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A Data Pro - IT Department of the Year

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Company: A Data Pro, Sofia, Bulgaria
Company Description: A Data Pro makes sense of information. With over 20 years on the market, a 400-strong team with 40+ languages, and a dedicated AI research and development hub, we are a trusted provider of data processing and business intelligence services globally. Our focus on integrating the latest technologies internally and across our services has brought us multiple innovation awards and commendations.
Nomination Category: Information Technology Categories
Nomination Sub Category: IT Department of the Year

Nomination Title: A Data Pro's Technology Department

Tell the story about what this nominated department has achieved since 1 January 2017 (up to 650 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms.

New technologies have rocked the boat in just about every industry, with ours – that of information processing– among the most affected. How we access, collect and make sense of the sea of data out there has changed to an unprecedented degree, and continues to do so exponentially.

We saw this as an opportunity for growth. In 2016, A Data Pro made a strategic decision to align our business model with these changesin a bid to take the leap from information processing to business intelligence. By integrating artificial intelligence (AI) and automation across our services and internal processes, we would synergise our human capital– 20 years' experience in data processing, 400 analysts and domain experts, and 40+ languages in-house– with the latest technologies. Our Technology Department, back then knownas "IT", would drivethis overhaul.

Within 2016, we acquired an AI start-up that would form the core of our R&D hub, Identrics. It was merged into the newly created Technology Department, to become fully operational by early 2017. Alongside new hires, our database management unit was also retrained and incorporated into the Department, bringing their projects on board. All in all, between late 2016 and the spring of 2018, "IT" grew from a support unit of 12 to a full-fledged business unit of over 40 developers, AI specialists and data scientists, with its own projects and clients, and hubs in Sofia and Vratsa.

The overhaul was quick to pay off. In late 2016, the Technology Department began partnering with A Data Pro's various business lines and brands to build on existing and develop new products. These included real-time media monitoring platform Media Monitor, launched in December 2017, SeeNews' current online platform, and Desizio– a business intelligence product for Southeast Europe, to be unveiled in Q4 of 2018.

It also began developing its own solutions: machine learning and semantic technology-basedtext mining, context extraction and automated text generation toolspowered by Identrics, and offered to clients as of mid-2017. By 2018, this line-up was already winning awards and accolades. The powerful crawling, indexing and conversion solutions developed in-house additionally meant that the Technology Department began fully servicing some of A Data Pro's existing clients and gained its own.

Another key function of the Technology Department became the optimisation of internal work processesvia AI and automation. With manual research among the most time-consuming activities for media analysts, the implementation of data aggregation and indexing technologies was among the Department's first tasks. The next phase of this undertaking, set for Q4 of 2018, will further streamline analysts' workflow by migrating all media monitoring and due diligence processes to purpose-built online platforms.

The Technology Department's biggest internal project, however, is Xenomorph– an innovative CMS platform that will serve as A Data Pro's central information processing system, storing and automatically indexing all the data collected by our crawlers from across projects. This repository will employ human-in-the-loop machine learning to train and refine a set of AI models– dubbed "Serendipity"–for media monitoring and analysis.

A Data Pro was awarded a EUR 435,000 EU grant for R&D and theacquisition of soft- and hardware necessary to implement Serendipity, while, thanks to the Technology Department's semantic and AI capabilities, we also won a EUR 780,000 total in EU funding under Rising STAR– two projects aimed at making Big Data-based business intelligence accessible to SMEs and non-tech users in the EU.

In 2017 against 2016, A Data Pro's technology-centred restructuring contributed to an increase of 15 percent in revenue and 33 percent in the net profit margin, while keeping the overall level of employment and associated costs flat. Just as importantly, it paved our way to providing a full spectrum of business intelligence solutions and, coupled with intensive tech training, future-proofed our people for the Digital Age, deservedly earning us an innovative employer award.

In bullet-list form, briefly summarize up to ten (10) accomplishments of the nominated department since the beginning of 2017 (up to 150 words).

-As of 2016, AI and automation were integrated across A Data Pro's services and internal processes
-The newly createdTechnology Department – now a 40-strong business unit, butformerly an IT support unit of 12 – was responsible for thisintegration
-The Department developed new and updated existing A Data Pro products, including the Media Monitor & SeeNews platforms
-Itdeveloped its ownclient solutions–including crawling, data indexing and transformation, and AI-based text mining, context extraction and automated text generation– and began fully servicing existing A Data Pro clients, as well as gaining its own
-It optimised internal workflows via the latest AI, automation and content management technologies
-It contributed to A Data Pro winning over EUR 1.2 million in EU funding, as well as to a 15% revenue and 33% net profit margin increase
-It earned A Data Pro awards for innovative use of technologies