Ensemble AI: Two Of The Most Successful AWS Cloud Pioneers Are Starting A New AI Solution Provider

‘We witnessed firsthand the transformative power of cloud computing and how it reshaped entire industries,’ said the two Ensemble AI co-founders, Benjamin Wootton and Pontus Noren. ‘Now as we stand on the precipice of a new era defined by AI and data capabilities, we’re eager to leverage our past experience to help businesses harness the potential of these emerging technologies.’

Two of the most successful born-in-the-cloud Amazon Web Services (AWS) solution provider entrepreneurs are teaming up to tackle the blockbuster AI opportunity with a new company called Ensemble AI.

The dynamic London-based cloud duo, Benjamin Wootton (pictured above left), the co-founder and CTO of Contino, a one-time AWS Premier Partner that was sold to Cognizant in 2019; and Pontus Noren (pictured above right), co-founder of Cloudreach, an AWS Premier partner sold to Atos in 2021, are looking to strike gold once again with Ensemble AI.

The two successful entrepreneurs officially announced their new boot-strapped professional services venture aimed at helping enterprises “deploy and adopt advanced analytics, machine learning and AI”, in a Linkedin post.

“We witnessed first hand the transformative power of cloud computing and how it reshaped entire industries,” said the two Ensemble AI co-founders, who together helped 400 enterprises move to the cloud, in the Linkedin post. “Now as we stand on the precipice of a new era defined by AI and data capabilities, we’re eager to leverage our past experience to help businesses harness the potential of these emerging technologies.”

In an interview with CRN, Noren, who is CEO of Ensemble, and Wootton, who is CTO, said the AI opportunity is much bigger than the cloud computing revolution that was sparked by AWS.

Magnitudes Bigger Than The AWS Cloud Computing Opportunity

Noren, who built Cloudreach into a 800-person business that was acquired by solution provider behemoth Atos in late 2021, said the AI opportunity is “magnitudes bigger” than the cloud computing shift.

“The addressable market for AWS might have been half a trillion dollars,” he said. “AI goes beyond IT and infrastructure. The opportunity overall in AI is touching every industry, every type of business of every size. It is the opportunity to retool all businesses out there of every size with AI, teaching them how to do it and where to do it.”

Noren said the new company’s focus is squarely on helping enterprise customers to “make this transition into this new world” of AI business solutions. “We believe they are going to need skills, people, thinking, etc., to make the transition,” he said. “That is the opportunity we see.”

Wootton, who built Contino into a 400-person business that was acquired by Cognizant in 2019, said he also sees a “many orders of magnitudes bigger” opportunity than the cloud computing revolution because the AI impacts all applications. “Businesses have hundreds or thousands of applications,” he said. “It touches all parts of the business, all of their processes, back office, front office, customer experience, data and infrastructure.”

Wootton anticipates as many as 80 percent of the AI projects that Ensemble AI will take on will be revenue generating versus what was only 60 percent in the cloud computing era. “Cost savings in AI gets more attention because people think it is going to replace humans,” he said. “What will happen in reality is those humans will go and do slightly higher level, more interesting, more impactful work. You won’t end up firing thousands or tens of thousands of people. They’ll just do different activities. The more exciting thing is the new business models which AI enables and the new interaction models with customers.”

One example of the new business models is the use of AI to solve financial services fraud which has cost businesses trillions of dollars, said Wootton. “Instead of throwing people at solving the fraud problem we can use agents which we believe has the potential to reduce some types of fraud up to 50 percent,” he said.

“We’ve learned a lot about AI and we are looking for the biggest possible business cases and places to apply it,” he said. “For us financial services is screaming out as a place to go and apply this with the biggest business cases.”

Among the areas Ensemble AI will play a role helping enterprises will be helping, cleaning and preparing data, modernizing applications, automating business processes and building the infrastructure layer underneath those applications, said Wootton.

Working With AWS Bedrock And ClickHouse

Ensemble AI is currently working with AWS Bedrock and ClickHouse open source database management system.

“AWS should obviously be a very strong relationship for us considering the heritage of the relationship and skills you have to have,” said Wootton. “I really like AWS Bedrock as a platform. It has been a little bit of a dark horse in the AI conversation – not quite as noisy as OpenAI. But from a security, compliance and enterprise readiness perspective we really like Bedrock as a platform for AI innovation. We think it is going to be even bigger in the future.”

Noren said one of the keys for Ensemble AI will be focusing on a single cloud platform. “Picking one of them eventually will be important,” he said. “We like the look of AWS. We haven’t signed a partnership agreement with them. We are not at this point in time pursuing that. We are just kind of keeping an eye (on all of them) but we will need to lock in on one of them to become an outright (AI) expert (on that platform).”

As a professional services firm, Wootton said the company will be focused on generating “intellectual property and frameworks and components” that can be used by a variety of companies. “Everyone wants to solve the same problems and 80 percent of the problems overlap,” he said.

Noren said the cloud computing revolution was “very much a focus on “lift and shift and rationalize and simplify” with a focus on changing the cost model. The AI solutions opportunity is “very different” with a focus on applications.

Wootton said this time around he is focused on “correcting some of the mistakes” from building Contino and building “something better” this time out with a “career defining” opportunity for employees. “The first time I was very focused on business growth,” he said. “We wanted to get big as quickly as possible with half an eye on the exit. But this time for me it is about something that the team can be proud of. That doesn’t mean we don’t think it is a huge business opportunity as well. Otherwise we wouldn’t be doing this. But I do have a more rounded view and aspirations this time.”

Noren, for his part, said “thinking big and looking ahead and seeing the opportunity” is only 20 percent of what it takes with the other 80 percent of the time doing the “daily grind.”

“You have to go back to all the basics you need to do to put the business on the right path and this time around we should be able to do it a bit more quickly and efficiently than the first time around,” he said. “Before we get ahead of ourselves as to how big this can be we need to get this more off the ground.”

To that point, Noren said building a company is like building a house brick by brick. “Sometimes you lay the wrong brick and you have to take it off and put another one on,” he said.

As for whether the two entrepreneurs think they can strike gold once again, Wootton said he is focused on putting “one foot in front of the other” with a focus on hiring the right talent and winning the next customer. “You have to take it day by day and if you keep on doing the right thing in the end it hopefully works out.”