INFORM develops software for the optimization of business processes using Digital Decision Making based on Artificial Intelligence and Operations Research. Based in Aachen, Germany, the company supplements classic IT systems and increases the efficiency and resilience of numerous companies. The company was founded in 1969 and currently employs more than 750 people from over 30 nations. INFORM now serves over 1,000 renowned customers from a wide range of industrial sectors worldwide. Easy Engineering: What are the main areas of activity of the company? INFORM: The company is active in a wide variety of areas. These include the automotive industry, mechanical and plant engineering and other manufacturing industries, as well as airports, containers and vehicle terminals and the financial sector. All of INFORM’s software solutions have been developed to meet the specific demands of these areas. The existing IT infrastructure is enhanced with intelligent algorithms capable of making operational decisions, giving companies a unique competitive advantage. These systems based on Artificial Intelligence and Operations Research enable optimum business decisions in situations of high uncertainty and under the highest time constraints, for example in production and sequence planning, demand planning, inventory optimization or logistics planning. INFORM helps companies to find the optimal solution from a wide range of options in the shortest possible time. E.E: What’s the news for 2020 about new products? INFORM: INFORM works on new projects throughout the year and consistently re-invests parts of its revenue directly into research and development of innovations and new products. Just recently, INFORM has launched a Machine Learning Initiative in manufacturing companies. Its central aim is to improve the planning of replacement lead times and avoid production downtimes through. Companies, such as Liebherr Aerospace and Benz Werkzeugsysteme are using special ML algorithms developed by INFORM in a pilot project to precisely predict how long it will actually take to deliver a required component based on the available data. Previously, errors in the estimation of replenishment lead times have been reduced by up to 42%. At the beginning of the year, Migros Verteilzentrum Suhr AG, the largest retail company in Switzerland, was also acquired as a new customer. INFORM now optimizes time slot management for various stakeholders accessing Migros’s facility and yard management using the Syncrosupply software. This will enable more efficient planning of incoming goods and more sustainable processes. E.E: What are the ranges of traded products? INFORM: Software solutions optimize Logistics, Inventory and Supply Chain Management, Transportation, Production Scheduling, Workforce Management as well as Airline and Airport Operations, Fraud Prevention and AML, IBP. All software solutions enable Digital Decision Making based on Artificial Intelligence and Operations Research. They make it possible to digitise complex and time-consuming management decisions. Digital Decision Making is what distinguishes INFORM from other providers. It combines Artificial Intelligence with human expertise. The latter applies mathematical methods to economic problems. Intelligent algorithms filter the best possible decision for a given problem within a few seconds. In some cases, they additionally use machine learning, which reveals patterns and correlations in data that help to improve future decisions in the long run. Industry and technology concept. INDUSTRY 4.0 E.E: At what stage is the market where you are currently active? INFORM: As INFORM serves such a wide range of different markets, it is not really possible to formulate a generalised statement on this. In the current pandemic, there are some industries like medical engineering, the food retail trade or producers of hygiene products that are still experiencing strong growth rates, while others are still struggling to manage the current volatility of their sales, infection control measures and disrupted supply chains. Besides the exceptional circumstances, it can be seen that the demand for intelligent software solutions is steadily increasing. Particularly in markets such as supply chain management, production or in the automotive sector, terms like Artificial Intelligence or Machine Learning have become indispensable. Many studies show that digitalization can help to render business processes more resilient and efficient. Those who take digital transformation seriously in the future and successfully implement it in their business processes will have a significant competitive advantage. E.E: What can you tell us about market trends? INFORM: At the beginning of the year, INFORM has conducted a trend survey in machine and plant engineering. The recently published trend report reveals that machine and plant engineers are under enormous pressure. International competition, adherence to delivery dates and uncertainties about digital transformation pose great challenges for the industry. These have been further intensified by the coronavirus pandemic in particular. The report also reveals that just about 95% (of 120 specialists and managers surveyed) see a high potential for improvement in production management through digitalization, while at the same time 62% are unhappy with their current production planning processes. The technology trends with the greatest influence on business success were revealed to be Big Data, Smart Factory, Artificial Intelligence and Digital Twins. It can therefore be assumed that in the near future we will be faced with major changes in global production management. E.E: What are the most innovative products marketed? INFORM: In the current crisis, INFORM focuses on supporting companies which have suffered severe economic setbacks. For example, during the worst months of crisis free algorithmic support in production planning and scheduling as well as emergency workforce management solutions were offered for free to particularly affected companies like machine and plant engineers. One of INFORM’s newest innovations is the INFORM DataLab. For over 50 years INFORM has been dealing with how data must be structured in order to make it usable for business intelligence, clever optimization or even Artificial Intelligence. With the INFORM DataLab, we founded our own cross-industry business unit, which consolidates our many years of experience in this field. We support companies in their digital transformation and develop innovative solutions for the processing and analysis of their data. The DataLab reflects the dynamics of this volatile market through a broad skillset of data scientists, software developers, analysts, economists and consultants. The core business is consulting and solutions in the areas of Data Management, Data Analytics and Data Science. E.E: What estimations do you have for 2020? INFORM: Difficult as it may be, the current pandemic is opening opportunities for action. Due to the situation, many people have experienced that even far-reaching changes are possible at short notice and that we, as a society can proactively take control of our future. It gives food for thought as to how companies can become more resilient and sustainable. In particular, sustainability has actually been implemented very reluctantly in the past. It requires the contribution of many experts from different fields. Intelligent IT offers many conceivable applications that can contribute to greater sustainability. For example, an algorithmically operated transport control system can be used to optimize both, the use of vehicles and the scheduling of transport equipment, which in turn minimizes the number of transports required and thus environmentally harmful emissions. Even if this is only a small component in a complex sustainability network, it is nevertheless decisive and provides room for further approaches in 2020 and beyond.