Sometimes the notion of an AI-dominated future paints a grim picture of humans being replaced by their very own creations. However, the concept of building AI products does not always have to clash with the prospect of human jobs and influence in the modern workforce.

That's what Forethought is striving to achieve. Rather than supplanting the human in the workforce, they want to provide them with powerful software tools for increasing productivity.

"Forethought builds AI-powered products that proactively embed relevant information into employees' daily workflows," says Forethought Founder, Deon Nicholas.

Forethought's flagship product, Agatha, is an AI-powered answer recommendation tool for customer support teams that has rapidly attracted the attention of both high-profile investors and enterprises looking to improve efficiency. Nicholas and the Forethought team are working towards extending the ability of their AI products beyond customer support and integrating them deeper into the modern workflow.

Putting a Different Spin on AI Products

Forethought has a unique take on the transition towards AI and machine learning (ML) tools becoming more prevalent in the workforce. And Agatha is an excellent gauge of just how much potential difference their approach to enterprise AI products offers.

"There are many 'AI-powered' software products that recommend answers for customer support," details Nicholas. "Agatha is unique in that it can leverage a wider range of inputs, not just your regular neatly-written help articles, but also your past help tickets, conversations, and emails, which are highly disorganized."

Agatha is a proficient ML product that helps to surface relevant content within the context of specific customer support situations. Instead of taking the more common keyword-driven search structure, Agatha is a drop-in solution for the workflow that can pull the necessary information from an index of millions of documents using natural language processing (NLP) and natural language understanding (NLU).

Answers are pulled from multiple sources including Google Docs, videos, KB articles, and the results of previous tickets -- categorized and curated by the AI.

"Agatha recommends answers in context, meaning that it reads through your customer support tickets and recommends answers before you have to search," cites Nicholas. The idea is to vastly improve employee productivity by removing one of the most time-consuming activities across multiple industries -- researching and looking up relevant information.

Out of the general six-minute metrics for customer service calls, nearly 75 percent of that time is spent by the agent manually researching information. With Forethought, the time-to-resolution can be drastically reduced, leading to better employee productivity and customer retention -- resulting in improved revenue .

Besides the effectiveness of the AI, ease of integration and compatibility with existing systems is critical to furthering adoption by enterprises. "Agatha is super fast to set up, I'm talking about days instead of weeks or months which is more typical of traditional Saas deployment," says Nicholas.

Designed to be non-disruptive, Agatha is compatible with leading dominant CRM and helpdesk software including Salesforce, Zendesk, Freshworks, and Front help desks. The success of Forethought's flagship product has helped them gain favor with some leading VC firms including Village Global, which is backed by some of the leading entrepreneurs in the world.

Forethought has raised $9 million in their Series A, led by New Enterprise Associates. As the company builds upon their cardinal product, Agatha, their goals stretch beyond customer service.

Building Momentum in an Era of Machine Learning Innovation

In regards to Agatha, Forethought is planning on rolling out more platforms for the answer generation tool to be compatible with shortly. Outside of Agatha, the team is mapping out an initiative to bring similar employee-augmentation products to other areas of the enterprise workflow. For example, Forethought plans on eventually operating as a cloud service where credentialing from various helpdesk, CRM, and other software platforms are directly compatible with their service.

The company has already taken some of the initial steps towards expanding its services, including a recent partnership with Front -- a collaboration and communication platform for professional teams.

"With Agatha Answers installed in Front, Agatha automatically scans open conversations for contextual cues and makes answer recommendations directly in the inbox, no search or preexisting template necessary," details the Forethought team.

Agatha Answers in the context of Front's integration enables comprehensive extraction of a knowledge base including data from Dropbox files, Discourse posts, helpdesk articles, how-to-videos, and more.

With so many promises of AI-based solutions as part of the future global workforce, customer service appears poised to be one of the first markets for significant disruption. However, fear not, for initiatives like Forethought seek to empower the employee, rather than replace them.

"AI is a tool to augment people. We're on a mission to enable everyone to be rockstars at their job," says Nicholas.

Published on: May 9, 2019
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