50 Most Admired Companies of the Year 2021

Helping Global Brands Infuse Trusted AI Into Business Processes: CognitiveScale


“We created CognitiveScale to give businesses confidence and trust in the digital systems they need to thrive.”

CognitiveScale pioneered the concept of ‘Trusted AI’, paving the way for responsible Enterprise AI development worldwide. Backed by over 170 AI patents, the Cortex platform empowers data scientists and citizen developers to build, understand and analyze intelligent, transparent, and trusted AI systems using any data, on any cloud. 

By simplifying the development, deployment, and management of AI systems, CognitiveScale is revolutionizing how organizations across industries–healthcare, financial services, insurance and digital commerce– engage with customers, optimize services and deliver on bottom line goals—all while protecting them from business risk.

Headquartered in Austin, Texas, CognitiveScale is recognized by the World Economic Forum for positively impacting business and society through AI with active investment from Norwest Venture Partners, Intel Capital, IBM Watson, M12 (Microsoft Ventures), and USAA.

To highlight and further understand what CognitiveScale stands for and seeks to explore in this segment, I sat down with Akshay (Shay) Sabhikhi (Co-founder), who serves as the company’s Chief Operating Officer.

Below is an excerpt.

Q. Tell us what inspired the creation of CognitiveScale.

We created CognitiveScale to give businesses confidence and trust in the digital systems they need to thrive. We understood that as businesses increasingly adopt digital systems of engagement, fostering trust within your decision processes across all your stakeholders, including customers, employees, auditors, etc. would be a necessity. So, we defined anchors of trustworthy AI—explainability, personalization, fairness, robustness, and compliance—principles upon which automated decision-making systems become trusted and responsible. We learnt by applying these principles in heavily regulated industries such as healthcare and financial services to drive exponential results for our clients in the form of increasing patient engagement, reducing the cost of care, and improving the servicing of customers to increase loyalty.

Q. How do your Cortex software and industry AI accelerators enable businesses to rapidly build, operate, and evolve intelligent, transparent, and trusted AI systems on any cloud?

The Cortex platform is a scalable, trustworthy system for true, end-to-end production-ready AI development. The platform makes it easy for businesses to operationalize trusted AI from design to production with reliable data and dependable outcomes. Consisting of three products, Cortex Certifai, Cortex Fabric, and Cortex Application Blueprints, the platform is driven by the profile-of-one technology, layered for AI control and low-code AI development through ready-made industry-specific application blueprints. Last month, we launched Fabric Version 6, expanding functionality by making it easy for citizen developers to design, build and monitor goal-driven AI apps, aligned to business KPIs for even faster time to value. The visual framework of V6 lets developers implement large-scale AI campaigns with minimal dependencies on underlying infrastructure with a focus on tracking and measuring business outcomes.

Q. In what industries are your clients? Can you provide us with one or two success stories describing the challenges your clients faced and how your solutions helped them overcome those challenges?

We target heavily regulated industries such as healthcare and financial services. In healthcare, for example, our AI-powered application blueprints are dramatically improving patient outcomes and cost of care by moving medicine from reactive to proactive, predictive, and personalized. We help global brands build, deploy, and manage intelligent systems that accelerate member and patient engagement in areas such as care optimization (e.g., cost of care, star rating improvement) and service experience (e.g., chatbots, self-service). For example, Cortex AI-powered solutions can drive proactive outreach to patients—care insights delivered to the right person at the right time on the right channel—with accuracy and trust—enabling proactive management of patients, improving quality, and lowering the cost of care. Kaiser Permanente has been using Cortex Certifai to inspect their models and algorithms for explainability and bias to detect specific risk factors per patient. As a result, they were able to detect and remove bias in inpatient ER discharges, identify high-cost patients, and high utilizer member patients, dramatically cutting costs while reducing business risk. 

Q. How do you protect your clients from AI-based risks?

AI and ML can deliver incredible outcomes, but without explainability and fairness, they can expose businesses to tremendous risk, both monetary and brand damage. Through Cortex Certifai, businesses can design and deploy a more robust, transparent, and fair AI system, while uncovering and correcting hidden/unintended bias in AI models. Certifai’s visual interface enables anyone in the business to evaluate and compare AI systems and outcomes. Certifai measures and scores across four risk dimensions: Robustness, fairness, explainability, and performance. It can be applied to any black-box model—statistical, rules-based, and predictive, including ML models.

Q. What strategies are in place to encourage innovation in your company?

At the core of our business are the people behind the solutions we deliver. And our people are all passionate about delivering transformative business outcomes with Trusted AI from CognitiveScale that delivers “AI for Good”. From our interns to our software developers and everyone in between, we encourage all to think beyond the possible and reinvent the future of finance, healthcare, insurance, and more. Our culture is inclusive, supportive, and innovative. For example, we have weekly Jam sessions where anyone from the company can share their latest projects and get on-the-spot feedback. Every Friday, we have an all-hands stand-up meeting to close out the week. Team members use the time for shout-outs, updates, and collaborative touchpoints.

Q. Will CognitiveScale be expanding, bringing on any new products or services that we should be aware of?

The CognitiveScale team of talented engineers and product designers are hard at work developing, refining, and innovating both existing and new products with direct input from our customers and partners. With the launch of Cortex Fabric Version 6 this past month, we are expanding our low code developer platform to enable citizen developers to implement and simulate large-scale AI campaigns that are aligned and optimized to business goals, KPIs, and imperatives. We’ve enhanced Cortex Certifai to support end-to-end governance working with a leading independent organization (Responsible AI Institute) to define industry-specific policies, reports, and certifications for our customers.

Additionally, we have built a subscription-based SaaS offering with our Fabric and Certifai products targeted to the residential mortgage industry. TrustStar provides proactive and predictive insights on the retail lending market to credit unions and mortgage companies to grow market share by tracking listing trends, keeping up with their competition, and better serving customers’ needs, while staying within regulatory compliance boundaries.

Q. What plans for transformation are you pursuing to remain relevant now and in the future?

Trusted AI is more relevant than ever in all vertical markets, but especially in highly regulated markets. Right now, we know that the healthcare and financial services industries are recognizing the critical value of AI for delivering exceptional care and service experiences. Looking ahead, we see the need to create transformative solutions for many other markets, including retail, travel, hospitality, manufacturing, and so on. We know the pitfalls and roadblocks that many enterprises face when deploying AI. CognitiveScale has addressed those with our product portfolio that delivers a practical, scalable, trustworthy system for true, end-to-end production-ready AI development.

Here at CognitiveScale, we have the foundation and expertise to address their specific needs quickly, just like we have done successfully within the healthcare and financial services industries.

Q. Is there anything else you want us to highlight that we might have missed?

From the early days of the company, we’ve developed a culture to solve hard problems that deliver tremendous value for our customers. We have proven this in heavily regulated industries (healthcare and financial services) and our AI is being used to serve over 90 million healthcare members in the United States across leading healthcare organizations. Our technology is backed by over 170 patents filed with ~100 approved making us one of the leading AI patent portfolios amongst all companies, private and public. We were recognized by the World Economic Forum as a Technology pioneer in 2019 for our work to promote Responsible AI and we continue to partner with the forum to further its adoption globally.

Akshay (Shay) Sabhikhi | COO & Co-Founder

Akshay (Shay) Sabhikhi is the Chief Operating Officer (COO) responsible for Operations, Management and Marketing. Shay has more than 20 years of entrepreneurial leadership, product development and management experience with growth-stage, venture-backed companies and high growth software divisions within Fortune 500 companies.

As co-founder and former CEO of CognitiveScale, Shay has worked tirelessly to create an award-winning company defined by ground-breaking products and an inclusive culture that places people over process every time. His vision and guidance is critical in continuing to drive record-breaking year-over-year growth. He has a BS & MS degree in Electrical & Computer Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and an MBA from the Acton School of Entrepreneurship.

“We were recognized by the World Economic Forum as a Technology pioneer in 2019 for our work to promote Responsible AI and we continue to partner with the forum to further its adoption globally.”