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Thursday, Mar 30, 2023

Ida Brings AI to Schools, Governments

Silicon Beach newcomer Ida Artificial Intelligence Inc. is bringing fresh ideas to enterprise management systems.

The Santa Monica-based AI company helps create conversational user interfaces, digital agents and chatbot initiatives for companies, universities and government institutions.

Ida’s automated configuration platform is essentially “a robot that can create a robot,” according to co-founder and Chief Executive Paul Isherwood. 

When integrated into a corporate enterprise or campus platform, Ida can process multistep administrative requests through a series of conversations. 

To transfer someone from one department to another, for example, a manager could send a short text with information about the adjustment to Ida, instead of filling out forms that have to be reviewed by the human resources department. Ida will then send out notifications and update the transfer in the system.

For universities, Ida can assist students with things like signing up for classes and checking assignments and grades. It can also help staff manage workflow, Isherwood said.

Ida is able to recognize more than 100 languages and can quickly integrate into different corporate enterprise or campus systems, partly because it is preseeded with knowledge of how they work. Plus, Isherwood said, it’s “smart” enough to extend its knowledge on a weekly basis.

“If you’re trying to build something that solves the entire set of problems in the enterprise, or in the campus, you can’t be building stuff by hand. You need to essentially have robots building robots,” Isherwood said.

Ida was spun out of IntraSee Inc. in June. IntraSee moved from Westlake, Ohio, to Santa Monica in early 2020. Founded in 2005, IntraSee provides the middleware infrastructure of the technologies used by Ida. 

Isherwood, who co-founded IntraSee, started to build Ida in April 2017.

Ida charges monthly subscription fees. Pricing depends on the number of features, or “conversations,” required by a client. Customers also pay an upfront implementation and configuration fee to integrate Ida into their corporate enterprise or campus system. 

Isherwood said integration of Ida can be done in less than 12 weeks, compared to an industry average of 12 months. He also said the company is profitable. 

Ida is being adopted by clients, including Charlotte, N.C.-based Honeywell International Inc., Atlanta-based utility company Southern Co. and Loyola University Chicago, according to the company.

While Ida can perform many duties of the human resource department, it cannot replace humans in the division, Isherwood said.

 “It’s not really our role to displace the strategic element of the human resource (professionals), but (to let AI handle) this mundane admin stuff that they do — running reports, getting data analytics to people, following up with managers,” he said.

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