Cogito is a start-up in Boston, Massachusetts that converts behavioral data from a person’s voice into usable information. For example, in January of this year, the company was awarded a $1.8 Mn Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to collaborate with Brigham and Women’s Hospital on using Cogito’s technology to support detection and monitoring of mental health disease. One method involves using a mobile phone app that collects behavioral data relevant to mental health assessment and putting it through computational models. The output is information provided directly to the patient-user as well as to the clinician .
But Cogito is not stopping only with healthcare. There are a myriad of ways that behavioral data from voices can be used, including in customer support functions in businesses. Here, Cogito is offering software that will allow customer support phone agents to collect behavioral information from a customer on the phone line and learn useful information about the customer real-time.
The idea is that the information provided by the software will allow the customer support agent to rapidly change their style to match with the customer’s preferences. In addition, the software will provide management with metrics on customer support agent performance based on the behavioral data collected from the phone calls. Together, the real-time coaching of agents and increased the management transparency should hopefully lead to increased customer satisfaction and ultimately increased customer retention .
Cogito has some significant clients and partners, including Aetna, Partners, and BCBS. Beyond the traction that they clearly have already achieved, I think what really strikes me is the potential of the concept and the technology – the ability to digitize behavioral information from mobile devices. Today, all kinds of information are collected from customers – buying patterns, search patterns, personal relationships and networks to name a few. But what if our phones can start to understand what makes us nervous, what makes us happy, and what makes us afraid? Or what times of the day we are stressed and what times of the day we are relaxed? How will that affect the types of advertising provided to us? Or perhaps we can imagine a world in which the user interface that we see on our phone actually changes dynamically based on behavioral data collected from our last conversation.
Obviously, companies who want to collect this data will need to receive their customer’s approval before doing so. But when was the last time you read closely through all of the permissions required by a new app or app update? If you are like me, you skim down the list and hope that everything will be okay before hitting “accept.” I think Cogito’s behavioral data platform is a digital winner, and I’m interested to see how it and other similar technologies will change the way we interact with our service providers.
 January 27, 2015, Company press release, “Cogito Corp Receives NIMH Grant to Improve Outcomes in Mental Health Treatment in Primary Care”
 Cogito Dialog brochure, accessed September 13, 2015 and available on www.cogitocorp.com