HOW TO PLAY IT

Forbes - - CONTRARIAN TECHNOLOGY - Tyler Tech­nolo­gies

If call cen­ters sound in­ef­fi­cient, imag­ine how clunky lo­cal gov­ern­ments’ sys­tems are. Plano, Texas– based

makes soft­ware to bring dis­jointed op­er­a­tions for cities and states un­der one dig­i­tal roof. For in­stance, it moves state courts from pa­per to elec­tronic records and lets res­i­dents pay their util­ity bills on­line, earn­ing mul­ti­year con­tracts as large as $85 mil­lion. Ka­rina Funk, who co-man­ages Brown Ad­vi­sory’s $2.4 bil­lion (as­sets) Large Cap Sus­tain­able Growth Fund, has a

$60 mil­lion stake in Tyler and thinks de­mand for its ser­vices will only grow. “They can han­dle ev­ery­thing from a 911 call to a jail ad­mis­sion dig­i­tally,” Funk says. “Their work is im­per­a­tive in what we’re ex­pe­ri­enc­ing now with Covid.” min­i­miz­ing the need to tog­gle be­tween ap­pli­ca­tions. Sapoznik and his en­gi­neers also stud­ied the most ef­fec­tive hu­man rep­re­sen­ta­tives, try­ing to repli­cate their ex­per­tise into ASAPP soft­ware via ma­chine learn­ing. That soft­ware then coaches call-cen­ter staff on ef­fec­tive ways to re­spond to cus­tomer queries and tracks down crit­i­cal in­for­ma­tion. If a caller asks how to can­cel a flight, for ex­am­ple, ASAPP soft­ware au­to­mat­i­cally pulls up help­ful doc­u­ments for the agent to browse. If a cus­tomer reads a 16-digit ac­count num­ber, it’s in­stantly tran­scribed and dis­played on the agent’s screen for easy ref­er­ence.

When things go right, com­pa­nies us­ing ASAPP tech­nol­ogy see the num­ber of calls suc­cess­fully han­dled per hour in­crease from 40% to more than 150%. That can mean lower stress for call­cen­ter work­ers, which in turn re­duces the high turnover as­so­ci­ated with that line of work.

A li­censed pi­lot with a fond­ness for clas­si­cal mu­sic who stud­ied math at the Univer­sity of Chicago, Sapoznik first ap­plied his cod­ing skills to his fam­ily’s real es­tate and fi­nan­cial busi­ness in Mi­ami. “I’d been do­ing some work in in­vest­ments where you build ma­chine-learn­ing prod­uct ca­pa­bil­i­ties to trade the mar­kets. The im­pact there is that there’s a num­ber that goes up or goes down,” he says. Merely mak­ing money didn’t ex­cite him.

Sapoznik hopes that op­ti­miz­ing call cen­ters is just a start for ASAPP, which he founded in 2014. He’s ac­tively search­ing for sim­i­lar “gi­gan­tic-size” busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties with “bro­ken­ness and tons of in­ter­est­ing data.” He thinks ASAPP can do that be­cause it’s built like a re­search or­ga­ni­za­tion—80% of its 300 em­ploy­ees are re­searchers or en­gi­neers.

“The ex­cit­ing thing about ASAPP is not so much what they’re go­ing after now, but whether or not they can go be­yond that,” says For­rester an­a­lyst Kjell Carls­son. “They, like so many of us, see the in­cred­i­ble po­ten­tial of [us­ing] nat­u­ral lan­guage pro­cess­ing for aug­mented in­tel­li­gence.”

Sum­ma­riz­ing ASAPP’S po­ten­tial, Sapoznik draws on his ex­pe­ri­ence as a pi­lot—in avi­a­tion, au­toma­tion has steadily trans­formed the cock­pit. “It’s in­creased safety from a pretty dra­matic per­spec­tive, and it hasn’t got­ten rid of pi­lots yet,” he says. “It’s just taken away chunks of their work­loads.”

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