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Machine intelligence software provider CognitiveScale announced a fresh $15 million in funding this week, with participation from such notable investors as Microsoft Ventures, Intel Capital, Norwest Venture Partners, USAA, and the Westly Group.

Founded out of Austin, Texas in 2013, CognitiveScale builds what it calls “augmented intelligence software” for industries such as health care and finance. Its core products, Engage and Amplify, are designed to help large enterprises interpret big data and user behavior. The software basically pulls together structured and unstructured data — whether first- or third-party — from different parts of an organization and external sources in order to “augment” human decision-making.

Financial services group the USAA  invested in this round as a strategic move since it is also implementing CognitiveScale across its organization, giving its 12 million members access to predictive, data-driven banking and insurance services.

As with many industries, AI is expected to explode in the financial services sector, with some reports anticipating that AI will become the primary way banks communicate with customers within three years. Behind the scenes, spending on AI and cognitive systems — machines that simulate human thought processes — is expected to grow from $8 billion in 2016 to $47 billion by 2020, according to IDC, with the banking industry already accounting for 19 percent of that spend.

Prior to now, CognitiveScale had raised around $35 million in outside funding, with the likes of Intel, Microsoft, and IBM participating in previous rounds, and with its latest tranche the company said that it will double down on its efforts to further develop its flagship Engage and Amplify products.

“This round of funding demonstrates continued confidence in our strategy to help businesses augment and extend human creativity and capabilities,” said CognitiveScale CEO Akshay Sabhikhi. “We have delivered real and measurable outcomes with some of the largest banks, health care, and retail organizations, and are delighted to see the great client and investor demand for our enterprise AI products.”

A number of companies are working on products that use AI to improve decision-making in the workplace. A few months back, DataRobot raised $54 million to bring machine learning to predictive analytics, allowing anyone within the enterprise to tinker with AI to see whether it can improve their own decision-making.


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