“Technology exists, it is among us. The idea, however, is to “package it” and create specific solutions that allow its application in certain industries or specific business cases”. For Juan Francisco García, Strategy & Business Development Manager at Grupo CMC, technology – and especially data – is a means to optimize processes and operations and to offer real value to Business.
Juan Francisco García is a fervent defender of data, which he calls “the oil of the 21st century”. He has over twenty years of experience in the analytics field. In fact, he has founded several startups specialized in this field; the last one was DatKnoSys (Data Knowledge Systems), which joined CMC Group two years ago and enabled this company to be provided with the EAP analytical platform (Enterprise Analytical Portal).
Apart from his role as Manager for Analytics and Big Data, Juan Francisco is responsible for business development and the group’s strategy. “My goal is to integrate the different technological solutions that the group has and turn them into solutions capable of solving specific business cases for our customers”.
The importance of data
Nowadays, data is something fundamental in any business process and it’s vital to use it and activate it in order to learn from the past and understand -and capture- what is happening, in order to improve decision making. These capabilities are exploited thanks to the EAP platform, an analytical portal that integrates indicators, KPIs or dashboards, geomarketing (overlapping influence areas, population control for the market, etc.), as well as behavior patterns analysis algorithms.
“This allows us to discover trends, make predictions and simulate the future to decide what actions should be implemented. Through Machine Learning techniques and information history, algorithms are learning to be able to prescribe the new actions to be developed”.
Now, artificial intelligence is allowing us to bring that context to a scenario closer to the way people speak, think and act through the interpretation of natural language or voice, the text analysis (contracts, claims, social networks …). This allows, through a chatbot, to interact directly with end users, in a portal or a call center, answering questions or receiving and launching requests for services.
“We seek to know what happens in the company, through current and historical data, which will allow us to make decisions or find out trends. But, in addition, we can complete it with all kinds of unstructured data to feed the algorithms and improve them”.
If we translate all of this into specific cases, we are talking about optimizing the most frequent operations in a call center. The use of artificial intelligence allows us to understand the incidents, catalog them and give a quick and accurate response to the user. All this, using natural language to interact with the client and acting on traditional systems to capture information about their profile and to fully customize the response.
“In the end, it’s about helping the company improve the results, increasing its profit by optimizing its internal processes and costs, and improving its positioning in the market”.
Learn, in order to optimize
What we needed is to learn from what we are already doing in order to optimize -processes, time and costs- and, at the same time, enrich our systems with information that allows us to make better decisions. That is the way of the data driven company.
As an example, Juan Francisco tells us about one of his solutions, which is based on social networks analytics. Traditional social network analytics seeks to understand the reputation of companies or their stakeholders. Through this tool, social networks are used as a source of online learning, which can complement the analysis made by a purchasing or financial department regarding the risk scoring of a client or supplier (business registers, tax payments, etc.). “But if the company has implemented an ERE (a major employee dismissal), is related to a corruption case, has debt claims or any other problem that may be relevant, that immediately goes to social networks, websites and blogs”.
This tool collects information in real time and is able to determine the type of risk to which the company is exposed (financial, human resources, reputation, CSR …). And all of this information complements the most traditional financial risk studies, assigning certain weights to each factor.
“Data analytics applies to everything, to IoT, security … each of the projects we do are recording data that, properly related, has an incredible value”.
It is all about helping the company improve their results by optimizing internal processes and costs
Industries and sectors
All of the above applies to all types of companies and sectors, although it is usually companies with large information volumes – typically B2C – that need the most being successful in their decisions and strategy, in order to develop their business properly.
“We work in all types of industries and sectors: banking, insurance, manufacturing, telco, automotive, retail or tourism. In all of them we always have large volumes of data, and many users who are interacting with the company and whose behavior we should analyze with two objectives: to offer a better and more personalized service, and be more efficient optimizing all operations”.
Although the adoption of analytics and decision making based on the data is progressing, there is still a long way to go. Providers have a big say in this. They must be able to adapt these solutions to each company so that they really have an impact on the bottom line. They should also help them improve their service, optimize their operations, as well as better understand their customers, offering them the right products and services portfolio, as fast as possible.
One way to speed up the adoption of this type of technology is giving companies access to different formulas such as, for example, pay-per-use. “We try to make that the acquisition barrier is not an economic one, so that the companies can use artificial intelligence technologies via a pay-per-use model. They don’t need to buy the technology, but just pay for its use and benefit from it”.
Analytics and IoT
IoT is a particularly favorable scenario for applying analytics. For example, CMC Group is using it in areas such as Industry 4.0: like plant automation and industrial processes, photovoltaic fields or simply in supply chains and manufacturing.
Another of its applications are intelligent buildings, or a BMS (Building Management System). It’s about adding sensors to the buildings in order to get information about how many occupants are there right now, the consumption of energy or water, the temperature, automating the management based on all this information -internal and external- so that they are able to self-regulate and achieve greater energy efficiencies to make them more sustainable.
“The information returned by the sensors allows us to learn from different situations and take the next step towards predictive sensorization. For example, the building could be capable of switching on a light because it knows that there is a meeting scheduled in a certain room and it is getting dark”.
This can also be applied at home or in the hospitality sector (Smart Home and Smart Room), for an automated and customized lighting and temperature management, playing music or offer certain TV channels, etc.
Each one of our projects is recording data that, combined in an appropriate way, has an immense value
Obviously, security is a fundamental aspect. At CMC Group we have a security division with three main lines. One is Identity and Access Security to ensure that whoever accesses a system – or a physical or digital environment – is who they say they are, and we can be able to know their access rights or trust relationships through federated identity management for collaborators and customers.
For this, we have a solution (Prot-On) that allows masking and encrypting information to protect files, access and activities both inside and outside of the organization. “You can decide who can access which documents, even if they have been forwarded to third parties, and you can define expiration dates or prevent anyone from accessing information in the case of theft or loss of devices with sensitive information”.
Another of the solutions is everything related to cyberattacks, access to networks -including industrial networks-, attacks on devices or the exploitation of vulnerabilities in systems, websites, passwords, and so on. In this area it is important to highlight its intelligent SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) solutions.
Traditional SIEMs allow you to correlate logs to analyze who is accessing what, when, and so on. These access logs should be monitored regularly to know what is happening. But, currently, the sheer volume of these accesses makes an adequate analysis of all this activity impossible.
“Here we are applying artificial intelligence. This new generation of intelligent SIEM learns from the attacks the company has suffered before, or those of other companies, accessing logs that are available through open source community databases. This allows you to detect improper access patterns or learn about attacks that could occur in your company”.
These intelligent SIEMs learn all these patterns and, if they detect certain accesses, quickly warn or block the process, or start a programmed action.
“They are intelligent in the sense that they act before the problem occurs, preventively, and they warn of what may be happening. It is the company that decides the type of actions that can be carried out in each case”.
Finally, there are the ethical hacking services. These are professionals who apply different types of techniques through which they perform vulnerability audits in companies. With the relevant permissions and authorizations, they try and simulate attacks on companies (websites, systems access, etc.) to discover possible vulnerabilities at the different points of access. And they correct them before an external hacker can take advantage of them.
“Coincidentally, at #DES2019 we are going to have a presentation of ethical hacking cases. The person in charge of this at Grupo CMC is going to show a series of devices that allow cloning cards or identification devices, as well as stealing internal information simply by connecting the mobile to the computer via an USB cable”.