Innovation That Matters

Coachbot company profile

Where Are They Now?: Saberr

Work & Lifestyle

We spoke to Alistair Shepherd, founder of London-based HR company Saberr whose AI solution is trying to improve team's overall performance with personalized and actionable coaching.

With the launch of CoachBot in September 2017, people analytics company Saberr has begun building the world’s most experienced team coach. CoachBot is an intelligent chatbot that creates custom training and development plans for teams in the workplace. Usable in any industry, the bot is creating a unique body of interdisciplinary knowledge and experience of what helps people work well together.

Designed to support, not replace, organizations’ human resources departments, the bot guides groups in identifying areas for improvement. Crucially, the solutions are led, organized and enacted by employees. All members of a team have the same complete access to the survey data, which is what the bot uses to make suggestions for development. By empowering employees to design their own solutions to both micro and macro problems within their place of work, CoachBot frees up HR teams to look more strategically across the business.

Saberr’s goal is to design technology that is good for humans, and CoachBot “helps people have conversations with their colleagues they would never have been able to have before.” Alistair Shepherd, the founder of Saberr, says, “This is a really interesting time for businesses. There is more competition in all sectors because technology is having a bigger impact, so what each company has that is unique is its culture and people. It’s hard to emulate that and impossible to copy people.” CoachBot helps balance autonomy with accountability. Each improvement plan will be unique, just like the combination of personalities and approaches within a team.

Saberr’s first product, Base, forecasts the quality of working relationships by predicting the dynamics of collaboration. Companies use it to staff internal projects as well as screen potential new candidates. Previously profiled by Springwise in 2016, Base proved so effective that it led many organizations to pose the same question to Saberr. “Once we have the right teams in place, how do we develop them so they reach their potential?” Saberr’s answer is CoachBot. “With CoachBot, we’re able to work with thousands of teams at the same time,” said Shepherd, “which is how we’re able to build experience so rapidly.”

Saberr are working with a wide range of organizations including NHS nursing teams, a restructured Unilever and engineering, tech and fashion businesses. The need for companies to collaborate is the main driver for the planned development of CoachBot, which will focus on building the depth of insight available to organizations in a way that is safe for employees. In the future Saberr will be looking at the options for making CoachBot mobile so that it becomes a personal coach that travels with someone across their entire career, regardless of location.

In the 2017 Digital Agenda Impact Awards, Saberr won the Business Transformation category. The company is already planning to further pursue the possibilities of teaching machines to better understand humans – in all their wonderful intricacies and irrationalities. “There’s a real craft to developing human-machine interfaces,” said Shepherd. “Humans aren’t going anywhere, so we want to create technology that is complementary”.