Unlock data treasures with data science!

16. December 2020

IDA Lab: Advancing through research in Data Science

Due to digitalization, many companies are sitting on valuable data sets whose potential often remains untapped. With the IDA Lab, Salzburg’s companies have a research partner for data science and artificial intelligence at their disposal.

Data is THE raw material of the 21st century,” says Wolfgang Trutschnig, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Salzburg and Director of the IDA Lab (Lab for Intelligent Data Analytics Salzburg). Because of this, many advantages can be generated for companies and customers.

However, the potential of their data is often not being utilized. Companies are already collecting vast amounts of data, but often do not know how to analyze it effectively. With Artificial Intelligence and Data Science, this data can be harnessed and used to benefit them and their customers. For example, sales figures in individual company branches can be predicted. Based on precise forecasts of sales figures, logistics such as delivery quantities or inventory levels can be optimized.

Another example given by Wolfgang Trutschnig is machine maintenance: “If I know when I need to service my machine, I can plan machine utilization better. I don’t do too many or too few maintenance tasks.” Artificial intelligence helps to develop models for predicting the optimal maintenance time and many other applications, thus optimizing resources.

AI solves complex practical problems

However, many practical problems are so complex that existing methods are not sufficient to solve them. For example, standard models for sales forecasts can usually predict the sales figures of a branch on a normal weekday, but struggle with sales figures before or after holidays or during periods with price offers.

The more variables that need to be taken into account, the more complex the problems become. Wolfgang Trutschnig cites the example of production in a company: “There are often thousands of variables that affect the product: which specific raw materials or materials are used, which employees are in the company during production, which machines are used, and many more. The task of AI and Data Science is to filter out those variables that really have an impact on the quality of the product and to identify areas where the company can improve product quality.”

Wolfgang Trutschnig (Photo: Peter Hellekalek)

IDA Lab: regional hub for data-related research

So how can companies answer their data-related questions from their economic practice? Since October, Salzburg companies can turn to the IDA Lab to access research in the field of data science and AI. The IDA Lab is a cooperation between the University of Salzburg (project leader), Paracelsus Medical University, Salzburg Research Research Society, and Salzburg University of Applied Sciences, and is funded by the state of Salzburg as part of the Science and Innovation Strategy 2025 (WISS 2025).

The researchers at the IDA Lab support companies in processing their data treasures. They see themselves as a regional hub for research questions from business and science with a focus on data science. The IDA Lab is able to adjust existing methods problem-adaptively as well as develop new tailored methods. “The companies benefit from methodical, applicable research at the cutting edge of technology, and we benefit from exciting practical questions. This is how we create an advantage through research,” says Wolfgang Trutschnig. The prerequisite for cooperation with the IDA Lab is that data is already available. Only then can methods be developed for analyzing the data.

AI creates new markets

With the tremendous dynamics in digitization and working with data, a rapidly growing global market is also opening up for many industries and innovative providers. “Our entrepreneurs should actively take advantage of this opportunity. With the IDA Lab, we have another important partner for knowledge transfer,” says Walter Haas, Managing Director of Innovation Salzburg.

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