VIREN was created by Teal Partners, a team of seasoned software professionals. Four developers worked on the solution for four years. You can read how we got to where we are now in this blogpost.
Founder Koen Denies: "The underlying principles of an innovative HR tool that we had built turned out to be useful and relevant for other sectors driven by regulation. Think of insurances, banks, health insurance funds, child benefit funds, enterprise offices, notaries, accountants and tax specialists. From that observation, VIREN was born."
Regulations are sector-specific and change over time. This makes building and managing a software tool based on these rules a complicated matter. According to Koen Denies, complex calculations in compliance-driven industries today are still mainly done in Excel, with a custom tool or a mainframe computer. "But Excel is error-prone and not very transparent. The processes are difficult to maintain or scale. There is often more than one version of a particular Excel document in an organization. Custom development requires a hefty initial investment and ongoing maintenance. Mainframe infrastructure is expensive and not very future-oriented. Most systems work with nightly batch runs while VIREN gives you real-time results." "Because the user has an outcome so much faster, multiple simulations can be performed in a shorter timeframe. That benefits decisionmaking," says Koen Denies. "In short, VIREN is faster, better, more user-friendly and more effective."
Based on the VIREN logic, a company can build customized solutions for specific issues. Currently, VIREN is active in several sectors, including tax and taxation, mobility, payroll, and hr.
VIREN converts complex knowledge into clear, intuitive blocks. The user enters this knowledge, i.e., the laws or rules, himself. "Intervention by a programmer is not necessary," says Koen Denies. "That makes the tool easy to maintain. You don't have to pass by IT every time the regulations change. This frees up budget to use their IT talents for innovation and improvements that a company can make a difference with." VIREN is designed so that the knowledge entered is automatically translated into executable program code. When calculating, VIREN does not have to re-interpret the complete regulations. That results in a very high-performance calculation. The platform is hosted in Microsoft Azure Cloud. Due to the cloud-native set-up, VIREN makes optimal use of the scalability of a cloud environment.
To refine the tool, Teal Partners collaborated with the Department of Declarative Language and Artificial Intelligence at KU Leuven. Wannes Meert of KU Leuven: "VIREN automatically reasons about knowledge, in this case laws and regulations in a specific sector, and thus generates the most optimal scenarios given a predetermined goal. That is artificial intelligence in practice." The collaboration with KU Leuven resulted in a paper presented to the public at the AAAI-IAAI (Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence) conference, one of the world's leading conferences on artificial intelligence. The paper, called Automated Reasoning and Learning for Automated Payroll Management, was awarded in the Deployed Application Award category.
Koen Denies: "In the paper, we elaborate on a concrete case in the payroll and hr sector, where our VIREN decision engine has been active for more than a year. The paper describes the use of AI to calculate the potential impact of changes in payroll policy. We are proud that our technology can receive an important academic recognition." The Flemish Innovation & Enterprise Agency awarded the project an SME innovation grant.
VIREN has performed millions of calculations so far, an average of one hundred thousand per month. "There are applications to be thought of in all sectors that deal with complex regulations," says Koen Denies. "We are open to discussions with partners to realize the potential of our powerful VIREN technology in their sector."