»Our mission is to make products intelligent!«

Interview with Dr. Tommi Kramer, Head of Data Science at sovanta AG.

Nov 14, 2018

In the sovanta® Data Lab it’s all about the world of data: how can we use data-driven models to create a competitive advantage for our customers, solve problems and take the user experience to a whole new level? Our data scientist Dr. Tommi Kramer answered these questions in an interview.

What does data science und machine learning mean at sovanta?

Data science is the umbrella term for the entire area at sovanta that deals with everything that has to do with data. We work with large amounts of data and ways of analyzing and combining them in a meaningful way to create real added value. In the next step, conclusions are drawn from the results to indicate recommendations for action and even make predictions based on data series. We utilize different approaches when working with data. Our task is to research possibilities step by step and to find solutions to problems. Machine learning is a “special case“ of data science, where we try to use computer systems in such a way that they can learn from given patterns and ultimately program itself to learn and consequently deploy behavioral patterns.

So it’s about artificial intelligence, then?

Yes, artificial intelligence exists when systems behave similarly to humans and mimic cognitive functions like learning and problem solving. When we incorporate this capability into our products, our business apps become intelligent. Work gets easier because necessary steps are predicted, or some tasks are even taken over by the system. This works particularly well for repetitive tasks that otherwise cost valuable time, such as administrative tasks in accounting.

And what role does the sovanta Business Bot play?

The Business Bot is an assistant or companion that, via chat or voice dialogue, is supposed to support the user when handling business software. Of course, artificial intelligence also plays a role here: the Business Bot should be able to predict what the user is concerned with, where he is moving, what his current questions and problems are and can support him accordingly. No matter where the user is at the moment - on the iPhone or desktop, in the company CRM or Skype – the Business Bot is always available and flexible in its connection to backend systems and devices. That was particularly important to us.

Why is sovanta the right partner for voice and chat bots?

For sovanta, user experience in the software handling has always played a major role. That is why we have been dealing with the topic of language in software control for a long time. Over the years, we have acquired competence and experience – always guided by the question of how software shall look and feel for the end user so that he can enjoy the best user experience. All ideas that we collected throughout the years are now implemented in the Business Bot. As the ideal companion for day-to-day business, the bot anticipates what the user needs right now and can thus take over everyday tasks and, in particular, routines. Our proven and tested platform for voice recognition technologies „Conversations”, that we developed ourselves, makes this work. This is where the bot intelligence, the access to the skill store and voice systems (natural language processing) lie – a great tool box that works seamlessly.

What about natural language processing?

It is quite simply a matter of ensuring that the system can understand both the spoken and the written word. The challenge here is to recognize the intention of the person talking to the system - and what exactly he wants to do. If this "intent matching" works, the computer must respond with the right information. In the future, it will also be possible to crystallize and summarize the central information from a complete long speech, known as "keyword extraction". We are currently working on very exciting topics and our customers will also benefit from our expertise in every project.

And how is data science integrated in customer projects?

Companies often ask us this question, because every company sits on a huge treasure of data. One example: we are working with a customer who has been collecting customer data for ten years during the purchasing process. Using data analytics, we have derived from the available data which products a particular customer is most likely to buy next. So we developed a model that suggests how and to what product an employee should specifically address a customer in the purchasing process. So classic cross selling and up selling. It worked great and also increased customer loyalty, because customers felt they received good advice. In addition, you can use the corresponding data to optimize many other processes in a company and thus achieve cost savings and improvements.

So you also advise companies on how they can best use their data?

Yes, absolutely. We even designed a workshop format: Data Thinking. We apply design thinking methods to data-driven issues. In close cooperation with the customer, we develop a data strategy and show how to implement it – and we’re happy to help.

What is the appeal of working for a company like sovanta?

We can and should work very freely on various topics here. That is the best incentive for me. The framework conditions are also absolutely perfect – and it’s just fun to work on innovative trends and solutions for the future.


About Dr. Tommi Kramer

As Head of Data Science, Dr. Tommi Kramer and his colleague Dr. Andrew White are responsible for data science and machine learning at sovanta AG.

»We deal with the questions that make our products and services “intelligent” – in line with our motto. It might sound strange: our task is to bring intelligence into the product. But how can we make products intelligent? People bring intelligence with them – but how is it supposed to work with machines? That’s the tricky question we pursue every day – and that’s what the data science division at sovanta stands for.

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