AI Is Already Prevalent Across KC-Area Businesses


By Ian Ritter


Artificial intelligence is usually spoken about as future tech component of business, but for many area companies, it’s already here. Speakers at the KC Tech Council’s recent Tech on Tap event at the Boulevard Brewery, gave examples of how they are using AI and the impact it’s already having in reaching consumers and clients.

Taxpayers that use H&R Block’s services over the phone or online are already using it, though they might not be aware they’re using it.

Philip Hickman of PlaBook at the KC Tech Council AI meeting.

“There’s a lot of energy and money in this city going into new and emerging technologies,” said Kyle Donaldson, vice president of technology at H&R Block. “If you look at all of the emerging technologies, we believe AI is right at the point of making the biggest impact.”

What that could mean for people doing their taxes is a decrease from 45 minutes to 10 minutes in overall time spent preparing them online, he said. Right now, AI is used with the tax-preparation company is routing calls to the direct person, whether it be a specific filing issue to a tech problem, and auto-filling out parts of a customer’s return.

Philip Hickman, the founder and CEO of Kansas City-based educational tech firms Mindable Solutions and PlaBook, said AI could be a game-changer in how students are educated. His firm has developed a tool called RUBII (Root Understanding Brain Intelligence) that can listen to someone reading, interpret where the person is making mistakes, and give them on-demand text that adjusts to their reading level and can gradually push them up to a higher level.

Technology, and the expectations of the incoming workforce have significantly outpaced the education system, and now “we are trying to hold [students] to a structure that is no longer relevant.”