“What could be more energising than receiving an award for what excites you the most and gets you up in the morning – solving business issues with the latest artificial intelligence technologies? It’s a great recognition for the entire Wizata team.” Jean-Philippe Hugo, CEO of Wizata
Awards were presented in several categories, with winners chosen from more than 2,800 entrants from 115 countries worldwide. Wizata, a Microsoft Practice Development Unit with a Gold certification in data analytics and ICT Start-up of the Year 2016 in Luxembourg, was recognised for providing outstanding solutions and innovative services and for demonstrating business excellence and impact as well as representing excellent subsidiary engagement in Luxembourg and driving customer satisfaction with convincing results.
We spoke with CEO Jean-Philippe Hugo in Wizata’s offices in the Eco², an outstanding example of sustainable building in Luxembourg located in the heart of the Ecopark Windhof close to the Belgian border. We discussed what this award means, where their business is headed and why the company chose Luxembourg as their location.
“The award recognises our commitment and effort in as much as it strengthens our relationship with Microsoft. It demonstrates trust and means that Wizata gains respect because it raises our visibility as a partner and a leader of new tech,” says Jean-Philippe Hugo. “This is good for both sides as clients might make a decision based on us or on Microsoft. We share a common technology, vision and strategy, allowing us to bring forth securely and faster the optimised solutions imagined by our world-class data scientists and industry experts.”
Combining human and artificial intelligence
Wizata, which is fully independent, “offers companies artificial intelligence-based solutions for analysing business-relevant data and gaining new insights for their activity.” First time start-up founder Jean-Philippe says that the idea for the company, which was created in 2014, came from being a technical person who is passionate about artificial intelligence (AI).
AI is still a subject that is either a mystery to a lot of people or somehow anxiety-inducing. At its core, its goal is simply to enable computers to do things that are normally done by people, especially things people do intelligently, such as data collection, input and analysis. The difference of course is that AI can process significantly greater amounts of data than can the human brain.
However, as Jean-Philippe puts it, “The goal of AI is not the why but the how.” It cannot tell us how it comes to its conclusions. Not now anyway. This is what is sometimes referred to as “the dark secret at the heart of AI” or the black box of intelligent machines. No one really knows how the most advanced algorithms do what they do.
“You put the data in and it gives you the result. This is both complex and simple. The complexity for humans comes from there being too much information with solutions based on a probability approach. We are asking what the machine will or can do but it is humans who make the decisions and ultimately humans who are in control.”
AI has to learn. As it does it is constantly improving meaning it will be capable of providing continuously better solutions for companies. The future looks bright for Wizata, which currently employs 11 people. “Our next industry focus will be more on the manufacturing and mining industries,” Jean-Philippe says.
Jean-Philippe chose to set up Wizata in Luxembourg since he had worked for a company here before and knew that there was opportunity. Currently living in Bastogne in Belgium he does say that sometimes it can be difficult getting younger people from outside of Luxembourg to move here to work as real estate prices and rents are higher, but so are salaries in comparison to the surrounding region.
“If you compare the Belgian and Luxembourg start-up ecosystems, for example, the Belgian ecosystems is clearly larger but the advantage with Luxembourg is that it is smaller and less complicated,” he explains. “Students choosing between Brussels and Luxembourg should know that the Luxembourg processes are clear and simple and there are not too many different agencies to deal with. In addition, the government is behind innovation and is putting a lot of energy into supporting start-ups. Things are moving here and that is in no small part because of the willingness of the Luxembourg Government.”
Advice to budding entrepreneurs
When asked what advice he would give to people who have a good idea and want to incorporate, Jean-Philippe says that it is of prime importance to remember that you are taking a big risk so you need to be sure you know what you are doing. A marketing strategy is very important. “A lot of tech companies are very knowledgeable on technology, but you also need to know everything about your market.”
The Wizata team have done their round of fairs and Jean-Philippe stresses how vitally important people are to a company. “You have to have good sales people and a good team or you will not succeed.”
Finally he says, “Get a partner. In the case of Microsoft, we sell all our products and they sells theirs. Make sure it is a good business partner where both sides reap mutual benefits.”