Sercan Esen Of Intenseye Is Disrupting Our Industry, and What We Can Do About It

An Interview With Cynthia Corsetti

Stay Customer-Centric: Keep the needs and experiences of your customers at the forefront of your AI initiatives. Listen to their feedback, understand their pain points, and use AI to deliver solutions that address their most pressing challenges and enhance their overall safety and well-being in the workplace.

Artificial Intelligence is no longer the future; it is the present. It’s reshaping landscapes, altering industries, and transforming the way we live and work. With its rapid advancement, AI is causing disruption — for better or worse — in every field imaginable. While it promises efficiency and growth, it also brings challenges and uncertainties that professionals and businesses must navigate. What can one do to pivot if AI is disrupting their industry? As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Sercan Esen.

Sercan Esen, co-Founder and CEO of Intenseye, began his career at Sony as a software engineer. During his time there, he led several global development projects in the fields of brain-computer interfaces, artificial intelligence and virtual reality technologies. He later served as an artificial intelligence consultant for manufacturing, oil & gas, energy and retail companies in the field of computer vision. In 2018, he became a full-time entrepreneur and founded Intenseye. He currently resides in New York City where he leads Intenseye go-to-market, EHS customer success and product teams.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive into our discussion our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

My journey into technology and entrepreneurship started years ago at Sony, where I began as a software engineer. Leading development projects in AI, VR and more sparked my passion for innovation.

During a coding competition in 2017, my colleague Serhat and I developed glasses that incorporated AI technology to help the visually impaired. Winning first place was gratifying, but what really resonated was our realization of AI’s potential to impact lives. This epiphany propelled us to leave the corporate sphere for the realm of research and development.

As fate would have it, our journey took a turn when we transitioned into roles as AI consultants. Regular visits to clients’ manufacturing sites exposed us to a stark reality: despite the advanced tech used by Fortune 500 companies in production and supply chain management, there existed a glaring disparity in safety protocols, often relying on outdated, manual approaches.

This observation hit us hard, especially once we learned the statistics — nearly 3 million people succumb to work-related injuries and illnesses each year. Our idea for Intenseye was sparked shortly thereafter, driven largely by our desire and deeply felt obligation to address these issues.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

What sets Intenseye apart is our mission to empower environmental health & safety (EHS) teams — particularly in high-risk industries such as manufacturing, utilities and logistics — to transform and truly modernize workplace safety at their organizations. We offer an AI-powered platform that integrates computer vision technology into our customers’ facilities’ existing CCTV cameras to deliver 24/7 visibility into unseen hazards, automate ergonomic assessments, and streamline incident management, reporting and other EHS workflows. These capabilities help EHS leaders drive proactive changes that reduce work-related injury and illness rates, improve compliance and save lives.

A top-of-mind story is the journey of one particular customer — a global meat producer — that we’ve been working with since 2022. Meat processing is widely considered one of the most inherently dangerous industries due to the types of equipment and environments it entails. What initially struck me about this customer was their clear dedication to challenging this status quo and, ultimately, making enormous and immediate strides in protecting their frontline workers’ both physical and psychological safety.

Here’s a summary of what they experienced within six months of deploying our platform:

  • Significant reduction in workplace hazards: With Intenseye’s AI integrated into their safety protocols, the company achieved a 61% decrease in hazard detections. Their safety leaders conducted targeted training sessions, revamped facility layouts and implemented prompt interventions guided by insights from our platform.
  • Improved detection of workplace hazards: Compared to the 116 potential hazards the customer had documented via manual observations, our platform alerted safety leaders to 597 potential hazards. This substantial increase underscores the critical role of AI in enhancing the precision and breadth of identification of unsafe acts and conditions.
  • Safer, more efficient operations: The increased hazard identification boosted the company’s ability to maintain a safe working environment. This, in turn, positively impacted operational efficiency, leading to reduced downtime and greater productivity. With fewer safety incidents, the company experienced smoother operations and more consistent productivity levels.

These achievements humble me and highlight the importance of technology and collaboration in making workplaces safer. It’s inspiring to witness our customers’ commitment to leveraging our technology for safety enhancements, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to continue working together to create even safer environments for all.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

I owe much of our progress to three core qualities: resilience, adaptability and empathy:

  • Resilience has been our guiding light through tough times, pushing us to persist despite daunting challenges in developing effective safety solutions.
  • Adaptability has been crucial in keeping us nimble and responsive to the ever-changing landscape of technology and safety needs, ensuring our solutions stay relevant and impactful.
  • Empathy is at the heart of everything we do. Understanding the real concerns of workers and organizations drives us to create solutions that genuinely make a difference, fostering a culture of care and trust in workplaces.

Let’s now move to the main point of our discussion about AI. Can you explain how AI is disrupting your industry? Is this disruption hurting or helping your bottom line?

AI is fundamentally reshaping our industry by revolutionizing the way safety is managed. At Intenseye, we’re proud to be at the forefront of this disruption. When we founded Intenseye back in 2018, we witnessed firsthand the severe contrast between the advanced technology being utilized in other aspects of industrial operations — such as drones, digital twins and robotics, to name a few — and the outdated pen-and-paper methods still prevalent in safety management. This disconnect served as a catalyst for us to step in and provide health and safety teams with the tools they need to effectively protect everyone within facilities.

With work-related injuries and illnesses claiming millions of lives each year, there was an urgent need for transformative solutions. So we started our journey to change this. By leveraging leading indicators and AI technologies, we started a shift from reactive compliance to proactive risk mitigation. Our platform empowers safety leaders to anticipate and prevent incidents before they occur, ultimately saving lives and transforming safety protocols industry-wide. This disruption isn’t just helping our bottom line, it’s driving our purpose-driven commitment to making workplaces safer for everyone.

Which specific AI technology has had the most significant impact on your industry?

As a provider of a computer vision AI-powered software platform for workplace safety, my team and I at Intenseye are keenly aware of the significant impact this type of technology is having in our industry. Leveraging advancements in machine learning, deep learning and big data, computer vision has become a vital tool for transforming workplace safety.

While it’s essential to acknowledge our vested interest in this technology, the practical benefits are undeniable. Our AI analyzes visual data from workplaces’ existing CCTV cameras, identifying potential hazards and flagging anomalies. This proactive approach enables swift intervention, alerting both workers and EHS teams to mitigate risks effectively. As a result, the technology not only helps prevent accidents and injuries but also fosters a culture of proactive risk management and compliance. It’s a serious business, but one with tremendous potential for creating safer, more efficient workplaces.

Can you share a pivotal moment when you recognized the profound impact AI would have on your sector?

This moment occurred back in Intenseye’s early days when I was spending much of my time visiting different manufacturing facilities to work with and learn from EHS teams. From producing ice cream to assembling cars and handling packages in distribution centers, I delved deep into understanding how these teams operated and what challenges they faced.

At one point, shortly after we’d deployed an earlier iteration of our platform for one of our first customers, our AI detected a surge in unsafe acts between 2 and 4 a.m. Upon investigating these alerts, we discovered that one worker had been climbing to a restricted height of over five meters without any fall protection or other necessary safety measures.

The EHS team was seriously concerned and wanted to take action. Also concerned, I drove to the facility and met with this frontline team member to try to understand the situation. He explained that while he’d previously requested the proper safety equipment, the work order was missing. It turned out that management was completely unaware of the issue.

At that moment, we recognized the persistent gap between planned work and work being done. The day-to-day operations of industrial environments differed greatly from our plans, prompting us to further develop our software to go beyond charts and generic data. Our goal from that point forward was to create a platform that provides actionable, immediate insights that help truly align planned work to the work being done.

What are the biggest challenges in upskilling your workforce for an AI-centric future?

One of the biggest hurdles we encounter is the need for technical expertise. Developing proficiency in AI technologies and related disciplines like machine learning and data science requires ample effort and resources; it’s something we’re actively working on with our team.

Another challenge is data management. Ensuring the quality and integrity of our data is essential for the success of our AI solutions. We’re constantly learning and adapting to navigate issues like bias and inconsistency, striving to improve our practices every step of the way.

Cultural shifts within organizations can also be a significant barrier. Embracing AI-driven workflows requires openness to change and a willingness to explore new possibilities. We’re focused on fostering a culture of continuous learning to overcome these challenges.

Talent acquisition and retention are ongoing concerns as well. Demand for AI talent is high, and we’re competing with other companies for skilled professionals. We’re committed to investing in our team and providing opportunities for growth and development to attract and retain top talent.

Ethical and regulatory considerations are paramount in everything we do. We’re dedicated to navigating these complex issues with integrity and transparency, ensuring that our AI solutions uphold the highest ethical standards and comply with regulatory requirements.

Overall, upskilling our workforce for an AI-centric future is a journey that requires humility, perseverance and a commitment to continuous improvement. By embracing these challenges with humility and a willingness to learn, we’re confident that we can navigate the complexities of the AI landscape and deliver impactful solutions for workplace safety.

What ethical considerations does AI introduce into your industry, and how are you tackling these concerns?

The ethical considerations that AI raises in our industry are heavily concentrated in areas regarding privacy, bias and accountability. We understand the responsibility of deploying AI in workplace safety, where the stakes are high.

First, privacy is paramount. Our AI analyzes vast amounts of data, including video feeds, to detect safety hazards. Ensuring the privacy of individuals captured in these feeds is non-negotiable. We prioritize data anonymization and encryption to safeguard privacy while still extracting valuable insights. A testament to this is our proud compliance with GDPR, SOC2, and other data privacy and security regulations and standards.

Secondly, combating bias is critical. AI algorithms can unintentionally perpetuate biases present in training data, leading to unfair and potentially even harmful outcomes. To mitigate this, we employ diverse datasets — including from processing more than 22 billion images per day — and regularly audit our algorithms for bias. Additionally, we continuously educate our team on the ethical implications of AI to foster a culture of awareness and responsibility.

Lastly, accountability is essential. As AI systems autonomously make decisions, ensuring transparency of what this entails is vital. We provide clear documentation of our AI models’ decision-making processes, allowing stakeholders to understand and challenge outcomes. Moreover, we maintain open channels for feedback and regularly engage with our customers and community members to uphold accountability standards.

What are your “Five Things You Need To Do, If AI Is Disrupting Your Industry”?

1 . Embrace Learning: Stay humble and recognize that there’s always more to learn about AI and its potential impact on your industry. Invest in ongoing education and training for yourself and your team to stay abreast of the latest developments and best practices in AI technology.

2 . Focus on Collaboration: Foster a culture of collaboration within your organization and across industry stakeholders. Recognize that AI disruption affects everyone in the ecosystem, and working together can lead to innovative solutions that benefit all parties involved.

3 . Prioritize Ethics: Approach AI disruption with a strong commitment to ethical principles and responsible innovation. Consider the ethical implications of AI-powered solutions on issues such as privacy, bias and transparency, and strive to uphold the highest standards of integrity and accountability in your AI initiatives.

4 . Embrace Agility: Be open to adapting your business strategies and processes in response to AI disruption. Embrace agility and flexibility in your approach, recognizing that the abilities to pivot quickly and experiment are essential for staying ahead in this ever-evolving space.

5 . Stay Customer-Centric: Keep the needs and experiences of your customers at the forefront of your AI initiatives. Listen to their feedback, understand their pain points, and use AI to deliver solutions that address their most pressing challenges and enhance their overall safety and well-being in the workplace.

What are the most common misconceptions about AI within your industry, and how do you address them?

I’m acutely aware of the misconception that the use of computer vision AI for workplace safety raises “Big Brother” concerns, which are understandable. However, it’s essential to clarify that our approach to AI-driven safety isn’t about monitoring individual employees’ every move. Instead, our focus is on preemptively identifying and mitigating safety hazards to ultimately protect employees from harm.

We address these concerns by prioritizing transparency, accountability, and not only physical but also psychological safety. We ensure employees understand how our AI is being used to enhance safety and that their privacy rights are respected. We also implement strict data governance practices to safeguard sensitive information and prevent misuse.

Finally, we continually emphasize that AI is a tool to augment human capabilities — not to replace them. By working collaboratively with employees and empowering them to take an active role in safety initiatives, we foster a culture of trust rather than surveillance.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

Two quotes come to mind, and choosing a favorite is tough! It’s definitely a tie between:

  1. “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower,” by Steve Jobs.

This philosophy influences our approach at Intenseye, especially as we strive to revolutionize workplace safety. Reflecting on our journey so far, it’s evident that traditional safety management approaches have their limitations. Millions of lives are still at risk due to workplace accidents, highlighting the pressing need for proactive solutions.

While our platform has made strides in further empowering EHS leaders to mitigate unsafe acts and conditions, we recognize that there’s much more to be done. With the backing of our investors, partners, and of course our loyal customers, we’re committed to continuous improvement through ethical AI. This quote is a reminder of the importance of innovation and leadership in driving positive change, and it guides us as we strive to redefine workplace safety.

2. “No strategy is better than its execution,” by Frank Slootman.

What speaks to me about this second quote is that it aligns with what I feel is one of Intenseye’s clear, yet perhaps less-obvious, differentiators: our ability to execute. More specifically, our team comprises a group of people who love what we do, enjoy getting things done together, and share a deep conviction for rolling up our sleeves and supporting one another along the way.

A big part of this dynamic is rooted in the fact that we’re all motivated by and respect the urgency inherent to workplace safety and the gravity of the real risks our platform and broader mission aim to mitigate. And similar to how AI requires a highly diverse dataset to be accurate and effective, I believe that the diversity of our team — in terms of viewpoints, backgrounds, identities and more — has been and will continue to be key to our successful execution.

Off-topic, but I’m curious. As someone steering the ship, what thoughts or concerns often keep you awake at night? How do those thoughts influence your daily decision-making process?

What often keeps me up at night is the sobering reality of workplace safety. The staggering statistics of nearly 3 million lives lost to workplace incidents annually weigh heavily on my mind. It’s distressing to think that these incidents are often labeled as accidents, when they’re often preventable outcomes of outdated safety measures and a lack of proactive solutions.

This stark realization profoundly influences my daily decision-making process. It drives me to ensure that every decision we make at Intenseye is guided by our mission to challenge this status quo and prioritize the safety and well-being of workers worldwide. It underscores the importance of continuously innovating our technology to provide real-time, proactive solutions that empower safety teams and prevent accidents before they occur.

Above all else, this concern serves as a constant reminder of the critical need for change in the workplace safety landscape. It fuels our commitment to pushing boundaries, challenging norms, and striving for a future where workplace accidents are not accepted as inevitable, but actively prevented through advanced technologies like Intenseye.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

If I could start a movement, it would center on driving awareness and change around the social impact of our purchasing decisions. While it’s wonderful, and long overdue, that our society is becoming more mindful of the ethical considerations of our purchases — whether products are cruelty-free, eco-friendly or ethically sourced — it shouldn’t stop there. One crucial aspect often overlooked is the safety of the people involved in manufacturing those products.

We need to ask ourselves: Are the workers who produce these goods safe in their workplaces? It’s a question that’s often overshadowed by other concerns but holds immense significance. Millions of lives are at stake each year due to preventable workplace accidents, yet these incidents are frequently labeled as mere accidents.

My envisioned movement would aim to spotlight this issue and inspire individuals, businesses and policymakers to prioritize workplace safety. By fostering a culture of accountability and advocating for proactive solutions, we can ensure that the individuals behind the products we consume are protected from harm. This movement isn’t just about safeguarding workers; it’s about promoting dignity, respect and human rights throughout the global supply chain.

How can our readers further follow you online?

You’re welcome to follow me on LinkedInTwitter and/or via the Intenseye website.

Thank you for the time you spent sharing these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

About the Interviewer: Cynthia Corsetti is an esteemed executive coach with over two decades in corporate leadership and 11 years in executive coaching. Author of the upcoming book, “Dark Drivers,” she guides high-performing professionals and Fortune 500 firms to recognize and manage underlying influences affecting their leadership. Beyond individual coaching, Cynthia offers a 6-month executive transition program and partners with organizations to nurture the next wave of leadership excellence.