Manuel Revuelta, CEO and founder of Axpe Consulting has been interviewed by the newspaper El Economista for the monthly magazine Factoría y Tecnología Digital 4.0. Along these lines, our President raises reflections on Axpe Consulting’s strategy in a very dynamic and competitive business environment, where our activity is framed and where we have managed to open a gap until we are at the top of the IT consulting firms in terms of solutions high-value technology companies and serving the main companies in this country.
In addition, it defines Axpe’s strategy which, after consolidating its technological leadership in Big Data with the sale of Pragsis Bidoop, will now focus mainly on the implementation of mechanisms based on Artificial Intelligence. For all this, as we pointed out in previous posts, Axpe founded Quant AI Lab, a unit specialized in Artificial Intelligence and that promises to become «one of the most important companies in the world in artificial intelligence services».
Then we give way to the full interview and we invite you to share your commentsA continuación damos paso a la entrevista íntegra y os invitamos a compartir vuestros comentarios.
Interview MANUEL REVUELTA / CEO and founder of Axpe Consulting
– Antonio Lorenzo – El Economista
The independent multinational Axpe Consulting has one of the highest percentages of technological talent per square meter in this country at its headquarters on Calle Arturo Soria in Madrid. This level of excellence increases especially when the advisory board of this Spanish consulting firm meets, made up entirely of eminent figures in the field of advanced mathematics, Big Data and artificial intelligence. At the head of the 2,000 professionals that make up the company is Manuel Revuelta, who explained to El Economista the strengths and ambitions of a group that advises more than 150 clients in banking, insurance, telecommunications, industry, energy, legal, consulting and public administrations in five countries of the world. All of the above is now reinforced with the creation of Quant AI Lab, the group’s new company unit dedicated to Artificial Intelligence.
P: What features distinguish Axpe Consulting from the rest of the consultants?
R: We are a company whose mentality and capabilities are those of a startup, but with very significant financial capacity. In fact, we have one of the best solvency levels in the market, the result of 20 years of work, consolidation and the company’s assets. The health of our balance sheet is probably due to the fact that we reinvest all the profit, instead of distributing it. We have the best solvency ratio by volume of capital.
P: What are the big figures of the company?
R: Last year we invoiced 80 million euros in the whole group. To explain our capabilities, we set up independent companies for the different activities that require a high degree of specialization and highly personalized equipment. Thus, last year, as an example of this, we managed to have the largest Big Data company in the Spanish market, Pragsis Bidoop, which had tremendous interest from the market. In the end, and as a result of this interest, it was decided to sell it to Accenture and we reinvested the capital in other types of investments in high technology.
P: I understand that the sale of Pragsis may have left a gap in the company’s Big Data capabilities
R: No. At Axpe Consulting we will now apply our capabilities to the most advanced artificial intelligence environment. Pragsis Bidoop, now from the Accenture group, was into Big Data.
P: In what have they invested the resources obtained after the sale of Pragsis?
R: With this capital we have just started Quant AI Lab, a company whose advisory council includes part of the elite in engineering and mathematics in this country. Underneath we have a unique technical team, of the highest level, capable of making the most complex models for data interpretation and decision making. I can venture that it will be one of the best companies in Europe and the world in Artificial Intelligence, we have the capabilities and the intelligence to launch this ambitious project.
P: Tell me, please, about Quant AI Lab. What can we expect from this new Spanish technology?
R: With this new company for sectoral artificial intelligence solutions, we will be able to provide processes that identify problems, reason about them, learn from situations and resolve on the interpretation of huge volumes of data. We want it to be big, in four or five years we will be more than 400 people in Quant because that market allows it. Without a doubt, it will be one of the great business areas of Axpe Consulting. From Spain we want to attend to a world that is coming, with environments of a very high level logic that will practically come to serve the decision to their clients. Quant will be specialized in highly complex mathematical models, machine learning, statistical inference, exploratory data analysis, quantum clustering, advanced analytics, visual intelligence and conversational artificial intelligence.
P: What business forecasts do you plan for Quant AI Lab?
R: Our goal is to become a world benchmark for Artificial Intelligence, with more than 150 employees in 2021, compared to 50 this year. It will add a high value to the group and will allow us to invoice 80 million, with growth of 20% in 2020, another 30% for 2021, 15% in 2022 and 10% in 2023, by then with revenues of more than 150 million .
P: Give me an example of what they are capable of doing?
R: Look, a large energy company currently needs to interpret the large volume of data it handles from exploration tasks, the oil company has that knowledge, but the formulation that interprets this data can be offered by us, this client does not need to have its service to the 30 best mathematicians in the country. Another example: we currently carry out predictive maintenance of possible manufacturing errors for the firm that produces landing gear for a leading global aircraft manufacturer; we have established the predictive mathematical model that does the detection, where we have competed and won the largest in the world in the IT sector.
P: How did you convince the client from the aeronautics industry?
R: Our mathematicians did not make a proposal to use, but rather we made a proof of concept. We request a data set, establish a model and successfully test it in front of the client; what we presented to them is exactly what they wanted and that’s how we won that important contract.
P: What can Artificial Intelligence contribute to the fields of finance and investment?
R: We are applying artificial intelligence to the financial system with highly advanced international investment portfolio optimization models. Thus, we can process the data of tens of thousands of companies in a second and recommend the best proposal based on the risk profile. And we want to distribute these successful tools worldwide.
P: What does it take to build a world leader in Artificial Intelligence?
R: Unlike a conventional industrial environment where you find yourself with strong barriers to entry, all that does not happen in these technologies, on the contrary, a high level of talent is required, we need to accommodate talent in this country, it already exists and we have to put it to produce.
They burst into a business where almost everything has to be done… The barriers to entry to be a first player in the Artificial Intelligence environment are not as great as can happen in another type of industry as we said, here everything goes very fast, the difficulty is a talent of a very high level, differential, but the horizon is enormous and there is no other way to manage the current and future reality of the information.
P: Let’s talk about talent. How do they attract and keep it?
R: Establishing alliances with the brains of the main academic environments where talent is generated. We must encourage this very special type of professionals to work in Spain, it is not necessary to go abroad. The material in this sector is not what is important, what is fundamental, as I say, is the talent and the projects to which it is applied.
P: I understand that to retain the best you will have to pay them better than the competition, right?
R: At Axpe Consulting we have experience and a cultural heritage that helps us tremendously to understand talent, because this is the origin of the company, management began at the base. I started as a technician and I remember that I received a multitude of offers that multiplied my salary, however I have never moved for money, because I believed in what I did and where I did it.
P: What recipe do you propose?
R: The first thing is to create an attractive project environment that allows professionals, with a great vocation for the future, to attract them. Historically, this company has always handled very attractive projects, with the best clients, the set that allows for a very appealing context. That is one of the pillars of the temple: the freedom to create, to make mistakes, to recreate is granted and when there has been success they can participate in the benefit of the company in a big way, as has happened with the recent sale of Pragsis Bidoop to Accenture.
P: Any other recommendation?
R: It is important that there is an excellent treatment with the human teams and that the career plan is guarded, in this way, people perceive that their personal wealth increases with their stay at Axpe Consulting. Their value is increased through instruction, teaching, the treatment of close management and attractive projects. They grow and each year they are worth more professionally and personally. We retain talent and capitalize on the country. One of Quant’s objectives will be to prevent particularly privileged talent from leaving Spain.
P: Describe a happy world in this sector. What is it based on?
R: I am someone with a vocation for this sector, I am a computer engineer, I believe that we are in one of the star sectors of the planet and even more so in the future. The volume of information is growing like never before dreamed of, its availability and even more so decision-making on this basis is not possible in this new dimension without the intervention of artificial intelligence and the technology to build it already exists.