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Innovating Products in a Fraction of the Time

Case Study One
Innovating products in a fraction of the time
ALEX MULYAR
CEO & Founder, CRI Genetics

Five years ago, DNA-testing company CRI Genetics began converting its software-based products into AI-based ones. By using AI algorithms — rather than bioinformatics — to build these systems, the company was able to increase the number of ethnicities it could test for from 26 to over 60.

Fast forward to 2022, when CEO Alex Mulyar started seeing headlines about generative AI. Mulyar was intrigued by the technology but wasn’t sure what it meant for his business, given that his team was already using AI. He started having internal conversations with his senior architects and developers and then consulted with an external AI expert.

“I was blown away by what it could do for us,” he says. By automating repeatable tasks in research and development, generative AI tools like ChatGPT and Python could “take something that would normally take three to four scientists and R&D personnel three to four months and output it in three to four weeks.”

Once those tools were integrated into the company, employees immediately had more time for more important tasks, like higher-order decision-making, idea generation and innovation. They had the bandwidth to work on game-changing products such as Timeline, a genetic test that aims to identify a customer’s ancestors, the genes they passed on and the historical context in which they lived. For example, the test might inform a customer that their dairy allergy comes from a Japanese relative who lived 700 years ago or their blue eyes come from an ancestor who lived during the Viking Age.

“We would not have been able to approach this product without AI because it would have taken significantly more individuals or significantly more time for the staff that we have,” says Mulyar. “By innovating faster, we are potentially creating way more value for the customer.”

Mulyar has found other unconventional applications for the technology. When making a difficult decision — say, how to launch a new product in different industries — he will send prompts to ChatGPT to help him sort through key considerations.

“I’ll send the query: ‘Hey, this is an idea that I’m thinking about, and these are the pros and cons that I’m considering. What am I missing? What else would be valuable for me to consider?’” he says. “I’m not using it to give me answers; I wouldn’t trust it to. But it can help me open my mind.”

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