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AiThority Interview Series With Dorian Selz, Co-Founder & CEO, Squirro

Dorian Selz

Squirro co-founder and CEO Dr. Dorian Selz is a serial entrepreneur. Prior to Squirro he founded the Swiss search platform and made it the market leader in four years. Dr Selz’s aim for Squirro is to make it the world’s foremost data insights company.

Squirro provides Augmented Intelligence solutions. Its unique technology marries Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and predictive analytics, empowering organizations to transform enterprise data into AI-driven insights.

Tell us about the journey that led you to start Squirro.

My granddad founded and built to size a machine tool company in the 1950s and 1960s; he was always my entrepreneurial example.  Two successful companies later, my co-founders and I started Squirro five years ago based on a simple insight: Most companies have unbelievable amounts of data with which they do next to nothing. This represents a treasure-trove of opportunity.

The reason for this discrepancy between data holdings and getting data to be put to use is the fact that most data sets are unstructured, siloed in various applications and ever changing. Get companies to be doing more with this data and you have a great company in the making.

What is your team like?

We have a diverse team of people from all walks of life spread across four offices in New York, London, Munich and Zurich. This diversity is a key asset of our team.

What do you mean by unstructured data, and what is the potential of this data?

Unstructured is a clumsy term. It denotes the fact that data sets such as call notes, email, news, research, etc are – from a computational perspective – difficult to make sense of.

Computers can work with structured data sets only. Yet 80% plus of all data is of the unstructured kind. That is where the potential is.

How does Squirro leverage AI to provide customer or service insights?

We use a multitude of AI methods to bring structure to unstructured data. Pattern detection, supervised and unsupervised machine learning help us to transform unstructured data sets into computable data. Out of this data, we infer actionable insights that we deliver to end users in the context of their workplace.

Tell us about what Squirro offers businesses looking for helpdesk ticket resolution?

Squirro Service Insights augments any existing helpdesk and ITSM operation. Customer tickets and service incidents are quintessentially unstructured data – a user logging an error or complaint. Our technology is able to automatically analyze these tickets, put them into context and suggest to the operator root cause analysis, similar ticket identification & event clustering, resolution recommendations and operational trend & anomaly detection.

How can businesses act on the insights that Squirro helps them with?

A business can act on two levels on the insights Squirro delivers. A support operator gets out of the box root cause analysis and resolution recommendation making his job easier. On a managerial level, we offer event clustering and operational trend & anomaly detection helping them to better steer the business.

How does Squirro’s offering affect ROI, team effectiveness and tie up with deciding strategy?

We have seen instances where the mean-time-to-resolution was cut by up to 30%. The essence is that in many situations a similar incident with the appropriate resolution taken did already once affect the business. Automate this pattern recognition and map this to the current incident and you can expedite ticket resolution quite a bit.

How can SMEs leverage Squirro’s offering?

One of my favourite examples is Brookson, an accountancy firm in Warrington, UK. Doing the book keeping and the taxes for single contractors, they deploy our technology in conjunction with Alteryx and a few other building blocks to build a highly effective and customer-focussed accounting business that grows 30% tops per annum. Remarkable for an industry that at best grows in the low single digits.

This is only possible because through a combination of technology and customer-focus Brookson built a higher efficient process that allows them to offer an unbeatable service package at the best price in the market.

If an SME can write such a success story any company can do the same!

Which industries have been early adopters using AI to draw meaningful insight from their data?

We work with insurers, manufacturers, investment bankers, telcos and have done for a while now. Most industries are alive to the potential of AI, and if they haven’t already started to use it, are certainly thinking about it.

Tell us about Squirro’s partners and how it ties in to better help clients reach their goals?

We have taken a bit of investment from Salesforce. This allows us to partner with the fastest growing enterprise software company. In tandem, we offer our customers a cognitive insights-enabled service and sales cloud experience.

According to you, what is the top misconception about AI technologies?

There is no such thing as true artificial intelligence. Intelligence is about causation. Yet computers, even AI enabled ones are all about correlation.

That said: Correlation has the potential to change the world as much as the computer itself.

Having just arrived at the GDPR deadline; can you throw some light on compliance and what regulators will be looking for?

I am no GDPR specialist. But I note the irony that the last two weeks have seen an all-time high of spammy emails wanting me to stay in touch with whoever…

Thank you Dorian! That was fun and hope to see you back on AIthority soon.

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