The Silicon Review
Automation” and “digitalization” are buzzwords nowadays. Most companies have some agenda for digital transformation, but very often, those agendas focus more on the technologies to be used than on the processes to be transformed. This frequently leads to expensive and long projects, which are not yielding the expected results. Santa Marta’s team has worked in process automation for several years, and its approach is to use technology as a tool. But the company also believes that correct process design is the real key to success. In many cases, innovation does not require buying new software; it can happen by organizing the processes better and using the existing applications in a more rational and integrated way.
Santa Marta AB was created following this principle: use technology wisely to automate processes in a realistic and economical way. The company scope is vast and varied, from the total digitization of a talent acquisition process (from the creation of a vacancy to the hiring of the employee), to automate the generation of intercompany invoices for an international company. Santa Marta AB’s bot – Laura – can support both processes with the same infrastructure.
In a brief interview with us, Eduardo Valdelomar, Founder and CEO of Santa Marta AB, said, “Our motto is ‘Effective Automation for Real Business,’ and that’s a good summary of what we do: we help our clients automate their processes from a realistic perspective, understanding that they don’t have an unlimited budget and they don’t need to marry any product. We have created Laura as a ‘fast track’ to obtain short-term results at a reasonable cost.” Read on for the excerpts from the interview.
Q. What inspired you to establish Santa Marta AB?
I obtained the title of Electrical Engineer in 1994, specializing in automation and artificial intelligence, mainly in models of dynamic systems and fuzzy logic. When I finished my studies, the world was not as open to AI as it is today; the needs were much more basic: the concept of ERP was becoming more and more accepted and large companies were migrating from tailored programs to integrated solutions. I have been working in SAP environments for 27 years as an internal IT manager and consultant. The implementation of SAP ERP taught me that the process is the key and the software is a means to improve it. Lately, the cloud dramatically expanded the possibilities of using many different solutions for a single process, so I started to learn about integration technologies and apply them to real cases. Santa Marta AB is the result of almost 30 years of accumulated experience.
Q. What has helped the company distinguish itself and its services from others? What makes Santa Marta AB unique?
Santa Marta AB is technology-agnostic, we do not intend to sell a wonderful product that will do its magic and digitalize a company by itself, but we are providing a service, helping our clients to automate their processes using any available technology that may help to reach the objective. We know that there is no single valid solution for all needs, so each case requires a separate analysis and deserves a specific answer.
But this service is based on a flexible architecture, which is another clear differentiator: Santa Marta AB is truly innovative, and some of our tools have been designed and created by ourselves, so they fit our purposes perfectly. Laura is built to be easily scalable and minimize resources consumption, the structure of her brain, the continuous learning algorithms – they are all proprietary, so you can’t find them in other products. In fact, we cannot classify Laura in any existing type of product: it is much more intelligent than a normal RPA, more flexible than a BPA, and it’s much less expensive than most of them.
Q. Could you tell us about Laura?
Laura is a cloud platform for building automations. Technically, it is a set of autonomous bots, working interconnected as a virtual body under the direction of a central brain. She is prepared to communicate different applications with each other and with human users, creating a smooth and friendly flow. One of the most innovative parts of Laura is her memory, a data structure named Yggdrasil, which can be implemented over different big data architectures like Cassandra or SAP HANA, and is ready to connect information from different sources and to learn on the go. Laura acquires information by reading “books,” static or dynamic data files that can be provided or constructed in real time.
Laura can communicate with other solutions using many different API technologies, and with humans through the most common means: chat, mail, social networks and more.
Q. How important will partnerships be to Santa Marta AB as it looks to grow in the near future?
As solution integrators, partnering with software and service providers is very important for Santa Marta AB. Partnership is essential to prepare native integrations with different applications, as well as to ensure a quick reaction to customer requirements. We are very proud of our partners, who are also strongly committed to automation and digitalization.
Santa Marta AB is an official member of the SAP® PartnerEdge® open ecosystem, being part of the Build specialization. Also within the SAP scope, Novis Euforia cooperates closely with Santa Marta on the cybersecurity agenda, and their bot Eugenie is empowered by Laura. Another example of a close collaborator is Scrive, a leader in document management and electronic signature, who strongly supported some of its best video demos and use cases available in our web site.
We are also in discussions with other providers of cloud solutions, such as on-line surveys and travel management tools.
Q. Having launched in 2020, how did your company adapt in the year when COVID-19 ruled the news?
I must say that COVID was, in fact, one of the reasons that pushed me to create Santa Marta AB. The pandemic has been a major factor in accelerating automation and integration. A good example is the generalization of remote work, which requires new ways of working. Laura has been able to help a lot in this regard, by integrating time management systems and giving access to HR solutions from different channels and devices.
Q. Do you have any new services ready to be launched?
Laura is constantly growing and adding new integrations and intelligent algorithms. Recently, we have improved her multilingual capabilities, making her capable of communicating natively in the most used languages. In the near future, we plan to add voice as a default channel for Laura, so it can be used in any automation as “out of the box” feature. Our ambition is to enable her to communicate verbally in English, Spanish and Swedish.
Also, we are launching a very interesting initiative with Novis Euforia a cybersecurity solution specialized in SAP environments, where Laura will play a role checking security measures and searching for vulnerabilities.
Q. What does the future hold for your company and its customers?
The future looks great! We have applied to be part of AI Sweden, the Swedish National Center for applied Artificial Intelligence. Santa Marta AB will be happy to help AI Sweden in its mission to accelerate the use of AI for the benefit of our society, our competitiveness, and for everyone living in Sweden.
Eduardo Valdelomar, Founder and CEO
Eduardo is an Electrical Engineer and has specialized in Automation and Artificial Intelligence, with complementary business training at IE (Instituto de Empresa). He was an IT consultant for ten years, and then moved to management positions in multinational companies, in the areas of IT and Process Management. He is a Certified SAP consultant and a Certified Ethical Hacker (EC-Council).