To capture the spirit of Intellerts isn’t an easy task. Of course, the Utrecht-based company develops solutions for data science, data management, business intelligence and artificial intelligence. But as it turns out, there is so much more to say. For instance, participate in new ventures and the creation of their own academy.
Intellerts was founded in 2015 as a partnership between the renowned Dutch consultancy firm Berenschot and a Kaunas University of Technology data science spin-off in Lithuania. The company has offices in Kaunas and The Netherlands and is looking to expand to Israel.
Intellerts is not only experienced regarding data science and AI, but also has both feet firmly rooted in business practices. Founder and CEO Martin explains: ‘The implementation of innovations is often more challenging than the technology itself. Sure, machine learning is a lot of work and can be quite complicated. But the hardest part is letting people get used to the new technology.”
Niels (CCO) and Martin have noticed that many companies want to invest in the power of AI. But in practice, some issues can be easily solved with simplified business rules. To clarify this, they use the metaphor of a space journey. “Our expertise lies in modeling the data and coming up with solutions. The space journey always starts with creating order out of the chaos of data and information.”
To take the next step into the future, the data first has to be structured. Martin: “The space journey goes through a number of logical stages. After the data has been structured, we visualize it. This points us in the direction of important insights and signals. After that we look at the necessary solutions, together with the customer.”
Niels: “In practice, many people come up with AI-like issues and questions. But if you peel those away, you’ll see that a very large part can be solved through BI. That is why our first step is always to go back to the basics, the data.”
Microsoft Azure + Intellerts expertise
As a partner of Microsoft, Intellerts would like to combine its expertise with the performance, flexibility, and security of the Azure Data Platform. This provides additional assurance to new and existing Azure users that their business platform can become the single source of truth for all data-structured, unstructured, or streaming-to drive transformative solutions.
Martin continues: “Moreover, we have our own data science platform. This platform supports data processing, modern business intelligence, and AI, including data storage and collaboration functionality to share analytics with relevant stakeholders and specialists. We also use the platform for our ventures to create ready-to-go solutions, offered as SaaS.
Martin and Niels are clearly passionate about Intellerts. In addition to individual projects for customers, Intellerts also participates in new ventures. “Such a venture is actually a marriage between the data science professionals at Intellerts and a partner who is very specialized in a certain domain”, Niels explains. “That can be a partner in healthcare, spend analytics, credit and risk management, etc. They provide most of the business requirements and are leading the go-to-market. We collaborate with combined expertise and create end-to-end solutions. This is a lot of fun to do, and we are involved in every phase; from ideation, feasibility studies, the front-end and back-end etc.
A good example of such a venture is dHealth. Martin explains how this spin-off company came about: “In the beginning, the assignment was simple: come up with a solution, so people stay healthy or recover more quickly. We had the technology to do this ready four years ago, but it takes a long time before it finds its way to hospitals, doctors, insurance companies and other relevant parties involved.”
With dHealth, people are monitored remotely via different devices. For example, consider someone who is recovering from heart surgery. Martin: “Based on a smart watch, signals are shared with the doctor. With a few simple directions, the patient’s life can then be improved or even saved. And of course, this also saves money. It is incredibly difficult to implement this technology though because you sort of break into an already existing, very different system. It is a challenge to convince people that it really works well.”
The Intellerts Academy
In addition to its ventures, a proprietary data science platform and projects, a fourth area of expertise that should not go unmentioned: the academy. Martin explains: “We noticed that many young people who come from university have reasonable basic knowledge, but it is actually not at all in line with what is needed in the market. In 2016, we therefore started with the academy concept to bridge that gap. On the one hand, to accelerate the entry of university people into the data science market. On the other hand, to reskill the people who are already working at tech companies and who are not that familiar with the terminology, but who do have the basic skillset to grow.”
Intellerts wants to deliver good, skilled workers to the market, with more than just a resume. They acknowledge that the current generation is very focused on learning. Now, they can provide people with such a learning environment.
“We guide them throughout the entire process. We have it all mapped out for them”, Niels says. “Many young people graduate with the idea that they can now make complex algorithms. But those algorithms are only a small part of the whole. They forget that knowledge of data and data technology is the most important thing. This is also reflected in the fact that there are more jobs for data engineers than for data scientists.” Intellerts therefore has a great deal of expertise in offering training and education programs that stimulate continuous learning.
According to Martin, this connection with young people is very important: “They often leave to go work for the large international tech companies. We must therefore rely on other qualities that we can offer them. Fortunately, a lot of people also opt for a smaller, intimate company that takes into account a more human-centered approach.”
In practice Rabobank
The company now also has extensive experience in analysing ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) data and financial data. For example, they did a large project for Rabobank that looked at the business health of their B2B customers.
Martin: “Earlier, we talked about the heartbeat of a person. But the heartbeat of a company is partly reflected in its financial and operational flows. We analyse these and then make inferences about the business health of the company.” In analyzing the health of a company, another new start-up plays an important role: Intellab. “So, with one start-up we look at the health of a person and with another start-up we look at the health of a company,” Martin says proudly.
In practice Dutch Railways (NS)
Another example of a separate project concerns a major job for the Dutch Railways. Data concerning conductors and train drivers were linked to data about the rolling stock. Martin: “That was quite complicated because the Dutch Railways was not allowed to do this. It’s very sensitive data. Therefore, the data was completely anonymized so that it could no longer be traced back to any one person. Yet we were able to extract very rich information from it.”
This made it possible to determine which factors influenced delays and how this process could be improved. “We have extracted everything from data”, Martin clarifies. “We used planning data, railway data and human data such as age, education level, number of years of experience, etc. We then superimposed this. This showed, for example, that experienced people make far fewer mistakes on a train that is complex to control. That sounds very reasonable, but it was important for Dutch Railways that this was substantiated with data. It was one of the more exciting projects to work on.”
Intellerts has a lot of knowledge and experience in various domains, but Niels and Martin emphasize their most important area of expertise: “We want to make it easy for everyone to use data science and AI. That doesn’t mean we oversimplify it, because it’s inherently quite complicated. But we want to make it easier so that basically every company can use it. It may be a big ambition, but it is the essence of what we want to do.”
Intellerts is partner of ai.nl and is supporting the AI ecosystem by sharing knowledge and insights. If you want to know more or get in contact with Martin Hagoort, please visit their company page.