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With an assistant, they are now entering businesses of all sizes. If companies are to utilize artificial intelligence, they need accuracy and data protection. Both are offered by the AskYourData tool from Blindspot Solutions, a member of the Adastra Group.
No technology is without risks. The same applies to generative artificial intelligence, which acts as a great personal assistant capable of handling research for seminar papers, writing posts on social networks, and a number of other tasks you assign. It’s great for individuals, but companies lack the ability to control the accuracy of the answers and the ability to generate responses based on company data. The Czech company Blindspot Solutions, which is part of the Adastra Group, has therefore introduced AskYourData.
The new virtual assistant AskYourData, powered by artificial intelligence (AI), can be used by even the largest companies to speed up routine work tasks of employees and improve customer experience. All this without worrying about the accuracy of answers and the security of sensitive data. The tool can instantly advise employees on operational agendas, find specific documents hidden deep in cloud storage, or process data stored in databases into clear monthly reports.
It is therefore well suited for deployment in data-intensive areas, typically in banks, automotive companies, or among operators. AskYourData can assist not only employees but also customers as a chatbot, advising on product selection according to their preferences or with automated responses regarding the status of their order.
“Customer support workers can open all the documents where the customer’s name appears in a second. This is a huge advantage, for example, when processing mortgages, where dozens of important documents are reviewed during the approval process. The acceleration that AskYourData offers then directly reflects on the customer experience,” explains Štěpán Kopřiva, Chief Technical Officer at Blindspot Solutions, which has been part of the Adastra Group since 2017.
Blindspot Solutions was founded by Kopřiva in 2014 with current CEO Ondřej Vaňek and Michal Pěchouček, a professor focused on artificial intelligence mainly as part of his main engagement at the company Gen (formerly Avast). They help companies utilize other AI-based tools, for example, for converting audio recordings to text or for recognizing text in images. Ondřej Vaněk discussed how artificial intelligence is permeating our lives in this podcast. Blindspot itself was the first to predict the results of presidential elections thanks to AI technologies.
According to their recent research, 99 percent of managers of domestic companies plan to use the capabilities of generative artificial intelligence in the following year, but 81 percent of them fear the inaccuracy of generated responses, and 61 percent fear the loss or misuse of company data. Employees of large companies have surely heard the lesson that they should not copy any sensitive or personal data into the assignments for artificial intelligence (the so-called prompt), which the tool operators can then use to further improve their models.
When ChatGPT is not enough
The best-known generative artificial intelligence from OpenAI has had its first peak of fame, with nearly every tech enthusiast having tried chatting with ChatGPT. The potential risks of the new technology are also well mapped out. Most users, for example, soon encounter the fact that artificial intelligence “makes things up” very convincingly, or in expert terms, hallucinates.
This is a trait that stems from the nature of large language models (LLMs), which predict the continuation of text with a certain degree of probability. And although their developers try to reduce the level of hallucinations by all possible means, sometimes you simply get complete nonsense from artificial intelligence. But even this does not diminish the technology’s appeal; it is just necessary to be cautious when using such tools.
These risks are not unique to the well-known ChatGPT, they apply to most publicly available models. “The most popular tools were created with the goal of being the perfect personal assistant. But for full-fledged use in companies, that’s not enough. Therefore, we decided to put together technologies that would offer accurate, sourced answers and at the same time comply with strict regulations for handling sensitive and personal data so that companies can use them without worry,” describes Kopřiva the problem that AskYourData solves.
In a corporate deployment, according to the technology head of Blindspot, it’s undesirable for artificial intelligence to make things up: “We recently launched the first project for the Swedish company Samkonsult, which deals with documentation for construction proceedings. Our tool responds to queries of designers regarding local construction regulations. And anyone with experience in construction certainly knows how complex construction requirements are. The fire department wants things one way, the city another, and conservationists yet another. In such cases, artificial intelligence must work with information absolutely precisely, without a hint of hallucinating.”
Reliable answers without waiting
The basic principle of how the new tool works is simple, but it offers endless possibilities. A company employee can ask AskYourData anything from a web browser window or an internal system. How to report a business trip, where to find technical information about the latest product, or the complete purchase history of a specific customer. The tool goes through all the files in the company and formulates its findings into a sourced answer. Everything works on the same principles as, for example, the mentioned ChatGPT.
Companies today often work with a large volume of information and not always efficiently. Employees spend a lot of time searching through folders and going through documents that may be several years outdated. “Best practices are shared among employees in the kitchen over a cup of coffee,” adds Kopřiva with a smile. However, artificial intelligence can handle cases where the user doesn’t know the exact keywords or wants more than just to find files containing a certain phrase.
With AskYourData, there’s no need to click through the output; the artificial intelligence summarizes everything in the response and can processes the results into a table or code. For complete transparency, it also provides the sources allowing the user can verify the answer if necessary. “And if it finds nothing, it apologizes and admits frankly that it has no information on the topic. This is key for companies,” Kopřiva adds.
The Brain for a Cabinet Full of Corporate Tools
At Blindspot Solutions, there is also a growing interest in integrating their assistant with third-party tools such as Slack, Jira, or Confluence because users want to obtain, for example, answers about the current status of work on a specific task. And since AskYourData can do this, it is one of its main advantages over the competing tools like Microsoft Copilot. The latter is used by many companies as part of assistants linked to artificial intelligence, but its possibilities are limited by the world of Office 365 services.
Technologically, AskYourData uses models like ChatGPT from OpenAI, Bard from Google, or Llama from Meta, which are engineered to optimally present large amounts of data. The strengths of the Czech tool lie not in the language model used but in its precise work with information, drawing its answers from corporate repositories. Just connect it to a corporate cloud or databases, where it can handle PDF, PowerPoint, Word, Excel files, and SQL databases, or direct it to information on websites.
AskYourData Overcomes the Limits of General Models
By connecting to corporate data, it breaks the known limitation of general models whose memory currently ends in September 2021. Furthermore, the entire solution is a cloud service running on Azure, which uses a version of ChatGPT that Microsoft guarantees complete security of sensitive and personal data for corporate customers. It does not store or process any requests and respects the company’s user permission settings when querying stored files.
At the same time, it is not a software solution that would only be available to large corporations. AskYourData offers tiered subscription levels and thus makes this technology available also to smaller companies and startups. The broad possibilities of use bring a completely new challenge that experts call prompt management.
Since artificial intelligence can perform hundreds of different tasks, users must learn how to correctly enter requests (prompts) to get the desired quality of results. In this regard, AskYourData offers the possibility of creating so-called AI assistants, which can be thought of as pre-prepared requests for typical tasks. Employees can then activate them with a single click.
“We identify with the opinion that artificial intelligence will not replace workers, it will just offer them new options for increasing productivity and uncovering new business opportunities. AskYourData is going in this direction and is changing the way people work so that they can devote energy and time to tasks with higher added value, typically being in contact with customers,” concludes Kopřiva.
The article was published by the portal CzechCrunch (October 18, 2023)
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