– transforming conversational AI | Nordic Capital

Spotlight on AI: – transforming conversational AI for Fortune 1000 companies

JANUARY 29 2024

No longer an emerging trend, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is prevalent across all industries and high on every board agenda, transforming the way businesses operate and interact with their customers and employees. Here, one of the founders and the CEO of share insights and discuss their offering and notable market trends.

For Nordic Capital, AI represents both a value-adding tool for portfolio company operations and an attractive investment opportunity. This thesis sat behind the decision to enter into a partnership with, a global leader in conversational AI for Fortune 1000 companies.

The investment in in 2021 was the first by mid-market focused Nordic Capital Evolution. It represented an opportunity to invest in and support the expansion and internationalisation of a leading SaaS company, whose mission is to enable outstanding experiences between people and organisations. The investment was made in close partnership with the CEO and co-founders, with the ambition to accelerate growth and expand into new markets.

Established in 2016, initially comprised of a small group of ambitious Norwegian coders with a vision to automate interactions for a local bank. Today, that same solution automates millions of interactions annually for leading organisations around the world.

Since launching its first virtual agent in 2016, the company has helped enterprises automate more than 60 million interactions globally.

>500 organisations worldwide currently use the Company's conversational AI to automate human-to-organisation interactions:

  • 9 of the 10 top banks in Norway
  • 4 of the 5 top insurance companies in the Nordics
  • 2 of the 4 top telecommunication operators in the Nordics
  • Increasing number of government authorities
  • Growing US customer base

Almost three years into the investment, the founder, Lars Ropeid Selsås, and Jerry Haywood, CEO since 2022, reflect on the rate of change within AI and describe how is capitalising on increasing demand.

Q: Can you describe your offering?
Our conversational AI tools help customers enhance customer satisfaction, improve their operational efficiency, and get better value from their own service teams. We do that in three broad areas.

We enable customers to engage with an organisation through multiple modalities, irrespective of the nature of their enquiry. It's all about engaging dynamically and responding effectively.

We also use AI to enhance employee interactions within large organisations. This enables them to engage efficiently with service departments that are often resource constrained.

Our third focus area is supporting human agents – and this is a significant and fast-growing segment. We help that person in their response by using AI tools to manage information and documentation.

Q: It is a crowded market. How are you differentiated?
We should not underestimate the number of organisations trying to utilise AI and being unsuccessful. With AI, quality – how often it works and the extent to which it solves a problem – is a huge differentiator. Differentiating our offering in the market is something we have focused on during Nordic Capital's ownership.

Firstly, the success rate of our customers is far beyond what we are seeing in the wider market. The likelihood of our AI solving customers' challenges is fairly guaranteed, to the point that we will put this into our contracts. There are also many AI vendors that provide the tools but require significant time and resources implementing it. As is a no-code platform, value can be realised in hours.

Another key differentiator is the broadness of scope that we offer to deal with varied requests. Bank customers will typically have 1,200-1,300 intents and reasons for contact. In the public sector, this number stands at about 6,000. Most organisations in our space can cope with 300-400 intents, and so they tend to situate the tool somewhere on their website where they know the number of intents can be limited. We, on the other hand, encourage customers to situate the chat function on the main page, inviting customers to ask any question.

Q: How has the business grown since Nordic Capital's investment?
Overall, it has been more than 100 per cent growth. We have expanded from the Nordics into the UK, throughout Europe and even in the US, and took our first steps into Latin America last quarter. The efficiency within our organisation has increased massively too. With Nordic Capital’s guidance and support, we have quickly matured the organisation and built the foundation for a large and significant leader in the AI space.

We have also undertaken significant technological advancement. The past twelve months have probably been the most transformative period for Conversational AI and AI more generally to date. Against this backdrop, our team has innovated new ways to combine our AI with other platforms and emerging technologies such as Open AI.

What are your priorities for the future?
With AI now prevalent across all industries and high on every board agenda, the opportunity for is vast. As a business, we will be focusing on enhancing our tools, creating more value for customers and reducing the time it takes for them to realise that value.

The greatest resistance we see is where organisations have had earlier experiences of using poor AI technology such as weak chatbots. For us, that means lost time as we need to then help them understand how we can do better. The AI market is noisy and crowded, meaning clear and coherent communication about our capability is imperative.

We are also in active dialogue with some of Nordic Capital's portfolio companies. There are several potential customers within the portfolio, particularly in the healthcare and financial services sectors.

What are the future trends and how are you responding?
In terms of where the market is going, we will see continuous progress and advances, particularly for voice capabilities. We are winning existing and new customers with pure voice and agent assist and it is a priority for us. Over time, it will be easy for organisations to add additional features to existing Conversational AI programmes that they are using.

We are also just scratching the surface of the capabilities and potential with generative AI. Generative AI will become part of the technology that is used in conversational AI, and every organisation is looking at how this can be leveraged and integrated into a well-functioning system.

What users really want is a fully functioning system that that solves problems. In the future, you will not interact with ChatGPT directly, but rather use these features in closed systems and then combine them with your personal and organisational data. We believe that we are the best at this.

Jerry Haywood, CEO, and Lars Ropeid Selsås, founder.