The augmented intelligence (AI) market — a conceptualization of AI that focuses on its assistive role and use in augmenting, rather than replacing, human workers — is substantial. Gartner forecasts that by 2022, decision support and augmentation technologies will represent 44 percent — worth roughly $1.72 trillion — of global AI business value. And that’s where Raleigh, North Carolina-based Pryon is angling for a foothold.

Pryon today announced a $4.5 million first funding round led by Greycroft Partners, with participation from Two Sigma Ventures, Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, and Engage Ventures. CEO and founder Igor Jablokov said the capital will be used to expand the startup’s AI platform for enterprises.

With Pryon, Jablokov — who served as program director on IBM’s Watson team and previously founded Yap, a service offering cloud-based speech-to-text that was acquired by Amazon in September 2011 — sought to design a solution that “combines the strength of humans and machines.”

“Given the accelerating pace of technological change, speed of innovation, and number of agile competitors, businesses are struggling to work at scale and speed,” Pryon wrote in a press release. “Despite massive investments in information technology systems, employees still spend too much time maneuvering through applications, documents, systems, and web pages. And they continue to use cumbersome input devices such as keyboards, mice, and trackpads to tell machines what to do.”

The startup is onto something. According to Accenture, AI has the power to increase productivity by 40 percent or more and to boost profitability by an average of 38 percent. Furthermore, in a recent Deloitte survey, 42 percent of executives said they believed that AI will be of ‘critical importance’ within two years, driven by advances in natural language processing, machine learning, deep learning, and computer vision.

Pryon’s unique approach leverages AI to orchestrate information across channels with contextual awareness, natural language, and other techniques. Specifically, it allows employees to interact with a voice-based agent that can retrieve answers and documents from disparate apps and data pipelines. And because it’s modular, companies can add functionality as needed.

Pryon’s already gaining traction, according to Jablokov. Its impressive client list includes AT&T, Chick-fil-A, Cox, Delta, Georgia-Pacific, Georgia Power Foundation, Goldman Sachs., Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), Invesco, the Home Depot, UPS, and several other Fortune 500 companies.

“Pryon’s near-term goal is to lead the augmented intelligence market,” the company said. “The timing is ideal for Pryon to drive market demand for Augmented Intelligence in the enterprise. With its unique approach, market interest in the capability is building quickly.”

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