Esoft increasing its workforce in Vietnam: Tech talent wanted

Esoft’s transformation into a tech company also requires new skills at Esoft Vietnam, which employs more than 700 people. Danish values and a healthy working environment are Esoft’s trump card in the intensified battle for Vietnam’s tech talent.

Esoft Vietnam and its more than 700 local employees already play a key role in Esoft’s global production setup.

That role will only grow as AI takes over the less desirable, repetitive work, freeing up Esoft’s employees for other, more value-creating tasks – including in Vietnam.

This year alone, Thomas Frisenberg, CEO of Esoft Vietnam, expects to need 5-6 IT developers. In the long run, Esoft Vietnam will also most likely need AI and data analysis specialists as technological development drives Esoft Vietnam’s skill needs.

“We’ve already made a lot of improvements to our solutions,” Frisenberg says. “But if we are to keep making ground, we need the right people.”

Intensified Battle for Talent

However, the battle for talent has intensified in the Hanoi province, which has more than 15 million inhabitants.

In recent years, as wages in China and other places have risen and Vietnam’s universities have begun to churn out tech talent, the province has become an important hub in the global supply chain of the tech and manufacturing industries. On top of this, an increasing number of well-educated Vietnamese professionals who have studied abroad are choosing to return to Vietnam to forge their futures. According to Vietnam’s Ministry of Education and Training, some 170,000 Vietnamese students were studying abroad in 2019.

Growth in foreign investment is doubling every year, and Hanoi province forecasts total exports of $11 billion in 2020 – a tenfold increase in six years, according to the financial media Bloomberg (read here).

Vietnam as a Tech Hub

Samsung is present in the province, as are other tech and IT giants like Canon, Intel and Foxconn. Most recently, Apple, along with several subcontractors already in the area, reportedly plans to establish their own production in the country.

“Vietnam has become a tech hub. We’ve become really strong in software development, and there is a huge demand for talent because more and more of the very big tech companies have established themselves in and around Hanoi,” explains Thomas Frisenberg.

“We need some of the same skills as the big tech giants. Fortunately, we’re really good at keeping our employees, but we’re certainly noticing that it’s become harder to get them in through the door.”

Danish Values and Working Environment

After many years in the country, Frisenberg believes Esoft has a great reputation in Vietnam. At the same time, the flat hierarchy, freedom with responsibility, and clearly defined career paths have contributed to Esoft Vietnam’s employee retention.

“We’ve worked really hard to be strong on CSR by, among other things, having a goal of 12 percent of our employees being people who have a physical disability. And it has been shown that this significantly benefits the working environment, as well as being really attractive, including for highly educated workers,” Frisenberg explains.

It is precisely these virtues that will continue to make Esoft competitive when it comes to attracting Vietnam’s sharpest minds amid fierce competition with Apple and the other tech giants.

“I think, with all due modesty, that we can offer working conditions and professional challenges that fully match those found elsewhere in Hanoi. Not least because we can combine this with healthy values and joint responsibility for making a mark on the exciting journey that Esoft is on,” Frisenberg concludes.

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Outsourcing 2.0: AI is driving Esoft’s growth in Vietnam

Outsourcing 2.0: AI is driving Esoft’s growth in Vietnam

The introduction of AI to Esoft’s production will also be of great importance to Esoft Vietnam. The combination of new technology and a highly specialized workforce will make Vietnam a powerhouse in Esoft’s global supply chain.

Asia means much more than assembly line factories and access to cheap labor.

In Esoft’s case, our long-standing presence in Vietnam also equates to access to highly specialized labor and a large body of talent in software and IT.

Esoft employs more than 700 people at its office in the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi, and with the implementation of a range of AI solutions across Esoft’s organization ( -its-first-ai-solution/), the Hanoi office will play a key role in Esoft’s global supply chain.

“A large part of the value enhancement of Esoft’s solutions takes place in Vietnam,” says Thomas Frisenberg, CEO at Esoft Vietnam. “AI can make us even better and even smarter at this.”

“AI can help ensure that we can also use our Vietnamese employees for work tasks that are more value-creating than we do now,” he continues. “Not just in relation to our products at the current moment, but also those we will deliver tomorrow and the day after tomorrow.”

400 Photoshop Specialists

Since 2007, Esoft Vietnam has grown under Frisenberg’s leadership, transforming from handful of employees to more than 700 specialists servicing customers on five continents, with solutions in the field of image and video editing.

“Esoft employs about 400 Photoshop specialists in Hanoi, and it is these employees, among others, who will find that the AI solutions free up time for other, more exciting work tasks than basic image editing,” Frisenberg says.

“We already offer a number of retouching solutions, but this is something we can scale up even further thanks to the introduction of AI – partly because our employees can dedicate more time to such tasks.”

AI will Streamline Quality

From a purely commercial viewpoint, quality, consistency and efficiency are three of the keywords for Frisenberg when it comes to the impact AI will have on Esoft’s customer deliveries.

“AI can help streamline the quality of our solutions. There is absolutely no doubt about that. And given that AI will free up resources in the organization, it will also enable us to develop new add-ons to our solutions and make us competitive in new markets.”

A Southeast-Asian Tech Hub

Since 2000, Vietnam has been one of the fastest growing economies in Southeast Asia. According to World Bank figures, GDP per capita grew by a factor of 2.7 from 2002 to 2018, and more than 45 million Vietnamese people were lifted out of poverty in the same period.

After several years in the country, Frisenberg has experienced first-hand how Vietnam, and Hanoi in particular, has developed into an East-Asian tech hub for software development as the economy and living conditions have greatly improved.

The talent pool is as big as the competition for talent is fierce. Frisenberg also hopes that the increased strategic focus on AI and data can make Esoft an even more attractive workplace.

“We want to attract the right specialists from outside and, at the same time, upgrade the skills of some of our existing employees, because we can see that we will need some different and more creative skills in the future,” he concludes.

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Article in Leading Tech Magazine

Article in Leading Tech Magazine

Danish magazine DataTech has published an article about Esoft’s best-in-class machine learning model. Read at the link below.

‘World class machine learning from Denmark enhances the quality of images.’

So goes the headline of a recent article published in Danish tech magazine DataTech. The article describes Esoft’s approach to machine learning and how a machine learning model, developed by Esoft’s data science department, proved to be best-in-class when benchmarked against similar models in an international AI verification database from MIT.

The article, written in Danish, can be found here. It does, however, require a subscription.

For more information on Esoft’s best-in-class AI model, please see this article “Esoft’s AI model is best-in-class”

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Esoft’s AI model is best-in-class

Esoft’s AI model is best-in-class

Esoft’s data science department has compared Esoft’s AI model to other world-class AI projects. The result? Esoft’s model is among the most precise in the world.

Most likely, few people outside of the narrow sphere of AI academics have heard of the MIT-Adobe FiveKdataset. But for AI and computer vision scholars around the world, the database is a very valuable tool used to verify the accuracy and precision of AI models.

That is also the case for the tech masterminds in Esoft’s data science department, who have used the database to benchmark Esoft’s AI model up against other similar projects.

The results have been extremely uplifting.

We have found that our model is actually the most precise when comparing it to other top 10 projects in the database,” says Juan Francisco Marin Vega, an industrial Ph.D. candidate at Esoft.

5,000 high resolution images

The MIT-Adobe FiveK dataset, initiated by elite tech university Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is an open-source database consisting of 5,000 image pairs in 4K resolution – one of the largest publicly available collections of high-resolution image data in the world.

The database comprises of both input and output data – i.e. a combination of raw image files (input images) and JPG output images, which have been manually edited by professional photo editors.

“As a researcher or developer, you can thus verify the accuracy and precision of your model by selecting a certain amount of input images, training your model on them and then comparing the results to the output images in the database,” Marin Vega explains.

He adds that for a company like Esoft, the FiveK dataset is a very useful tool. While Esoft has access to millions of its own data, these data are restricted by copyright issues and cannot be shared – thus making it difficult to validate the results.

The importance of zero errors

The model training sessions have been used to gradually improve Esoft’s model. This model serves as part of the underlying framework for the AI solutions currently being implemented in Esoft’s production.

The theoretic results from the FiveK dataset training can of course not be transferred 1:1 over to the commercial side of the business. But for Esoft’s Head of Research & Development, Kasper Grud Skat Madsen, these kinds of scientific approaches are nonetheless of great importance for commercial development.

“In order to use these AI tools in our everyday deliveries, we need to make sure that there are as few errors as possible,” says Grud Skat Madsen. “Therefore, it is very reassuring to see that our models are best-in-class when compared to similar projects out there.”

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Esoft submits first ever scientific paper

Esoft submits first ever scientific paper

As part of his Industrial Ph.D. at Esoft, Juan Francisco Marin Vega has submitted a paper to one of the leading computer vision conferences in the world. This also marks an important milestone for Esoft’s AI ambitions.

Earlier this year, Esoft as a company reached an important milestone in our transition from IT company to tech company.

In November, Industrial Ph.D candidate Juan Francisco Marin Vega, from Esoft’s data science department, submitted a scientific paper to the CVPR 2021 conference – one of the most important computer vision and pattern recognition conferences in the world.

The list of approved papers for CVPR21 won’t be made public until January 2021. Regardless of the outcome, Esoft CIO Michael Sloth calls the submission a very important milestone for the company.

It goes to show that when we talk about becoming a tech company, we mean it – seriously,” says Sloth. “We aim to bring AI into real estate, and we do that by introducing world-class R&D into our daily operations.”

High refusal rate

For Marin Vega personally, the submission of the paper is similarly a big deal. “It is also the first time that I’ve submit a paper like this, so I’m very happy that we are now at a stage where our work is actually being reviewed by some very skilled people,” he says.

Marin Vega adds that the refusal rate for submitted papers is really high, around 80%. For example, for the 2019 conference, a total of 6,700 papers were submitted but only 1,500 were approved.

Merging science with business

The paper deals with one of Marin Vega’s major focus areas in the first year of his Ph.D. – single exposure image enhancement. This work also serves as the theoretic framework for the AI-based photo editor that Esoft recently introduced into production.

“What we have submitted in the paper is just the science part of it. But it is a good example of how we try to incorporate science into our core business processes in order to improve efficiency and quality,” Marin Vega concludes.



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Chasing the perfect image: Esoft launches its first AI solution

Chasing the perfect image: Esoft launches its first AI solution

After less than one year in the making, Esoft is proud to release its first ever AI solution: an AI-based photo editor for image enhancement. The editor will be the first component in Esoft’s AI engine.

Imagine automatically improving the quality of a picture instantly – without human involvement and absent of any.

This technology to some degree is already available in modern smartphones, however Esoft takes the technology a step further by introducing a photo editor based on AI or artificial intelligence. The editor can transform even the dullest, grey sky in a real estate image into a sunny blue sky.

Using millions of historical data to create the perfect image, our editor does so as quick as snapping your fingers, says Esoft CIO Michael Sloth.

One of the most precise AI-models in the world

Developed from scratch in less than a year using Esoft’s own inhouse AI architecture, the engine uses neural networks, a data set of millions of images curated from Esoft’s +20 years of experience with real estate image editing. Using this data, the artificial intelligence can automatically improve the color grading and the focus of any given image and it does so with extreme precision. In fact Esoft’s model developed for the editor has been proven to be one of the most precise in the world when comparing it to similar scientific AI-models in the MIT-Adobe FiveK Dataset – an open-source database from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) consisting of 5000 photographs.

More solutions to come

With the photo editor serving as the first step, Esoft’s ambition is to develop and implement a line of other AI-based solutions in its production – in short, an extra layer of AI on top of Esoft’s traditional services for realtors.

The editor is the first component in what we call our AI engine, which will improve not only quality, but delivery time as well, says Sloth.

Other examples of AI-based solutions include classification of housing images via AI or automatic generation of housing advertisements.

“At the end of the day”, Sloth concludes, “The only limits are our own imagination and abilities.”

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Esoft featured in major Danish newspaper