a successful year at Sprout.ai

It’s hard to believe that 12 months have gone by since our last end-of-year review. 2021 has certainly been a memorable one at Sprout.ai, and while we’ve all been facing continuing challenges in the wider world, we’re delighted to say the business has gone from strength to strength. The team has grown in size by 400 percent and we’re honoured to have been nominated for several awards.

12 months ago, the festive celebrations were, by necessity, a somewhat muted affair. It was great to make up for it to a certain extent this year, when several members of the team were able to meet up in person for our Christmas party to celebrate all that we’ve achieved – and to hand out a few extra awards of our own!

Our Growing Team

Before we get on to that, there are some new team members to introduce since our last update earlier this year.

  • Aris Koliopoulos is our new Head of Engineering. He’s spent the past five years building DriveTribe by Clarkson, Hammond and May from the ground up. We’re certain that his considerable experience will bring massive benefits to the insurance sector.
  • Justin Galerne joined in October as a Senior Data Scientist. Before coming to Sprout.ai, he spent three years developing his skills at respected French insurtech Shift Technologies.
  • Jeremie Charlet will already be familiar to many, having worked with us as a contractor for the past year. He became an official member of the team in November, also as a Senior Data Scientist. Jeremie has worked for the UK government and several corporates and startups in various data science roles.
  • Soi Luong joined in December as Lead Frontend Engineer, and like Aris, he comes direct from DriveTribe by Clarkson, Hammond and May, where he was building frontend apps.
  • Last but not least, Thanh Nhan Nguyen is the latest addition to our team of Data Scientists. Thanh joins us from Cinnamon AI in Hanoi, where he enjoyed success as a Machine Learning Engineer.

Please join us in welcoming all our new team members aboard! We will hear more about how they are settling in in a future update.

Industry awards

We always say that success brings its own rewards, but it’s nevertheless special to have our achievements recognised by our industry peers. We’ll try not to blush too much in telling you this has happened several times over the past few months.

Most recently, Sprout.ai was announced as a finalist at this year’s Insurance Times awards for Excellence in Technology – Claims. It’s a great piece of news on which to end the year, and is a testament to everyone’s dedication over the past 12 months.

We’re also pleased to report that Sprout.ai won Claims Collaboration of the Year at the Insurance Post Claims & Fraud Awards for our work with Zurich, and we were finalists for several other awards, including the Tech and Innovation awards, Insurance Business Rising Stars and COVER awards.

We must also mention the TechRound 100. This is the flagship event of the year, highlighting the hard work and success of UK startups, businesses and entrepreneurs. With more than 3,000 applications this year, we are extremely proud to announce that we’ve achieved a top 10 position!

Finally, we’re deeply honoured to be recognised as one of the top 18 insurtech startups to watch by some of the most respected VCs in an article published by Sifted. We couldn’t be more proud.

Special awards for special people

Of course, none of this would be possible without such an amazing team. But a fact that often goes unnoticed is that their skills and talents go way beyond insurtech and data science. Our recent Christmas party was the perfect opportunity to recognise those unique qualities with a few awards of our own at the inaugural Sprouties ceremony.

There were 15 prestigious awards presented, including Stand Up Comedian Award (Niclas Stoltenberg), Most Likely to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse (Aris Koliopoulos) and Most Likely to Run for Prime Minister Award (who else but Niels Thone). Congratulations to all our worthy winners!

It only remains for us to wish you all a happy and peaceful holiday season with your loved ones. Here’s to still greater success and growth in 2022!

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Meeting Insurance Challenges Across the World with Sprout.ai Claim Solutions

At Sprout.ai, we are proud to work alongside many of the world’s leading insurance providers, using our proprietary solutions to make real changes that benefit both our clients and their millions of customers. One thing we’ve noticed is that providers in diverse parts of the world face challenges that seem quite different at first glance. But often, they come down to the same root causes. Two recent projects, with clients in Chile and Japan, have brought this into sharp focus.

Tackling spiralling costs for a health insurance provider in Chile

The first project was with one of the leading health insurance providers in Latin America a business that processes more than a million claims every year. The company called us in to help them address two different but related challenges. The first was that claims processing costs were going through the roof. The second was that claims handlers were spending so much of their time on data entry that there was practically no opportunity for them to do anything else.

Our client was effectively treading water to process claims as quickly as possible. This constrained its ability to devote sufficient resources to activities like fraud detection and prevention. The result? Spiralling costs and ever-longer processing times.

Sprout.ai built a Straight Through Processing solution based on OCR and NLP technology to read claims data. We then trained it using historic claims data. This had the immediate effect of freeing up time for claims handlers to focus on the insights drawn out by the tool instead of being buried in repetitive data entry work. At the conclusion of the pilot, accuracy was at 97-99 percent (compared to the industry standard of 80 percent), while 70 percent more fraudulent claims were detected.

Reducing processing time for one of the largest insurers in Japan

Meanwhile, almost 11,000 miles away, we had a team working on a pilot project with a client in Japan. Here, the business’s new bespoke healthcare offering had resulted in a sharp increase in processing times due to its complexity – there were hundreds of different policy variations, exclusions and so on. The result was an average processing time of 30 days – 20 of which were being spent on data entry.

While the challenges here looked very different to those faced in Chile, the solution, once again, lay in automating a straight though processing solution to reduce the time being spent on data entry. Setting up the solution meant some late nights with teams from client and Sprout.ai working together to consolidate the necessary training data to get the pilot underway. But the results were certainly worth the effort.

Processing times were reduced by 90 percent to an average 2-3 days, while our client also observed significant cost reduction. All this came with no impact at all on accuracy, which at 96 percent was above average human levels.

Diverse problems, a single solution

The global insurance market faces a whole host of challenges, especially in these unusual times. Sprout.ai’s automation processes can contribute significantly to solving a range of these problems, increasing efficiency, reducing costs and allowing human experts to step away from the repetitive admin task and use their knowledge and experience to add real value.

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Sprout.ai half-year update

The first half of 2021 has gone by in a flash, in what have been an exciting and successful six months at Sprout.ai. Series A funding is complete, we have delivered successful solutions to some of the biggest names in insurance, and the team continues to expand to meet ever-growing demand. We are also proud to have been shortlisted for some of the top industry awards. Here’s a brief update on the key events of 2021 so far, and on what’s to come in the second half of the year.

Customers

Sprout.ai works alongside many of the top insurance businesses in the world, and our software solutions are making a real difference, not only to our clients but also to the thousands of customers they serve. The overwhelming success of the Automated Policy Checking AI solution trialled at Zurich has been a particular high point, and gives them the ability to settle claims within 24 hours.

It’s a tangible result that resonates with anyone. After all, every single one of us has to make an insurance claim from time to time, and it’s usually as a result of some sort of stressful incident. Getting it all out of the way faster can only be good news.

We have also delivered a successful health solution to a top tier global insurer in South America. This demonstrates that our OCR solution is as effective in the field as it was in trials. After all, it’s one thing seeing it work under test conditions, but this proved efficient in reading and detecting text in Spanish across several different types of documents that are specific to Chile’s health sector. If it can read a doctor’s handwriting, we can safely say we’ve created something special!

Funding

The Series A funding round is now complete, and it raised £8 million. The funds will prove invaluable in allowing Sprout.ai to continue to grow, recruiting the very best data scientists to become part of the team. It also means we can invest in the necessary infrastructure to deliver bigger and better solutions to the insurance industry, and thereby to millions of people.

Team

Sprout.ai has certainly changed a great deal since the rebranding last April, and we are now a much larger family! Just in the last three months, we have welcomed six new joiners on board, so let’s hear briefly from some of them. We promise, no coercion or mystery bonuses were used to influence their feedback!

Paige Smith, Executive Assistant to the CEO: In the few months that I have been here, it’s been hard not to get excited about what we are building. Creating software that has a meaningful impact on people’s lives is what joins the team together, giving us a shared mission that is very clear. The enthusiasm from the leadership team is contagious, and I feel very much a part of a team that has huge growth plans and a very exciting future ahead.

Data Scientist Vassily Baranov: I joined Sprout.ai to be part of strong team in a rapidly growing company where I could grow personally. After these first few months, everything has far exceeded my expectations. The startup atmosphere is awesome, the team level is outstanding and the tasks are challenging. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next on this exciting journey.

Data Scientist Thanh Hau: Joining Sprout.ai has been a great opportunity. We can apply the most advanced AI technologies to real-world problems and by communicating directly with insurance companies, we have the opportunity to better understand the challenges they are facing and to come up with the best solutions together.

Data Scientist Pedro Barnardo: Since joining Sprout.ai, just three months ago, I got a chance to see how AI can revolutionize the insurance industry and deliver real value to the end customer. It has been very exciting to work with all the great minds in Sprout.ai and I’m looking forward to seeing the team grow as we tackle new challenges.

Lead Data Engineer Joseph Francis: I have just finished my first month at Sprout.ai and I love how much the company has data at its core. The things that Sprout.ai does with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are like nothing I have seen in any other company. It’s really exciting to see the business problems that this technology can solve in the insurance industry.

Every area of the business is continuing to grow at Sprout.ai, including product, delivery, sales, tech, operations, and support functions. You can look here to browse the latest career opportunities or to submit your CV.

It’s not all work, work, work at Sprout.ai. Meeting up is still a challenge at the moment for obvious reasons, but we’ve been able to share some fantastic virtual team events. These included a magician who was almost as spellbinding as our OCR software, and a comedian joining to end our weeks on a high!

It’s also great that from June, the London-based team members have been able to reunite back in the office for a few days each week. Having the flexibility to work remotely is a great thing, and is part of modern working life – but it’s a comfort to know we can still fit into those work clothes when we have to!

Awards

Success brings its own rewards, and as we mentioned earlier, the results generated by our software can make life easier for all of us, and our families, at the most difficult times. But we’re only human, and of course it is special to be recognized by our industry peers.

Sprout.ai was a finalist for The Europas in the Hottest AI Insurtech category and is shortlisted for the Digital Insurance Innovation Award at The Business Insurance Awards with Zurich. We are also delighted to report that we were listed as number 12/66 in the TechRound SaaS awards.

We look forward to further growth and success in the second half of 2021 – and also to plenty more magic! Keep an eye on our news page for further updates.

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The Sprout.ai Growth Game – Meet the Players

The team at Sprout.ai continues to grow. It only seems like yesterday that we were welcoming several new faces last summer. Since then, however, the team has grown still further and was joined by seven more new members in the fourth quarter of 2020. Now 2021 is well and truly underway, we thought it was high time we caught up with some of them to find out how they have settled in over their opening weeks and what they have planned for the months ahead.

Tom Batstone – Talent Acquisition Manager

Tom joined us in December, and has been the driving force behind our growth plans for 2021. With experience building high-calibre Tech and Product teams across a number of startups and scale-ups, Tom is perfectly placed to help lead our headcount expansion for the future.

There were a number of things that compelled me to join Sprout.ai at the start of such an exciting journey. Firstly, the mission: the idea of building software that has a meaningful impact on people’s lives, helping individuals when they’re at their most vulnerable, really resonated with me. Second was the ambition: Niels and Raphael have such passion for the product and what it could evolve into in years to come. That enthusiasm is incredibly infectious, and makes it easy to realise you’re building something truly game-changing. Finally, the people: there is such a welcoming, open culture here that everyone works hard to protect and champion; from my first company-wide huddle, to the fortnightly team events, I’ve felt like part of the team from day one.

What excites me most about Sprout.ai is the growth trajectory. We’ve set ourselves ambitious goals, but so far, I have every reason to believe we will surpass them. With the growth plans we have this year, the company will soon look very different to the one I joined, but that brings new learning opportunities, new teammates, and even more scope to build something truly impactful. The future is very bright indeed.

Eduardo Rocha de Andrade – Senior Data Scientist

Eduardo spent three years working with R&D in the fields of optics and photonics for a telecommunication company before he decided to make the switch to data science. He first joined a startup and then one of Brazil’s top AI and software development companies, where he was able to work with applied AI to computer vision and video analytics.

It is very rewarding to be able to work with something that has the potential to change our society for the better whilst being intellectually motivating. In particular, I find it fascinating to work with data of multiple domains, for example as images and natural language. I’m very excited about being able to deploy our AI technology into production, which could positively impact the lives of thousands of people.

Dr Ivan Sorokin – Senior Data Scientist

Before joining Sprout.ai, Ivan had more than three years’ experience in building production-level deep learning models in the speech recognition area.

For me, working in Sprout.ai provides a huge opportunity to explore new AI technologies. In order to make a working solution for the insurance industry, you need to be able to work with different types of data: images, text, tabular data, and even audio or video. Having now been here for several months, I can say that all my expectations have been exceeded. In this short period of time our team has already successfully applied several OCR and NLP models of varying complexity.

This is just the beginning. There are still a lot of interesting problems to be solved. For example, how to effectively integrate different modalities, how to move from simple tasks to high-level claim scenario comprehension and action reasoning. I’m looking forward to meeting these challenges and more in the months ahead.

We look forward to catching up Tom, Eduardo and Ivan again in the months ahead, as well as introducing you to more new members of Sprout.ai’s growing team.

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What do self-driving car technology and insurance claims have in common?

As we advance into the 2020s, the use of AI is becoming increasingly commonplace and touches on almost every aspect of our lives. Of course, some applications of AI are more headline-grabbing than others. For example, self-driving car technology captures the imagination because it is the sort of thing we have all seen on TV and in movies, from Knight Rider to I, Robot – themovie that allegedly inspired Elon Musk’s ideas for the first fully autonomous vehicle.

Here at Sprout.ai, we also work with AI on a daily basis to revolutionise the customer experience in insurance claims through enabling insurers to settle claims in under 24 hours (as opposed to 25 days). When you examine the challenges that we face and the obstacles to be overcome, it soon becomes apparent that Sprout.ai has more in common with Tesla than you might think.

The power to imagine

Anyone who drives will appreciate that one of the biggest challenges to a self-driving car is the almost infinite possibilities of what can be encountered on the road. Unpredictable behaviour from other road-users, obstructions, sudden changes in weather, a mechanical failure, the list goes on and on. Yet we face exactly the same challenges when considering the variables attached to an insurance claim. For example, the medical documents used in claims have numerous variations, there is no single format, people use different abbreviations and colloquialisms and so on.

It is impossible to place every such eventuality in a “black box” so that the AI can look it up and find out how to react. But contextual AI approaches decision-making from a new direction, basically empowering the AI to use data and context to predict and react to situations, even if it has not experienced them before.

This approach and the use of synthetic data combine to negate the need for hundreds of hours of “training” or millions of historical data points both for Tesla and Sprout.ai. The algorithms we use can start to predict straight away.

Coping with infinite variations through synthetic reality creation

In both driving and insurance claims, you never know what’s around the next corner. In order to automate processes like these, we must have an engine that can deal with information inputs when it has little existing data or experience to draw from. This was always a fundamental stumbling block with existing AI technology like Computer Vision and OCR. However, at Sprout.ai, we have leveraged a novel way of leveraging synthetic data to overcome these challenges.

The net result is that our solutions can deal with any piece of information and process it efficiently, even if it is something it has never seen before. New formats, character based languages and handwritten information are mere bumps in the road that can be analysed, understood and processed in minutes or at most hours.

Conceptually, Elon Musk and his team face very similar challenges to the ones we have had to overcome. And just like Sprout.ai, Tesla is a trailblazer in its industry. There are certainly more similarities than differences between the two companies, which are both pushing the envelope in exploring new ways that humans and machines can work in harmony.

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Building transparency and trust in AI

In December 2020, the White House issued an Executive Order on the use of “trustworthy AI” across federal government agencies. It serves as the biggest indicator yet of the growing public awareness and concern regarding what we term ethical AI.

The role of AI in various industries, as well as government agencies, is becoming more significant with every passing month. Yet while public opinion is still so strongly influenced by five decades of science fiction, it is understandable that trust issues and a suspicion of the unknown can be causes for concern. Some of these were outlined by Tech Crunch in a piece they published at the end of last year.

Sprout.ai is one of the first companies in our industry to have a dedicated AI ethics lead. 

Just as we have a dedicated data protection officer to oversee compliance with GDPR regulations, we take our current and future AI accountabilities equally seriously. Here, we explore what that really means and also address some of the concerns raised in the Tech Crunch article.

Coming out of the black box

The problem is that previous generations of AI have been built around deep learning black box processes. The algorithm takes millions of data points, correlates specific features about them and draws conclusions. This leads to inevitable concerns that there is the potential for bias. Human nature is inherently suspicious of black box decisions and users are no longer prepared to blindly accept that the AI knows what it is doing without better transparency.

The technological solution lies in new data pipelines of the type currently being developed here at Sprout.ai. Conceptually, these work in much the same way as a relationship database. Different data nodes are all interlinked, and they can be clearly, intuitively and transparently communicated through knowledge graphs.

Bringing AI into the 2020s

For both corporations and government agencies, the real challenge lies in switching from these incumbent AI processes into the new world of causal data pipelines. Black box systems simply do not have this functionality, so the new virtual infrastructure that underlies next generation algorithms needs to be built from scratch.

That’s easily said, but it presents a genuine headache from a practical perspective when businesses are using existing systems on a daily basis. It is a scenario that we have seen time and again over the past 40 years with businesses that have invested heavily in legacy systems that rapidly become obsolete. The reality is that it would take hundreds of engineers months or even years to bring their AI processes into line with new generation AI. 

Contextual AI leading the way

In that sense, it becomes clear that while previous generation AI companies have played an important role in bringing AI technology into the mainstream public arena, they have also taken something of a misstep. The time has come to get AI back on the right path as we negotiate the AI forest, one that is user friendly and transparently ethical, and one that facilitates both supervised and unsupervised learning to deliver the most powerful results.

This philosophy lies at the heart of the Contextual AI solution we have developed at Sprout.ai. As the name intimates, it provides the context behind every recommendation produced by the AI engine. Having that context in place means that every decision can be reviewed and audited by human eyes and can be traced back to its source.

As well as delivering leading edge results, this capability has earned the trust of our users, trust that was in such short supply with previous generation solutions. Insurance claim handlers are confident that they can safely rely on the tool to do the groundwork, leaving them to step in with their intuition and expertise when it matters most.

Even more than that, though, the solution gives them a platform to push back or disagree with the recommendations. In this respect, human and machine are working like any good team. The process of questioning and providing feedback means the AI can take human opinions on board and get better at what it does.

Ethics and accountability

Ethical AI provides another example of how Sprout.ai is striving to be at the forefront of AI innovation, not just in technology development but also in the philosophical considerations that surround it. After all, AI is not intended to supersede humans, but it is does play a vital role in making many of our lives easier, more efficient and more fair.

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Looking back on an extraordinary year

2020 is a year that none of us are going to forget, and we are all looking forward to better times ahead. However, while we have all been affected by broader world events, this has nevertheless been a watershed year for Sprout.ai, and one in which we have enjoyed record growth and development. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights.

The year in numbers

  • The overall team has grown by 100 percent
  • The tech team has grown by 200 percent
  • Remote working has brought us an extra 410 hours by eliminating commuting time
  • We’ve devoted 40 of those extra hours to online team events
  • We are fully booked with client deliveries till the Q3 of 2021
  • We’ve won 150 percent of the RFPs we have entered
  • We are now working with more than half of the top 15 global insurance companies

The name tells its own story

This year saw the dramatic rebranding from BlockClaim to Sprout.ai. It seems like a lifetime has passed since then, but it was actually only a few short months ago that we announced the new name. This blog post from April explains the rationale behind the change. While the rebranding was important to reflect our overriding goals, it would mean nothing without the cutting edge solutions that drive everything we do, and of course the people behind them.

A growing team

We might be geographically dispersed, but we are a close-knit group of people here at Sprout.ai. That hasn’t changed despite the team more than doubling in size over the course of 2020. Lockdown was no barrier to welcoming our new colleagues onboard, as we all share the same virtual workplace in cyberspace.

We’ve worked hard to build and nurture that team dynamic, despite the obvious challenges and the limited opportunities to meet face to face. Of course there have been regular calls and online meetings, and tools like Gantt Planning with Smartsheets and virtual meeting rooms on Google Chat have proved invaluable.

However, the key to teambuilding is to make sure it is not all work, work, work. We’ve devoted around 40 hours to team events that included everything from virtual horse racing to a Halloween quiz to online exercise classes. We were also lucky enough to be able to fit in one team meal in London before the second lockdown.

Turning a negative into a positive

Proactively promoting remote working has done more than just blunt the impact of the various lockdown restrictions that have been in place this year. It has actually delivered some positive results. On average, each team member has saved one hour per day that would have been spent commuting. When you extend that across the team, it works out at more than 400 hours saved this year, just by working from home.

Those are hours we have been able to dedicate to developing our technology, working with our clients and growing the business.

Business growth

Sprout.ai has continued to enjoy success in generating new business during the lockdown period, and has been consistently winning more RFPs during this time. We are now fully booked with client deliveries to take us all the way into Q3 2021. Our client portfolio is also growing, and we are proud to say we work with more than half of the top 15 insurance companies in the world.

We will all be glad when the worldwide challenges that 2020 brought with it are consigned to history. However, it is important to also be mindful of the positives the year has brought. We wish you a happy, safe and peaceful holiday season and look forward to a successful and prosperous 2021.

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The New World of Contextual AI

Contextual AI – in search of the holy grail

Over recent years, AI has become part of our everyday lives. We see it in everything from customer service chatbots to the navigation systems in our cars. From these applications, we also see its limitations. The AI bots we use in our day to day lives do not always have a perfect understanding of what we are asking, and this is sometimes demonstrated in their responses.

In relative terms, AI is still new technology. You only need to look at where we are today in comparison to the online help and customer support of a decade ago that was limited to multiple choice questions with two or three multiple possible responses to see how far we have come. Sprout.ai’s Contextual AI will take the technology to the next level, allowing humans and machines to collaborate with better understanding and in whole new ways.

Synthetic data

Part of the difficulty with existing systems is that the AI is drawing its conclusions and making its recommendations on the basis of a finite amount of data. By providing more data, we can create AI that has deeper knowledge and has become more intelligent. But where is all that data to come from? And what are the privacy implications for the owners of that data?

Synthetic data provides an elegant way to provide a limitless amount of realistic data that allows personal privacy to be preserved. It is based on real-world data and so retains its statistical integrity.

Contextualisation

Contextualisation is a whole new way of teaching AI to understand what is put in front of it from a “human” perspective and to consider both the information and the context in which it is presented. It is the combination of understanding a situation and basing it on facts. So here, it means the system ingests data and can use it to understand and explain where you are in a specific process, where you have most likely come from and where things are leading. This is all on the basis of data, but that data can be synthetic.

A new world of possibilities

Harnessing these two exciting areas of development in tandem presents awesome possibilities. It leads us to genuinely intelligent systems that can explain their reasoning processes and be audited accordingly.

It might sound like a concept from the realms of science fiction, but synthetic data and contextualisation mean that our AI can do more than just think – it can imagine. The system can make predictions and explain circumstances without first having to be fed gigabyte after gigabyte of real-world data.

More than that, though, it can contemplate whole new scenarios for which no historical data exists. Society and technology are changing at a faster rate than ever before, and in directions that we can barely glimpse.

Sprout.ai leading the way

So, with these two types of technology, systems can create data from very little, and then explain that data and the conclusions to be drawn from it in a way that mimics human understanding and contextualisation. Sprout.ai is developing proprietary solutions in both areas, and these represent a quantum leap in technical progress.

Our Optical Character Recognition (OCR) solution is recognised as the best in the world right now, even out-performing Google’s API. And it can do it all without first being fed any data at all. This can be contextualised by combining Natural Language Processing (NLP) and knowledge graphs.

Real world applications

We likened these AI developments to science fiction earlier. But the important thing to understand is that today, the technology is real and it has real world applications. These can have a positive impact on every single one of us and our families.

The world of insurance claims is one that we all encounter from time to time and it makes a logical proving ground for this technology. After all, there is wide variation in data, there are as many contexts as there are claims and often there is limited or missing information. We all take out insurance, and after doing so, most of us think little more about it. But when we need make a claim, we are often at our most vulnerable, and the decisions made can have a profound impact on our lives and our finances.

For these reasons, we are convinced that insurance is the ideal place to start the AI paradigm shift and to immediately have a positive impact. But beyond that, the possibilities are limitless and we could soon find ourselves back in science fiction territory. As Paul Brandt famously said: “Don’t tell me the sky’s the limit when there are footprints on the moon.”