Michael Brehm, founder and CEO i2x © Partner Redstone Digital / Legere Business

29 March 2021

"Today, there is almost no software segment that is not influenced by AI."

One of the most important tasks of a sales department is to satisfy customers in order to ensure positive results in the long term. But how do you know when your customers are happy? When do they buy and when are they satisfied? Regular telephone conversations with customers and leads are often not so easy to analyse. This is where i2x's artificial intelligence solution comes in: it supports sales staff with the help of speech recognition technology. We talked to CEO Michael Brehm about the potentially higher customer satisfaction that i2x's AI can bring, why human skills are still necessary and what makes Berlin so attractive.

Hello, Mr Brehm. What does i2x offer its customers?

With i2x, we offer a real-time communication analysis and training platform. Our specially developed, AI-based speech recognition technology is designed to help sales and customer service employees, as well as self-employed staff, analyse complex telephone conversations and receive feedback and assistance in less than 0.5 seconds. All phone calls are transcribed in real time and can later be analysed by companies. i2x also offers personalised training to improve your staff's conversational skills. Our solution can be applied in all industries and is now used primarily in the telecommunications, retail, finance and insurance sectors, but also in the medical and pharmaceutical industries.

Your solution offers to increase customer satisfaction. What are the specific benefits and what role does artificial intelligence play in this?

Artificial intelligence is the core of our technology and enables real-time communication analysis, on which the targeted feedback and assistance are based. Artificial intelligence provides users with information on the voice, moods and language patterns of the conversations. For example, the AI recognises topics in the conversation and then gives recommendations for an optimal response. So i2x continuously gives feedback and assistance, ensuring that employees can utilise their full potential much more easily.

This offers numerous advantages for companies. One important aspect already mentioned is increased customer satisfaction. It can also increase the sales rate of call centre agents and thus the turnover for companies. The training feature also allows companies to shorten the induction period for new employees. The solution also has conversation analysis options that help companies recognise topic trends of the calls and incorporate these insights into their own strategy.

With the help of AI, your product analyses the speech of sales and call centre employees and then provides assistance. Does the AI make the skills of these employees obsolete?

No, not at all. We believe that human interaction with customers is important and will remain so in the future. Furthermore, many phone calls that are easy for humans to handle are still difficult for the machine to fully grasp. i2x acts as a kind of consultant and trainer who stands by the employees' side. The feedback and personalised training allows you to precisely develop your conversational strengths and identify any weaknesses. This will improve your conversional skills and thus increase your own personal satisfaction and motivation. This comprehensive level of individual support is unique and cannot otherwise be provided by sales or call centre companies, especially those with a large number of employees. The tool has also proven to be very effective for home office use, as it significantly reduces the support required from a supervisor or the team.

You founded i2x in 2017. What was the motivation for you enter in artificial intelligence sector at the time?

Before founding i2x, I had built a relatively large e-commerce network in which I had to deal with over 2,000 call centre agents and tele-sales employees, among other things. Managing this division of the company was an enormous challenge. Since communication is a very complex process, it quickly became clear to me that artificial intelligence can help to make this process more successful and easier for the staff. And that is exactly our mission: We want to advance people and lead them to success with AI by helping to support communication between humans through software. The ABS system is a great example of this: it helps drivers to drive better. i2x, on the other hand, helps you to communicate better with your counterpart.

Before i2x, you established the well-known studiVZ network. How has the tech world and, in particular, the use of AI changed since you started?

My time at studiVZ was 15 years ago. Since then, of course, the tech world has fundamentally changed, with the most significant developments probably occurring in cloud computing and bandwidth. Back in the days of studiVZ, we still had to physically install hundreds and thousands of computers ourselves. Today it is possible to book storage with a cloud provider with just a few clicks. On the other hand, AI opens up completely new areas of application. And while we are on the topic of social media, at TikTok, for example, today one of the largest networks in China, AI is at the heart of development. Here, you'll no longer find a static display of content, but instead the AI suggests content automatically tailored to the respective user. Thus, every user receives a completely different and personalised product. In general, there is almost no segment that is not influenced by AI.

In recent years, Berlin has risen to become one of the leading AI locations in Europe. What do you like most about the city as a tech location?

Berlin is an attractive location for employees who want to advance their career in AI. This is of course an advantage for us, as we can draw from a pool of highly qualified potential employees. The high number of AI start-ups in the city also means we have the opportunity to exchange ideas with each other. In addition, there are many investors in Berlin who are excited about the potential of AI. Another important point is that there are some good universities in Berlin and Potsdam that support and promote AI research.

On 25 February, you took part in the Rise of AI Virtual Chats with Fabian Westerheide. Do you think there are already enough of these kinds of events in Berlin or would you like to see more events and networking get-togethers in the AI scene?

In general, I am satisfied with the events on offer. The Rise of AI is a great initiative and both the main event and the satellite events that take place throughout the year are very exciting. One can see that more and more tech events and initiatives are emerging with a more specialised focus. For example, there will soon be a dedicated AI Campus with office space in Berlin-Mitte. This is good, because I think that we need and should promote strong collaboration in specialised areas. I also think interaction among start-ups is important. On the other hand, I do not consider it necessary to attend many large, thematically diverse events. The interaction at these events is often very superficial.

What are i2x's plans for the future?

A core element of modern humanity is communication. That is why our long-term goal is to develop our software to such a degree that it can be placed on top of the human brain like additional layer in order to optimise human communication. We want to help everyone to reach their maximum potential. In the short term, our goal is to further expand our leading role in Germany in the field of real-time speech analysis and coaching and at the same time to become the world's leading provider in this segment. If we succeed, we look forward to going public with i2x at some point in the future.