Dr. Mari-Sanna Paukkeri, CEO and co-founder of Utopia Analytics tells us about AI content moderation.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Mari-Sanna Paukkeri: I’m doing great, thank you. For over a year now, I have been working from home and have traveled much less than earlier.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Utopia Analytics.
Mari-Sanna Paukkeri: I’ve always been interested in natural languages. In my Ph.D., I focused on machine learning and language-independent text analytics and actually happened to develop AI approaches that work for any language in the world. There are languages that are really hard to analyze, like my own language Finnish automatically. We can do it (better than anyone else), and there is a demand, so founding Utopia Analytics was obvious.
How does Utopia Analytics innovate?
Mari-Sanna Paukkeri: First of all, we only offer solutions that work in the real world. A major driver in our R&D is our customers’ needs. We both develop our own products to solve the detailed practical problems our customers have and also build new products for specific tasks. Our doctors of AI’s brains are bubbling with ideas on how new interesting tasks could be solved.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Mari-Sanna Paukkeri: So far not too heavily. Of course, there have been some problems like all companies have and some things have taken more time than expected.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Mari-Sanna Paukkeri: Luckily no. We have managed to re-adjust the roles that have been affected by the pandemic. It’s important to bend with the wind and keep up the motion. All of us are working remotely, and therefore communication is even more important than earlier.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Mari-Sanna Paukkeri: Our customers are located all over the world, and most of the communication happens virtually any way. Back in the days, when we still could travel, we had a goal to meet them in person at least every now and then. As the services we provide are often business-critical, we answer our customers’ concerns immediately. Call, video call, email, meeting in the real world, no matter which way, being available is what matters.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Mari-Sanna Paukkeri: Yes. We received direct aid from Business Finland in 2020. It was granted and used for developing, e.g., new sales and marketing methods, as all the events and fairs stopped or went online.
Your final thoughts?
Mari-Sanna Paukkeri: The pandemic has increased online activities, and thus, AI tools to process them, for example, to moderate toxic content and bad behaviour online, is needed even more than earlier. There are tools nowadays that work for all languages and dialects in the world; go and look!
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