The Disruptors: How AI can automate complex decision making

The Disruptors tells the stories of start-ups across East Anglia turning revolutionary ideas into reality. CEO and co-founder James Duez explains how Rainbird uses artificial intelligence to make recurring decisions.

Tell us about Rainbird.  

Rainbird is an intelligent software that automates complex decision making – an area that has traditionally been reserved for human beings.

We enable people to take the expertise that’s locked up in their heads and encode it into our software via a creative, visual process we call knowledge mapping. These knowledge maps can then be connected to data and queried to replicate human reasoning at scale.

Rainbird makes decisions 100 times faster and 25% more accurately than even the top experts who built the model.

How do you use invention and innovation to disrupt the market? 

Rainbird is far more powerful than older technologies like decision trees because Rainbird can reason and make judgements even when there is uncertainty or missing data. The decisions Rainbird makes are always completely transparent and auditable – you receive an ‘evidence tree’ for every judgement that Rainbird makes, so you can always explain how each decision has been reached.

In turn, our clients use Rainbird to be disruptive in their own markets. They’re able to do this because they can use the technology to build tools that help them achieve the three things that every commercial organisation needs: greater efficiency to free up its people to work on higher value tasks; improved customer experiences and outcomes; and new revenue streams.

James Duez, CEO and co-founder of Rainbird - Credit: Rainbird

What business opportunities have you identified? 

PwC has predicted that AI will generate $15 trillion for the global economy by the end of this decade, but there has always been a gap between traditional decision trees and robotic process automation, which can only automate simple processes, and what is sometimes called blackbox AI – machine-learnt algorithms which cannot be explained and or apply judgement. Rainbird fills this gap.

What are you most proud of? 

The team, hands down. What they have created is a new category that can make every domain expert in the world a superhero. We are also very proud to have supported the NHS throughout the pandemic.

If you were starting all over again, what would you do differently? 

When you are at the cutting-edge of a technology, you feel you have to educate the whole market. We felt the pressure of that in our earlier years – trying to explain to everybody what we saw. On reflection I would have taken some of that strain off ourselves. Automation is a continuous and unstoppable train. The whole market is now catching up.

What advice do you have for someone launching a disruptive start-up?

Get out of the building and show what you are doing to others early. Don’t work on a hypothesis, find out.

What are your plans for the future? 

To make every expert a superhero capable of changing the world – and to be the de facto decision automation technology for scaling human expertise.

For more information, please visit 

The Disruptors video series is produced in association with the University of East Anglia and the Cambridge Norwich Tech Corridor

This article was first published in the EDP on 1st September 2021