Jin Park from Acryl Inc. talks about the rising role of AI technology in today’s market and also describes customer’s curiosity to learn more about this emerging tech.
1. Tell us how you came to be the CEO at Acryl. How much of your typical day is involved in innovating AI tech for your customers?
While writing my doctoral dissertation, I accidentally learned about the research of professor Rosalind Picard in the MIT media lab. It was about the area of affective computing that utilizes emotion as information and at that time I was studying information retrieval from various data. So I naturally fell in love with the idea of affective computing. Then I realized I realized there is no such specialized company about emotion in Korea, so I came to suggest to my friends ‘How about founding a company on recognizing emotions?’ and that was the moment that ACRYL started. ACRYL stands for ‘Affective Computing in Real Life(in my way)’ and it represents that the affective computing was our beginning. As I developed ‘emotion recognition technology’ and met different customers, I was amazed at two challenges. The first is that recognizing emotion accurately requires a wide variety of much different information. For example, the accuracy of textual emotion recognition could be improved when various cognitive technologies such as topic classification of the text and the personality recognition of the speaker are accompanied. And second, the most of customers I met want a more convenient and clearer usage scenario for the technology than I thought. These two facts changed my mind on the whole way to deliver our AI technology to our customers, and it seems like it’s been a valuable opportunity trying to solve those challenges.
2. What are the applications or rather opportunities you seek to have with your product?
When looking at many AI-related market reports, you can find out a problem of AI industry. A lot of companies are positive about adopting AI technologies for their own digital transformation, however, at the same time, there aren’t really many companies that have actually done it. That could be manifested by fear and skepticism toward the AI technology from the market. In particular, those trends will be more severe on companies which lack the organizational and technical capabilities of leading AI technologies by themselves. I think a platform which can help the end-to-end enablement of adopting AI with little learning curve is inevitable for them, and at this point, the Jonathan™ the AI-enabling platform, is ACRYL’s answer to this awareness of the problem.
3. How did you define the vision of Acryl? How did you approach your first 100 days as the CEO at Acryl?
In every technology area, great companies have taken the lead in making progress. I hope ACRYL come to people’s mind whenever they encounter ‘any moment in need of AI’, and that becomes the vision of ACRYL. We have prepared wonderful solutions which are necessary in each phase of steps and we hope that our customers’ AI journey could be consistently and perfectly comfortable because ‘Perfect partner for AI enablement’ is ACRYL’s vision statement. ACRYL was a startup company when I founded it with my friends, and we had a lot of conversations about the way ACRYL should go before we actually get into work. So my ‘the first 100 days’ was a period of reaffirming the consensus I said to the founding member. We knew well about the tasks that each of us should be in charge of, so I think we were very comfortable working such as the preparation of funding pitch and the set of rules for the organization. I think I was very lucky to have had such time spent with my colleagues.
4. What are some of the unique lessons you have learnt from analysing your customer behaviour?
I have felt a lot that it is very difficult to change customers’ minds when we recommend good experiences based on our solution while meeting them. For example, let’s say you have a customer who wants to hang a flower picture on a wall. However, after finding out there isn’t the flower pictures in the market, He had no option but to draw a picture of flowers by himself. At that moment, let’s say I was introduced to him for selling fine paints and palettes. Then I would tell him what kind of paint is good to use, what palette is good to use, and how to paint, and hope to follow it. However, because hanging a ‘flower picture’ is what he cares about, he may be annoyed saying why he has to pick such recommended paints or he can even demand me to paint the picture instead of him. After learning that customers often ask me to actually draw a picture for them, I recognized that I need to prepare a variety of flower drawings ahead or prepare a fare explanation of why I recommended such paints and palette. I think the adoption of AI technology could be explained like this way. What customers want with AI software is creating a new value, not the performance side of the software, and sometimes they don’t want my software to be as easy or effective as I think it is. To conclude, while doing AI platform business I realized that every customer’s behavior is clearly aligned with his/her final goal and that the processes of implementing the goals are required to be transparent during the use of the platform.
5. Acryl was recently in the news for launching new Advanced Integrated AI Service Platform, called as Jonathan. Can you elaborate more on the same? (re-writing)
Jonathan®, an integrated AI platform that can be used in a variety of industries with a spectrum of users from non-experts to professional developers. It can help the companies with little experiences for AI technology in the whole AI development cycles in terms of data planning(Jonathan Datascope), data labeling to train AI models(Jonathan Marker), developing & evaluating the AI models trained(Jonathan Intelligence), deployment and operations for AI services(Jonathan Flightbase). Jonathan is mainly characterized by the ease of development and operation, convenience of use, and cost. With the growing demand for total AI As a Service (AIaaS), each service of Jonathan (Jonathan Intelligence™, Jonathan Flightbase™, Jonathan Bots™, Jonathan Marker™, Jonathan Datascope™) has been integrated into a total AI As a Services (AIaaS) platform that transforms to AI End-to-End Development Guaranteed. Based on the experience of more than 100 projects performed with leading domestic companies and public sectors in Korea for the past five years, ACRYL has independently developed AI models specifically for the insurance and healthcare industries. Users can experience Jonathan, a Korean flagship of AI DevOps that supports the developers in various industries who want to create services and introduce technologies to overcome ‘Technical Barriers’ and help advance the ‘agnostic AI era’ and focus more on the essential value of a business.
6. How do you keep pace with the rapidly changing AI-based tech space?
Browsing through the recent AI researches is as much interesting as finding the latest movie information for me. And participating in the AI-related community on social media and reading their posts is also very helpful to understand the recent technology trends.These activities let you know how many talented and brilliant AI researchers are in the world, and also provide valuable opportunities to interact with them to make you feel the world is being made.
7. What are some of the common pain points that your customers commonly approach you with?
Recently in Korea, a chatbot service which a domestic startup company is providing has become a social issue because it spoke out many biased conversations just like Tay from Microsoft in 2016. I sent an article describing what I felt about this incident to a newspaper and showed it to my friends who are not in the AI industry. Most of them were complaining that the content was difficult to understand. I think many colleagues in AI business will agree that the biggest problem in AI business is that the description of AI-related software, services, and platforms is not comfortable and very hard. This is because we always meet customers who lack our currently prepared explanation. However, those customers gave us a great opportunity which allowed us to review our products more from the customer’s point of view and taught us an important lesson that if they didn’t understand, the completeness of our products can be questioned.
8. What advice would you like to give to the upcoming AI-based tech start-ups?
What customers have is not knowledge, but interest in AI. And not a desire to learn, but a value to obtain. You shouldn’t try to teach them, and you need to talk quantitatively about clear values that you give to them. And remember that it usually takes longer patience to make them experience your value than your expectation.
9. Can you give us a sneak peek into some of the upcoming product upgrades that your customers can look forward to?
To construct an AI platform depending on the customers’ requirements is the Jonathan’s main business. Additionally, the construction of industry-specific platforms supporting more customers is in progress. The first platform will be a healthcare-specific AI platform together with the Korea Wellcare Consortium(KWC), an association of about fifty companies and institutes related to healthcare, beauty, and food industries in Korea. This platform aims at the development and operation of the world’s first full-fledged AI convergence well-care services, and we are confident that you will be able to meet very cool services. So, the addition of professional healthcare-specific AI models is currently in progress and is established as an important upgrade plan this year.
10. Which is the one AI breakthrough you will be on the lookout for in the upcoming year?
Could it be the emergence of a digital human as a super-personalized DevOps that virtualizes personal capabilities and experiences? For anything else, at least I might not call it ‘breakthrough’.
11. What is the one leadership motto you live by?
“Do to others as you would be done by”
For more such updates and perspectives around Digital Innovation, IoT, Data Infrastructure, AI & Cybsercurity, go to AI-Techpark.com.
CEO, Acryl Inc.
Jin Park is the CEO of Acryl Inc. He is also the Chairman of Korea Wellcare Consortium(KWC), Vice Chairman at Korea Intelligence Medical Industry Association(KIMIA), Adjunct Professor of Computer Engineering in SKKU, and CEO at WRG Inc.
He has done his Ph.D. in Computer Science from KAIST.