Big Data Analysis, together with Smart Information Management (SIM), are crucial for any company keen on getting ahead in today’s competitive marketplace. Dr Stefan Wess, CEO of Empolis, tells us why:
Earlier this month an independent poll of German, French and UK insurance companies showed that implementing a Big Data Strategy this year was a priority for a staggering 83 per cent of CEOs. German insurance companies rated it highest at 90 per cent. One company ready to step into the breach is Kaiserslautern-based Empolis in south-west Germany.
This forward-thinking company whose Empolis Smart Cloud system was voted one of this year’s trend setting products by a US magazine, has already assisted a number of high-profile German and international customers – in both the private and public sector – and in a variety of different fields, such as transportation (BMW and Airbus), electronics (Bosch) and media (Wolters Kluwer).
Empolis CEO, Dr Stefan Wess, says “It’s now more crucial than ever for companies these days to be able to manage Big Data. With more devices and products out there, the greater the amount of content being produced, the higher the need becomes for companies to stay on top of it all.” Meanwhile customer engagement is also big news these days with many businesses being expected to maintain social media channels and respond timely to customers and clients.
Quality and quantity of data is biggest challenge for companies
Wess sees two major challenges in the explosion of all this unstructured data in the form of PDFs, infographics, videos, etc. The first is in terms of ‘quality’, i.e. for companies to be able to deliver the precise information that is required. The second comes down to ‘quantity’, in that companies must be able to deliver a large amount of information and in real time.
He added: “Being able to utilise a variety of information sources provides fantastic opportunities for companies to be forever restructuring their strategies and reacting better to changing customer demand – and all based on data they can monitor and measure for themselves.
I am talking here about making use of immediate feedback from the market, finding better solutions to problems and collecting information about what competitors are doing etc.
The discovery of such information is so crucial to a business’ success or failure that leaving it to chance simply doesn’t make sense. Instead, companies should be employing a customised Big Data solution – one which analyses data regularly and systematically so that nothing is missed.
In this way, they can instruct an agile exploratory approach to how they do business. By that I mean they can constantly develop new hypotheses based on the data they have collected. This allows them to make better decisions, develop new ideas and service their customers better.”
The benefits of Smart Information Management (SIM)
The term Smart Information Management (SIM) refers to the ability of AI technologies to make intelligent analysis based on data accumulated. This, in turn, allows them to keep up-to-date with developments within their industry and to keep an eye on competition around the globe.
Achieving this requires, not just the creation of the data, but also its management, analysis, intelligent processing and being able to provide the company with the information it needs, regardless of the source, format, user, location or device it is processed by in the first place.
Wess added: “Your classic search methodologies, which are more often than not based on the principle of trial and error, just can’t cope with the huge volumes of data available today. They may try but you won’t get any meaningful results.
Data mining and traditional business intelligence systems have been processing large amounts of structured data for quite some time now, such as data appearing in ERP systems and databases.
But when it comes to unstructured data, SIM is taking on a new pivotal role as a crossover technology. This is because it can facilitate high quality analysis of large quantities of unstructured data. It will then intelligently process the information in a way which is both easy on a company’s resources and, at the same time, very relevant for ongoing business transactions. There is no question that businesses and organisations benefit considerably from the higher quality results which larger quantities of pooled data can bring them.”
The Empolis team doesn’t specialise in any one industry but rather enjoys the challenge of working with CEOs in a number of sectors. Innovative technology is required across the board, after all. To specialise would be to deny themselves the opportunity to build customised Big Data solutions for everyone and anyone.
And as the for future, Wess and his partners believe that this efficient collection of data is merely the first step in a process which already involves Artificial Intelligence and machine learning, but could eventually improve what the human brain can achieve. In other words, we are just at the start of a real technological revolution. Big Data, AI and Robotics will go on to shape society in the future.
Empolis employ an ‘Agile’ Management Philosophy
We consider ourselves an agile company in that we are always learning and adapting to changes we encounter along the way. That philosophy is software development related but extends to client management, employee relations and, in fact, the whole management structure. We ascribe to the Scrum framework of managing a process. Other business fundamentals are being a lean start-up, employing design thinking and having identifiable objectives and key results. “I like the idea of a company being organised as a group of start-ups who have shared services i.e., the idea of a decentralised organisation where small teams have full responsibility for their tasks.”
“The secret to being the CEO of a company at the top of its game in the world of Big Data and SIM, is to stay awake at all times,” Wes insists.
“It may sound a little silly,” he said, “but the success of information technology is destroying the industry that created it in the first place. Software and the IT industry itself are, like many other industries right now, in a phase of disruption. Not all players and managers have recognised this. And yet, it is incredibly important to understand that future success is tied up with past success.”
Other philosophies Wess espouses include always listening to both employees and customers. He also likes to be one step ahead – whether that is in terms of technology or his organisation. And, finally, he believes in changing the pace.
“Run, if you need to be really fast. Slow down when you need to be careful,” he explained.
However fast or slow Empolis choose to go, we have a feeling they’re going to finish the race first.