Arvind Jain, Glean: On using AI to surface knowledge


Rapid advancements in AI are heralding a new generation of powerful tools—including the ability to quickly surface knowledge across a business.

Glean, a firm established by Google search engineers and other industry veterans, possesses considerable expertise in this area.

AI News caught up with Arvind Jain, CEO and Founder of Glean, to hear more about how the company is using AI to surface workplace knowledge and supercharge productivity.

AI News: Can you tell us about Glean and its goals?

Arvind Jain: Glean is solving perhaps the most urgent problem in today’s workplace: helping people find and access the information they need to do their best work. 

Over the past four years, we’ve built a search platform that leverages the latest advancements in machine learning and retrains deep learning language models on each company’s specific knowledge base. In this way, we develop a deep understanding of context, language, behaviour, and relationships with others that are uniquely tuned to your workplace and adheres to your data governance policies: a trusted knowledge model.  

Our trusted knowledge model enables us to give users the most relevant and personalised answers to their queries and empowers them to stay connected not only to company knowledge but also to one another.

Our mission is to bring everyone the knowledge they need to make a difference in the world.

AN: Has more remote working post-pandemic increased the need for knowledge-sharing solutions like Glean?

AJ: Absolutely, and this is compounded by the explosion of SaaS applications across the enterprise. Company knowledge has become fragmented and siloed, which presents huge challenges for companies who care about employee experience — who want to ensure that their employees can find answers to their questions, access the information they need, and feel connected.

A Forrester found that the top reason employees feel disengaged from work is that data and/or information is hard to find. Now more than ever it’s absolutely critical to ensure that you invest in good search and knowledge management tools.

AN: How do you ensure that potentially sensitive company data that not all team members should maybe have access to is kept safe?

AJ: Glean was built from the ground up to prioritize security and governance — we connect to all your enterprise knowledge and enforce the existing permissions of your data sources. This has been foundational to our success.

Glean’s governance engine ensures that users only see the information they are allowed to, based on their existing access permissions in the source systems that Glean searches. 

AN: After a reasonable time of integrating Glean, what is the success rate of receiving an answer that someone needs?

AJ: The average Glean user makes 20 searches/day and saves 2-3 hours/week — customer time savings and productivity gains are key success metrics for us.

AN: How does Glean differentiate from its competitors?

AJ: Over the past four years, we’ve built a search platform that leverages the latest advancements in machine learning and retrains deep learning language models on each company’s specific knowledge base.

In this way, we develop a deep understanding of context, lexicon, behaviour, and relationships with others that are uniquely tuned to your workplace and adheres to your data governance policies: a trusted knowledge model. Our trusted knowledge model enables us to provide users with the most relevant and personalised answers to their queries. 

I was also frustrated by how long it took other tools to get up and running. It was very important to me that our search solution should be fully customisable, but also should only need minimal operational overhead to set up – no third-party engagements or professional services.

AN: Amid global economic uncertainties, have you noticed an uptick in interest from enterprises seeking ways to lower their costs and improve operational efficiencies?

AJ: Yes, 100 percent! The economy has simultaneously seen a drop in productivity and in employee engagement, and many businesses are looking to improve efficiency and productivity. 

There are many studies, including one from McKinsey, that have found that almost 20 percent of the work week is spent looking for internal information or colleagues who can help – this is why it’s so vital to empower employees with good tools to connect to company knowledge and resources. It’s a critical investment right now.

AN: What can we expect from Glean over the coming year?

AJ: Generative AI has the potential to supercharge knowledge workers, and everyone wants to figure out how to bring it into the workplace, but GPT-4 and similar Generative AI models are simply not ready for the enterprise.  They need to be grounded in the right search technology. 

Our goal is to deliver a product that’s as useful for the enterprise as ChatGPT is for the web.

With that goal in mind, we’re going to expand the use of generative AI in our offerings and deliver new features, grounded in our trusted knowledge model, that will augment people’s potential at work.

The conversational interface is just one piece of that. Our mission is to bring people the knowledge they need to make a difference in the world. In the background, we’re also continually working to improve ranking, it’s foundational to what we offer.

Glean is sponsoring Digital Transformation Week on 17-18 May 2023 and will be sharing its expertise with attendees. The event is co-located with the AI & Big Data Expo. Swing by Glean’s booth at stand #174.

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