HOW TO PLAY IT
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.”