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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

NCI creates AI solution through CrossChx partnership

NCI Inc. is working with a commercial provider of artificial intelligence technologies to create an AI solution they are branding as “Shai.”

The name stands for “Scaling Humans with Artificial Intelligence” and is the culmination of NCI’s strategy to take an AI product built by CrossChx and surround it with NCI’s services and government expertise.

CrossChx is a provider of AI solutions in the health care market, primarily with hospitals but wanted a close partner to lead the way into the federal market. Both companies began working together in August 2017 to develop the solution which NCI will market to agencies that are looking to automate repetitive, high-volume tasks.

Since that start they have used the solution in several pilots and even let loose NCI’s cyber experts to try to break it, said NCI CEO Paul Dillahay.

“We were very excited that we found no Cat 1 vulnerabilities,” he told me.

Another big cybersecurity plus of Shai is that the CrossChx product is completely written in the United States by U.S. citizens. That's a claim other AI makers can’t make, he said.

The company is working on a certificate of networthiness and has a sponsor for that process. From there it’ll move toward a broader authority-to-operate.

NCI has increased its efforts to be a leading AI integrator for federal agencies since private equity firm H.I.G. Capital took the contractor private last year.

Since August, NCI has used Shai in a dozen pilots in addition to internal NCI operations such as financial processes and back office functions such as travel forms.

The solution is best for highly repetitive tasks that are predominately done manually today, Dillahay said.

The idea is to supplement people’s efforts and move them into higher value work, he said.

The move into AI is a strategic one for NCI and is way to differentiate the company from competitors. That investment in the Shai solution follows NCI's hire of CrossChx co-founder Brad Mascho as chief AI officer. Dillahay said that AI-specific hire is probably a first in the industry.

The strategy isn’t just to pop Shai into an operation and walk away, Mascho said.

“There is no point in automating a bad process,” he said.

NCI comes in with its expertise to re-engineer processes and improve operations. This often starts with interviews with the people doing the work currently and mapping the process, he said.

It takes about 12 weeks before Shai is fully “trained” and deployed, he said. “Then you see a magnitude of improvement in efficiency and accuracy and security,” Mascho said.

The company has done about a dozen pilots with Shai on a variety of functions including access control, audit readiness and data migration, he said.

Shai is part of 12 proposals that have been submitted to customers in the defense and civilian sectors, Dillahay said. In some of those NCI is the prime, in others it is partnering with another company.

“You don’t see a lot of pure AI RFPs, but we see Shai as a real differentiator for us,” he said. "We think it'll be a market changing technology."

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Jun 19, 2018 at 8:20 AM

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