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Jean Belanger, Co-Founder & CEO at Cerebri AI – Interview Series

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Jean Belanger, is the Co-Founder & CEO at Cerebri AI, a pioneer in artificial intelligence and machine learning, is the creator of Cerebri Values™, the industry’s first universal measure of customer success. Cerebri Values quantifies each customer’s commitment to a brand or product and dynamically predicts “Next Best Actions” at scale, which enables large companies to focus on accelerating profitable growth.

What was it that initially attracted you to AI?

Cerebri AI is my 2nd data science startup. My first used operations research modelling to optimize order processing for major retail and ecommerce operations. 4 of the top US 10 retailers, including Walmart, used our technology. AI has a huge advantage, which really attracted me. Models learn, which means they are more scalable. Which means we can build and scale awesome technology that really, really adds value.

Can you tell us about your journey to become a co-founder of Cerebri AI?

I was mentoring at a large accelerator here in Austin, Texas – Capital Factory – and I was asked to write the business plan for Cerebri AI.  So, I leveraged my experience of doing data science, with over 80 data science-based installs using our technology. Sometimes you just need to go for it.

What are some of the challenges that enterprises currently face when it comes to CX and customer/brand relationships?

The simple answer is that every business tries to understand their customers’ behavior, so they can satisfy their needs. You cannot get into someone’s head to sort out why they buy a product or service when they do, so brands must do the best they can. Surveys, tracking market share, or measuring market segmentation. There are thousands of ways of tracking or understanding customers. However, the underlying basis for everything is rarely thought about, and that is Moore’s Law.  More powerful, cheaper semiconductors, processors etc., from Intel, Apple, Taiwan Semi, etc., make our modern economy work at such a compute intense level relative to a few years ago. Today, the cost of cloud computing and memory resources make AI doable.  AI is VERY compute intensive. Things that were not possible, even five years ago, can now be done. In terms of customer behavior, we can now process all the info and data that we have digitally recorded in one customer journey per customer. So, customer behavior is suddenly much easier to understand and react to. This is key, and that is the future of selling products and services.

Cerebri AI personalizes the enterprise by combining machine learning and cloud computing to enhance brand commitment. How does the AI increase brand commitment?

When Cerebri AI looks at a customer, the first thing we establish is their commitment to the brand we are working with. We define commitment to the brand as the customer’s willingness to spend in the future. Its fine to be in business and have committed customers, but if they do not buy your goods and services, then in effect, you are out of business. The old saying goes – if you cannot measure something, you cannot improve it.  Now we can measure commitment and other key metrics, which means we can use our data monitoring tools and study a customer’s journey to see what works and what does not. Once we find a tactic that works, our campaign building tools can instantly build a cohort of customers that might be similarly impacted. All of this is impossible without AI and the cloud infrastructure at the software layer, which allows us to move in so many directions with customers.

What type of data does Cerebri collect? Or use within its system? How does this comply with PII (Personally Identifiable Information) restrictions?

Until now we only operate behind the customer’s firewall, so PII has not been an issue. We are going to open a direct access web site in the Fall, so that will require use of anonymized data. We are excited about the prospect of bringing our advanced technology to a broader array of companies and organizations.

You are working with the Bank of Canada, Canada’s central bank, to introduce AI to their macroeconomic forecasting. Could you describe this relationship, and how your platform is being used?

The Bank of Canada is an awesome customer. Brilliant people and macroeconomic experts.  We started 18 months or so ago. Introducing AI into the technology choices the bank’s team would have at their disposal. We started with predictions of quarterly GDP for Canada.  That was great, now we are expanding the dataset used in the AI-based forecasts to increase accuracy, etc.  To do this, we developed an AI optimizer, which automates the thousands of choices facing a data scientist when they carry out a modelling exercise. Macro-economic time series require a very sophisticated approach when you are dealing with decades of data, all of which may have an impact on overall GDP.  The AI Optimizer was so successful that we decided to incorporate this into Cerebri AI’s standard CCX platform offering.  It will be used in all future engagements.  Amazing technology.  One of the reasons we have filed 24 patents to date.

Cerebri AI launched CCX v2 in the autumn last year. What is this platform exactly?

Our CCX offering has three components.

Our CCX platform, which consists of a 10-stage software pipeline, which our data scientists use to build their models and product insights. It is also our deployment system from data intake to our UX and insights.  We have several applications in our offering, such as QM for quality management of the entire process, and Audit, which tells users what features drive the insights they are seeing.

Then, we have our Insights themselves, which are generated from our modelling technology. Our flagship insight is our Cerebri Values, which is a customer’s commitment to your brand, which is – in effect – a measure of how much money a customer is willing to spend in the future on a brand’s products and services.

We derive a host of customer engagement and revenue KPI insights from our core offering and we can help with our next best action{set}s to drive engagement, up-selling, cross-selling, reducing churn, etc.

You sat down to interview representatives from four major faith traditions in the world today — Islam, Hinduism, Judaism and Christianity. Have your views of the world shifted since these interviews, and is there one major insight that you would like to share with our readers during the current pandemic?

Diversity matters. Not because it is a goal in and of itself, but because treating anyone in anything less than a totally equitable manner is just plain stupid. Period. When I was challenged to put in a program to reinforce Cerebri AI’s commitment to diversity, it was apparent to me that what we used to learn as children, in our houses of worship, has been largely forgotten.  So, I decided to ask the faith communities and their leaders in the US to tell us how they think through treating everyone equally. The sessions have proved to be incredibly popular, and we make them available to anyone who wants to use them in their business.

On the pandemic, I have an expert at home. My wife is a world-class epidemiologist.  She told me on day one. Make sure the people most at risk are properly isolated, she called this epi-101. This did not happen. The effects have been devastating.  Age discrimination is not just an equity problem in working, it is also all about how we treat our parents, grandparents, etc., wherever they are residing.  We did not distinguish ourselves in the pandemic in how we dealt with nursing home residents, for example, a total disaster in many communities. I live in Texas, we are the 2nd biggest state population wise, and our pandemic-related deaths per population is 40th in the US among all states.  Arguably the best in Europe is Germany with 107 pandemic deaths per million, Texas sits at 77, so our state authorities have done a great job so far.

You’ve stated that a lot of the media focuses on the doom and gloom of AI but does not focus enough on how the technology can be useful to make our lives better. What are your views on some of the improvements in our lives that we will witness from the further advancement of AI?

Our product helps eliminate spam email from the vendors you do business with. Does it get better than that? Just kidding. There are so many fields where AI is helping, it is difficult to imagine a world without AI.

Is there anything else that you would like to share about Cerebri AI?

The sky’s the limit, as understanding customer behavior is only really just beginning. Being enabled for the first time by AI and the totally massive compute power available on the cloud and due to Moore’s Law.

Thank you for the great interviews, readers who wish to learn more should visit Cerebri AI.

Antoine Tardif is a Futurist who is passionate about the future of AI and robotics. He is the CEO of BlockVentures.com, and has invested in over 50 AI & blockchain projects. He is the Co-Founder of Securities.io a news website focusing on digital assets, digital securities and investing. He is a founding partner of unite.AI & a member of the Forbes Technology Council.