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The more data, the better

Electrical engineer Jaime de Paula made the university his laboratory for ideas to set up his own big data company

Personal archiveElectrical engineer Jaime de Paula has always enjoyed being on the cutting edge of knowledge. In 1982, three years after he began studying electrical engineering at the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC), he joined a team of systems analysts at Companhia de Desenvolvimento de Dados do Estado de Santa Catarina at a time when there were few computational science programs in Brazil. He was a project manager when he left in 1986.

He joined Perdigão in 1987, where he worked on developing and implementing computational systems to help eliminate unnecessary processes that interfered with decision-making in business, industry, finance and administration. Years later, in 1993, he moved on to Cecrisa, a ceramics reinvestment firm, where he prepared the company’s information technology master plan and used it in his strategic planning.

As knowledge in this field progressed, he felt that he needed to update his skills. In 1997, he decided to return to UFSC and work on his master’s degree. “I studied the use of artificial intelligence systems for managing many databases,” he says. He began working on his PhD in 1999 and invested in the electronics industry. “My graduate work was important for me so that I could try out and assimilate new concepts and determine how they could be used in future projects,” he explains.

At the same time, de Paula worked on a project with the University of Southern Santa Catarina (Unisul) and the São Paulo State Department of Security to develop an artificial intelligence system capable of aggregating information in police reports and managing large amounts of data to help with descriptions of operations of criminal organizations. The experience caused him to change the course of his doctoral research to a field known today as big data, which at the time was brand new in Brazil. “Data flows on the internet skyrocketed, and no one knew what to do with all of that information. I saw that there was a demand for systems that could process it to convert it into business plans,” he explains.

That was when the opportunity arose for him to take advantage of his knowledge in the business world. De Paula began working on developing systems to collect, organize and analyze data to offer support for managing businesses. And so he founded Neoway in 2002 in order to transform corporate information into tools to guide decision-making. “We offer a set of platforms to collect, organize and analyze information from companies in a number of industries,” he says.

In his opinion, the work consists of organizing information from businesses and supplementing it with public data to improve the decision-making process and steer their business plans in the right direction. Today, Neoway has offices in Florianópolis, São Paulo and New York. “This year, in 2017, we plan to open two more units, one in Colombia and one in Mexico,” he says.