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Public sector drives strong demand for conversational AI, with 2.7M+ users served on the Yellow.ai platform

With governments across the world working to enable broad-scaled digital transformation, public sector organizations are increasingly gravitating towards the adoption of Conversational AI solutions to redefine the citizen experience. According to data released by Yellow.ai, a leading enterprise-grade Conversational AI platform, the company has served over 2.7M unique users for its government sector clients worldwide.

Recently mentioned in the Gartner Hype Cycle for Digital Government Services, 2022, under the chatbot category, the company works with key government departments across countries. The Yellow.ai platform has recorded an exchange of over 79M messages focused on citizen delivery services, exchanged between its Dynamic AI agents and end-users during over 5M sessions.

Raghu Ravinutala, CEO & Co-founder, Yellow.ai said, “Public sector organizations need to address numerous queries daily, and doing so manually is a time-consuming task. At the same time, citizens have a growing expectation of being able to conveniently avail government services. That’s where Conversational AI can step in to improve efficiency and human productivity, streamlining the process of delivering citizen services digitally while keeping humans in the loop. We have seen a huge surge in traction from government agencies across countries and our deployments are helping address some very unique use cases by bringing power to citizens’ fingertips on channels that they actively use. With continued emphasis on digitization, we expect Conversational AI to soon become an integral pillar in delivering stellar services to citizens.”

While text-based messaging channels are the preferred medium for citizen delivery services, the company is also seeing voice-based Conversational AI solutions gain momentum. The major use-cases, as observed, are for automating customer support, filing documentation related to government entities, booking services, raising complaints, making payments, and locating branches and offices, where the most traction is being witnessed on channels such as WhatsApp.

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SAP.iO Foundry New York Kicks Off Web3 in Future of Work Program

October 17, 2022 SAP SE‘s (NYSE: SAP) SAP.iO Foundry New York has launched its latest startup program focused on Web3 in the Future of Work with SAP SuccessFactors. Five startups have been selected by a jury of SAP experts, partners, customers, and venture capital funds to join the program.

The startups selected for the program center on emerging technologies, including blockchain, token economy (NFTs), digital assets (crypto, wallets, identity), artificial intelligence (AI), and metaverse (augmented and virtual reality). Over the next 12 weeks, they will have access to curated mentorship from SAP executives, exposure to SAP® technology and application programming interfaces (APIs), and opportunities to collaborate with SAP customers worldwide.

The following startups are participating in the SAP.iO Foundry New York Fall 2022 program:

  1. Beem enables communication using real humans in augmented reality, allowing users to communicate in the most credible and immersive way possible.
  2. BitPay builds enterprise-grade tools to send and receive cryptocurrencies, enabling employees to receive a portion of their pay in crypto.
  3. Gmetri is a no-code browser-based metaverse toolkit, providing the complete web 3.0 infrastructure to create, publish and track your own metaverse.
  4. Talespin is building a spatial computing learning platform to power talent development and skills mobility for the future of work. ­­
  5. Veremark runs faster and smoother background checks with secure, reusable data through blockchain-based verified credentials.

About SAP.iO
SAP.iO delivers new partnerships and products for SAP by accelerating and scaling startup innovation as well as incubating employee ventures. SAP.iO brings together innovators from every region, industry, and line of business to transform how businesses run. Since 2017, SAP.iO has helped 450+ external startups and internal ventures accelerate their growth while enabling thousands of SAP customers to access innovation. For more information, visit http://sap.io/.

EcoCart drives $14.5M of new funding into its sustainable shopping experience

With all the plastic and paper covering the things we buy, more and more consumers are seeking out companies that operate more sustainably.

EcoCart has built an infrastructure for e-commerce companies and works with them to make that shopping experience more transparent and sustainable. Here’s how it works: The three-year-old software company performs product life cycle audits for its customers to help them calculate, analyze and offset their carbon emissions.

Customers can then see how that company is doing in terms of protecting trees and using clean energy sources while companies can offer offsetting initiatives within its shopping experience — for example, providing a way for them to make carbon-neutral purchases or showing the number of trees saved from an order.

“Consumers are looking for ways to shop sustainably, but brands don’t have a great way of being able to communicate that to their customers or execute on that in an inexpensive, easy-to-understand way, and that’s all the things that we help with,” EcoCart co-founder Dane Baker told TechCrunch.

Baker and Peter Twomey started the company about three and a half years ago and launched its product about two years ago. When we last profiled the San Francisco–based company in 2021, it had raised $3 million in seed funding and was working with 500 customers.

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Remote And Hybrid Workers Have Higher Degree Of Psychological Safety At Work Than On-Site Employees, Says New MeQuilibrium Study

Remote employees have enjoyed better work-life balance, no commute, and the ability to work anywhere, however, a new meQuilibrium survey of 3,900 employees sheds new light on why people are reluctant to return to office — remote and hybrid employees have a higher degree of psychological safety at work than on-site employees. On-site employees said they are 66% more likely to feel like mistakes are held against them, they are 57% more likely to say that people are rejected for being different, and 36% more likely to find it difficult to ask teammates for help.

There is a real difference in psychological safety among work settings,” said Brad Smith, PhD., Chief Science Officer, meQuilibrium. “In many remote-for-the-first-time environments where everybody is the same size square on the video call, it’s often easier to speak up and be heard.”

The survey found that those working on-site are less likely to feel at ease discussing difficult topics, less likely to feel safe taking risks and less likely to feel that the team respects and values each other. Nearly half (44.5%) of the employees surveyed said they would quit if there was a requirement to work on site without a remote or hybrid option.

A lack of psychological safety at work can have repercussions on a business. Teams where members don’t feel comfortable taking a risk to raise a new idea or suggest a new approach will have difficulty innovating. In order for organizations to be successful, its people need to feel comfortable speaking up, asking questions, and disagreeing with team members and managers.

Considering psychological safety across different levels of resilience, the study found that 60% of employees with low resilience and low psychological safety feel burned out and 34% are thinking about quitting their job. Just 5% of highly resilient employees who feel psychologically safe reported feeling burned out and just 3% were thinking about quitting.

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Kargo Acquires Ziggeo to Expand Footprint Into Online Video

Kargo is acquiring video software-as-a-service company Ziggeo to create a bespoke online video offering.

Kargo, best known as an ad-tech firm that offers software to connect publishers and advertisers, is more specialized than a typical supply-side or demand-side platform, with a focus on unique ad units and advanced features, a space known in the industry as “rich media.” This is where Ziggeo comes in.

The video platform’s customizability makes it ideal for Kargo’s vision of creating bespoke online video ad units, said Ziggeo founder Oliver Friedmann. The SAAS platform is not in the advertising business. In fact, its use cases include proctoring online tests and tracking systems for job applicants.

Kargo will maintain Ziggeo’s software-as-a-service business while focusing new technological advancements of the underlying Ziggeo software toward ad tech, said Kargo CEO Harry Kargman.

The Ziggeo acquisition is the latest in a string of deals and new business lines for Kargo. In August, 2020, Kargo acquired Rhombus, which focuses on targeting social embeds within articles. In March, 2021, the company unveiled Fabrik, a content management system for publishers. Later that year, Kargo acquired StitcherAds, which specializes in ecommerce-focused ads on social platforms and in March 2022, the company bought attention-focused mobile ad-tech business Parsec.

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Zeal Leads Daivergent’s $3.3M Seed Round for Nationwide Expansion of Disability Readiness Platform

Zeal announces its recent investment in Daivergent, a reimbursable technology platform supporting job-seekers with disabilities. Founded in 2017, Daivergent is the first all-virtual job training program that serves as a bridge between 21st-century employers and this high potential but often overlooked and underutilized talent source.

As part of Zeal’s Inclusive Investing approach, we have researched and sought out founders with future of work solutions that have significant impact within historically marginalized communities. Unfortunately, people living with disabilities have not received much attention in the form of scalable software solutions in workforce preparation. The reality is 1 in 5 Americans live with a physical disability or cognitive difference that affects their ability to find work, accounting for a staggering unemployment rate of up to 85%. In spite of the historic level of open positions, job-seekers with disabilities continue to encounter significant barriers in their pursuit of self-sufficiency.

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Specright Helps Product Specs Go Green: SAP.iO Foundries Sustainability Spotlight

Disruptive crackers. It might not sound like the next revolution in industry but, in fact, it could be. Aiming to be the world’s first carbon negative food company, Bright Future LLC is on a mission to reverse climate change through nutrients. Financed by Post—the business behind Raisin Bran and Chips Ahoy! cookies, among many other products—it’s been given the freedom to operate with the agility and ingenuity of a disrupter. Airly, as its new brand is called, produces a snack described as “oat clouds” in flavors ranging from cheddar cheese to salted caramel.

And yet: How can Bright Future Foods be certain its products are helping in the fight against climate change and, if they are, how much? Can they be guaranteed down to the last gram of carbon? Enter Specright, one of the startups that went through SAP’s SAP.iO Foundries, a no equity ask global accelerator program. Created by 25 year packaging industry veteran Matthew Wright, Specright provides digitized exact and reliable data on the thousands of specifications that go into even simple-seeming products. Think about all the elements that have to be considered. Everything from a red lipstick’s gold label to its teeny-tiny measurements to its printed foil packaging materials must be accounted for. The same would go for, say, a tractor, down to the last screw. Yet, prior to Specright, such details for products were generally handled with little common language, and circulated within companies using primitive methods like email and spreadsheets, if they were managed at all.

Wright calls this new category of software “Specification Management” and Specrright’s software solution is the first patented, cloud-based Specification Management Platform. Clients ranging from Jack in the Box to Johnson & Johnson to Colgate extol its clean look and ease of use. Wright cites Steve Jobs as his inspiration. “I remember the days when you bought a computer and it was a day project to try to get something operating. Even then you had to read a book to use it. All of a sudden these Apple computers came out, and you took it out of the box and were doing stuff in ten minutes…I’m trying to do the same thing with industrial software.”

SAP.iO, which operates 11 global “foundries” for startups (though the pandemic has led some to operate virtually), is highly selective. Out of a field of company candidates that typically can reach as many as 700, just six to eight startups are chosen per “cohort,” or individual group. SAP works with the companies for three months around a theme; Specright’s group was focused on consumer and retail sustainability solutions. Upon graduation, the companies are integrated into SAP’s cloud software offerings as vetted and safe tools.

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SAP.iO Foundries Sustainability Spotlight: Inspectorio Modernizes Manufacturing Inspections

The collapse of the garment factory in Bangladesh that killed more than 1100 people was a wake-up call to the manufacturing and inspection industries. The brothers behind Inspectorio are pioneering software to ensure transparency and worker safety.

It was a moment of truth. In 2013, the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed, killing more than 1100 people, injuring thousands of others and making headlines as one of the deadliest industrial disasters in history. Found in the rubble alongside bodies were tags and labels identifying well-known top clothing manufacturers. The companies generally claimed, believably, that they’d had no idea the workers had been made to work under such dangerous conditions. The accident—incongruous, inhumane, inciting disgust—shook the industry to its core.

What wasn’t so obvious: The solution.

Factory inspection and audit software provider Inspectorio, at the time, was just a twinkle in the Moncayo Castillo brothers’ eyes. Carlos, Luis and Fernando, Ecuadorian-born businessmen, had distinguished themselves in other areas, from their prestigious university educations to serial entrepreneurial track records founding companies internationally. They were well aware the supply chain issues they’d faced, however challenging and expensive, were minor compared to Rana Plaza’s human tragedy. But they believed the issues were all connected.

The inspections industry was rife with corruption and incompetence. The Moncayo Castillos had taken a step to address the problem when they’d brought inspections, which are often performed by third-party agencies, in house at Asiam, the responsible sourcing agency they co-founded in 2004. That was in 2011. The solution had been a success to the point that it led to a new Asiam division, one focused on performing inspections for other companies as well. Then one of those companies complained about an order from a manufacturer, in 2015.

The brothers found themselves unable to adequately answer this customer’s questions about why an inspection had led to subpar product quality. “The client said, ‘I need you to prove to me how your employees are performing inspections,” recalls Fernando. “But the fact is we didn’t have a tool where we could see, ‘This is the exact moment where the inspector was in this place. This is how many minutes, how many seconds they spent.’” Transparency and accountability were lacking.

It was an industry wide problem, the brothers knew. Even Asiam had been using nothing more than digital cameras, pens and paper to record information in factories and other facilities. They decided to change things for everyone—or at least give them the option to do better. The Castillo Moncayos created the Inspectorio platform initially as a simple app. Today, it’s a sophisticated software-as-a-service product used by companies including Target and Crocs to help with everything from quality control and production efficiency to meeting environmental rule standards. Instead of having information stored in separate silos by factories, suppliers, retailers, brands and inspectors, it’s all now, via the cloud, in one place. Inspectorio’s Machine Learning and AI capabilities offer analysis of the data that helps customers increase efficiency, reduce costs, and optimize eco-consciousness.

Inspectorio didn’t reach such heights on its own. The Moncayo Castillos took advantage of mentorship from Boulder-based TechStars, their VC-investors, and Apple along the way. But their recent participation in the SAP.iO Foundries cohort focused on consumer and retail sustainability was transformative.

“When we talk about brands and retailers it’s not a quality issue alone anymore that we need to be concerned with,” says Fernando. “We need to talk about responsible sourcing, and that requires companies to be compliant on the social side, the environmental side, and others. So we wanted to improve on sustainability, and SAP was already leading the way.” The brothers liked its commitment to issues like zero waste and decarbonization within its own ranks, but also the way it helps clients achieve such goals via access to tools from startups that take part in its accelerator. Such companies are featured in the SAP store.

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What’s Next in High-Growth Digital Innovations

Quantum computing, the composable enterprise, and ubiquitous artificial intelligence (AI) were among the fastest-growing technology advancements that five experts saw reshaping the future of intelligent, sustainable, networked business. Here is a sampling of their insights shared during a panel discussion hosted by Kange Kaneene, vice president of SAP.iO Foundries North America, at the SAP Sapphire Orlando event.

Three Trends Drive Investments in Digital Startups

Nino Marakovic, founder and CEO of Sapphire Ventures, said that enterprise software startups have experienced record-breaking investments in the past two years, driven by the urgency of large companies adopting technology to help them transform and position themselves for the future. Originally SAP’s corporate venture capital arm, Sapphire Ventures has been an independent financial investment firm for 12 years. SAP is the largest investor in the Sapphire Ventures portfolio that totals US$10 billion.

“Last year alone, more than $60 billion was invested in startups making supply chains more sustainable, intelligent, and resilient,” said Marakovic. “Another major investment area is data and machine learning as we see more of the workflows and data move to the cloud. Companies want solutions that help customers manage, orchestrate, organize, and analyze that data. The third high-growth area is future of work. Company shifts from on-site to remote and hybrid work, [coupled with] a tight labor market and wave of employee resignations, have a created a perfect storm that’s modernizing the workplace.”

Data Saves Money and the Environment

Ivaldi Group is a great example of how startups are innovating to help supply chains hardest hit by pandemic-related disruption, in this case, in the automotive industry. Uvaldi Group participated in the SAP.iO Foundries New York City COVID-19 recovery cohort. SAP.iO Foundries is the company’s external startup accelerator. Integrating data from SAP S/4HANA customers, Ivaldi Group’s software calculates the carbon footprint of an auto supplier’s spare parts operation, analyzing potential candidates for advanced, local digital manufacturing such as 3D printing.

“Customers are interested in finding money where they didn’t know they were losing it and reducing their carbon footprint,” said Stefani Pellinen-Chavez, COO at Ivaldi Group. “We review the data, including how far a customer ships products, how long they remain in inventory, how hard it is to source these parts, and how long their factory or facility would be down if this part was not available…Suppliers might create local manufacturing centers so the community can partner with larger corporate customers.”

Holistic Planning with Connected Data Company-Wide

In an uncertain world, supply chain planning has become one of the major challenges for companies navigating disruptions. Juergen Mueller, member of the Executive Board of SAP SE and chief technology officer at SAP, shared how organizations are innovating on SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP) to collaborate with their ecosystem, explore what-if scenarios for planning purposes and flexibility, and gain competitive advantage. He said that advanced analytics and connected data help people immediately see and act on the impact of material shortages and potential alternatives for factory production lines, suppliers and logistics partners, finance and cash flow outlook, and workforce demands.

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How Ivaldi’s On-Demand Spare Parts Reduce Costs, Carbon, and Supply Chain Snags

Ivaldi is part of a profile series featuring startups participating in the Innovation Path at Cloud Wars Expo, that took place June 28-30 in San Francisco. Ivaldi is a software supplier that aims to streamline the spare parts market for heavy industry by sending digital files, not parts, from place to place in response to customer requirements, so they can be produced on demand.

The company says its value proposition in migrating heavy industry to digital is threefold:

  • It’s cheaper to build spare parts in exact quantities in response to customer orders than it is to maintain inventory.
  • It’s more efficient to build as needed, reducing lead times.
  • There’s less carbon emission in building products on-demand, closer to the end customer, than to ship large quantities from place to place.

“Doing on-demand production of spare parts can reduce the carbon footprint of some parts by 90% compared to ordering from a centralized warehouse across the world.”
Alaina Piland, CFO of Ivaldi

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How SpecRight Digitizes Product, Packaging Specs for Greater Efficiency

Most product specifications — for the products themselves, their packaging, and other details — are managed in spreadsheets or legacy systems.

This results in data consistency and integrity challenges, access issues, and major efficiency problems. Without easy access to product and packaging data, employees aren’t able to make the quick, accurate decisions that are needed to remain competitive in the Acceleration Economy.

Those are the big issues that Specright took on with the launch of its company in 2015. “From automotive, to aerospace and food packaging, I saw that industries were struggling with inefficiencies that stemmed from a lack of packaging and product data,” says Specright CEO Matthew Wright. “I also realized any data that did exist was typically worthless because it lacked a common nomenclature. Not only was it frustrating, it was bad for business.”

The SpecRight platform is designed to digitize and manage all specification data, from raw materials to ingredients and formulas to packaging and finished goods. By digitizing and linking specifications together, companies create visibility and traceability across their supply chains. Today, more than one million products are in the Specright system, according to the company.

“From automotive, to aerospace and food packaging, I saw that industries were struggling with inefficiencies that stemmed from a lack of packaging and product data. I also realized any data that did exist was typically worthless because it lacked a common nomenclature.”

Matthew Wright, Founder and CEO of Specright

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SAP.iO Foundry New York Kicks Off Omnichannel CX Engagement Program

May 5, 2022 SAP SE (NYSE: SAP) launched a Omnichannel Customer Experience (CX) Engagement focused program at SAP.iO Foundry New York. The six startups have been selected by a jury of SAP experts, partners, customers, and investment funds to join the program.

The startups in the program are helping enhance and personalize the customer journey and experience. Customer Experience (CX) is SAP’s largest addressable market with a strong demand for more CX partner solutions that SAP customers can leverage.

Over the next 16 weeks, the startups will have access to curated mentorship from SAP executives, exposure to SAP® technology and application programming interfaces (APIs), and opportunities to collaborate with SAP customers around the world.

The following startups are participating in the SAP.iO Foundry New York Spring 2022 program:

  • Bigthinx is an Artificial Intelligence company focused on fashion retail, wellness and the metaverse, with products in mobile body scanning, digital twins, virtual try-ons, and supply chain augmentation.
  • Mad Street Den is a computer vision and artificial intelligence company building the A.I. architecture of the future.
  • Obsess is a metaverse shopping platform, that enables retailers to serve immersive 3D virtual stores on their websites, and on metaverse platforms.
  • SoPost helps brands run the most powerful product sampling campaigns online, with a focus on relevance, data and analytics.
  • Yellow.ai is a next-gen Total Experience Automation Platform enabling enterprises through its Dynamic AI agents to deliver human-like interactions that boost customer satisfaction and increase employee engagement at scale.
  • Zoovu is a product discovery platform for enterprise businesses that supercharges your digital ecommerce strategy across all channels.

About SAP.iO
SAP.iO delivers new partnerships and products for SAP by accelerating and scaling startup innovation as well as incubating employee ventures. SAP.iO brings together innovators from every region, industry, and line of business to transform how businesses run. Since 2017, SAP.iO has helped 400+ external startups and internal ventures accelerate their growth while enabling thousands of SAP customers to access innovation. For more information, visit http://sap.io/.

Supply Chain Innovator Verusen Partners with Daivergent to Create Jobs in AI for People on the Autism Spectrum

While Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the supply chain marketplace is expected to reach $16.7B globally by 2027, human augmentation remains a critical component to success. This is why global supply chain innovator Verusen, and public benefit corporation for persons with autism and neurodiversity Daivergent, today unveiled their formal partnership to create innovative career opportunities in data and AI for neurodiverse workers.

As part of this partnership, Verusen is tapping a number of Daivergent’s candidates as data experts to assist with machine learning processes and further its mission of revolutionizing the way supply chains work. Employees trained by Daivergent tackle the seemingly impossible challenges of further developing AI and machine learning, specifically as they correlate to solving supply chain issues. Daivergent annotators provide significant value to Verusen by sharing annotations and training data for new and exploratory AI tasks, which improve outcomes.

Verusen Founder and CEO Paul Noble and Daivergent Co-Founder and CEO Byran Dai met through SAP.iO Foundries, SAP’s startup innovation program. They formed a special connection as both business leaders have family members on the autism spectrum.

“We are excited to announce our partnership with Daivergent and Byran, who leads an exceptional talent pool,” said Paul Noble, founder and CEO, Verusen. “Our partnership underscores the tremendous value this high potential but underutilized talent population provides and dispels the common misconception that AI takes jobs away. Daivergent trained Verusen employees are helping us solve the complex challenges the supply chain industry faces through the sophisticated use of existing data, and it’s a massive task. The result is a win-win partnership that underscores our commitment to ensuring and recognizing the value that diversity, equity, and inclusion bring to our company.”

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Rheaply redefines circular economy in architecture

When a building gets demolished, or refurbished, what happens to its parts? They might get destroyed, or just thrown away to the back of a junkyard, never to be seen again – or, they will get reused. And it’s that last option that Garry Cooper Jr, founder of Rheaply, decided to tackle when he launched his enterprise asset management venture in 2016. Rheaply is a digital platform that serves the circular economy, essentially enabling the rehoming of parts of buildings and equipment just before a structure is torn down, placing them in new, local buildings in construction, in a bid to enhance upcycling, sustainable architecture and local enterprise.

Ohio-born Cooper is now based in Chicago and the idea to found Rheaply was born there, thanks to his keen observation skills and entrepreneurial mind (while now he operates in the construction and architecture world, his background is in science). ‘It was super organic,’ he says. ‘I came to Chicago in 2008, and studied at Northwestern University, trying to find a cure for Parkinson’s Disease. I noticed in our lab we had lots of material that we were not using, from chairs, to plastics, chemicals, and I kept hearing people saying, oh if only I had this or that, and I knew we had whatever they needed somewhere in our closet. So I started a resource sharing platform – it was basically a cart!’

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The metaverse could be tech’s next trillion-dollar opportunity: These are the companies making it a reality

The metaverse is one of the hottest buzzwords in tech, and this far-reaching vision of a next-gen internet will rely upon an entire ecosystem of companies to make it a reality – including two startups from SAP.iO’s portfolio. Expivi and VNTANA were both identified as leaders in the 3D modeling and capture space by CB Insights. Both solutions are integrated with SAP and are available on the SAP Store.

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