Artificial intelligence is becoming an increasingly common part of how customer service works — a trend that was accelerated in this past year as so many other services went virtual and digital — and today a startup that has built a set of low-code tools to help enterprises integrate more AI into their customer service processes is announcing some funding to fuel its growth.
Cognigy, which provides a low-code conversational AI platform that notably can be used flexibly across a range of applications and geographies — it supports 120 languages; it can be used in external or internal service applications; it can support voice services but also chatbots; it provides real-time assistance for human agents and usage analytics or fully-automated responses; it can integrate with standard call center software, and also with RPA packages; and it can be run in the cloud or on-premise — has closed a round of $44 million, funding that it will be using to continue scaling its business internationally.
Insight Partners is leading the Series B investment, with previous backers DN Capital, Global Brain, Nordic Makers, Inventures and Digital Innovation and Growth also participating. The Dusseldorf-based company had previously only raised $11 million and spent the first several years of business bootstrapped.
Cognigy is not disclosing its valuation but it has up to now built up a concentration of customers in areas like transportation, e-commerce and insurance and counts a number of big multinational companies among its customer list, including Lufthansa, Mobily, BioNTech, Vueling Airlines, Bosch, and Daimler, with “thousands” of virtual assistants now powered by Cognigy live in the market.
With 25% of Cognigy’s business already coming from the U.S., the plan now is to use some funding to invest in building out its service deeper into the U.S., Asia and across more of Europe, CEO and founder Philipp Heltewig said in an interview.
“Conversational AI” these days appears in many guises: it can be a chatbot you come across on a website when you’re searching for something, or it can be prompts provided to agents or salespeople, information and real-time feedback to help them do their jobs better. Conversational AI can also be a personal assistant on your company’s HR application to help you book time off or deal with any number of other administrative jobs, or a personal assistant that helps you use your phone or set your house alarm.
There are a number of companies in the tech world that have built tools to address these various use cases. Specifically in the area of services aimed at enterprises, some of them, like Gong, are raising huge money right now. What is notable about Cognigy is that it has built a platform that is attempting to address a wide swathe of applications: one platform, many uses, in other words.
Cognigy’s other selling point is that it is playing into the new interest in low- and no-code tools, which in Cognigy’s case makes the integration of AI into a customer assistance process a relatively easy task, something that can be built not just by developers, but data scientists, those working directly on conversation design, and non-technical business users using the tools themselves.
“The low-code platform helps enterprises adopt what is otherwise complex technology in an easy and flexible way, whether it is customer or employee contact center,” said Heltewig. As you might expect, there are some direct competitors in the low- and no-code conversational AI space, too, including Ada, Talkie, Snaps and more.
Flexibility seems to be the order of the day for enterprises, and also the companies building tools for them: it means that a company can grow into a larger customer, and that in theory Cognigy will also evolve the platform based on what its customers need. As one example, Heltewig pointed out that a number of its customers are — contrary to the beating drum and march you see every day towards cloud services — running a fair number of applications on-premises, since this appears to be a key way to ensure the security of the customer data that they handle.
“Lufthansa could never run its customer services in the cloud because they handle a lot of sensitive data and they want full ownership of it,” he noted. “We can run cloud services and have a full offering for those who want it, but many large enterprises prefer to run their services on premises.”
Teddie Wardi, an MD at Insight, is joining the board with this round. “We are thrilled to be leading Cognigy’s Series B as the company continues on their ScaleUp journey,” he said in a statement. “Evident by their strong customer retention, Cognigy has created an essential product for global businesses to improve their customer experience in an efficient and effortless manner. With the new funding, Cognigy will be able to expand their leadership position to reach new markets and acquire more customers.”