The experts sifting through the world’s information overload 

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The experts sifting through the world’s information overload 

The co-founder of a British company explains how artificial intelligence can sort through data to help businesses make more informed commercial decisions

Signal AI co-founder David Benigson
Signal AI co-founder David Benigson

A British scale-up that sifts through the ‘information overload’ to help businesses make more informed and confident decisions has raised $50 million (£38m), bringing its total investment to more than $100m (£76m).

Signal AI, co-founded by communications expert David Benigson, uses artificial intelligence (AI) to sort through the exploding deluge of information available, from the world’s news and social media, broadcasts, blogs to regulatory data, and provides real-time targeted insights for businesses –also known as ‘decision augmentation’.

“There are tectonic shifts taking place under almost every societal pillar and the issues faced by decision makers continue to intensify,” says Benigson, 33.

“With the emergence of the global pandemic, widespread social protest over equality and race and the climate emergency, these past two years have been unlike any other, as the volume and velocity of data available to businesses is ever-multiplying.

“Signal AI’s mission to aggregate the world’s information and transform decision-making for business leaders has never been more critical.”

He adds: “We are now into the age of AI and I think companies that haven’t already started to fully embrace AI across the enterprise will get left behind.

“Companies that are providing AI tools to help understand the increasingly complex world and increasing swathes of information are helping to shape tomorrow’s decisions. This kind of tech is no longer siloed in the IT department; it is in the hands of business leaders and having a huge impact across the whole business.”

Signal AI’s tech can pick up business risk issues months ahead of the risk hitting. The company’s data and insights are currently delivered to more than 40 percent of the Fortune 500. Clients include Google, Deloitte and the Bank of America, plus a G7 government, which uses Signal AI to understand drivers for vaccine hesitancy.

Not bad for a company that was founded in 2013 in a garage in north London by Benigson and his co-founder Dr Miguel Martinez, a data scientist.

Fast forward eight years and Signal AI is a team of 200, serving more than 700 clients in three continents.

The latest funding was led by Highland Europe, previous backers of Matches Fashion, plus existing backers Redline, in addition to MMC and Hearst and Guardian Media Group.

The money will be used to push a hiring drive and invest in research and development as the volume and velocity of data available to businesses intensifies. According to Gartner, by 2030, decision augmentation is predicted to surpass all other types of AI initiatives to account for 44 percent of the global AI-derived business value.

“The opportunity is huge,” notes Benigson, who says keeping abreast of data became increasingly complex during the pandemic. “We saw a surge in our own clients needing to undertake an increasingly complex field of vision in terms of the deluges of data they needed to be across, for example the daily changing global government regulations that directly affected their business in reaction to the pandemic. We cover 200 markets in 100 languages so, for global companies, this really became an extremely valuable tool for strategic decision-making.”

Will decision augmentation become an integral part of business strategy?

“We are seeing boards now structure leadership bonus pay relating to company reputation and [in December 2021] Woolworths in Australia announced it would swap out a metric measuring sales per square metre, and replace it with a new measure that effectively ties executive bonuses to corporate reputation.

“I think we are likely to see much more of this kind of strategy with reputation being tied to company performance and executive pay in the near future.

“Business leaders need to make decisions that are more about their reputational impact, rather than just the bottom line.”

Benigson studied English literature and American studies at the University of Manchester before completing a bachelor’s in law from the BPP College of Law.

Prior to founding Signal, he worked as a representative for Jamie Oliver at One Young World in Zurich before working at the Jamie Oliver Foundation at London until 2012, which he says has hugely influenced his career.

A member of South Hampstead Synagogue, he is a Young Ambassador at Innovate UK, which is part of the Prince’s Trust International. In 2017, he was listed on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list in the European Media category.


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