A Sydney-based start-up, which has created an artificial intelligence virtual data scientist to answer questions about information in corporate systems, has signed on financial services giants Westpac and IAG as customers and closed its first funding round.
Hyper Anna is best described as being like Apple’s Siri or Microsoft’s Cortana virtual assistants, sat over the top of any company’s databases, meaning clients can ask plain English questions about their business’ performance.
It has closed its first external seed funding round of $1.25 million from Westpac’s venture capital arm, Reinventure and AirTree Ventures, which it will use to hire more data scientists and developers ahead of plans to expand to the US.
The company was originally founded at the start of 2015 by its chief executive Natalie Nguyen and chief technology officer Sam Zheng, two former employees at Quantium, the data analytics firm, which Woolworths bought a 50 per cent stake in 2013. The pair were later joined by former Suncorp actuarial analyst Kent Tian who is now its chief data scientist.
The business idea behind the product is that organisations of all sizes are trying to hire data scientists to derive strategic insights into the vast amounts of data they create. These skills are expensive to hire and in too scarce supply to meet the demand.
How it works
Hyper Anna is designed to automate much of the work conducted in analysing data, and can be used by workers in non-analytical roles, such as marketing or sales.
Staff send a question, for example about sales performance, to firstname.lastname@example.org and get a useful answer back in real time. This includes the system doing the technical work of writing code and analysing data before producing charts and insights in plain English.
Insurance firm IAG is working with a beta version of Hyper Anna on top of one of its data sources, and a project is also underway at Westpac Banking Corporation.
“Even ASX 200 companies are struggling at the moment because of the appetite for data scientists, people can’t hire them fast enough,” Ms Nguyen said.
“And hiring big teams to do all of the basic work is not scalable, this means businesses hire teams of really smart data scientists to do better, more insightful work, rather than day to day tasks.”
The Hyper Anna product is still in beta mode, and will be released as a fully-fledged offering in early 2017. It is intended that people will be able to interact with it by talking to the system, sending an email or texting a question 24 hours a day, with the promise of getting an answer back in three seconds.
It will cost around $99 per user per month, in comparison to a current average annual salary of $150,000 for a human data scientist.
Read more: http://www.afr.com/technology/westpac-iag-sign-on-as-hyper-anna-gets-funding-from-reinventure-airtree-20161014-gs2ip4#ixzz4NJNh9EAe
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