Data alone does not equal Knowledge

The Portuguese IT service provider BI4ALL opened its first Swiss branch in Baar in autumn 2022. The administration of the new location was taken over by Branca Petrovic. The Swiss qualified business economist is no stranger to the Swiss IT industry. BI4ALL specializes in the areas of analytics, big data, artificial intelligence, CPM and software engineering and already supports various Swiss customers. The company sees great potential in Switzerland.

The IT industry is not exactly Known for a high proportion of women — especially when it comes to management positions. What is your opinion on this? Branca Petrovic: I think the situation here is changing substantially and there are far more opportunities today than there were a few years ago. At BI4ALL we are committed to a culture of equality in which we reward commitment and hard work regardless of gender. We have a very people-oriented culture and want to offer all employees equal opportunities for growth and professional development. It is very encouraging to see that we have already been able to attract so many female talents to BI4ALL. The essential basis for this is that we support talented females right from the start of their careers, for example through our Talent Academy. This is an annual program designed to improve and accelerate the integration of young graduates into the labor market and through which participants receive theoretical and practical training. Indeed, at BI4ALL we maintain equal opportunity and an ethical work environment that is based on trust, respect, integrity and excellence.

You are an enthusiastic mountaineer in your private life and have climbed Mont Blanc, among other things. What influence does your hobby have on your career?

The mountains have always fascinated me. They are places where you can experience the world in its original form. But I wasn’t always an enthusiastic alpinist. A very good friend and alpinist inspired me to climb the peaks of our mountains.

Preparation is also the key to business success. We have to make sure that we are prepared for the demands of the other person and that we familiarize ourselves with the topic.

Anything is possible with the right amount of passion. It was my good friend’s enthusiasm and passion that kept me going, even when the climb was tough. The passion in the company is just as important. If you are not enthusiastic about your company or your job, there is a high probability that you will fail and give up in difficult times. But if you are passionate about it, you can, metaphorically speaking, even move mountains — or at least climb them.

Enjoy the journey — ultimately, the journey is just as important as the destination. If I hadn’t made it to the top of Mont Blanc I would have been disappointed, but what I learned and gained during my preparation would have stayed with me. The same applies to travel in business life.

BI4ALL is originally from Lisbon. What challenges and opportunities do you see for a Portuguese company in Switzerland?

Portugal is a limited market, so our strategic plan for the next five years is to invest heavily outside the home market — as we have been doing in Switzerland since September 2022. At present, more than 57 percent of sales come from outside. And we expect that in the next five years we will have 85 to 90 percent.

Due to the international challenges and the experience in the most dynamic markets in the world, we can both ensure solid growth of our business activities and offer our employees the opportunity to sharpen and apply their know-how. In the next few years we want to further expand our strengths, always with the aim of further developing and promoting our customers on a national and international level.

Your new employer has specialized in the topic of “Turning Data into Insights”. What does that mean exactly and how do you see the potential for this in Switzerland?

We support companies in the process of digital transformation and data strategy and have excellent consulting skills in the areas of data analytics, big data, artificial intelligence, CPM and software engineering. In other words, we turn data into insights and help companies become more agile, flexible and dynamic, anticipating the unpredictable and adapting quickly to market changes in order to be better prepared for the future.

BI4ALL will also be among the best in Switzerland in the field of data analytics and will shape the market. We have been offering our services in the analytical spectrum for a long time, both nationally and internationally. The potential in Switzerland is comparable to other countries. Practically every Swiss company now has more data than it did a few years ago. But very few are able to use this data correctly, generate insights from it and thus am

For example, bringing new services or products onto the market or becoming more efficient and cost-effective in the entire value chain.

In a highly competitive and unstable environment like ours, where digitalization is gaining more and more ground, data analysis and AI solutions are no longer an option, but a must. The future will continue to be determined by disruptive and sustainable technology solutions that bring optimization, efficiency and scalability to companies. Extracting the most accurate insights from the vast amounts of data available yields a greater competitive advantage.

What do Swiss companies have to consider if they want to tackle the topic of “generating insights from data” in a well-founded manner?

As mentioned, Swiss companies have more data than ever before. However, data alone is not sufficient information. And mere information is not yet useful knowledge. Using technologies like data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), we can transform this big data environment facing businesses around the world today into actionable insights that help them make better decisions meet. A full control of the available information combined with analytical data management holds immense potential that can help to choose the best path for a strategy.

In short: Data-driven companies have a solid basis for their decisions instead of making assumptions. They organize their processes, strategies and metrics based on data. This brings with it a culture of continuous use of data. Such analyzes are felt at all levels of the organization, from the execution of day-to-day tasks to the behavior of employees.

Which “success stories” are you allowed to reveal?

We recently published some use cases related to supply chain management, with a particular focus on the pharmaceutical industry. In a spirit of partnership, together with a long-standing customer, we faced the challenge of how the existing data structures could be used to create new value streams for the company. In the end, three questions arose:

  • Can the company die
    Reduce backorders in its supply chain?
  • Can the company prevent excess inventory in its warehouses?
  • Can the company overstock in warehouses
    prevent his customers?

Based on the available data on the most important areas — sales, logistics and warehousing — we began by examining demand patterns and creating a reliable sales forecast. This was achieved by applying different machine learning algorithms to the different product categories.

Looking at the sales forecast, it was necessary to deal with the inventory data. With the help of the existing data on stocks, stock movements, the shelf life of the individual products and the previously created sales forecast, we were able to make a reliable prediction about the probability of a stock failure in a specific warehouse in the coming weeks.

Taking this last step into account and using the logistical part of the data, we were able to develop a solution that will provide the warehouse management teams with new order proposals aimed at covering the likely stock-outs that are likely to occur. Within less

Months, stock shortages have been reduced by 30 to 50 percent.

Based on the existing warehouse management solution, we helped our client to extend this model and its logic to their own clients. Since each customer’s stock levels are known, each customer can be viewed as another warehouse where stockouts need to be avoided.

As a result, new orders can be proposed to the end customers, allowing them to benefit from the efficiency of the company’s supply chain, which in the end greatly improves the end customers’ experience. The application of this solution enabled a reduction in backorders by as much as 50 percent.

What are the major trends that will keep us busy in this area over the next few years?

The digital transformation is omnipresent

present. More and more traditional companies are going through the digital transformation and thereby generating more data than ever before. As a result, new companies are emerging that are heavily data-driven. This in turn generates more data than companies can use. But as I said: Data alone does not mean knowledge. You also need the right company to help customers turn data into actionable insights.

Automation, artificial intelligence and the cloud will be on the foreseeable future

Time will continue to be topics on the agenda of managers. Businesses today need to adopt a digital strategy that keeps them close to their customers and suppliers while enabling them to increase revenue, reduce costs, better predict sales, and streamline and optimize all processes to be productive, to remain profitable and efficient.

Furthermore, in 2023 buzzwords such as metaverse and superapps will no less be read. The Meta¬verse is a new channel full of potential for brands to connect with consumers. Superapps combine the functions of an app, a platform and an ecosystem in a single piece of software. It is predicted that by 2027, more than 50 percent of the world’s population will be actively using multiple super apps every day. Working, connecting and collaborating in this digital environment promises new opportunities for businesses. In addition, auto-regressive language models such as OpenAl’s ChatGPT are causing quite a stir.

However, the future also holds surprises. We cannot and should not predict everything today. If I had known before climbing Mont Blanc what awaited me on the way to the summit, it would only have been half as exciting and impressive.

Let’s enjoy the trip and let’s see where it takes us!

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