Fostering New-Gen Companies with AI
Serge Massicotte, CEO, IVADO Labs
Fostering New-Gen Companies with AI
Serge Massicotte, CEO, IVADO Labs, a leading provider of AI-driven technology solutions that cultivates the next generation of companies with global reach and impact, is a leader, who believes in mobilizing people around strategic vision. With a successful history of structuring and running multi-site information technology organization with startups, growing companies and public corporations, Serge has created a niche for himself. A thorough professional with broad knowledge of best practices in software development and product management, this technology enthusiast is a highly result-oriented professional.
Excerpts from an interview with Serge:
Conception of IVADO Labs
It is evident that AI has enormous potential to revolutionize the supply chain. While there are off-the-shelf AI solutions available, these solutions do not address the need of companies with an elevated level of complexity in their supply, observes Serge. He adds that he realized the need to provide advanced business consulting services, AI & Operational Research, software development and scientific expertise in the market. “So, we developed bespoke AI supply chain solutions for companies with advanced supply chain challenges that are not well addressed by commercial solutions. We also partnered with a dozen top academics who have expertise in AI applied to the supply chain.”
AI-Driven Solutions, Benefits- Case Studies
IVADO Labs delivers customized AI solutions that combine the best of Machine Learning and OR techniques to solve the most complex supply chain problems. “To date, we’ve delivered several projects for clients. For example, we worked with an aerospace manufacturer to improve aftermarket spare part demand forecasting using AI for enhanced accuracy at the part-location level. This resulted in minimal downtime of operations and optimized costs for spare parts.”
Serge cites example of another transportation company. He says that with IVADO’s solutions, they were able to reduce wastes by optimizing the terminal’s assets with multiple OR models to generate automated production plans. “For a telco, we have been able to predict potential failures and provide clear guidance for repairs, leading to a reduction of unplanned downtime and a more efficient workforce.” He also says that for a port authority, the company used AI for fast identification and prioritization of critical cargo during the COVID-19 crisis by using Natural Language Processing techniques for cargo identification in substantial amounts of unstructured data and sharing critical data to key partners for immediate proactive actions.
The AI Journey
“It goes back to when I was a student in computer science in the early ’90s and was studying expert systems, fuzzy logic, and neural networks. I’ve always been fascinated by the ability of a computer to learn from data, and I first applied AI techniques in the supply chain back in 1997.” By 2012, Serge had embraced AI with different applications in predictive and prescriptive analytics with a start-up in the Bay Area, and from 2014 until 2017 he was the CTO of JDA Software, now known as Blue Yonder, where he established JDA Labs to develop AI solutions in the retail space using deep learning models. “This experience has provided a foundation for my current role at IVADO Labs.”
“When it comes to addressing the risk factors of AI, it’s best to start by executing small and easy AI use cases but strategize with the big picture in mind and allow enough time and money for discovery. Working with AI models is an empirical exercise — don’t try to boil the ocean and bring in external expertise to leverage best practices where needed.”
The AI Potential
AI is unlike any other technology breakthrough in history. That is because AI goes above and beyond our preconceived notions and expectations, according to Serge. “AI makes discoveries using factual data points, less prone to biases of users and business leaders. As a result, it is opening new opportunities never previously considered by strategic decision makers. AI can help to inform day-to-day decision-making by considering many more factors at a speed that humans cannot match. And AI solutions have the unprecedented ability to evolve as they learn from new data.”
“I believe leadership is about listening to and empowering people. I also believe that it is important to provide real-time feedback and to be direct, without being unnecessarily confrontational or personal. Finally, one has to walk the talk.” An approachable person, Serge feels that people feel comfortable bringing up their opinions with him, whether those are positive or negative. “They like my level of energy and enthusiasm in general, and also appreciate my technical background — they can discuss real matters of the business with me.”
Noting that perfection does not exist and, more importantly, it is not necessary to be perfect to be successful, Serge recommends young leaders to set realistic expectations with customers. “AI will not magically solve all problems. Do not underestimate the time and the level of effort to access data! And do not underestimate the change management aspect of implementing AI solutions,” he adds.
The Success Mantras
“Listen and learn from your experience and from others daily. Set aspirational but realistic goals, and never lose sight of the end goal. Enjoy the journey because the end goal will pass by very quickly if you reach it at all. Be kind to yourself and reward your achievements, small or big” he signs off.