Artificial Intelligence: Leads from the black box

The MASCHINENBAUFORUM Marketing & Vertrieb (Machine Engineering Forum/Marketing & Sales) is a major event in industry representatives’ calendars. Every year in March, Managing Director Edeltraut Horbach invites handpicked experts to the CongressCentrum Pforzheim to provide a large group of visitors with exclusive insights into the current developments. This year’s speakers included Dr. Ing. Parsis Dastani, Managing Director of Dastani Consulting. After the forum, he had the opportunity to talk with Edeltraut Horbach.

Dr. Parsis Dastani: : I feel as though I’m taking part in a big family reunion of the mechanical and plant engineering industry. Will you let us into the secret of your success?

Edeltraut Horbach: During the last 20 years I had the opportunity to gain a deep understanding of the challenges and requirements of the industry. Ten years ago, as part of the MASCHINENBAUFORUM, I began to expand and develop the “Marketing & Sales” division. Contacts, content references and common approaches develop in the course of time; there is no specific “secret of success” in the narrower sense. However, mechanical and plant engineering has remained largely a male domain to this day. Maybe that is the reason I have developed particularly high quality standards for myself in this domain.

Dr. Parsis Dastani: What do the guests expect from the MASCHINENBAUFORUM?

Edeltraut Horbach: SYou can rightly expect an excellent depth of information tailored to your specific professional requirements. About 60 to 70 percent of visitors are “regulars” – a good mix in terms of exchanging information. When I compile the programme, I make sure that the speakers have something to say in terms of “best practice” and are willing to share their experiences with the guests. I bring out contexts, show up connections and encourage visitors to think beyond their own field of expertise.

Dr. Parsis Dastani: Has it ever happened to you that a speaker from the solutions area has put on his salesman’s hat and turned the forum into an advertising event?

Edeltraut Horbach: : No, luckily not. My visitors would find that very annoying. The format is driven by the high quality of the technical input. I believe that downgrading in this respect would soon decimate the number of participants. For me, personal relationships with my speakers are very, very important and a key factor for our mutual success.

Dr. Parsis Dastani: How did you come up with the subject of AI (Artificial Intelligence)?

Edeltraut Horbach: Digitisation has been around for some time. The first applications emerged 20 years ago. After having seen some interesting applications in the purchasing area, I was keen to show up the practical possibilities for the sales function in medium-sized companies – an area that opens up completely new possibilities in the field of AI. This was your achievement, Mr. Dastani: Companies enter data into a black box – and harvest leads with which they actually generate sales. For me, the possibilities of AI are fascinating – in all areas of application, whether in marketing & sales, in purchasing or in after-sales service.

Dr. Parsis Dastani: A really new aspect of the current surge in AI is that we are now able to evaluate unstructured data. A potential customer’s website can already provide valuable input. The algorithms are capable of crawling the websites of all companies in a particular segment, let’s say packaging manufacturers for example, in order to ultimately identify in detail which companies can be converted to new customers, and with which probabilities.

Edeltraut Horbach: It is precisely because of such insights that I am passionately committed to the MASCHINENBAUFORUM. I want to help demystify such big concepts as digitisation, Big Data or Artificial Intelligence and test each of these technologies for its added value. This will ideally open up horizons for the participants and show them where to start the relevant transformation within their companies.

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