Leaders in Tech | Reading: Does size matter? Big Data Deconstructed

 
Leaders in Tech | Reading: Does size matter? Big Data Deconstructed
 
On the 13th September we hosted one of our most successful events today in which we discussed the benefits and trends of AI, Big Data and Machine Learning.
We discussed how to draw much deeper insights into our data, understand what motivates our customers and what slows down our production lines.
We identified that businesses leveraging big data and machine learning, can expect to see a marked improvement in their KPIs. For those not yet using big data, the biggest barrier is simply not knowing if the benefits are worth the cost and effort.
Adding machine learning and cognitive interactions to traditional business processes and applications will enable greatly improved user experience and productivity.
 

 
We were very lucky to have some excellent speakers on the night – covering a very diverse scope of topics:
Riki Dolby, Director of Engineering at InfoSum spoke about how data-driven business intelligence delivers tangible business value and competitive advantage.
Jon Stanesby, Director of Product Strategy at Oracle covered key points around what A.I. can teach us and what our knowledge can in turn effect A.I.

Ross Verrall, Senior Developer at Nvidia discussed the concept of demystifying the Deep Learning that is sweeping across multiple industries and is shaping the reality of day to day businesses
Ray Noppe, CTO at Advinia helped shed light on the impact of AI on the lives of people suffering with Dementia. This thought provoking talk gave a different perspective on the use of A.I. in day to day care.
As part of this we were able to entertain a huge number of Leaders in Tech with a four course wine and canapé tasting that proved an overwhelming success.
 

 
Thanks again to our speakers and all who attended our Leaders in Tech meet up held at our Reading HQ. We very much look forward to seeing you at our next event!

Austin Fraser secures top 20 ranking in Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200

Austin Fraser secures top 20 ranking in Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200
Celebrations are set to take place across all Austin Fraser offices, following our second consecutive placement in the Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200. 2018 sees us come in at 20th in the ninth annual Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200 league table, which ranks Britain’s mid-market private companies with the fastest-growing international sales.
 
Growing our international presence
How have we achieved this? In the qualifying two year period, we’ve seen exponential international growth, with revenue rocketing up over 115%. Global locations have doubled in the past 18 months, too, opening offices in Berlin, Denver and Dallas. And we have more ambitious plans for Europe and the US in place.
 
Strategic leadership
As many of you will have seen in the media, earlier this year, we announced a significantly expanded leadership team, with the aim to propel Austin Fraser’s organisation’s global growth. At the same time, the business has been developing deeper relationships across our specialist sectors across Technology, Automation, Aviation and Life Sciences industries
 
Strengthening our culture
International growth comes with its own set of challenges. So we were delighted to see other regional players like the Bullit Group and Westcoast in the league table.
We’re a people-led business to our core and have nurtured a culture that supports, fosters and rewards success. As a recruitment partner, our teams are genuinely motivated by a core desire to ensure both our clients’ and candidates’ success. We couldn’t be prouder of every team member for making this happen and look forward to celebrating and thanking everyone in person.

How do you implement AI?

How do you implement AI?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is able to improve business and customer facing processes, automate repetitive data tasks, ease workload from staff and ultimately improve efficiency. Dr Janet Bastiman, Chief Science Officer at StoryStream, returns to help demystify how to implement an AI strategy into your business.
How does a business start using AI?
It’s not a magic wand, it’s a tool, you will need to ask yourselves – “what problem do I want to solve?” and make sure you have the data that defines that problem. This could be inwards facing, focusing on your internal systems or even outwards facing and helping improve the relationship between you and your customers.
At StoryStream, we use AI to solve many problems within StoryStream. From classification of images and text through to predictive analytics. Wherever we can identify a way of using AI to make things more efficient for us or more beneficial for our customers then we apply it.
What to know before implementing an AI strategy:
Information on AI varies from hugely accessible through to cutting edge research and everything in between so you need to know more about the solution you are trying to gain. From there talk to experts, attend meetup groups and the community. This is often a way to gain great insight into tried and tested AI systems. We’ve recently released a high level infographic for AI in marketing to help demystify some of the concepts. If you know what problems you want to address then it’s easier to get clear advice.
Questions your business should consider before implementing an AI solution:

What is the scope of the project that AI can perform?
Is the problem well defined?
Do you have all the data needed?
Would AI ultimately increase efficiency or drive profit?

 
To drill deeper you then need to consider whether you need a dedicated in house team, consultancy or third party service to assist you in deploying the AI system. If this managing in hour is an option for you, consider what training your staff may require, paying close attention to the new GDPR regulations and how you are collecting, storing and processing personal data. Never lose sight of the risks and benefits and of course how you keep all stakeholder informed.
 
Test, pilot, learn, improve…
A great way to introduce an AI system is to start with a small, defined project within your businesses where you can get a fast return on investment as a gateway to a larger project. More than likely, you and your teams will have much to learning from these and to get right for next time.
How do you know if AI will benefit your company?
The first is in automating repetitive processes to ease the workload of existing employees, think of labelling large amounts of data, finding similar profiles or even extracting important parts of text from large documents. This is all about efficiency and ultimately driving profit.
The second is to use the data you have to do new things, things that wouldn’t be possible with your human workforce. Whether this is discovering correlations in data that you may not have known where there or providing a service to people who cannot otherwise access a human operative.
With technology rapidly changing the right time to invest in AI is now. Because it’s changing so rapidly, the sooner you start seeing the benefits the better. This isn’t one of the large scale IT investments that we saw in the last century, think of AI as plugins to drive your business. With a third party service you can be up and running very quickly. Even an in house team should be able to get you something within a few months (depending on the complexity of the problem). Make sure you have the data you need and the problems clear and any partnerships are with companies who can update you with the latest AI techniques as appropriate.
The more coordinated your systems are the easier it will be to acquire the data to drive any AI solution and also act on the results.
Watch our Leaders in Tech: Reading Meet up page for further events.
 
 

What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?

What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?
The tech landscape is changing rapidly and having an AI system in place will certainly help improve efficiency, but what exactly is AI? Dr Janet Bastiman, Chief Science Officer at StoryStream explains:
 
So what is AI and what are its capabilities?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is intelligence gained by the use of a machine rather than human or animal. It is fundamentally a computer program that appears to make an intelligent decision based on its inputs.  Around since the 1950s, these systems were originally completely programmed by humans, but more recently they have been given the freedom to learn what inputs should result in which decisions, called ‘machine learning’. A subset of this is ‘deep learning’, where the data is far more abstracted and progresses through many layers in a manner inspired by the human brain. New innovations in computer science is challenging and enhancing the ways we work and live.
Image recognition or creation, diagnostics of disease, translation of text into multiple languages etc have all been mastered by some AI systems. AI is excellent at solving tasks that might otherwise be thought too difficult or time consuming and this is where businesses are seeing the biggest benefits and returns.
The nature in which we currently create AI means that it can be very good at a single task, but struggles to cope when the nature of the task is changed to something unrelated. 
 
What does AI mean for businesses?
There are many tangible opportunities to use AI in business today. It’s all about creating better efficiency! The first opportunity is in automating repetitive processes to ease the workload of existing employees, think of labelling large amounts of data, finding similar profiles or even extracting important parts of text from large documents. The second is to use the data you have to do new things, things that wouldn’t be possible with your human workforce.  Whether this is discovering correlations or trends in data that you may not have known were there, or providing a service to people who cannot otherwise access a human operative. There’s endless opportunities to get excited about.
 
What is Leaders in Tech?
It’s a group of managers and thought leaders who regularly get together to discuss current tech trends, share knowledge, learn new things and network. Watch our Leaders in Tech: Reading meetup page for future events.
 

It is important to move with the times, but robots are not taking over completely!

It is important to move with the times, but robots are not taking over completely!
Iain McCulley, Senior Consultant, Controls & Automation specialist at Austin Fraser shares his view on the impact of Artificial Intelligence and advancement of technology in the workplace.
I have read a variety of articles on the advancement of automation and Artificial Intelligence and there is a wide variety of opinions, which is to be expected with anything that could have such a big impact on peoples day to day lives and careers.
In particular, there seems to be a lot of people concerned about the impact on jobs and humans losing out to robots in the workplace. In my opinion, this provides a perfect opportunity for us to review the opportunities we are offering to aspiring engineers. In particular, I believe there is a responsibility for our educational system to provide opportunities to develop a career within automation, while companies should also be thinking about apprenticeship schemes and how we can provide a platform for aspiring engineers to pursue a career within the industry.
We also have plenty of warning about how automation is developing and the direction we are heading, so for those in the industry already, there is plenty of time to upskill and consider all of the exciting jobs that will be created.
There is also a number of great examples of how humans and robots are working together already to advance efficiency and increase productivity, so rather than it being all doom and gloom, I personally think it is a great opportunity for us to embrace the development of automation and consider how we can play our part in the exciting growth of the industry.
As a business within manufacturing, I would also be considering how we could advance our knowledge of automation and ensure we have the right personnel in place to move with the times.
We have a Leaders in Tech: Reading event taking place on 3rd May for anyone wanting to dig a little deeper into the workings of AI and it’s capabilities to improve efficiency and generate return. It’s free to register, book your place here.