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From Kyrgyzstan To London: How This CEO Is Trying To Revolutionize Productivity In Financial Services

From Kyrgyzstan To London: How This CEO Is Trying To Revolutionize Productivity In Financial Services

Benzinga's Fintech Focus Podcast features conversations with the biggest names in fintech. Subscribe to the Fintech Focus newsletter to get a roundup of industry news delivered to your inbox weekly, and check out upcoming programming at Benzinga events.

How do you communicate with co-workers? Email? Slack? Video conferencing tools like Zoom Video Communications (NASDAQ: ZM)?

In an increasingly digital work environment, more information is disseminated over digital channels than at any point in history. And while this has obvious benefits, no one is quite sure what kind of impact all this digital communication has on productivity, if any.

But what if how we communicate could be measured, analyzed, and used to improve how we work?

The possibility of this sea-change was among the topics discussed in this week’s episode of the Fintech Focus Podcast with Behavox CEO and Founder Erkin Adylov.

Founded in 2014, Behavox is an AI platform that runs like an operating system for financial services companies. The massive amounts of data these companies produce on a daily basis represented an opportunity for Adylov, who created Behavox as a means of gathering and analyzing that data to generate actionable insights for its clients to quantifiably improve their performance.

Now, five years later, Behavox has over 100 employees and offices in San Francisco, New York, London, Montreal and Singapore.

From Lacking-In-Tech To Pioneering-In-Tech

Adylov grew up in post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan. With the country in an economic recession, Adylov said he remembers electricity rations and his mother, who was a doctor, not receiving pay for six months. It was in the context of this hardship that Adylov’s mother pushed him learn computer science and English in order to have a better life.

“It was actually my mom who kept telling us that computers are the future and we have to learn that if we want to get out of the country,” Adylov said. “So she would send me and my sister to computer science, but also to English. Those are two things that she was adamant would be important in the future.”

A path toward a new life came when Adylov attended high school in Marion, Michigan, while living on a nearby dairy farm. He returned to his country for two years before earning scholarships to study in Hawaii and London.

Post-graduation, Adylov worked at Goldman Sachs as an equity research analyst before moving on to an asset manager role at a London-based hedge fund. Eventually, Adylov developed the sense that the natural progression of his career was toward entrepreneurship.

“I was thinking, ‘Well, actually setting up your own hedge fund is more entrepreneurial,” Adylov said. “‘So I should really be thinking more about opening my own business. And it doesn't matter if it's a hedge fund, just think about it as a business.’ So I think it was just a natural progression of my career is that I've exhausted all the ladders that I could have climbed and then, the next one was setting up my own business.”

How Behavox Came To Be

With a background in computer science, years of experience in financial market analysis and a strong entrepreneurial drive, Adylov noticed a distinct pattern in the components that made successful financial firms. Ultimately, what he found was that it all boiled down to the effective use of information within the company.

“Passion is certainly one of the component parts, but it's not the only one,” Adylov said. “When I started analyzing and looking at the various businesses and various trends, the one that I really was curious about and the one that I'm wanting to set up business in, would be internal data.”

Companies like Behavorox’s client Citigroup (NYSE: C) generate 20 million emails a day, according to Adylov. But until this point, nobody was analyzing these communications.

“If you take companies and the amount of data that they generate, there is no company like Google (Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL) that would help companies organize, make sense of all this data, but more importantly extract value out of it,” Adylov said.

Adylov also noticed employees were gradually shifting how they communicate on a daily basis from face-to-face conversations or phone calls to programs like Slack or Bloomberg Chat. He wanted to help companies better understand how they can be more productive based on these communication patterns.

“What Behavox does is that it comes in and it starts aggregating all of this communications data, because the more work you do in the digital domain, the more that data lends itself to analysis,” Adylov said. “So once you analyze all that data, you should be able to orchestrate and run your company better, in ways you certainly couldn't do before.”

Where Do We Go From Here?

Replying to messages with a specific emoticon or responding to emails after hours are just some of the behaviors Behavox is analyzing. Despite how minute they might seem, it’s these communications that can be critical in allowing companies analyze efficiency. But Adylov also pointed out the software has built-in controls to prevent misuse by its clients.

“Behavox has built in controls and it logs every single click and every single activity that is undertaken by the compliance office, so it can really see if people are taking advantage of their power,” Adylov said. “The second thing is that data security. So, the platform is installed on the client's premises so the data never leaves the house, or your firewall. We take this extra step because we don't want to be a target.”

Machine learning is also used to mask client data, which ensures a level of anonymity and security for a company and its employees. Understanding needs like these has been the key to pitching Behavox to clients.

“If you understand what your client wants ... Do they want to reduce risk? Do they want to cut costs? Do they want to make more money? Depending on that, you're going to get measured on that ROI,” Adylov said. “So your pitch could be: I'm going to help you make money, and it's going to be 10 times more than what you've invested in Behavox. Are you interested?”

Listen below for the full interview to hear more on Adylov’s insights on how the human elements of the financial services industry can help it run more efficiently.


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