Last March, Manuel Revuelta, CEO and founder of AXPE Consulting and Quant AI Lab, was interviewed by the newspaper El Economista for his monthly section Factoría y Tecnología Digital 4.0.
Our president, who built a group from scratch that today advises more than 150 clients in banking, insurance, telecommunications, industry, energy, legal, consulting and public administrations in five countries, then reflected on AXPE Consulting’s strategy. Within a dynamic and competitive environment, such as that of consulting, the group has managed to open its own space and place itself at the top of IT consultancies, standing out for its high-value technological solutions and its collaborations with the main companies in this sector.
El Economista defines AXPE as “one of the companies with the highest percentage of technological talent per square meter in this country”. And AXPE in general, and Manuel Revuelta in particular, seek to achieve a working environment that aspires to maximum excellence. That is why it has focused part of its efforts on a START UP within the group that develops Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning projects: Quant AI Lab
QUESTION:How is AXPE Consulting different from other consultancies?
ANSWER: We are a company whose mentality and capabilities are those of a startup, but with a very important 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 capital volume, long.
Q: What are the big numbers of the company?
A: Last year we invoiced 80 million euros in the group. To explain our capabilities, we set up independent companies, for the different activities that require a high degree of specialization. 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 from market players, it was decided to sell it to Accenture and we reinvested the capital in other types of high-tech investments.
Q: I understand that the sale of Pragsis may have left a gap in the company’s Big Data capabilities
A: 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 on Big Data.
Q: What have the resources invested in after the sale of Pragsis?
A: With this capital, we have just started Quant AI Lab, a company whose advisory council brings together part of the country’s engineering and mathematical elite. Below, 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 intelligence to launch this ambitious project.
Q:What can we expect from Quant AI Lab?
A: 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 at Quant, because that market allows it. It will undoubtedly be one of AXPE Consulting’s major business areas. From Spain we want to serve a world that is coming, with environments of a very high-level logic, which will practically come to serve the decision to their clients. Quant will specialize in highly complex mathematical models, machine learning, statistical inference, exploratory data analysis, quantum clustering, advanced analytics, visual intelligence, and conversational artificial intelligence.
Q: What business forecasts do you plan for Quant AI Lab?
A: Our goal is to become a benchmark in the world for Artificial Intelligence, with more than 150 employees in 2021, compared to 50 this year. Quant will add a high value to the group and will allow us to invoice 80 million, with growth of 20% in 2020, another 30% by 2021, 15% in 2022 and 10% in 2023, by then with revenues of more than 150 millions.
Q: Can you give me an example of what you are capable of?
A: A large energy company today needs to interpret the large volume of data it handles from exploration tasks.That knowledge is held by the oil company, but the formulation that interprets these data can be offered by us. This client doesn’t need to have at his service the 30 best mathematicians in the country.
Q: How did you convince the client of the aeronautics industry?
A: Our mathematicians didn’t make a proposal to use but we did a proof of concept. We asked for a dataset, established a model, and successfully performed the test in front of the customer. What we present them is what they just wanted and so we won that important contract.
Q: What can Artificial Intelligence contribute to the field of finance and investment?
A: 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.
Q: What does it take to build a world leader in Artificial Intelligence?
A: Unlike a conventional industrial environment where you encounter strong barriers to entry, these technologies require a high level of talent. We need to accommodate talent in this country, it already exists and we have to put it into production.
They break into a business where almost everything is to be done. The barriers to entry to be a first player in the Artificial Intelligence environment are not as great as it can be in other types of industry. Here everything goes very fast.
The difficulty is a very high-level, differential talent, but the horizon is enormous and there is no other way to manage the current and future reality of information.
Q: Let’s talk about talent. How do they attract and keep it?
A: Establishing alliances with the brains of the main academic environments where talent is generated. This 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 fundamentally as I say is the talent and the projects to which it is applied.
Q: I understand that to retain the best you will have to pay them better than the competition, right?
A: At AXPE Consulting we have experience and a cultural heritage that helps us formidably to understand talent. This is the origin of the company, the management started at the base. I started as a technician and I remember that I received many offers that multiplied my salary, however I have never moved for money. He believed in what he did and where he did it.
Q: What recipe do you propose?
A: 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 managed very attractive projects with the best clients. That is one of the columns of the temple. They are given the freedom to create, to make mistakes and when they have been successful they can participate in the benefit of the company in a big way. This has happened with the recent sale of Pragsis Bidoop to Accenture.
Q: Any other recommendation?
A: It is important that there is an excellent deal with human teams and that the career plan is veiled. In this way, people perceive that their personal wealth increases with their stay at AXPE Consulting. Its value is increased through instruction, teaching, the treatment of close management and attractive projects. They grow and become more professional and personal every year. We retain talent and capitalize the country. One of Quant’s objectives will be to prevent the departure of a specially privileged talent outside of Spain.
Q: Describe a happy world in this sector. What is it based on?
A: I am someone vocational in this sector, I am a computer engineer, I think we are in one of the star sectors of the planet and even more so in the future. The volume of information grows as never dreamed of. Its availability and even more the decision making on this basis cannot be done in this new dimension. For this, the intervention of artificial intelligence is necessary and the technology to build it already exists.