How Three AI Software Companies Position to Deliver on Projects Incorporating AI


AI software companies today are trying to figure out how to make a buck, what configuration of software and services is going to work. It’s difficult to do in such a rapidly-changing environment. Here we look at three companies – Veritone, Sapient and Cognitive Scale  – to see how they are going about it.

Veritone in December announced the general availability of its AI Developer application. Developers of cognitive engines, simulation models usually employing machine learning algorithms, can plug them into Veritone’s aiWARE platform.

“AI needs an operating system,” said Chad Steelberg, chairman and CEO of Veritone , in a keynote talk at the recent AI World in Boston. “Veritone has built an AI operating system.”

He referred to his company’s approach as an “ensemble learning process” featuring a set of cognitive engines working together to perform computing tasks, as device drivers are normalized across hardware by operating systems. Veritone has cognitive engines for speech recognition, computer vision including face, logo, vehicle and license plate recognition.

Sentiment analysis, action classification, and text and visual content moderation engines are in the near-term pipeline, Veritone announced in a recent press release.

The funnel of cognitive engines numbers over 7,000, being developed by 5,000 companies, Steelberg said at AI World. The company expects this number to increase with the release of Veritone Developer. “We have engines in 14 classes of cognition, and we have developed none of them,” Steelberg said. “We left it up to the markets.”

Engines are being added at the rate of about two per week. The engine developer gets a royalty when the engine is used.

The product was available in a beta release to a select group of partners last year. Veritone Developer supports RESTful and GraphQL API integrations. It supports engine development in major categories of cognition including transcription, translation, face and object recognition, audio/video fingerprinting, optical character recognition, geolocation, and logo recognition. Veritone Developer uses a Conductor orchestration layer to optimize results.

Two companies working with Veritone Developer were quoted in a press release released at AI World. “We are delighted to have deployed our first engine with Veritone,” stated Dr. Arlo Faria, founder of Remeeting, a developer of transcription and speaker diarization (partitioning audio input stream into segments) technology. “Veritone Developer offers us the ability to manage training data sets and test our engines with curated libraries of representative client data,” said Dr. Faria in a press release.

“With Veritone Developer, we can more easily deliver our state-of-the-art cognitive engines to new clients across a variety of industry to generate actionable information from data that was previously in accessible,” stated Aaron Edell, co-founder of Machine Box, a company focused on machine learning technology. “This is an ecosystem built by developers for developers,” stated Edell in a press release.

In an example of how the system has been used, Steelberg said a UK client in law enforcement wanted a “person of interest” application. They wanted to look through video to find people with both weapons and tattoos. Veritone identified four companies that could do the identification, and within 48 hours, their engines were working with the system.

Later in December, Veritone announced the acquisition of Atigeo Corp., a provider of advanced data analytics software. The acquisition includes a cooperative distributed inference system, based on proprietary algorithms and Hamiltonian models, which describe an operator corresponding to the total energy of the system. This enables queries within huge bodies of unstructured data, where traditional approaches are impractical or impossible.  The software  features a self-adapting and self-learning design.

“This strategic acquisition will build on our data science foundation,” Steelberg stated in a press release.

Veritone has hired several former Atigeo data scientists and software engineers, including Wolf Kohn, Ph.D, an authority on optimal hybrid control and quantum control, who has worked at Lockheed Corp. and as a professor at Rice University and the University of Washington.

Sapient Brings Emerging Tech Expertise to Services

A different approach to making it in the AI software business is being taken by Sapient, which is pursuing a services model approach, assisted by its expertise in building AI systems.

Sapient is the technology arm of a large media agency. “We help the CMOs and CEOs understand the value proposition of incorporating AI into their business, said Brian Martin, director of technology and Cognitive Architecture lead for Sapient, in a meeting at AI World. “The sooner they get past the hype, the better.”

Sapient aims to help clients find value with emerging technology including AI, blockchain, cloud computing and quantum computing. “As a partner with our clients, we help them find value with emerging technology, and we help with strategy and execution. We have expertise across multiple disciplines,” Martin said.”We target companies that want to transform their business but don’t know how.”

Sapient was bought in late 2014 by Publicis Group, a French multinational advertising and public relations firm,  for consideration of $3.7 billion. Sapient had been a services company focused on domains of marketing, omni-channel commerce and consulting.  Since then, “merging and melding” of the two companies has taken place, and Sapient has built on its experience running back–end systems to today tie more strong into the end user experience., Martin said.

At the time of the acquisition, Sapient had three units: SapientNitro, Sapient Global Markets and Sapient Government Services.

In a recent win, Sapient Global Markets announced a successful going live of a project to implement a software risk platform from Murex at Nationwide Building Society, a UK financial services provider. Murex provides technology solutions for trading in financial markets; they partner with Sapient.

“Nationwide will now be able to reduce the amount of internal reconciliations while improving accuracy and operational efficiency,” stated Philippe Helou, co-founder and managing partner at Murex, in a press release. “These benefits have been delivers thanks to the strong partnership between Murex, Nationwide and Sapient,” he stated.

CognitiveScale Offers the Cortex Platform, Leverages IBM Watson Experience

CognitiveScale positions with “augmented intelligence” software to solve complex business problems for financial services, healthcare and digital commerce markets. The company offers the Cortex platform, to help enterprises apply AI and blockchain technology to increase user engagement, improve decision-making and self-learning business processes.

CognitiveScale just recently announced Cortex 5, the next generation of its cloud software, aimed at speeding up implementations and return-on-investment of enterprise grade AI systems.The company observes an “AI adoption gap” gap today and cites these reasons: businesses are not sure which problems to solve using machine learning, computer vision and blockchain; business lack the tools, skills and methods require to build, deploy and manage enterprise AI systems; and business may not have access to high-value data, models and algorithms suitable for their industry.

“CognitiveScale’s mission is to remove the barriers to AI adoption and solve complex business problems at scale in financial services, healthcare, and digital commerce markets,” stated Matt Sanchez, CTO and co-founder, CognitiveScale, in a press release. “Our Cortex 5 platform helps businesses derive rapid benefit from AI powered business processes by bridging the data, skills, and tooling gaps between data science workflows and the software development lifecycle.”

Prior to founding CognitiveScale, Sanchez was the head of IBM Watson Labs and built some of the earliest cognitive systems using IBM Watson for banking, healthcare, and insurance industries.

Cortex 5 is designed to help businesses with limited machine learning expertise start building their own high-quality AI systems through three interrelated cloud-based software offerings:

AI Marketplace: An online AI collaboration system that brings together many industry-specific data, models, algorithms, and digital professional services to help business experts, researchers, data scientists and developers work through problems and move ideas forward;

AI Platform: A lifecycle management platform that bridges the tooling gap between data science workflows and the software development lifecycle and radically reduces the skills and expertise required to design, deploy, and manage complex AI systems.

AI Systems:  A family of trained and proven AI software agents that deliver AI-powered personalization for consumer engagement (engage agents) and AI-powered process automation (amplify agents).  These agents are delivered as a service and built and managed by the Cortex AI Platform for enterprise grade AI performance and assurance.

Cortex 5 is available on both Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure cloud environments and supports both enterprise and hybrid cloud deployments.

Cognitive Scale was founded in 2013 by a group of entrepreneurs and former executives out of IBM Watson. Clients include Barclays, Exxon Mobil, USAA, MD Anderson and NBC Universal.

Cameron Davies, a senior VP of Data Science at NBC Universal, stated in a press release, “CognitiveScale is a leader in the industry, thinking through how to ease adoption barriers to make AI accessible and enterprise ready.”

The young AI software industry is taking shape. These three companies represent slightly different approaches but all aiming to simplify the process of building and deploying applications that exploit AI. We look forward to tracking the progress of these three and other companies, especially writing about experiences with deployed projects.

  • By John P. Desmond, AI Trends Editor