How this software company started selling AI solutions
Posted: 24 July 2017 | By Charlie Moloney
Quintiq started in 1997 as a planning software company. They’re renewing their portfolio not only by planning, but through machine learning (ML) and analytics. We spoke to Jean-Baptiste Clouard, product manager, S&OP, to learn how this two-decade old company became an artificial intelligence (AI) vendor:
“Planning, ML, and analytics is a powerful combination and only a few companies can offer this”, Clouard told us. He explained how Quintiq began by helping an aluminium factory to make the planning of their personnel more efficient.
We don’t use AI, we develop it and sell it
“We decided to start considering using ML for demand planning somewhere around 2009/10”, he said. “In 2012 we took a more serious interest and made an increased investment in the technology. In 2015 ideas began for the second application of ML, as before we only offered demand planning.
“In 2015 we realised a lot of customers had data, and there was an opportunity for ML to be available to them, to gain value from their data. We made a self-learning supply chain using data in ML to gain insights about demand, historic data, and predictive planning”.
“Let me distinguish between firms who use AI, and the firms who develop AI”
“We don’t use AI, we develop it and sell it. Our team has significant experience in in AI and we’re aware of the history of the industry. We can help develop, see trends, and implement AI projects that deliver ROI.
Any subsequent hires must have the right backgrounds and enough familiarity in machine learning
“For Quintiq, any subsequent hires must have the right backgrounds and enough familiarity in machine learning. Recent University graduates in this area often have an established background in the industry.
“There’s a lot of demand for people in AI. The industry is picking it up, lots of new start-ups and products are noticing the value of ML. So far, we have been able to find the right people to realise the development of our product and it works out well for us”.
Tapping into a growing interest
“We develop a complete set of ML algorithms. We could quickly produce a full version within a few months, and now we’re continuously innovating and implementing. We see a lot of interest in this, most of our customers are keen to learn more as the technology is coming to maturation.
Understanding data is the important part of ML
“They are realising the data they own is valuable, and they use it to improve their business value. The use of data will continue to grow, and it will keep improving. Understanding data is the important part of ML.
“We ensure our solution is able to load any form of data and start exploring and visualising it. That’s already very insightful just with graphs and correlations to be observed. This can give you an insight to your own data and help spot inconsistencies in your business.
“Many firms are ready to apply the tech we offer. We work with companies to help get them to the next steps. We don’t push customers to do anything unless it’s valuable for them, but if they do invest in our AI, we always aim for investment to be returned within a year”.