Andrew Reid, Head of the Swiss Microsoft for Startups program
“Advances in data science and prebuilt AI services put that world within reach for every organization on the planet. At Microsoft, we have made AI an integral part of our own digital transformation and I delighted to see Unit8 enabling their customers to do the same.’
In an interview, Marcin Pietrzyk, CEO of Unit8, offered the following insight into the background and benefits of the partnership between Unit8 and Microsoft Switzerland:
How would you describe the value Unit8 brings to the Swiss market?
The Swiss market is an exceptional one. In addition to large multinational companies, there are a number of “hidden gems,” or medium-size companies that have a history and heritage of excellence in their fields. Swiss companies lead the way in precision production, packaging, pharmaceuticals, watchmaking, finance, and perfume creation, among other fields.
Those companies are leaders in their fields and have unparalleled expertise in the area of their core business, but they often struggle with digitising and applying analytics to their business, activities that are necessary to ensure long-term business competitiveness.
At Unit8, our mission and passion is to help guide Swiss companies through the process of using data and technology to transform their businesses. Whether our clients are medium-sized enterprises or international leaders, we provide a one-stop shop for partnership around analytics, AI, cloud services, data engineering, and data science.
You have a fascinating background that spans academia, entrepreneurship, and senior leadership at a multinational firm. What made you decide to start Unit8 and what have you learned in the process of scaling the company?
While working for a large enterprise as the Head of Analytics & AI, I saw the transformative potential of new data storage and analysis technologies, as well as the tremendous market opportunity these technologies brought.
I also realized, over the course of many trips to Silicon Valley, that the AI and data revolution is still only in its infancy, especially in Europe. I think we are still at the very beginning of a broad transformation in the way companies do business and work with information.
Over the course of many successful projects, I’ve only become more passionate about helping companies in non-digital native industries reinvent their business processes in order to maintain and strengthen their legacies, legacies which often span hundreds of years.
How and why did Unit8 and Microsoft Switzerland decide to partner?
I have to credit Kamil Zalewski, our Head of Growth, for helping start this partnership. From Day 1, Kamil has been passionate about establishing this relationship and helped lay the foundation for a long-term collaboration.
The road to this partnership has been surprisingly smooth. As soon as Unit8 and Microsoft Switzerland began discussing a potential partnership, we realized that our teams have similar mindsets and goals. We’re confident those similarities will ensure a collaborative relationship over time.
How will the partnership benefit Microsoft, Unit8 and most importantly, Swiss companies?
The partnership is clearly a win-win-win for the three parties. Unit8 will benefit from the scale and resources of Microsoft. We’ll be able to reach more clients and help them get off the ground faster. Microsoft Switzerland will gain a highly specialized partner in the domain of data & AI, capable of building AI solutions in the Azure environment hence broadening the portfolio of its services offered to the customers. Finally, Swiss companies will be able to complete digital transformation projects faster and more effectively.
Why do you believe Unit8’s core skillset in data and AI complements Microsoft Switzerland’s cloud offerings?
The analytics ecosystem has grown tremendously in the last five years. Almost every month, we see the launches of new startups, platforms, and open-source projects.
While these options bring innovation to the space, the sheer number of offerings often confuses companies (especially companies that are not accustomed to implementing new technologies) looking to bring a data-driven approach to their business. One of the many benefits of the cloud is that we expect it to drive some consolidation of these offerings.
In addition, our projects tend to be data-intensive and computation-heavy. The cloud brings flexibility when it comes to getting access to new data storage and computation resources in an instant. That means faster results for clients and lower costs for system configuration and maintenance.
Unit8 is a Swiss data science and AI solution provider that helps companies bridge the gap between their data and the value that this data can unlock. We focus predominantly on non-digital native industries, or industries that have been traditionally underserved by advanced data and technology solutions. We bring expertise and best practices from some of technology’s most innovative companies, including Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Palantir, and Apple.