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No one has time for the work that our tool does

Ingrid Willems medeoprichter van DataScouts

"Knowledge is power" goes the saying, and it is from this understanding that the Ghent-based company We Connect Data developed its own SaaS tool called DataScouts for data and AI-driven market research. The goal is to provide companies with a customized overview of everything happening in their market in an automated manner. Leading the way is Ingrid Willems, who co-founded the company and views AI as a means to enhance our human capabilities.

Let's start from the beginning. What does DataScouts, which you co-founded with Jan Vansteenlandt in 2016 and now counts Colruyt among its shareholders, do?

We help companies gain an automated understanding of what is happening in their market. This can be interpreted broadly: we analyze competition, technologies employed, conducted research, industry-relevant topics, and even certain ethical aspects. In essence, it is the traditional field of market research but with the use of artificial intelligence and automated data gathering and analysis. Our baseline proudly claims that we make your company the most informed in the world through a unique blend of data, artificial intelligence, and human expertise.

Who uses your tool?

It is often not marketers who rely on DataScouts, but rather business developers and innovation managers. Systematic information is crucial for various strategically important decisions regarding acquisitions or innovations that can lead to a stronger position or better performance, both within a company and within a region or cluster.

DataScouts is utilized by cluster organizations that bring companies together around a shared mission and engage in matchmaking to achieve their ambitious goals with partners. Large corporations that are exploring ways to automatically gather market information to support and accelerate their strategic decision-making also belong to our clientele.

We focus on companies with complex value chains, particularly those aiming for digital and sustainable transformation. Our customers include groups such as Colruyt and Procter & Gamble, who not only use our software but have also been benefiting from our market watch and innovation scouting activities for several years. Additionally, we have smaller customers with very specific focuses, where rapid and efficient information gathering sets them apart from their competitors.

Currently, you are based in Ghent and primarily serve Belgian customers. Do you have plans for international expansion?

We do have several international clients, including those in the Netherlands, Spain, New Zealand, and the US. However, we believe in cultivating long-term customer relationships rather than focusing solely on lead generation. At the international level, we work through a number of partners who utilize the DataScouts platform to offer their market research services to corporates and cluster organizations. This allows us to concentrate on our product and they can focus on the consulting.

DataScouts has been around for seven years now and has twelve permanent employees. What has been the biggest challenge so far?

Building the consulting side of the team, which involves assisting our customers in using the tool and creating reports. We want to strategically collaborate with our clients, which requires a certain level of maturity and experience. We need individuals who can grasp and explain the tool, work with it, and simultaneously analyze the client's market to capture signals and trends more quickly and efficiently. We are searching for holistic and strategic thinkers with a strong affinity for data, individuals who can proverbially find the needle in the (data) haystack. It is not easy to find and attract such individuals, especially during the initial startup phase when resources are limited.

On the other hand, you have a considerable number of technical and technological specialists. Is artificial intelligence an absolute requirement for building your product?

In today's world, AI is an essential element for practically any company or product. AI helps us make our product much smarter. People no longer have time to perform the work that our tool does. AI is used to gather the data so that individuals can read and analyze it, bringing order so that business so that businesses can take swift action when and where needed...

Read the complete and Original Interview from Media Marketing.

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