Can Artificial Intelligence Catalyze Creativity?

In the 2017 “cerebral” Olympic games, artificial intelligence defeated the human brain in several key categories. Google’s AlphaGo beat the best player of Go, humankind’s most complicated strategy game; algorithms taught themselves how to predict heart attacks better than the AHA (American Heart Association); and Libratus, an AI built by Carnegie Mellon University, beat four top poker players at no-limit Texas Hold ‘Em. Many technologists agree that computers will eventually outperform humans on step-by-step tasks, but when it comes to creativity and innovation, humans will always be a part of the equation.

Inspiration, from the Latin inspiratus, literally means “breathed into.” It implies a divine gift – the aha moment, the lightning bolt, the secret sauce that can’t be replicated. Around the globe, large organizations are attempting to reculture their companies to foster innovation and flexibility, two core competencies needed to survive the rapid-fire rate of change. Tom Agan’s HBR article titled “The Secret to Lean Innovation” identified learning as the key ingredient, while Lisa Levey believes that seeing failure as a part of success is key.

At the same time, although innovation is a human creation, machines do play a role in that process. Business leaders are using AI and advanced business intelligence tools to make operations more efficient and generate higher ROI, but are they designing their digital ecosystems to nurture a culture of innovation? If the medium is the message, then they should be.

“If you want to unlock opportunities before your competitors, challenging the status quo needs to be the norm, not the outlier. It will be a long time if ever before AI replaces human creativity, but business intelligence tools can support discovery, collaboration and execution of new ideas.” – Joe Sticca, COO at Synaptik

So, how can technology augment your innovation ecosystem?


New business intelligence tools can help you manage innovation, from sourcing ideas to generating momentum and tracking return on investment. For instance, to prevent corporate tunnel vision, you can embed online notifications that superimpose disruptive questions on a person’s screen. With this simple tool, managers can help employees step outside the daily grind to reflect on the larger questions and how they impact today’s deliverable.


The market is flooded with collaboration tools that encourage employees to leverage each other’s strengths to produce higher quality deliverables. The most successful collaboration tools are those that seamlessly fit into current workflows and prioritize interoperability. To maximize innovation capacity, companies can use collaboration platforms to bring more diversity to the table by inviting external voices including clients, academics and contractors into the process.


Social listening tools and sentiment analysis can provide deep insights into the target customer’s needs, desires and emotional states. When inspiration strikes, innovative companies are able to prototype ideas quickly and share those ideas with the digital universe to understand what sticks and what stinks. By streamlining A/B testing and failing fast and often, agile companies can reduce risk and regularly test their ideas in the marketplace.

While computers may never birth the aha moments that drive innovation, advanced business intelligence tools and AI applications can capture sparks of inspiration and lubricate the creative process. Forward-thinking executives are trying to understand how AI and advanced business intelligence tools can improve customer service, generate higher ROI, and lower production costs. Companies like Cogito are using AI to provide real-time behavioral guidance to help customer service professionals improve the quality of their interactions while Alexa is using NLP to snag the full-time executive assistant job in households all over the world.

Creativity is the final frontier for artificial intelligence. But rather than AI competing against our innovative powers, business intelligence tools like Synaptik can bolster innovation performance today. The Synaptik difference is an easy user interface that makes complex data management, analytics and machine learning capabilities accessible to traditional business users. We offer customized packages that are tailored to your needs and promise to spur new ideas and deep insights.

By Nina Robbins


Why Third Party Data Will Transform the Insurance Industry

Insurance Outlook

Insurance companies have always been able to navigate their way through an evolving marketplace. However, according to the Deloitte Insurance Outlook 2018, macroeconomic, social, and regulatory changes are likely to impact insurance companies. In the digital age, insurance companies are dealing with disruptive forces like climate change, the development of autonomous vehicles and the rising threat of cyber attacks. While these trends may seem troublesome, high-tech business intelligence tools can provide more clarity in an increasingly unpredictable world.

With stagnant growth across the industry, insurance companies are investing in new products and business models to gain an advantage in a highly competitive market. The financial goals of every insurance company remains the same – cut costs while improving productivity. These financial goals have become difficult to reach as 1-click digital service has increased consumer expectations. With this in mind, insurance companies are intent on adopting business intelligence and analytical tools that are designed to promote growth and efficiency.

How Can Business Intelligence and Analytics help the Insurance Industry?

Insurance companies have traditionally used CRM software to connect and maintain contact with their potential customers. Now, complicated service industries like healthcare and insurance are starting to see the benefits of using more powerful business intelligence and analytics platforms.

In an unpredictable world, the use of analytics and business intelligence tools can reduce risk and improve decision-making. In 2015, Bain and Company surveyed 70 insurers and found that annual spending on growth on Big Data analytics will reach 24% in life insurance and 27% in P&C (Property and Casualty) insurance. While this information demonstrates the rapid adoption of business intelligence tools, this survey also revealed that 1 in 3 life insurers and 1 in 5 P&C insurers do not use advanced analytics for any function of their business. This leaves an opportunity in the marketplace for insurance companies to utilize business intelligence tools to gain a competitive advantage.

BI allows insurers to gain better insights on their customers in order to create a better experience. These tools not only help companies paint a whole picture of their customers, but they also help strengthen client relationships, market share, and revenue. According to Mckinsey and Company, companies that use data analytics extensively are more than twice as likely to generate above average profits.

The Takeaway

Working in the insurance industry can be exciting and challenging. The individual sales process can be rewarding as the success of a sale is the responsibility of a single agent. Insurance agents are often fully occupied with meetings and phone calls. While insurance agents normally have access to basic demographic data, third party data vendors have become increasingly popular because of their capability to combine data sets and provide new insights that were previously unknown. Additionally, third party data has been a useful resource for insurance companies to understand the motivations of their prospects. By analyzing the social trends and life events of their prospects, insurance agents have the tools to make a stronger sales pitch.

At Synaptik, we pride ourselves on customer service. Our in-house data scientists are to happy to help you identify third party data sets that can be integrated into your current performance management system and put you ahead of the competition. According to the Everest Research Group, adoption of third party data analytics is expected to quadruple in size by 2020. In an increasingly volatile market, third party data will be critical to better planning, decision-making and customer satisfaction.

By Kiran Prakash


How the IoT Can Bring Down Healthcare Costs

Healthcare is a multi-billion dollar industry, and that’s not going to change anytime soon. The financial figures go both ways – revenues and costs – but for most of the people involved in healthcare especially consumers, it boils down to the latter.

Healthcare costs are high for a reason. The processes, products and technologies used in the industry undergo strict quality control checks to ensure their effectiveness and resources are needed to create and deploy such components.

From a business standpoint, if stocks were to be used as a basis for healthcare costs, even people with limited knowledge on financial markets can understand how massive this industry is and why the costs of medicine increase annually. In an article by Business Insider, it stated healthcare stocks have remained strong even after several other stocks fell after the Presidential Inauguration. And according to FXCM’s article on how to value a stock, they suggest while a stock’s valuation may differ from its intrinsic value, healthcare remains a compelling sector as baby boomers are now entering their senior years.

Fortunately, technology is also becoming a means to cut healthcare costs. Among the most promising innovations that could potentially make this possible is the Internet of Things (IoT).

The tech titan IBM enumerated the advantages of integrating the IoT into healthcare and the first on the list is reduced costs. A concrete example was given: real time patient monitoring. Non-critical patients can be monitored even at home, thereby decreasing hospital admissions and unnecessary costs.

Mubaloo revealed IoT-dependent technologies can be implemented in medical products such as RFID tags, beacons and even ‘smart beds’. Due to the large amount of equipment used by medical personnel, it’s a costly – not to mention time-consuming – task to track every piece, but with tiny modifications such as the installation of RFID chips, the process becomes much more efficient.

Beacons, on the other hand, can be placed near patient rooms or hospital wards, which can then be updated with the corresponding patient data or any relevant info to reduce costs on printed materials and other similar articles. ‘Smart beds’ can be used to notify doctors or nurses regarding the activity of their patients, which then lessens the need for frequent hospital rounds.

Moreover, Aranca discussed the prevalence of tech wearables in the US and Europe. Wearable devices are now specifically developed for functions such as tracking vital signs. This adds to the potential of remote patient monitoring as well as managing particular diseases. For instance, a wearable tracker may be used to measure a person’s glucose levels to help avoid or manage diabetes. Apple is reportedly developing this technology, and CNBC revealed that the first person to be tested is the firm’s CEO, Tim Cook.

More and more devices are getting connected each year, and experts estimate that around 20 billion devices will be interconnected by 2020 based on research. With such a rapid phase of development, it’s only a matter of time before innovations such as the aforementioned wearables get officially rolled out across the industry.

As global healthcare turns more reliant on technology and connectivity, the Internet of Things will be utilized further in various parts of the industry. And with reduced costs now highly feasible, hopefully more people will be able to have access to the quality healthcare that they deserve.


New York Civic Tech Innovation Challenge – Finalist

The Neighborhood Health Project is a 360° urban tech solution that takes the pulse of struggling commercial corridors and helps local businesses keep pace with competition.

New York City’s prized brick-and-mortar businesses are struggling. With the rise of e-commerce, sky high rents and growing operational costs, the small businesses that give New York City Streets their distinctive character face mass extinction.

This year’s NYC Department of Small Business Services Neighborhood Challenge 5.0 paired nonprofit community organizations and tech companies to create and implement tools that address specific commercial district issues. On June 15th, community-based organizations from across the city from the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership to the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation, presented tech solutions to promote local business and get a deeper understanding of the economic landscape.

The Wall Street Journal reports that “the Neighborhood Challenge Grant Competition is a bit like the Google Lunar XPrize. Except rather than top engineers competing to put robots on the moon, it has tiny neighborhood associations inventing new methods to improve business, from delivery service to generating foot traffic.”

Synaptik, the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce and the Chinatown BID were thrilled to have their Neighborhood Health Project chosen as a finalist in this year’s competition.

The Neighborhood Health Projects aims to preserve the personality of our commercial corridors and help our small businesses and community at large adapt to the demands of the 21st century economy. By optimizing data collection, simplifying business engagement and integrating predictive analytics, we can get a better understanding of the causes and effects of commercial vacancies, the impacts of past policies and events and create an open dialogue between businesses, communities and government agencies.

“With Synaptik, we can provide small businesses user-friendly tools and data insights that were previously reserved for industry heavy weights with in-house data scientists and large resource pools” said Liam Wright, CEO of Synaptik.

The Neighborhood Health Project Team was honored to have had the opportunity to share the stage with such innovative project teams. “It is great to see civic organizations take an innovative role in data intelligence to serve community constituents and local businesses. We came far in the process and hope to find alternative ways to bring this solution to New York City neighborhoods ” said Joe Sticca, Chief Operating Officer of Synaptik.

By Nina Robbins


5 Criteria for Prioritizing Business Optimization Projects in the Digital Space

“Going digital” – the globally pervasive term for the vague process of improving elements of your business with the fruit of new technology, such as advanced cloud-based analytics and machine learning solutions. Wireless communication is common these days, while cheap sensors, mobile devices, and other hardware enable businesses to direct and process oceans of data, manage people and equipment remotely, and boost the efficiency of field service personnel.

Clearly, digital can reshape any aspect of modern enterprise. Consider QM, an iPad application that True Interaction built for Lifetime Brands. QM enables organizations to oversee and manage Quality Control Inspections in real time, regardless of where factories, product lots, or distribution points are located. QM conducts multiple inspection types, including factories, products, and social compliance, powered by SAP cloud data.

I’ve written before regarding the huge gains reaped by progressive businesses in the digital space. The race is on, but where should you start? What aspect of the business should come first? Sales? Customer Service? Logistics? Procurement? Planning? Production? More importantly, how can business leaders prioritize their company’s improvement in the digital space?

Evaluation Criteria

Obviously, companies should select the most relevant and useful “digital solution” that creates the most value and/or best addresses gaps in productivity or performance, but this isn’t always clearly indicated. I have gathered 5 criteria that any “digital solution” should be evaluated against in order to aid you in establishing the priority of what needs to be done:

1. Business Case

Every idea on the table for implementation should have a well-developed business case – a justification for the proposed project or undertaking on the basis of its expected commercial benefit – such as the potential boost in sales and decrease in costs or inventory, for example. Prioritize the opportunities that seem the most realistic, relevant, and financially rewarding.

2. Pain Points Addressed

Describe and list every pain point that each solution will address. Evaluate the respective pain points from both a quantitative and qualitative perspective.

3. Technological Feasibility

Assess the economic competitiveness of all of your proposed tech solutions by evaluating their implementation costs for improving a process, as compared to the costs incurred by the current technology.

4. Ease of Implementation

Some ideas may have potential to make a significant improvement to your business, however there may be associated roadblocks and hindrances, such as significant capital investment, or approval requirements from a board or external parties. In cases like this, the improvement cycle may be delayed, or the spirit of the implementers broken as the improvement activity becomes too difficult to implement. Likewise, if there are improvement opportunities which are easy to implement but don’t really make a difference, then team members may see the process as not providing much benefit, and once again could lose interest in the process.

5. Time to Impact

Some solutions have significant impact on your business as soon as the “flip is switched” – such as mobile productivity apps and cloud-based repositories. Other solutions may require a significant ramp-up time before their impact on your business is tangible. For example, certain Machine Learning algorithms require a considerable dataset in place before they become effective. It’s important to take this into consideration when evaluating your solution.

If you take the time to thoroughly evaluate all of your organization’s ideas and technology solutions across the same spectrum of criteria, you will find that prioritizing what needs to be done becomes much less of a headache. You will also reap other benefits as well, such as having the ammunition at hand to wrangle consensus from your organization’s key stakeholders on what the next best digital step will be. Good luck!

By Michael Davison