From The Editor | June 28, 2018

Find AI Confusing Or Intimidating? Here's Some Good News

Sarah Nicastro

By Sarah Nicastro, publisher/editor in chief, Field Technologies
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If you’ve ever found yourself reading about how AI is the next big thing in field service and felt like you wanted to run in the other direction, I’ve got some good news for you. I was reading today in this article about, a San Francisco-based startup that provides enterprise AI-as-a-service.

The VentureBeat article explains that, founded in May 2016, just announced a $35 million round of funding led by Dell Technologies and TPG Growth (bringing its total fundraising to $51 million). In the company’s press release, CEO Steve Pratt says, “Even after two decades of decision support software and ERP implementations, you see the results of bad business decisions every day: empty store shelves, wasted energy, packages that don’t arrive on time, labor forces over or under worked, even factories closing. It’s high time that changed. Learning algorithms are now practical and affordable, so there’s no reason not to use them to make better decisions.” serves to make it easier for companies to take advantage of AI through its AI-as-a-service model where you pay a monthly subscription fee for the AI capabilities. The VentureBeat article describes’s engagement with its customers by saying, “The company, which owns its own datacenter, spends about three months building custom AI solutions for its customers and another three months integrating the results into their systems. Its engineers and data scientists use an in-house platform, playfully named the Beast, to build three-component machine learning systems that consist of a Sensory Engine that finds patterns in data, a Prediction Engine that calculates what’s likely to happen in a business, and a Recommendation Engine that surfaces actions to meet objectives. Results selected from the Recommendation Engine are fed back into the system, starting the cycle over.”

I can see how for field service organizations that recognize the potential of AI, but feel overwhelmed thinking about how to bring that value to life amidst many other priorities, the idea of AI-as-a-service would be very appealing. SaaS-based field service management has become a popularly utilized option, as it enables companies to leverage the technology without needing to make a large upfront investment or rely on already strapped internal resources.

VentureBeat describes two use cases of’s platform, saying, “The startup’s clients include XoJet, one of the world’s largest private aviation platforms, and American steel producer Big River Steel. In XoJet’s case, produced a learning algorithm that takes into account thousands of variables to determine the right prices for airfare, which boosted the company’s profitability by 5 percent. And for a Big River Steel mill in Arkansas, it used more than 30,000 sensors and AI to predict how much electricity would be consumed by the mill’s machines so it could sell excess energy back to the electric company.”

According to the website, the industries it serves are retail and CPG, manufacturing, and transportation/logistics. If you’ve yet to get the ball rolling with AI in your organization, it might be worth checking out this AI-as-a-service option.