Elinar accelerates AI solution development through the Watson Build Challenge

By | 3 minute read | July 12, 2018

Elinar was the 2017 Watson Build Wildcard Champion. The Finnish company earned the Wildcard spot for its Elinar AI Miner solution, which uses artificial intelligence from IBM Watson to identify and extract sensitive information from large volumes of unstructured data.

We attended the very first Watson Build workshop and made the decision right away to participate in the Watson Build Challenge. Elinar has been working with IBM since the mid-1990s, so we are very familiar with the types of resources IBM can offer. We knew we could strengthen the data privacy solution we were developing by drawing on the deep artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities from Watson.

The focus of our solution—Elinar AI Miner—is privacy data. Organizations today must store and manage a large amount of sensitive information, ranging from credit card numbers to birthdates. These organizations must first and foremost protect this information and comply with strict regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that recently took effect in the European Union. At the same time, organizations want ways to mine privacy data for insights that can help generate targeted promotions and provide a stronger customer experience.

Unfortunately, finding and extracting sensitive information from unstructured data isn’t easy. Traditional text analytics can help somewhat. But these tools often wind up generating a large number of false positives.

We started work on AI Miner more than three years ago with the goal of helping organizations more easily find and extract sensitive information from huge volumes of data. The plan was to build an AI-based solution that could augment traditional analytics, enabling computers to understand data and its context more like humans do.

The Watson Build Challenge helped significantly accelerate our progress. We were able to take our early prototype and capitalize on guidance from IBM to make a very strong solution—one that earned us the wildcard spot among the finalists for the 2017 Watson Build Challenge Championship.

Tapping into deep resources through Watson Build

We greatly benefited from guidance we received at each phase of the Watson Build Challenge. In particular, we received very useful technical assistance from our mentor during the prototyping phase. We had nearly weekly calls with her. We discussed how to design the solution, use the APIs and improve performance. Working with a mentor helped speed up the prototyping process considerably.

It was also extremely beneficial to have free access to IBM Cloud throughout the Watson Build Challenge. We were able to experiment without having to worry about the cost implications.

As we progressed through the challenge, we also gained guidance on less technical aspects of solution development. For example, we had constructive feedback on fine-tuning our business plan. We also had great training on how to pitch our solution so we could present it in the best possible light.

Thinking big

Winning a wildcard spot in the finals was very exciting. I was in the UK at a dinner when I heard the news, and I jumped up and told everyone on my team. We were thrilled.

Now that the challenge is over, we are working to expand our sales channels. The visibility and high-quality leads we gained through the Watson Build Challenge are helping us forge new partner relationships in Europe and the Americas for selling the solution. At the same time, we are exploring ways to package our solution with IBM solutions to seize new opportunities.

We would strongly recommend the Watson Build Challenge for other organizations. My advice for those considering participating would be: think big. If you think you can maybe sell five million units, ask yourself, why not five hundred million? With the IBM Cloud, you can build a scalable solution that enables you to extend into global marketplaces. As a small company from Finland, we have seen the tremendous value that IBM, the IBM Cloud and the Watson Build Challenge can provide in developing a powerful solution and reaching new customers.

Ari Juntunen
CTO, Elinar Oy Ltd.

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