Lights and Technology
31 December 2020

AI in Portuguese companies: what is changing and what are the gains? , in

Luís Gonçalves, Data Analytics & AI Director of Noesis, in an interview with Ntech.News talked about the advantages of integrating artificial intelligence in the analytics of organizations.

By Luís Gonçalves, Data Analytics & AI Director at Noesis

Artificial intelligence has gone from the concept of a science fiction film to a reality increasingly present in the lives of companies, at the most diverse levels and in the most diverse applications. Noesis is one of the IT players that has been transforming its approach to the market, to be able to help companies take advantage of the increasing integration of these technologies with analytics solutions. A “marriage” that is supporting projects capable of revolutionizing the way companies take advantage of their data and the levels of business optimization and profitability.

Luís Gonçalves is director of the Data Analytics & AI unit of the Portuguese technology company, which is now part of the Altia group and notes a remarkable change in the way organizations look at AI and the opportunity to improve business knowledge, taking advantage of associated technologies and the applications that embody them.

«Real initiatives are beginning to be seen in this area. Large companies are basing their entire strategy around that, but also smaller companies, because with the cloud the technological barrier and the cost of entry has become much lower and allows you to start with smaller strategies, evolve and scale » , admits the responsible.

«We started to have many more algorithms and models entering the productive environment and we see this a little across, both for sales and stock forecast, as in the industry, very much linked to anomaly detection or real time monitoring», he adds.

 Projects gained a sense of urgency

The pandemic helped companies move from intention to completion and brought a sense of urgency to many projects that, without this impulse, would probably take a few more years to scale, as several studies have also pointed out.

The maturity of the technology is also relevant in this evolution, with an increasingly varied range of «SaaS offers, scalable cloud environments and great facilitation in the loading and treatment of information, trying to remove complexity from these phases. We also see more and more automatic pattern analysis algorithms, which quickly identify data without quality and typologies (for example: perceiving if a data is geographic and enriching it with contextual information) or tools that increasingly allow interaction by language natural ”, details Luís Gonçalves.

It is a market where technological evolution has been accelerated, which also represents a challenge for service providers in terms of positioning and skills. In the case of Noesis, Luís Gonçalves explains that the company soon realized the impact of AI on analytics solutions and that was the starting point for transforming the Business Intelligence business area, into an autonomous analytics and AI unit, increasingly focused in the AI component.

The company opted for a selective partnership strategy and developed skills in the technologies of these partners (Qlik, Cloudera or Microsoft, for example). The manager admits that he does not have the scope of a catalog strategy - where the partner implements any technology chosen by the customer - but, in compensation, it allows to deliver greater added value.

The results are positive. The unit already concentrates 55 of the 900 employees that Noesis currently has and represents 10% of the company's global turnover. In 2021, it intends to integrate 10 to 15 more employees. The growth plans reflect expectations of the evolution of demand in this area, which are high and which are inspired by the signals already given by the market in 2020.

Industry, telco, utilities, retail or health stand out

«We are seeing companies feeling two types of pressure: on the one hand, they have to sell more and reinvent the business, on the other hand, they have great pressure on costs, stock and purchasing management and have to do chain optimization processes », Underlines Luís Gonçalves.

Knowing the house well, knowing where it is spent and how much is spent has become more important than ever and the number of companies realizing that the way to get there is through process automation - and that AI can boost this investment - multiplied- and is expected to continue to grow rapidly in 2021.

Noesis data analytics and AI projects are currently concentrated mainly in the Portuguese market and are transversal to several sectors, targeting mainly large companies. Health, retail, industry and telcos are among the most dynamic sectors.

Without being able to detail brands, Luís Gonçalves shares the scope of some of the most emblematic projects, such as that of a beverage company that implemented a consumption algorithm to forecast new orders, give points of sale order suggestions based on historical information, or indications regarding the quantity to be produced at each moment.

Saving time and money are the big drivers

In the industry, technology has other examples, such as that of a company that is using an algorithm to monitor the quality of the parts it produces in real time, running various parameters. Before, this check could only be done at the end of the day and recovering from an error was more expensive and time consuming.

From utilities comes the example of a company that is using a forescasting algorithm to forecast the consumption of the good it supplies at delivery points nationwide and thereby being able to optimize the perimeters where it does the transportation of that good.

Before, the forecast of needs was made by human estimation with a relatively high margin of error that ensured the absence of failures, but did not avoid costs of transporting the asset in quantities less close to the real needs. The introduction of the algorithm improved the level of assertiveness of the forecast, reduced costs and improved the planning tasks.

Luís Gonçalves explains that when adopting these tools, the biggest difficulties for companies are in the capture and crossing of information. “These central information repositories are always the most complicated processes and require more technological profiles and specializations”, he admits. "The cloud comes to help a lot because it turns many of these processes into services, which does not make all complexity disappear, but it helps a lot".

Originally publish (in Portuguese) in

Eduardo Vilaça