Decision intelligence is defined as an engineering discipline that augments data science with theory from social science, decision theory and managerial science. Its application provides a framework for best practices in organisational decision-making and processes for applying machine learning at scale.
The Global Decision Intelligence Market size was estimated at $9.78 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach $17.15 billion by 2027, according to Reportlinker.com.
One company that helped define and pioneer the category is the Manchester, UK-based Peak founded in 2014 by CEO Richard Potter, David Leitch, CIO and Atul Sharma, CTO.
“The genesis of Peak started as a conversation between three people who knew each other, chatting about this topic in the pub, trying to figure it out. And then, once we’d cemented on the product idea, getting that seed funding, getting it in the hands of as many people as possible. And then from there, taking those learnings to try and build something that we thought was really scalable,” says Potter.
The company positions itself as a decision intelligence company that provides a platform to offer data analysis services. The company helps commercial decision-making for its customers with its AI software. Peak’s Decision Intelligence software embeds AI across sales, marketing, planning, and supply chains to accelerate revenues and profits.
“The idea we had was a really simple one. Already back then, we could see that companies who could harness the power of data to run their companies were massively outperforming those who couldn’t. There was something that stopped businesses doing that, and what was it? So, we were interested in exploring that problem. And as we explored that problem, it took us down the route that we’ve gone down today, which is that it’s all about decisions,” says Potter
If a company’s value is the sum total of the decisions its makes through it value chain, then optimising those decisions would have a huge impact on business success. The co-founders felt then that Company A will perform better than Company B by doing exactly the same thing, but with better-optimized decisions. So they created a software platform that would allow companies to more easily adopt AI to speed the process of going from raw data to an optimised decision outcome as quickly as possible.
“We were just seeing our customers get incredible gains using AI decisioning. Over time, it’s been an iterative thing where we thought, ‘Right, what we need to do is stop technology being a barrier, basically.’ Which led us to build the first version of the Peak platform. And as we did that, we then realized that now Tech’s not a barrier to getting the data to make those decisions. We are seeing these incremental, additional gains by companies,” says Potter.
Creating a new software category can have its challenges, as you need to spend time educating the market. However, Potter saw it as a competitive advantage and a catalyst for growth. He says that people can conflate category creation and market creation. Peak is not creating the market for artificial intelligence in the enterprise. That already exists. And there’s already a complicated market landscape of AI providers vying for attention.
“What we are doing is giving clarity to our customer base, at least our prospective customer base to say, ‘Hey, look, you’re interested in AI, but if you really want to move the needle with business performance, you should be interested in decision intelligence.’ And that’s the education. It’s distinctly different from AI, because it applies artificial intelligence into how we make decisions. So, it’s not just the prediction or the categorisation or the model. It is putting that into a string of logic that helps a businessperson make the best decision all the time or helps them automate certain tasks. Now, in order to pull that off, you need a distinctly different type of product and platform to do that on, which is Peak. And that’s why we were convinced this is a new category. You can’t do this with established pieces of software. Can’t do this with a data science machine learning workbench. You can’t do this with a business intelligence product or a data warehouse, or you can’t build it on your CRM system,” says Potter.
The strategy has worked well. Today, its Decision Intelligence software embeds AI across sales, marketing, planning, and supply chains to accelerate revenues and profits for companies like PrettyLittleThing, AO, KFC, PepsiCo, Marshalls, and Speedy Hire.
“And that’s got us to this point today, which is, we feel like we’ve created a category with decision intelligence. We believe we’re the category creators and the market leaders. We think it’s a huge, huge market opportunity,” says Potter.
According to Potter, Peak’s customers have experienced a 5% increase in total company revenues, a doubling of return on advertising spend, a 12% reduction in inventory holdings, and a 5% reduction in supply chain costs.
It’s fast growth and expanding customer base has enabled the 200-plus person company to attract $119 million in investment funding raised to date, with SoftBank leading its latest Series C round for $75 million. Other investors include Octopus Ventures, Praetura Ventures, MMC Venures, Oxx and Riverside
Potter describes himself as half English and half Scottish. He grew up in England till he was 16 and then moved to Scotland to finish school. He attended Edinburgh University where he earned a business degree that would lead him into a career working in investment banking focused on tech investments and semiconductors in particular. He moved from investing to the operational side of business when he started working for Wolfsohn Microelectronics.
“After that, the areas I worked in was consumer electronics-focused, working with the likes of Apple, Samsung, others. Really cool grounding. That led me to work, along with a friend who’d set up his own company a few years earlier. When I left semiconductors, I went into enterprise software for a time. And I suppose that coming together of all of my experiences across business background, being a financial analyst, being a product manager and so on in tech, to working in software really started to give me this itch I want to scratch around, like, ‘Okay, there’s something here. There’s a business that could be amazing if we can crack this code.’ And I always fancied trying to run a company at some point,” says Potter.
Where did the entrepreneurial “itch” come from? Potter says that both his parents had strong business minds. His mother had an MBA and ran public sector schools in the UK. His father had set up his own software company and had even sold one of his companies. “And I think subconsciously, I kind of grew up around it. Some of my aunties and uncles ran their own businesses. I think I’m privileged in that sense. I grew up with it being a possibility of something I could do,” says Potter.
As for the future? “Our aspiration is to become the de-facto decision intelligence platform for the enterprise. That will fulfill the company’s mission to make AI accessible for all, and to put it in the hands of business users, make them great at what they do. We think it’s the most important software category of all time. So the winner in this category is going to be a large, enduring software company. And that’s what we think our potential is. So we’re working hard to fulfill that potential. We think the sky is the limit, really, for Peak,” concludes Potter.