Avanza: Kickstarting collaboration and harnessing the power of APIs with Google Cloud

About Avanza

Avanza Outsourcing Solutions specializes in business solutions and outsourcing services, combining innovative technology, efficient processes, and committed people.

Industries: Other
Location: Spain

About Altostratus Solutions

Altostratus Solutions, a Google Premier Partner in Spain, is a full-cycle cloud services provider specialized in G Suite, IaaS, consulting, and development of big data and machine learning projects.

Avanza deployed G Suite to help its workers collaborate more effectively, and Google Cloud AI & Machine Learning APIs to automate its core business operations and make them more efficient.

Google Cloud Results

  • Enables workers to be more agile and flexible with video conferencing in Google Hangouts
  • Saves on infrastructure costs with a cloud-based email and technology platform
  • Unlocks efficiency gains in day-to-day operations with Cloud AI & Machine Learning APIs

Reduced the time taken for stock reports by 50%

The business process outsourcing (BPO) sector helps companies of all sizes, from startups in a garage to multinational corporations, become more agile by taking on back-office tasks such as payroll, accounting, or customer relations. When BPO companies take on the work that other businesses want to offload, staying efficient can be a challenge.

"We wanted to cut costs with our technology platform but also improve collaboration. We are a complex, multi-stranded organization. The only solution we found that suited our needs was Google Cloud."

Rafael Martinez Fernandez, CIO, Avanza

Avanza, one of Spain’s leading BPO providers, stays ahead of its more specialist competitors by offering its clients a wide variety of services, from retail operations to human resources to call center support. As a result, the company now operates across Spain, Portugal, and Latin America with more than 7,000 employees. When the opportunity arose to overhaul its email and IT solution, Avanza turned to Google Cloud for a new way of working.

"We wanted to cut costs with our technology platform but also improve collaboration," says Rafael Martinez Fernandez, CIO at Avanza. "We are a complex, multi-stranded organization. The only solution we found that suited our needs was Google Cloud."

Better collaboration, better value

The BPO sector is extremely competitive with very tight margins, according to Rafael. In addition, it is also extremely cyclical, with large departments such as accounting stopping and starting very suddenly at different times of the year. With so many employees, spread out over six countries, keeping everyone on the same page and facilitating collaboration is a key ingredient for Avanza’s success. The company has always kept a keen focus on technological solutions that could help to minimize inefficiencies in its operations. Its previous email platform led to employees working in silos and the IT department having to maintain its own servers.

In addition, Avanza wanted to make use of machine learning and artificial intelligence in its business solutions, and could not easily do so with its existing IT infrastructure. By 2016, the company had a decision to make. "The choice was to continue with the same platform, or look for a new one," says Rafael. "We chose to explore our options with Google Cloud."

Avanza engaged the services of Google Cloud partner Altostratus, which started the process with an in-depth consultation to determine where G Suite and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) might help the company. Following the consultation period, Altostratus designed and delivered a proof of concept (PoC) of G Suite, which convinced Avanza to commit to a full migration. Altostratus helped not only with the technology transition but also the human one, using an innovative change management scheme. "The team from Altostratus carried out a gamified training program, with a virtual league of champions and helped the employees get the most out of G Suite," says Rafael.

"Mobile device management in G Suite was a particular highlight. It was very simple to set up and maintain hundreds of devices for the IT team. We didn't have a system for managing mobiles before, so that was a pleasant surprise!"

Rafael Martinez Fernandez, CIO, Avanza

Employees were already familiar with Gmail and Drive, and found productivity tools like Docs, Sheets and Slides easy to pick up, while at the same time enjoying their collaborative features such as live editing. Hangouts made video conferencing much easier, even from remote locations, as well as Google Mobile Device Management.

"Mobile device management in G Suite was a particular highlight," says Rafael. "It was very simple to set up and maintain hundreds of devices for the IT team. We didn’t have a system for managing mobiles before, so that was a pleasant surprise!"

Unlocking potential with machine learning

Meanwhile, Altostratus helped Avanza to deploy Cloud AI & Machine Learning APIs within its various business processes. With the Cloud Natural Language API and Dialogflow Enterprise Edition, Avanza developed a chatbot solution for automated support services on its clients’ websites. Call center conversations were recorded and used by the Cloud Speech-to-Text API to output transcripts that could be transformed into useful data that made categorizing and handling customer problems much simpler. Using the Cloud Natural Language API, the company ran sentiment analyses on customer surveys that quickly highlighted areas that needed to be improved.

One of the more innovative solutions Avanza developed was in the stock-checking services it provides its retail clients. Previously, this involved a laborious, time-consuming process of going through shelves and manually counting and recording the inventory. Avanza gave its workers Android devices to take geolocated pictures of the stock, which the company could analyze with the Cloud Vision API, trained to detect logos and discern text from images with optical character recognition (OCR). Turning these images into data meant that Avanza could quickly and easily create reports and summaries with Google Data Studio, which it could then disseminate to clients.

"Google Data Studio makes it very simple to create reports from data, whatever the source," says Rafael. "It helped speed up our process and is now the standard reporting solution across the company."

"With Google Cloud Platform and G Suite, we are more agile and faster at making decisions across all our locations. It's helped us pull away from the competition. Google Cloud has perfectly adapted to our demands and those of our customers."

Rafael Martinez Fernandez, CIO, Avanza

More agile, more efficient with Google Cloud

With Google Cloud, Avanza built a platform that enabled its employees to collaborate, whichever department they work in, or whichever country they live in. Video conferencing with Hangouts and mobile devices, for instance, has made meetings much more accessible meaning that less time is wasted on booking offices and key participants can get their voices heard wherever they are. As well as the time savings and improved cooperation, Avanza has been able to make significant cost savings, reducing travel expenditure within Spain by 12 percent, outgoing telephone usage by 16 percent, while cutting TCO for legacy hardware by 24 percent now that it no longer has to maintain on-premises email servers.

Meanwhile, with the Cloud AI & Machine Learning APIs, the company has directly helped its core business with more powerful analysis to help optimize existing processes or by replacing them altogether with more efficient methods. Avanza reduced its stock-checking and reporting procedure, for example, by 50 percent, says Rafael:

"With Google Cloud Platform and G Suite, we are more agile and faster at making decisions across all our locations. It’s helped us pull away from the competition," he says. "Google Cloud has perfectly adapted to our demands and those of our customers."

For Avanza, the search for new and better technology solutions is a never-ending one. Even with the time saved using the Cloud Vision API in stock-checking, the company is currently exploring the Cloud Video Intelligence API. "It’s much easier for our workers to take one video, instead of lots and lots of static images," explains Rafael. As its API solutions start to amass a sufficient amount of data, the company has also been looking at Google Cloud AutoML, a suite of machine learning tools that could be used to mine new insights from historical information.

"We use Google tools throughout the whole company, in different departments," says Rafael. "With new products come new benefits and it’s helped us to innovate faster."

About Avanza

Avanza Outsourcing Solutions specializes in business solutions and outsourcing services, combining innovative technology, efficient processes, and committed people.

Industries: Other
Location: Spain

About Altostratus Solutions

Altostratus Solutions, a Google Premier Partner in Spain, is a full-cycle cloud services provider specialized in G Suite, IaaS, consulting, and development of big data and machine learning projects.