AI Business recently caught up with one of the leading lights of the intelligent assistant revolution, Dennis Mortensen, CEO and founder of x.ai.
Founded in 2014, x.ai makes an AI personal assistant ‘Amy’ who schedules meetings for you. They are backed by blue chip investors, including IA Ventures, Firstmark, and Two Sigma Ventures, and are based in New York.
Having introduced Amy into the enterprise earlier this year, we were keen to find out x.ai’s progress since then, as well as hear Dennis’s broader thoughts on AI and its impact on business as a whole.
Dennis will also be speaking at The AI Summit in San Francisco on 28-29 September, bringing his intelligent agent expertise to his keynote entitled ‘The Emergence of Bring Your Own Agent.’
Like his fellow AI pioneers, Dennis is assured that AI will change how we work, in some profound ways. And true to his company’s solution, he is focused on the change brought about by the development of AI intelligent agents:
“Over the next half decade, as more AI intelligent agents come to market, employees will increasingly deploy a suite of agents to get their job done. Much like Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), this new paradigm – call it Bring Your Own Agent (BYOA) – promises a host of benefits for both employees and employers.
Crucial to this is the agent’s ability to relieve humans of mundane daily tasks:
Scheduling meetings, booking travel, managing your receipts, and repetitive sales tasks – these are some of the many chores we must do every day. But they’re not core to our jobs and often distract us from the high value tasks, like cultivating a lead or sharpening our analysis of our customers. Vertical AI agents are starting to take on some of these tasks. Our AI intelligent agent, Amy, schedules meetings for you.
This in turn, he says, will bring about a new kind of responsibility at work:
Once you posit a small army of agents designed to take on individual tasks start to finish, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which part of anyone’s job is to identify which agents she should deploy and then to manage them well.
But there are challenges created on the flipside of this. “Because AI will be better than humans at many mundane tasks, we’re now in a setting in which your value depends much more on the quality of your questions than that of your answers”, Dennis observes. He elaborates on this point:
“Asking if your online display campaigns in the US provided a bigger basket size than the EU campaigns is a fair analytical question. All the value is in the question. You spending half an hour in GA to find the answer is really a waste of your time. You should—and will soon—be able to ask your AI Analytics Agent instead. And you’ll be able to ask in plain English, since we’ll communicate with these autonomous agents (and they’ll likely communicate with each other) in natural language.”
Interestingly, Dennis feels that adopting AI technology might be the easy part. Instead, he feels “adapting to this new setting and being able to hire well for it might actually be the real challenge.”
The conversation turns to the progress of x.ai, and how Amy – and her brother Andrew – have been received since being introduced in the enterprise.
“Customers love Amy and Andrew”, Dennis says, “and I’m not exaggerating (though I’m totally biased). Customers use the word ‘love’ all the time and refer to Amy and Andrew as ‘she’ and ‘he.’”
“By taking over scheduling ping pong, Amy removes a huge amount of pain and saves people hours every week. Enterprises have been quick to see this and understand this can translate directly into increased productivity”.
So how long will it be until everyone has an Amy or Andrew?
“We’re adding customers daily to our Professional edition (invite only for now), and we’re rolling out a business edition this autumn and winter”, Dennis reveals.
The startup market is an unforgiving world, but in the intelligent assistant space the competition is especially fierce. Dennis explains what sets x.ai apart and allows them to thrive:
“We are extremely focused! We do one thing and one thing only: schedule meetings. US knowledge workers schedule roughly 10 billion meetings every year. We want Amy and Andrew to set up every single one of them”.
Given that they are tackling a near-universal industry problem, x.ai have the scope to work across all verticals. But which industries will adopt AI most completely, and are there any industries that will resist its adoption? Dennis shares his thoughts on this:
“At this point, nearly every industry relies on the internet. You’ll see a similar adoption curve for AI. Industries which need heavier security or have complex legacy systems may be slower to adopt AI. But they all will eventually. That being said, AI will be woven into so many tools we all use – from search to the most basic business analytics – that it will touch all knowledge workers in a very short time”.
At The AI Summit in San Francisco on 28-29 September, Dennis Mortensen will deliver his keynote entitled The Emergence of Bring Your Own Agent.
He will be joined by fellow CxOs from the world's leading AI software developers and enterprises, gathering to explore the huge opportunity that AI presents all major industry verticals.
To find out more, and to register to join us at the event, visit: theaisummit.com
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