LPA provides a range of software development tools for both programmers and non-programmers who wish to deliver knowledge-based decision support and expert systems. Marketing Director, Clive Spenser gives us an insight into what the firm does to stay ahead in the industry.
Logic Programming Associates Ltd develop advanced software solutions using artificial intelligence algorithms. Since 1981, LPA has been developing and supplying software tools to application developers based on LPA Prolog for Windows, the world’s leading commercial Prolog compiler system. In recent years, the company’s focus has moved to its VisiRule product – graphical tool for non-programmers to develop and deliver rule-based and expert systems simply by drawing their decision logic. This is as a result of a conscious effort to deskill the technology stack which LPA has, and make it available to a much wider audience of non-programmers. The goal is to empower business users to build their own cognitive models and deploy them as expert systems.
LPA’s clients range from small software developers who want to build intelligent solutions, through to business professionals such as doctors and lawyers who want to automate some aspect of their profession. Clive Spenser, Marketing Director is responsible for product development, positioning, pricing and sales strategy. He spoke to us about what the firm has been doing to compete and stay ahead in the software industry, in order to create a positive client experience.
The industry in which LPA operates has seen many changes, altering the industry at a rapid pace. Clive explains the main challenge the company faces and what the changes they are seeing which are affecting the company’s development.
“As mobile devices become more omni-present, the challenge is to leverage existing infrastructure and get informed knowledge and information out there to consumers and business users in a timely and efficient manner.”
One particular industry change is the growth of artificial intelligence as Clive explains, “LPA has been working hard to embed its artificial intelligence algorithms within mainstream processes and make them more intelligent. The industry is starting to take an interest in artificial intelligence and recognize the potential benefits that AI has to offer. Using AI to augment people’s daily routines by providing specialist expertise is welcomed, whereas threatening to replace them is not. The challenge is to identify those aspects that are worth automating and those which are best left to human experts.”
The internet provides a constant source of new information and trends, however Clive notes that clients are key to staying on top of current and growing industry trends. “Nothing helps predicting its likely takeup than talking to your existing customers and prospects.” This has helped LPA to maintain its success in a challenging sector.
LPA has a legacy of expertise in developing and deploying AI solutions which it has amassed over the past 30 years. LPA staff have a lot of invaluable experience in tackling the various technical and process obstacles which arise in the task of automating complex human
LPA’s focus is now on VisiRule. A principal goal of the VisiRule product is to make it simple and easy-to-use, so that business users who understand their line of business can use it directly. After all, they hold the knowledge, and it is they that need help in extracting that knowledge and organizing it in a coherent and manageable way. VisiRule helps address this ‘knowledge elicitation’ problem, which historically has been the bottleneck in developing intelligent applications, through combining a visual model with rapid rule generation, instant compilation and immediate testing.
The key challenge is that of extracting and exposing knowledge which is buried within human brains, manuals, technical papers and transforming it into actionable rules to create automated systems. Experts do not know what they know, they often cannot explain how or why they came to a conclusion in a given situation. Concepts such as ‘intuition’ and ‘instinct’ are very, very hard to quantify and capture. VisiRule helps experts explore their own knowledge by providing a very soft and flexible toolset.
VisiRule is a graphical tool which plays the role of a rule generator. Rather than require the author define the rules using some rule language, the author simply draws a connected diagram which the VisiRule compiler translates into executable rules. The drawing task is helped by VisiRule knowing, to some extent, what the intended meaning and context is of each box as it is being drawn and/or linked. As the generated rule-base is executed, and questions presented, VisiRule re-engineers the process to present a graphical view based on the original chart and the active session.
Going forward, LPA plan to extend VisiRule to include machine learning and attempt to build solutions which learn how to improve their own performance. With these solutions the company can look forward to a bright future in the industry.