• Cien and OrangeNXT: Two Digital Companies, yet so Different

    Eefje van Dam

    Earlier this year a selected group of twenty-five people visited Barcelona, organized by MAEUR’s study trip committee. After arriving later in the afternoon, the first day was already a productive one, as there was a company visit planned at Cien. We had a warm welcome and soon after we arrived the presentation held by Damien Acheson, head of marketing, started. Cien, which means ‘one hundred’ in Spanish, is a start-up company based in Barcelona that helps sales teams to improve their quality and productivity through artifical intelligence. We learned how Cien helps businesses that AI can get them insights in customer relations and how to improve their management.

    After the presentation, Cien prepared a little case to solve. The main question in the case was how we would convince operations-professionals that Cien’s AI can be trusted, would not replace these people by taking over their job, and find other arguments to convince them Cien’s service should be implemented. The group was divided into five teams. The case was quite a brain teaser but nevertheless, everybody came up with some creative ideas. Among others, there were comparisons between how Batman needs Robin and how operations-professionals will need Cien to perform even better. Others proposed to compare Cien’s service to the subscription-based model of Netflix. Because who doesn’t watch or know Netflix!?

    Another sponsor of the annual study trip was OrangeNXT. OrangeNXT is a subsidiary of the ICT Group. They specialize in combining in-depth knowledge and expertise in digital transformations into instant solutions and products to be faster and more efficient. “OrangeNXT is all about connecting people, devices and data” (OrangeNXT, n.d.). Digital transformation is how people, devices, and data are brought together. OrangeNXT has three platforms that help businesses to be more efficient and to bring people and data together.

    The first platform is called conNXT, which is an implication specially designed for predictive maintenance, asset management and remote monitoring. This implication comes in handy to predict breakdowns and to plan maintenance. The data can be collected, analyzed and read from other locations. A great example of conNXT is the collaboration with Remeha. This company is a player in the field of maintenance of boilers. With the help of conNXT, Remeha can easily collect and read data from a distance from the boilers. This means that boilers get maintenance just in time and if an error occurs Remeha can intervene as fast as possible. Maybe a more tangible partnership is with Hytech, a company who specializes in solutions in retail and mail. The partnership is initiated to improve the Post NL parcel pick-up points. Hytech needed a solution where they could monitor the devices in the stores. Remha and Hytech also make use of mobileNXT. The engineers from Remeha get an order notification and then go to the right location for the maintenance of a boiler. Same for Post NL, the delivery men need real-time data where they need to deliver a certain parcel. Failures in the delivery will pop up in conNXT. ConNXT collects data from devices to optimize the process of maintenance and monitoring.

    The second platform is mobileNXT. This platform is mostly designed for the mobile workforce. MobileNXT helps to run processes more smoothly. Next to the mobile workforce the back office like the planning department or customer service use mobileNXT. The back office can change delivery locations or documents and within seconds the driver is up-to-date. The platform has an application where the driver and the back office can communicate instead of WhatsApp and do not constantly have to switch between apps. The platform makes sure the teamwork is as efficient as possible. MobileNXT collects data from people to make the work of mobile workforce employees much easier.

    One of the new companies that are testing the application is HelloFresh. The planning department can check whether the drivers are on time, where the delays are and whether the route is completed without any delays or problems. The customer service of HelloFresh can use the same platform in case there is a claim and needs to make a message with the claim for the right driver. The driver then again uses the same platform to check his route, which parcel needs to be dropped at which house and other information regarding the parcel delivery.

    Last but not least is the digitalNXT platform. This cool platform makes among other algorithms (like cognitive search) use of image recognition. Image recognition uses data that is collected from conNXT,  mobileNXT, data provided by the customer or open source data. With internal and external sources OrangeNXT designs smart algorithms to optimize operational processes. DigitalNXT is, among others, collaborating with BAM Infra Nederland, a multinational construction group. The company needed a more efficient and cost-effective way to visually inspect and maintain asphalt paving. The collaboration led to a smart solution (digitalNXT) that uses Microsoft Azure, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to train specially designed algorithms to detect and classify various types of damage on paved surfaces. DigitalNXT improves the speed, quality, and accuracy of the checks. Besides that, it also helps to plan maintenance more accurately and reduce costs. The cost reduction is also caused by the fact that inspectors can now focus on their expertise where it is really needed.

    The collaboration with BAM and Microsoft is ‘brand new’ since the announcement had only been made this May. Besides, OrangeNXT has been selected for ‘Country partner of the year 2019’ by Microsoft. This encouraging start is promising for future achievements. Hopefully, we hear more about OrangeNXT and all cool stuff they do in the future!

    A long story short, Cien and OrangeNXT are two companies with quite some similarities. Both companies use data and AI to optimize other processes within the company. Cien helps specifically sales teams while OrangeNXT helps the operational departments of companies to optimize the operational processes within. Another similarity is that both companies are fresh to the industry, and fast-growing start-ups that respond to trends in our society and economy.

    During our trip, we learned a lot about the possibilities of AI and hopefully, you learned a lot about OrangeNXT and Cien and about the possibilities they create for their customers.

    Stay tuned to read more about OrangeNXT in the coming months! In case you can’t wait, don’t hesitate and visit the websites of Cien and OrangeNXT!