Recently, I got access to the beta program of GPT-3, by far one of the most fascinating pieces of technology I came across in the last years. GPT-3 is an AI system for NLU (Natural Language Understanding), developed by OpenAI. In particular, GPT-3 excels at tasks such as text generation, question answering, text summarization and many, many more. That is why I’ve decided to co-write my yearly review together with GPT-3. This was my first man-machine collaboration and the work together with the AI completely blew my mind. Yellow marked parts of this post have been written by GPT-3. Check it out!
2020 is a year, that will make history. I mean, the type of history that gets printed in a schoolbook. It’s a year that will be remembered for centuries to come. Books will be written; movies and documentaries will be made. But what will be remembered the most?
Starting the year with ups and downs
For STATWORX it was a year full of ups and downs. We started bold in January and February with great new ideas, clients and projects. In our management offsite in Berlin in January, we were plotting how successful 2020 will be. Inspired by the vibrant energy (and nightlife) of the city, our heads were full of ideas. Also, in January, we were traveling to the beautiful city of San Francisco to check out the latest developments in data science and machine learning at R Conf 2020. On our way back, a quick (mandatory) detour to Las Vegas. Things felt great, and energy levels were insane. 2020 was to be our year!
But, when COVID hit Germany late February and March, the situation immediately changed. The German economy shut down for most parts, including many of our clients. Lockdown time. Projects were stopped or postponed; sales stuck. People had to stay at home to stay safe. This changed everything. We had to re-think and re-strategize for the future. We had to think of new ways to build our business; in other words, to be smart with our money. We had to go back to the drawing board to evaluate what to invest in and what to stop.
Speaking of investing: At that time, our new 1500sqm head office in Frankfurt was already signed, sealed and delivered. Two floors, one specifically designed for face-to-face workshops, trainings and our legendary STATWORX parties. Of course, none of that really happened in 2020. Furthermore, we’ve opened our new branch office in Zurich this year, accommodating space for our growing Swiss team. We were moving in both locations, in the middle of the crisis.
Learning to work in a lockdown
With the possibility of a recession lingering over our heads, I had to ask myself if I had chosen the right line of work. The answer was simple: “Yes”. Both, crisis and lockdown significantly pushed digital working and digitalization in general. Companies quickly had to adapt to large-scale remote working, digital processes and new work in general. Also, for STATWORX, where we embrace office culture, team spirit and a cold beer after work, the new situation posed many challenges. More and more employees had to work remotely. The work of our clients and our own work was increasingly digital. We had to find solutions to avoid a digital silo effect and to ensure that our team members are not just working digitally but also maintain high-quality teamwork.
Realizing, that the lockdown would have a severe impact on our clients and the worldwide economy in general, we swiftly had to identify opportunities for digital offerings. First, since in-person sales wasn’t an option, we’ve forged digital content such as our webinar series on different data science and AI related topics. Based in this series we’ve generated more than 500 new contacts in our CRM that our sales team could then reach out to. The second digital offering came in the form of a new digital training courses that were immediately booked and rolled out by our existing customers. The course program covers the basics as well as business implications of machine learning and AI and will soon be also available as a webinar, an on-demand video and as an e-book. We have also added more digital courses to our existing STATWORX Academy portfolio due to the high remote training demand in 2020, which turned out to be one of the great successes in 2020. Learning for the future doesn’t stop!
Opening the new office in Frankfurt
Around June, when the number of COVID cases was decreasing in Germany, it was time to restart the engine and boost marketing. We’ve invested in content creation, marketing and automation. This led to a series of around 10 whitepapers and 15 blog posts that were published in the second half of the year. Out of this, we were able boost our online exposure and generated new leads and project engagements. Also, finally, after a long and exhausting home office period, the team got together again. It felt great to see all of our team members being well and safe. This also made clear, how important social interaction is for our personal wellbeing and of course also for a team.
Many of our AI consulting and development projects that were laid off in Q1 came back one after another which led to one of the most exciting end-of-year-rallies in the history of the company. We’ve accomplished a success for 2020, even though things looked sinister in the first half of the year. Our team stood together, with great courage and understanding for the situation.
Looking back at 2020, I have to say that the crisis heavily pushed us out of our comfort zone and sparked many great initiatives and successes in our company. It was a challenging but rewarding year full of learnings. As a small Christmas gift from us, we have decided to give all our customers (ranging from startups to large enterprises) the chance to order a free AI Potential Workshop for your company! I wish you all a fantastic 2021!