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City Nation Place: Estonia is using innovative tech solutions to provide personalised support for investors

City Nation Place took a look at possible scenarios and solutions for investment promotion agencies after the COVID-19 situation and concluded that Estonia could be seen as an example for digital innovation in FDI, with multiple innovative solutions already working.

“Last year, Estonia created an e-consulting service and automated its enquiry handling process,” Andrew Wrobel, Founding Partner at Emerging Europe said in an article published on the website of City Nation Place. “Potential investors are asked a series of questions and provided with a report that is tailored to their needs.” As a result of this, around 85% of enquiries received by Invest Estonia are now dealt with automatically.

Since its launch, Estonian Investment Agency’s unique e-Consulting service, branded as electronic investment adviser Eia has helped 2,000+ potential investors – and the number is growing rapidly even during the COVID-19 situation. In most cases, a reply to an e-Consulting enquiry will be provided in just a few hours (the standard reply time for simple enquiries is two working hours). In some cases, however, it is more difficult to obtain the needed information and the delay between the enquiry and the reply may be two to three business days. To handle the requests, find answers most relevant to the clients and distinguish enquiries submitted by humans from those submitted by other robots, smart automation is used. Every business or person sending an enquiry, is also provided with a personal human advisor who will take care of the questions that Eia cannot handle herself, throughout the whole investment process.

“During the COVID-19 situation when the agency’s whole team is working from home office, Eia’s help is appreciated even more than before,” Andero Kaha, one of Eia’s virtual parents and the Digital Services Development Manager at the Estonian Investment Agency said. “Smart automation has helped us keep working as before – with just a different physical location – from day one of the crisis and adapt to the new situation more quickly than a team without robot colleagues could have. As we are currently conducting systematic research on the effects of FDI process automation in the agency, I am also able to say that besides the obvious effects – such as saving time and effort on some repeating tasks – various other positive effects such as being able to deal better with the seasonal differences or economic cycles has been perceived by some of the agency’s employees. Also, in a way, the anonymised data that we collect during a crisis, will help us deal better with the next ones that might emerge.”

However, as City Nation Place puts it, Estonia and its investment promotion agency have not been “resting on their laurels”. An AI chatbot called Suve was launched right after the COVID-19 crisis emerged. The state-approved chatbot was created in cooperation between volunteers, plus several public and private organisations, including the Estonian Investment Agency, with some of its employees taking a leading role in the project.

Suve is an automated chatbot, whose main task is to make sure that you and everyone living in or visiting Estonia get their questions answered from official sources. She has been integrated into several public websites, including the official emergency situation website of the Estonian Government and websites of several other state authorities, for example. It must be noted that Suve is not just a COVID-19 situation project but is here to stay to help when communicating with the state. You can read more about Suve here.

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