Aisera automates customer and employee queries to direct them to the right application.
The startup counts Zoom, NJ Transit, and the fintech startup Dave among its customers.
This article is part of Enterprise Tech Blueprint, a series exploring the strategies leading-edge companies use to innovate and grow.
Aisera CEO Muddu Sudhakar believes artificial intelligence will eat the world.
More companies are beginning to embrace AI in key parts of their businesses, and Sudhakar predicts it will be part of every company's technology stack.
His startup, Aisera, uses machine learning and natural language processing to resolve customer service, IT, sales, and operations problems by integrating with a host of enterprise applications like Zendesk, Salesforce, Amazon Web Services, and ServiceNow.
Aisera has experienced dramatic growth in the past year and now counts over 75 million users at companies including the fintech startup Dave, Zoom, the cloud-data company Snowflake, the cybersecurity firm McAfee, and even NJ Transit, which runs transportation services in New Jersey. It recently raised $90 million in Series-D funding from Goldman Sachs Asset Management, Thoma Bravo, Khosla Ventures, and Menlo Ventures.
The startup also offers a conversational AI service, or a chat service, in multiple languages that is meant to quickly resolve certain issues.
Companies have been clamoring for an AI-powered technology like Aisera's, Sudhakar says, because they want their employees to focus their time and attention less on rote tasks and more on those that require a human's touch.
"I didn't have to convince customers a lot because they knew as growing companies they needed to have a better way to answer queries," Sudhakar said. "Clients have gone to us to say, 'I have too many requests going to Zendesk or Salesforce, but it's not the right people getting to answer these questions.'"
Interest in AI has increased in the past few years, especially from venture capitalists. Funding for AI, machine learning, and data analysis grew to $115 billion in 2021, according to PitchBook data. Investors like Foundation Capital, New Enterprise Associates, Tiger Global Management, and Microsoft's M12 have poured capital into the space.
AI startups like Protex AI, which analyzes protocols at warehouses and construction sites to identify accident risks, and Regie.ai, which automates sales processes and content, have raised venture funding this year.
Sudhakar said the pandemic accelerated the adoption of automated customer and IT solutions. In addition, needing to close down large numbers of call centers and managing remote workforces made it more important to route requests faster.
"With COVID, people had to rethink their business models. They couldn't bring in so many people in one room to answer calls anymore," he said. "Employees were home and taking care of their kids, and the last thing they wanted to do was talk to someone to resolve a quick issue."
Aisera's customers can choose which SaaS provider they want the platform to point to. For example, Dave uses Aisera's conversational AI for its around-the-clock customer service, allowing the startup to resolve customer questions before handing off to a human if the question is more complicated. Sudhakar said this had helped cut down the number of customer or employee tickets.
Other clients, the company said, have seen similar success. Aisera pointed to the education platform Chegg, which uses an Aisera-powered internal virtual assistant called Shelly, to free up its service desk employees to do more complicated work.
Chegg uses automation for its technology, engineering, and finance departments. Brian McGuiness, the vice president for IT Operations at Chegg, said the company and Aisera worked closely together to make Shelly fit the company's culture and workflows so employees actually used the service.
According to McGuiness, 84% of the requests handled by Shelly in 2021 "were resolved to the requestor's satisfaction."
"Leveraging automation helps IT quickly and successfully resolve many repetitive, straight-forward requests," he said. "Thanks to Shelly, Chegg's global service desk technicians can better focus on solving complex issues and proactive support."
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