SilverRail Series - Action.ai, Pluto & CoGo
Written by Frederic Kalinke
On October 3rd, we hosted another SilverRail Series event that featured talks from three brilliant technology companies. With copious amounts of pizza, beer and wine, our guests were treated to talks on the changing nature of business-to-customer interaction through conversational interfaces (John Taylor from Action.ai), building a travel insurance product for a world that hates insurance (Alex Rainey from Pluto Insurance), a tool that helps rail operators intelligently respond to the challenges of split ticketing (Dave Ashton and Andrew Whiting from SilverRail), and an app which helps customers purchase from companies that align with their values (Ben Gliesner from CoGo).
This blog will summarise each talk for those who were not able to attend. If you could not make it, we have many more events planned in the pipeline so keep your eyes peeled!
Action.ai – John Taylor
The event got off to a great start with Dr John Taylor from Action.ai presenting their product that helps companies deliver intelligent conversational interfaces (both voice and text) easily to customers. He did a demo of how his product works in rail and showcased how it dealt with the nuances and complexities of booking a UK rail ticket! “I want to book a ticket to March in March for March” (March is a real train station) was a particular favourite. Given customers have got lazy in how they type things into Google (we know it will understand our intent however we structure our sentences), it was impressive to see Action.ai’s product cope with complex and convoluted user queries. We’re excited about seeing the product potentially power train operating companies and travel management companies.
Pluto – Alex Rainey
The next company to present has been making waves in the travel ecosystem, recently winning British Airways’s coveted ‘Future of Flying’ award and racking up the most positive Trustpilot reviews in the travel insurance category. Starting off with a poo emoji to summarise the existing customer experience in travel insurance, Alex explained Pluto’s journey and gave really interesting insights into how to build products that customers love. The most thought-provoking insight was that “your customer’s expectations aren’t limited by your industry”, i.e. customer demands are based on the best products they use, not on how they view your product versus your competitors.
“Network Explorer” by SilverRail – Dave Ashton and Andrew Whiting
After a pizza, beer and wine infusion, the audience were ready to hear from our very own Dave Ashton and Andrew Whiting and their product called “Network Explorer” which helps train operating companies intelligently respond to the challenges of split ticketing. Split ticketing is becoming increasingly popular amongst consumers looking to reduce the cost of train travel. For example, a traveller wanting to go from A to C, can drastically reduce their fare by booking two singles from A to B and then B to C. Network Explorer helps TOCs protect against these fare vulnerabilities by providing a daily view of their network through which they can explore and then take action, like identifying alternative fares that match or beat the split ticketing option. SilverRail have a number of Train Operating Companies excited about the tool and we’re all looking forward to seeing how Network Explorer develops.
CoGo – Ben Gleisner
Last up were CoGo who have built a really smart product that helps consumers make better purchase decisions by identifying companies that align with their individual values. Ben, the founder, described it as a “Google for good” and gave some examples of how the app locates companies that rank for things like CO2 footprint, ethical supply chains. It also uses OpenData to scan a user’s previous purchases from which it can nudge users to change behaviour. It’s not surprising to see so many partners signed up and hopefully we’ll see UK train operators get on board given their green credentials.
We have many more events planned – stay tuned!