Interview with Ben Lamm, Founder, Chairman and CEO at Hypergiant
Know My Company
Tell us about your journey into AI-focused technologies and the challenges you deal with as a CEO.
I’ve put a lot of effort into staying at the forefront of each major tech shift over the past decade. With that goal in mind, I’ve been hyper-focused on building experiences that transcend software and hardware products in new emerging tech arenas. As advancements in AI began to accelerate and the days of AI-winters started to dwindle, I had to jump all in.
I want to truly help influence and shape where the industry was going especially at the intersection of AI and enterprise. It is a huge market opportunity using technologies that will transform and personalize almost every aspect of both human life and business. There was no option but to help Fortune 500 companies with implementing breakthrough AI and machine learning technologies.
AI is a natural boost for marketing and sales because it leans on data, personalization, scale and excellent customer experience, all things that those departments strive for every day.
On the same note, confusion and naivety around AI-related technologies is often where I find the biggest challenges a someone running multiple companies in the AI space. I know our customers can reap so many benefits from pragmatic and thoughtful implementation AI technologies, but since the technology is still hazy to some customers and executives, many don’t quite understand my enthusiasm especially given all the misinformation around AI and overpromises.
As a serial tech-entrepreneur, how easy or hard was it to establish Hypergiant?
Hypergiant’s birth came pretty naturally. I’ve always been drawn to building intelligent and transformative businesses, and I’ve always found a home working with the Fortune 500. I have also been lucky to find great co-founders, investors, and employees who are excited about the vision.
Sometimes I feel like the companies I build are really kind of a “technology outfitters” for major brands. I love helping the Fortune 500 innovate in new areas such as when I was CEO of Chaotic Moon, making mobile apps for the enterprise, and then with Conversable, building conversational interfaces for both text and voice for an enterprise. It only made sense to become an AI-outfitter for the most beloved brands given where we are on the technology adoption curve of AI.
When you have a proven track record from those previous ventures in an enterprise, it definitely helped us get started Hypergiant with several customers already in place who trusted our vision and the teams behind that vision.
How does it make marketing and sales better for a modern CMO?
Rather than building a one-size-fits-all solution, we work to target specific business needs to the CMO and their customers. The role of the CMO is also changing the and the emergence of the CDO to help bridge the CTO and CMO is becoming more common. Some of Hypergiant’s largest customers include Bosch, Wingstop, and Schlumberger.
Initial use cases for Hypergiant solutions have ranged from intelligence driven inventory management to real-time F1 track analysis and prediction modeling. After implementing a Hypergiant solution, one company was able to reduce their operational costs by over 22%. Some use our services to get a 360 view of their customers by aggregating data to create a personal experience.
AI is a natural boost for marketing and sales because it leans on data, personalization, scale and excellent customer experience, all things that those departments strive for every day. If you implement AI strategically, mapped to real business goals, it’s going to improve your process and outcomes.
As a CEO, how do you prepare for an AI-driven world? What are the foundational tenets of your machine learning enablement?
We prepare by starting yesterday. It sounds silly, but it’s super important to be the first ones out the gate and a lot of that requires preparing our employees.
The fastest way to prepare for an AI-driven world is getting comfortable with the technology itself. At the end of the day, we need to focus less on where the value is shifting from and more on where the value is shifting to. We continually strive to bring in the best talent in the space and encourage constant learning to keep up the speed at which the industry is moving.
Elaborate on your playbook for company-customer interaction. How much of AI do you use within Hypergiant and your other companies?
On our website on the Space Age Solutions page, it states “Machines are learning. They’re learning how to improve your business or how to destroy it. Which one is up to you.”
Yes, it’s dramatic but it makes you think – where do you want to be as your competition is implementing these technologies. When we pair with a business with the right mindset, revolutionary things happen. Our team is stocked with experienced researchers, solution architects, PHds, predictive analysts, data scientists, designers, and developers to implement new applications that leverage machine learning.
One of the many things we do internally, is we eat our own dog food.
We actually have built and are continuing to build some of our own internally-facing technology to bridge existing systems so we can help both automate the processes internally where it makes sense and also glean meaningful data insights from client projects across the spectrum.
How potent is the Human-Machine intelligence for businesses and society? Who owns machine learning results?
Eventually, human-machine intelligence is going to infiltrate almost every aspect of our life, sometimes without us even knowing. It’s up to companies collecting this data use it purposefully. As we implement the customer’s machine intelligence application, these companies and their applications become responsible for the data collected.
Where do you see AI/Machine learning and other smart technologies heading beyond 2020?
Hopefully, by 2020, we’ll be beyond the hype and into the hard margins of tech innovation. On top of the AI stack of tech is robotics, or the ability to act. There will soon be a very little point in having a computer that learns and thinks without acting. In the end, technology itself is only one ingredient in determining the trajectory of AI and its influence. Economics, government policy and social attitudes will play major roles as well.
How do you make AI deliver economic benefits as well as social goodwill?
This is a great question that I don’t get often. You’re right, the economic benefits are pretty straightforward when implemented correctly and tied to core business problems or outcomes. But with every project we take on, we make sure we follow our AI principles. We hope by implementing AI related technologies, companies will gain a better understanding of their customers and operations, better serve their goals, and streamline processes getting in the way of meaningful work. AI helps clear space for social good. I don’t think we are there yet and as many new outlets have reported, there will be social and ethical impacts on society from AI.
How much do you want a brand to fully know on you?
How smart do we want camera systems? What is the line between being predictively helpful and creepy?
These are all questions that we will continue to need to think through as AI continues to evolve and advance in the space.
Tell us about your AI-data analytics research programs and the most outstanding digital campaign at Hypergiant.
One of Hypergiant’s most celebrated solutions that we have announced publicly has been creating a virtual bartender that TGI Friday’s added to their menu at the start of 2018. Code named Flanagan, TGI Friday’s mixologist service interacts with TGI Friday’s smartphone app to make personalized drink recommendations based on customers mood and flavor preferences. With the solution, Friday’s has been able to create a distinct brand experience that allows them to learn about and delight their customers while celebrating their bar legacy. TGI Friday’s has also recently announced that it’s AI-powered marketing has driven over $150 million in revenue in a very short amount of time. We have been excited and honored to be the key foundation around that success and are equally excited about even more metrics that will be announced soon.
What are the major challenges for intelligent mobile technology companies in making it more accessible to local communities? How do you overcome these challenges?
When thinking locally, it all comes down to value. What value are you providing to the community? There is a real opportunity for intelligent mobile technology to be implemented locally, especially when thinking of local problems like navigation, wayfinding, and civic information. These companies have an opportunity to use new technology to educate the populating and help it become more ingrained in society. I believe the current “smart-cities” initiatives that are being developed in cities like London and Dallas are direct examples of how local communities can be impacted by emerging technologies like AI.
The Crystal Gaze
What AI start-ups and labs are you keenly following?
There are so many AI startups right now that are looking to solve very specific problems, which is fine, but I’m more interested in expansive opportunities, where AI will directly impact our futures. To that end, I feel like a lot of the work happening in robotics takes advantage of machine intelligence in more interesting ways. There are a number of studios producing innovative, integrated results, such as Rewired. We also have invested in Cerebri which is using AI to improve customer service.
What technologies within AI and computing are you interested in?
I’m currently doing a deep dive on the intersection of physical spaces with AI and I’m completely captivated by the potential. As AI begins to understand the 3D world through technologies, and as data and information fuses with physical space, we’ll see robotics, computer vision, and machine sensors become a foundational cornerstone of society. In addition to the physical world, I believe orbital systems will be a huge area for AI growth implementation and growth. As companies like SpaceX make it cheaper and more efficient to put satellite and other systems in orbit, a larger focus on AI and smarter systems will occur.
As an AI leader, what industries you think would be fastest to adopting AI/ML with smooth efficiency? What are the new emerging markets for AI technology markets?
There’s two that automatically pop into my head: Space and Robotics. If you follow me on Twitter, space is a given…I’m obsessed with the possibilities, especially futuristic work like that of the Arch Mission Foundation. I think in a few years, mission control centers for space travel will be replaced by AI. We’ll also see this happen on the ground with commercial flights. As mentioned above, robotics is also adopting machine intelligence and doing so smoothly because it’s entering touch industries, like healthcare, where technological innovations are more welcome.
What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
Today, focus is a scarcity, making everything take 10 times longer than it should. I’m able to juggle so many ventures because I prioritize what’s important and outsource the rest. Tim Ferriss’s book ‘The 4-Hour Work Week’ talks about how 80% of your goals are achieved by 20% of the task you accomplish. By applying this principle, pretty much everything in life can be streamlined, making you more productive. Also, having an amazing Chief of Staff and incredible team surely doesn’t hurt.
Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Xu Li, SenseTime Co-Founder and CEO. I love hearing where opinions differ between Chinese AI leaders and American leaders.
Thank you, Ben! That was fun and hope to see you back on AiThority soon.
Ben Lamm is a serial technology entrepreneur who builds intelligent and transformative businesses. He is currently the CEO and founder of Conversable, the leading AI-driven conversational platform that helps brands reach their customers through automated experiences on all major messaging and voice platforms. Most recently Lamm founded Hypergiant, the Office of Machine Intelligence and serves as CEO.
The space where impossibility intersects reality. Where companies speed beyond norms and realize an exploded potential. Where light filters out the dark. And machine intelligence makes everything about your business more intelligent.
Hypergiant Space Age Solutions Division The guiding light for Fortune 500 companies. Providing understanding, creation and implementation at the intersection of experience and machine intelligence. Analyzing data. Teaching machines to teach themselves ‐ in order to create powerful technology solutions and smarter, more efficient human workforces.