Exploring The New SpaceThe day started with a tour of our new building. Everyone was excited to see the brand new office since our CFO Julius put so much effort into transforming the space into a modern, welcoming place to work. On the tour, the crew was eager to examine the whole area with its lovely details, tech gadgets, lounge places, conference rooms, and much more.
Talking StrategyAfterward, we had our quarterly town hall meeting to get everyone up-to-date on company news. For several hours we talked about communication, strategy, and goals for the coming months.
Time For Food and SnacksFinally, after a lot of insightful talks, we fired up the grill to have a tasty barbecue with cold beers and delicious wine. Since we’ve all been working from home for the last couple of months, we had a lot of catching up to do. Who has the coolest new hairstyle? How are the new parents and their babies doing? Are weddings still happening? Of course, there was a lot of work-talk, too, but we certainly loved seeing all those familiar faces again.
Back to WorkOne of the most significant changes is the sheer amount of conference rooms we have now! And not only that: The rooms are all different, some with sofas and armchairs, others with bar tables and stools. It’s really fun to try out every room and to find new stuff and details in each one. We’ve been working in our new office for over a week now, and the motivation is as high as ever. With our heads full ideas and on the lookout for new challenges, we’re off to new adventures! Once again, an amazing year at STATWORX is coming to an end. The frequency and magnitude of positive things happening to our company are continuously increasing with every new client, employee, or partner coming to our company. That is why the very first paragraph of this post ends with a massive THANK YOU to my whole team, our customers and partners. We would not be where we are now without you. Let’s keep up the awesome work! STATWORX is constantly growing each year, both in revenue and profit, as well as in services and products – likewise in 2019. Our growth deeply embodies a high pace of change into our company’s DNA and all the things that surround us. That is why sometimes you can lose track of all the different things happening throughout the year. To keep track of our evolving company, I’ve decided to write down some of the most important things that moved our company this year, ranging from exciting projects, new partners to great festivities and special events. Let’s begin the time travel!
Projects & AcademyThe various kinds of data science, machine learning, and AI projects, which we deliver for our cross-industry customers, are the cornerstone of our company. And by cross-industry, I really mean it: automotive, finance, pharma, retail, insurance, aviation – you name it. I would assume that there isn’t a single industry we have not worked in so far. That greatly enlarges our perspective on the field of data science and AI and helps us to translate solutions from different industries or functions into our project environments across our customers. This year, there have been so many fascinating projects, both end-2-end as well as prototypes / MVPs, that it’s tough to pick the gems. My personal favorites would most likely be the ground operations optimization project for one of our airline customers, as well as our various ML and NLP projects we’ve conducted for the purchasing department of one of our automotive customers. Besides that, we’ve delivered several forecasting products, customer analytics solutions, as well as different dashboards and ML fueled applications. Furthermore, in our strategy department, we’ve supported several new customers from the financial and insurance industry, who are just getting started with data science and AI by setting up their data and analytics platform strategies. Whew! Besides our consulting projects, the “STATWORX Academy” brings a multitude of different data science, ML and AI trainings and workshops to our customers. One of the most exciting training projects this year was, for sure, a company-wide AI leadership training for one of our biggest customers. With a team from their professional development department, IT, and data science in finance, we’ve forged a manifold and interactive workshop, specifically targeted at middle to top management leaders. Besides multiple training sessions in Germany, this also led to cross-continental trainings in the USA as well as China. It was fascinating to discuss with leaders from various cultural backgrounds about AI and its implications on business, society and life in general. I am really looking forward to continue this training initiative in 2020. Another great workshop event this year was our brand-new “Deep Learning Bootcamp”. Besides our battle-proven “Data Science Bootcamp”, we’ve created a 5-day workshop all around neural networks and deep learning. Thereby, we are digging into the basic concepts, such as MLPs, CNNs, and LSTMs, but also into more advanced topics such as GANs, autoencoders, and deep reinforcement learning. The first Bootcamp was a great success, for which we received loads of positive feedback from our participants. I can’t wait for the next session in the first quarter of 2020, with many new topics and programming exercises in Python and TensorFlow.
InvestmentsIn 2019 we’ve also conducted our first financial investments into companies and products we believe in: first to mention is bamboolib, a product two former STATWORKERS created in their newly founded company. bamboolib is a low-code data preparation and visualization GUI for pandas in Jupyter (yes, a GUI for Jupyter). It allows data science professionals to carry out time-consuming data prep and manipulation steps 10x faster. Furthermore, it enables Python and pandas starters to learn the concepts of data prep more easily. bamboolib is currently making huge waves on LinkedIn, so I definitely recommend that you check it out! Besides bamboolib, we’ve engaged in a joint-venture called ONEZERO-X that is bringing data science, machine learning, and AI to sports business. We’ve already had our first project for a German soccer club and created a great MVP for forecasting soccer stadium utilization by using historical sales data and many external effects. I will be presenting the new joint venture at IN-BETA AUDITIONS in Frankfurt in January 2020.
PartnersSTATWORX is continually engaging with new partners to leverage synergies and to bring our services to a broader audience of customers. One of our longest and most fruitful partnerships is with Dataiku. The French software startup just reached unicorn-level company valuation and never ceases to surprise us with new powerful features on their innovative data science platform as well as with their excellent team spirit and collaborative work approach. Additionally, to support our clients on all major cloud platforms, we have further extended our cloud service provider network by entering partnerships with Microsoft and AWS, on top of our existing partnership with Google (GCP). Depending on high-quality data in everything we do, we understand how important it is for all companies to build up a clean and structured data foundation. Therefore, on multiple occasions, we joined forces with the data management and data governance focused University of St. Gallen spin-off CDQ. Last but not least, we added renowned semiconductor manufacturer STMicroelectronics to the list of our partners. We are thrilled to leverage their STM32 microcontrollers’ capabilities, to run AI directly on edge controllers, which allows the integration of state-of-the-art neural networks in highly specialized industrial applications.
EventsWhen it comes to events and conferences, STATWORX is always ready to jump in. Not only to gather new knowledge but also to network, make new connections, and get new leads. One of our favorite events throughout the year is the Data Festival in Munich. This year, our Head of Data Science, Fabian Müller, gave an exciting talk about XAI (explainable AI), its current applications, and limitations. The Data Festival is getting bigger and bigger each year, which triggers the creativity of our marketing to come up with great new ideas for our STATWORX booth. This year, we launched our “Beat the AI” campaign, where visitors of our booth could compete against a reinforcement learning agent that learned how to play Super Mario on NES. “Beat the AI” was also our campaign at EGG Germany 2019 in Stuttgart, the 1-day AI conference organized by our friends at Dataiku. Here, we gave a talk on how to bring data science and AI to organizations using Dataiku together with our friends from Mercedes Benz. Another exceptional event this year was the “KEX Forecasting Challenge”. Here, a selection of AI vendors was given a dataset of daily sales data that they were asked to forecast. The actual sales data was held back to ensure a fair competition. In an intense weekend session, the “STATWORX Black Ops” team managed to build a machine learning model for 10 different products that was able to forecast 365 days ahead. During the presentation of the results, we’ve received great feedback from the data supplying company and currently engage in a joint project. Another highlight of 2019 was our participation in the Swiss AI Hackathon, where we competed against 10 other teams in the development of a machine learning model for turnaround delay prediction. This 2-day event in Zurich certainly was one of the most challenging events this year, since we had a great variety of data sources to deal with to make the model work. After 2-days of coffee, red bull, beer, and pizza, the STATWORX team made it on to the winners’ podium and presented our modeling approach in front of several members of the Swiss BOM.
Data UniversityAs you could read up until here, the last year was filled with new opportunities and challenges for us. One of those challenges for us as a team was the Data University, our first-ever open event. We created the event with the help of our partner BARC in early 2019. Together, we developed a marketing plan, designed the curriculum, built a website, and created the workshops. In October, we held the interactive 2-day workshop-event at the Goethe University in Frankfurt, with 40 participants, 8 trainers, and a whole lot of pizzas. Furthermore, our friends from Frankfurt Data Science organized an event in the evening about “How to become a Data Scientist” with over 100 participants that perfectly matched our topics at Data University. I want to thank everyone at BARC again for the great partnership. If you’re interested in our newest events and plans, then follow us on our various social media accounts and stay tuned.
Work eventsWith all the hard work we do here at STATWORX, we also like to relax and have some after-work fun. There have been multiple occasions during the past twelve months, where my team prepared parties, fun get-togethers and excursions to take our collective minds off of work. One of these occasions was the famous STATWORX summer barbecue, which took place on a very hot Friday evening in June. Everyone prepared something to eat, like a salad or tasty finger food, and we enjoyed the great weather with some fresh cocktails on our terrace. But the barbecue wasn’t the only time we had great luck with the weather. In October, part of our crew went on a day trip to the picturesque Rheingau, the famous wine region known for its world-famous Riesling wines. With sunglasses on and a glass of delicious white wine in hand, the group went hiking for about four hours in the vineyards. Last but not least, the Christmas spirit found its way into the STATWORX office. For our Christmas party in late November, the team prepared a large pot of hot wine, wrapped gifts for everyone, and showcased some very creative Ugly Sweaters. To finalize this amazing year, we also took a weekend trip to Belgium, where we time to unwind, talk, play games, laugh, and party. As you can see, we had a lot of fun days and nights together. A big shout out to everyone who helped organize these events. Cheers!
Outlook on 2020What a year! By writing all of this down, I started to realize how diverse and inspiring all of the different things were that happened at our company in the last year. And there is always more to come: in the first half of 2020, we will move into the brand-new STATWORX HQ in Frankfurt on 1’400 sqm on 2 floors. This will be our biggest and boldest move so far, which will enable our company and employees to grow, prosper, and develop even further. In terms of services, we will continue to strengthen our team and offerings in data and software engineering to accord with the skyrocketing demand for ML ops and industrialization of machine learning and AI applications. In addition to that, we will be launching our first own AI software product in 2020, which will be another massive step for our company on our collective journey along the road of STATWORX. I can’t wait to see what 2020 holds for us! The only thing that remains constant in life is change. I am wishing you a happy holiday and a joyful new year. Best wishes from your friends at STATWORX. This text was written by GPT-2 (just kidding). Last Sunday, part of our STATWORX crew went on a day trip to the picturesque Rheingau, the famous wine region known for its Riesling. The trip was planned around the three tourist pillars of the region: wine, castles & hiking.
A warm welcomeFull of excitement (which we had already expressed in the days before, by sending each other funny wine and hiking related GIFs), we met at noon at Frankfurt’s central station, where we all took the train to the Rheingau. After a one-hour train journey, sweetened with some delicious self-made puff pastry snacks from our dear colleague Jessi, we arrived at the beautiful village of Oestrich-Winkel. There, our two tour guides Bernadette and Klaus Wolter from RheingauPur picked us up. After a warm welcome to the region, everyone received their own wine glass for the different tastings during the day, and off we went!
Wine tasting can be a real challengeWhile walking through the beautiful vineyards, it was hard to believe that we were only a one-hour train ride away from Frankfurt. With the warm sun and the light breeze, the vast landscapes with beautiful castles could evoke feelings of holidays in Tuscany or Provence. On our way, Bernadette and Klaus taught us about the whole wine production process, starting with the right way to maintain a vineyard up to the correct wine-tasting technique. Because some of us had some starting difficulties with this tasting technique (or perhaps they just wanted to refill their glass very quickly 😄), here one more time: Take a big sip of wine in your mouth, close your nose and swirl the wine around a little. Then swallow the wine and open your nose at the same time. This way, you can taste the full flavors of the wine.
Gin at a vineyard?After around three hours of learning, hiking, and of course, also some wine tasting, we arrived at the beautiful Castle Johannisberg. From there, we had a beautiful view of the Rhine and the surrounding vineyards. In the castle’s shop, some of us bought a bottle of the local Gin – yes, you’ve read correctly, they produce not only wine but also some delicious fruity and smooth Gin – a real treat for our STATWORX Gin lovers. After one last glass of delightful Riesling in the warm evening sun, we headed back through the vineyards to Oestrich-Winkel, where we all enjoyed a tasty traditional dinner.
Off to new adventures!On the train back, we were still talking about all the lovely experiences of the day. Seeing a grape harvesting machine in action is not something you see every day! And even the non-wine drinkers among us had to admit that the wines we had tasted that day were excellent. Although none of us had the impression that we walked that much during the day, we all felt our feet and legs as we got off the train in Frankfurt. With this feeling and the warmth of the sun still on our faces, we all went home already looking forward to the next adventure on one of our STATWORX trips! Thank you very much, Bernadette and Klaus, for the lovely tour! Summer in Frankfurt means blue skies, warm nights and happy people all around. That’s why STATWORX made it a tradition to have a company barbecue and enjoy some good food and drink while mingling with colleagues and friends. Moreover, we had a great reason to celebrate: as of late we’re the STATWORX GmbH (engl.: limited company). So, last Friday we had a party!
Work hard, party hardBut not so fast: before the first beers were opened, our CEO and CFO gave us an overview of the company’s current situation and the general plans for the future. (Side note: you know you’re in a room full of consultants if half of the audience is so intrigued by the spot-on design of the powerpoint slides that the presented content almost becomes secondary!) After several insightful hours of presentation, motivated by past accomplishments and eager to put the presented game plan into practice, we finally began to prepare the party. I must say it was really cool to see how smoothly everyone was working together. In almost no time we had set up the tables, grills and decorations in the backyard. When the buffet table was loaded up with home-made goodies, it became evident that some of us are not only talented statisticians, marketing geniuses or brilliant data scientists but also seasoned chefs. Soon, the first guests started to arrive, and after the first vegetarian steaks and traditional sausages were sizzling on the grill, the party was instantly in full swing. Even a short shower of rain couldn’t dampen the mood. Maybe, the exotic and simply delicious cocktails mixed by our very own barkeeper might have helped with that. Let me tell you, the non-alcoholic Mojito was a revelation. We spend the evening connecting with new collogues, old colleagues as well as their friends and families. It also was very cool to chat with our Swiss colleagues in person again, who were kind enough to bring an exceptional swiss speciality – a whole box of Luxemburgerli! – all the way with them. The evening was topped off by several former colleagues who stopped by to catch up. To not overstrain the patience and ears of our lovely neighbours, we moved the party inside. On the makeshift dancefloor, laser-show included, we danced our heart out to the finest tunes played by our current CEO and former DJ. Since it wouldn’t be a STATWORX production without some facts and figures, so here some stats about the barbecue: Would you like to be part of the next STATWORX summer barbecue? You can become part of the team. We’re looking forward to meeting you!
After a year both challenging and rewarding, STATWORX has taken the opportunity of the calm before the Year-End to retreat from the office for a few days.
A remote area in the Belgian countryside was chosen as the location for the weekend getaway, where the team would spend a couple of days reflecting on the events of the past year, gearing up for the challenges of the new one and engaging in various workshops and team-building activities.
We kicked off our weekend retreat by meeting up with our dedicated bus driver Taki, who would accompany us on our way. After a quick team photo in front of the bus STATWORX was ready for boarding and we were off on our merry way to Belgium.
Upon arriving we were impressed by the nicely decorated common room and the expansive wellness area, which would make the retreat that much more relaxing. Hungry from travelling, everyone’s faces lit up once a big delivery of pizzas from a local restaurant was brought to our doorsteps. We spent the first evening settling in, relaxing and making extensive use of the pool table over local Belgian beer.
Saturday was dedicated to workshops and group activities. Among others this included a surprisingly exhausting introduction to Yoga, extended walks and exploration of the surrounding area, baking Christmas snacks and dessert, an in-depth demonstration of Swiss 4pm-snack culture and of course constant discussion about R, its community and our very own
helfRlein package of helper functions. As expected this would prompt the Python faction within the Data Science team to quickly interject and claim superiority over R and its packages, mocking the fact that we need to create our own for daily routine operations. The good mood continued over the warm hissing of Raclette-grills running overtime.
The evening also brought on the first snow of the year, which made for an excellent excuse to escape the cold and watch the snowfall from the safety of the heated pool area. Others made use of the common room and played various card games and a variation of the popular Mafia role-playing game which let emotions run high.
There was no time to be lost on Sunday morning. After a rich final breakfast everyone started packing their belongings and before long we were already on our way back to Frankfurt. The landscape had been covered by the previous night’s snow, which made for a scenic ride back.
This weekend getaway was a great way of ending an exciting year at STATWORX on a high note. We had the opportunity to look back on many interesting projects and give a toast on many more to come. The weekend also provided a great opportunity for members of the Team Data Science and the Team Statistics to mix it up a little and get more familiar with each other, which is not a given during the daily project routine. Furthermore, it was one of the rare occasions where members of all the three STATWORX teams, namely the teams from Frankfurt, Zurich and Vienna, got together and could share their experiences and know-how amongst each other.
Strenghtened and with high spirits we return to work, looking forward to a new year hopefully equally as challenging and rewarding as the last one!