In this third year of CFO’s Tech Companies to Watch, we found a notable shift in the applications being offered by vendors. In every functional area of the companies that made our annual list — process management, recruiting, travel expenses, receivables management, and compliance among them — the goal is unearthing the real story behind the data to make more intelligent decisions.
The entirety of the list appears in the April/May 2019 edition of CFO magazine. We are revealing the first 10 companies on CFO.com, one per day. Our first company to watch was FortressIQ. Today, we cover Behavox, an AI driven platform that helps transform employee behavior.
Communication technologies are transforming financial services companies into data powerhouses. But if they aren’t putting the data to good use, they’re losing out on valuable insight. Behavox uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to aggregate and analyze large volumes of unstructured communications. Pulling from emails, phone calls, trade deals, and chats, the AI-driven platform compiles actionable insights into a firm’s compliance, risk, conduct, and performance.
“What could you possibly learn about your organization if you had access to all of the communication data of your people?” asks Erkin Adylov, Behavox’s founder and CEO. “Our technology helps managers and the compliance team find [that] needle in the haystack.”
About 80% of Behavox’s 20 to 30 customers, mostly in financial services, use the product for regulatory compliance and surveillance. By collecting and analyzing employee-generated data, Behavox can flag anything it thinks is a violation, allowing the company to catch it before getting hit with hefty fines. The system also captures and reports hidden behavioral patterns that could bring to light inappropriate employee behavior that could tarnish the company’s reputation.
“Using technology is really important from a risk management perspective because when fines come in they come in thick and fast and in big lumps of money,” says Adylov. “But the other thing is keeping the company out of the headlines. Imagine that a company ends up in headlines for #MeToo, for bribing an official in an emerging market, or for market manipulation. It’s not just the fines, it’s reputation as well” — a sullied reputation leads to clients canceling contracts or going to competitors.
In one case, the Behavox software caught a client’s employee inserting several pages of proprietary information into the middle of a 150-page report, which was then emailed as a PDF attachment. If a compliance officer had manually reviewed the seemingly innocent attachment, nothing would have stood out as malicious. But the AI system was able to go deep into the attachment, flag it, and highlight the exact pages that contained the proprietary information, says Adylov.
The other 20% of the company’s business that is quickly growing is automating data entry into customer relationship management systems, freeing the sales force to focus on selling. The system also mines client communications. Having access to all communications data helps salespeople and account management staff be more efficient.
Clients describe Behavox as mission-critical software, especially as compliance reporting lines are now going up straight to the C-level and the board of directors, according to Adylov. “One of our clients asked the compliance team to install a dashboard on an additional screen on his desktop so that he could actually watch how many [compliance] alerts were being generated,” says Adylov. “He essentially has a high level of reporting from our system on a daily basis.”
The alternative to automating compliance surveillance is manually sorting through communications, which is time-consuming and very expensive.
“A CFO would reap the immediate benefits of rationalizing the workforce. Meaning that they won’t need to hire thousands of people or outsource it to expensive consulting firms that could compromise the firm’s data security,” says Adylov.
Behavox has plenty of independent competitors in the risk and compliance space targeting financial services, but it is on a growth trajectory of 150% to 200%. “We hope to sustain that growth rate for the next three years,” says Adylov. “Our target is to go public in three or four years — we would need to hit revenue of $100 million plus.”