INTERVIEW - Bulgarian firms shy of cognitive technologies, banks lead way to change

INTERVIEW - Bulgarian firms shy of cognitive technologies, banks lead way to change Tsvetan Alexiev / Author: Sirma Group Hold / All rights reserved.

SOFIA (Bulgaria), June 1 (SeeNews) - Bulgarian businesses are still shy of cognitive technologies but the financial services sector is among the early adopters of smart algorithms resulting in effective decisions and streamlined processes, Tsvetan Alexiev, CEO of software developer Sirma Group, told SeeNews.

"The use of cognitive technologies is still exotic in Bulgaria," Alexiev told SeeNews in a recent interview. "However, the past few years saw some progress.

"Currently, there is interest in these innovations on the part of financial services companies such as banks and forex platforms, and they are cautiously beginning to employ artificial intelligence-based services. The insurers are the next in line," Alexiev added.

The customers of Sofia-based Sirma group include most Bulgarian banks, as well as lenders with a strong presence in Southeast Europe, especially in Greece, Macedonia, Albania and Serbia. Sirma has also implemented big integration projects in the Caribbean, Africa and Scandinavia, as well as projects in the United Kingdom.

The company has designed a business platform built on basic cognitive technologies that allows for modelling of complex data and document processing systems.

"This is how we help the business take critical decisions - by combining a semantic analysis of the data which we have extracted, structured and enriched, and by automating the ever-changing business processes," Alexiev said, adding that these processes and solutions are applicable to practically any business.

With this platform vertical business solutions for almost all industries can be created in just a few days.

"We use the so called knowledge models  - areas of knowledge, knowledge bases, models and instruments for data modelling, connection and verification. There is no need to write a new programming code, and the end result is that the addition of a business process takes literally minutes."

Financial services companies can benefit from Sirma's solutions for the automation of back office functions, client profiling and sales projections leading to quick introduction of personalised services, as well as solutions for risk and compliance, counteracting money laundering and avoiding bank fraud. Products and services which help financial institutions solve such problems require large-scale calculation resources, which are being provided by cloud suppliers alongside a high level of cyber security and a reliable system administration, Alexiev noted. Card payments, one of the most popular banking service, too can be offered as a cloud service.

"The introduction of predictive analytical instruments for consumer behaviour, chatbots, which present multiple products and services and improve customer service, multifunctional and multichannel platforms - all these services should be part of the modern banking service because they increase productivity and efficiency and improve client experience, which ultimately leads to higher revenues," he said.

Retail is another area in which Sirma's products meet with a warm reception. The company's so called white label solutions based on its platform for management of loyalty programmes are being used by an international operator of shopping malls in Bulgaria, and a UAE-based holding company, among others, while its  partnership network in Southeast Asia is expanding.

The company recently launched pilot trials in the U.S. for MarketVidia - a product which uses computer vision technologies and machine learning to evaluate the demographic features of visitors to shops, shopping malls or events, and then establishes correlations with marketing campaigns, promotions, and ads.

Encouraged by the success of its diabetic condition monitoring product Diabetes:M, which sells in 187 countries, localised in 17 languages with mobile and tablet versions for iOS and Android, Sirma plans similar products for the management of other chronic diseases.



The global media industry has been quick to recognise the importance of the convergence of platforms and technologies. The next step is the introduction of technologies which can accelerate dramatically the creation and repeated use of content, the use of multiple sources for fact finding, fake news identification, dynamic content publication, content creation and enrichment, personalisation and creation of a unique news feed tailored to the reader's preferences and personal interests, Alexiev said.

The products developed by the company's semantic software unit Ontotext address all these issues. To business intelligence providers it offers also company ranking and relation discovery solutions. Its clients include the ВВС, EUROMONEY, Financial Times, Standard and Poor’s, as well as science, technology and medicine publishers such as Elsevier, IET, Springer Nature, Wiley, Oxford University Press, government agencies and culture institutes.

However, technical innovation is not among the strategic priorities of industrial companies in Bulgaria, Alexiev opined. Consequently, those companies are missing out on real opportunities to boost their productivity and competitiveness.


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