Getting a clearer view of the Cloud at Leaders In Tech | Reading

Cloud computing is revolutionising IT – but making the switch isn’t always as easy as it seems. At our recent Leaders In Tech meet-up, Frans Lytzen got to grips with Cloud transformation with the help of a panel of experts. They included Emma Button, Co-founder of nubeGo; Kamran Shah, Technical Solutions Director at IBM; and Mark Whitehead, Platform Director at digitalML.
These events are always a great opportunity to network and relax with the local tech scene’s leaders. September’s meet-up was no exception, attracting a full house of IT managers, CTOs and CISOs. The setting was Austin Fraser’s relaxed meeting space on the 11th floor of Reading’s Thames Tower. With panoramic views, gourmet nibbles and a spot of wine tasting, guests were in the mood to imbibe some valuable tips.

The evening began with Frans Lytzen’s talk: Migrating to the Cloud: Compliance, Pitfalls and Approach. As the owner and CTO of New Orbit, Frans has vast experience of Cloud transformation and was able to offer advice that applied to all kinds of organisations using all kinds of providers.
Frans began by identifying typical Cloud transformation mistakes that cost companies money. One key recommendation was working out how much Cloud capacity you really need. In his experience, people usually need fewer servers than they think. Frans also advised using many small servers rather than fewer larger ones: this way, you get more flexibility but pay the same amount. It’s also a good idea to set scheduled scaling for busy periods and to take the ‘Standard’ option. Most Cloud providers automatically default to ‘Premium’, which costs more but is rarely necessary.
Security is Frans’s bugbear and he was determined to bust a common myth: you can – almost always – put your data in the Cloud. In fact, in terms of security, it’s a better option, as providers have better monitoring and auditing than most companies, and employ thousands of Security experts. Despite this, Frans counsels caution and says you still have responsibilities. It’s up to companies to set clear security policies and use Cloud monitoring tools to spot when defences have been breached.
At this point, it was time to refill glasses before our panel took the stage. They spend the next 30 minutes fielding a host of Cloud-related questions from the floor. Emma Button explained the importance of cultural transformation – educating the workforce about the challenges of Cloud transformation. Mark Whitehead stressed that businesses need the right people and described the ideal Cloud-savvy engineer. With Kamran Shah shedding light on SaaS and choosing a Cloud provider, guests left with a playbook for that all-important Cloud transition.
Look out for further details of the next Leaders in Tech | Reading on 4th December. 

Leaders in Tech comes to town: how did our first-ever London meet-up go?

Leaders in Tech is a well-established community in Berlin, Denver and many other major cities. However, London wasn’t one of them – until last week. On Wednesday 10th July, we held the inaugural Leaders in Tech meet-up in the capital, kicking off with a red-hot topic: AI and the Future of Business.
The first meet-up took place on a fantastic river cruise that left from Westminster Pier. On board were a mix of London’s brightest CTOs, CIOs, VPs and senior tech figures, along with three influential speakers. Once guests had had a chance to tuck into the more-ish BBQ food on board, it was time for our first speaker to take the floor. 

Imtiaz Adam is Director of Data Science at DLS. He spoke about the The Impact of 5G – and why it will be “a completely different world.” According to Imtiaz, 5G will make machine to machine communication possible and reduce latency, allowing billions of devices to connect with each other as well as human users. Though it will take the technology some time to filter through, Imtiaz predicts that by 2025, the market will be huge.

Next up, was Dr Janet Bastiman, CSO of StoryStream and AI VP at MMC Ventures. Her topic was The Strategy of AI and the practical steps you need to take to apply AI to key areas. Dr. Bastiman talked us through identifying the problem, assessing your data, attracting talent, development, productionisation, and regulation and ethics, providing a very useful guide for any would-be AI implementers.
The last expert was  Daniel Hulme, CEO of Satalia and a serial speaker for the likes of Google and TEDx. In his talk, he explained how AI can only really solve problems when it’s able to adapt. He went on to describe how AI has the power to help companies make the right decisions – and help society to make the right ones too. His vision of dystopian AI future was certainly thought-provoking.

Afterwards, guests relaxed and networked as the boat sailed past some of London’s most iconic landmarks. 
If you’re a senior level technology leader, why not join us for our next meet-up? It’s a chance to connect with fellow technology leaders from both new and established innovative businesses. You can share best practice, discuss up-and-coming advances and generally connect with like-minded individuals. Find out more on our website: /en/communities/meet-ups/
 

Magento Summer Boat Meet-up: a debrief

Despite the dismal weather, our recent Magento Summer Boat meet-up was a big success! Nearly 100 people came to hear fantastic guest speakers discuss the nuts and bolts of this popular open source e-commerce platform as we chugged slowly up the Thames. 
First up, was Joseph McDemott, a senior solutions architect at Klevu (https://www.klevu.com). He talked us through the Modern Search Requirements of an e-commerce website and why a good search function is vital (hint: you have just eight seconds to interest the average site visitor!) Joseph covered personalisation, non-product search and natural language processing, explaining what they mean in practice, why they’re important in search and how a Magento developer can implement them.

Next, we heard from Jonathan Chikly, a Director and Full Stack Developer at YYT development studios (https://yyt.dev/). His subject was building Progressive Web Applications (PWA) with Magento 2. Jonathan began by defining a PWA as a website that’s fast, reliable and engaging – one that feels like a natural app on the device. He went on to present the main PWA frameworks open to developers and a relevant case study, which brought to life the challenges of building a static PWA with Magento 2.
Our third speaker was Arron Moss of Zero 1 (https://www.zero1.co.uk/). His topic? The Industry-Ops Revolution. Drawing on his work with partner company, Steamhaus (https://www.steamhaus.co.uk/), Arron discussed how the businesses had grown along with Magento and how the opportunities had evolved with the transition from Magento 1 to Magento 2.

There was plenty of time for pizza and beer before the fourth speaker of the evening: Boyan Grigorov of The Sofa & Chair Company (https://www.thesofaandchair.co.uk/). Having recently built a new e-commerce website for his company, Boyan provided a unique insight into the challenges of digital transformation for a furniture retail business. As the guests took in brilliant views of London on their trip, Boyan discussed the journey his company had taken to choose a platform and how he’d convinced managers that Magento was the right choice.
The final speaker was Max Pronko, founder of Pronko Consulting (https://www.pronkoconsulting.com/). With 15 years of experience, he was well qualified to talk about Applying Service Oriented Architecture for Magento 2 Development. Max began by explaining how the Magento 2 platform has been moving into a decoupled state where each module is responsible for an individual operation. This allows higher performance, looser coupling and improved code quality. Max then dived into Service Oriented Architecture, showing how it could be applied using an effective example.
As the boat drew into the splendid Victoria Embankment, the Magento community on board had plenty of food for thought. Look out for more exclusive meet-ups on our website: /en/communities/meet-ups/.
 

Austin Fraser supports ConnectTVT digital talent initiative

We are joining forces with ConnectTVT to support the region’s next generation of digital talent. As part of this collaboration we have sponsored five tickets for local schools, colleges and universities in the Reading area at this year’s inaugural Tech for Good conference.
Tech for Good is a headline event for the Festival of Digital Disruption (FoDD), the three-day town-centre tech ‘takeover’ in Reading, running November 21-23.
As a key employer in the Thames Valley, we are working tirelessly to lead the way in investing in digital skills and the wider tech economy in the region. Through our Leaders in Tech programme, we bring together C-suite and senior level executives to explore emerging IT trends, share expert insight and support the growing tech community.
Other investments include the new RDGUK Office Hours initiative, which aims to foster a collaborative ecosystem for local businesses, as well as more education-led programmes such as the recent Reading University Hackathon.
A long-time partner of ConnectTVT, we collaborated with founder Louize Clarke and her team to bring Glug Reading to the region as well as its 50 Game Changers initiative.
Mark Thomas,Technology Regional Manager, commented: “Working with talent in this space, it’s alarming to see the huge skills gaps in technology.  We’ve always championed ConnectTVT’s mission to make sure the Thames Valley maintains its leadership in the tech economy and are huge believers in paying it forward. We’re thrilled to be part of the Festival of Digital Disruption and hope that the next gen come away truly inspired to explore careers in tech.”
Louize Clarke added: “There’s a lot of conversations around investing in the next generation but we really need more investment on the ground to achieve this. We’re lucky to have friends in Austin Fraser who support our vision and genuinely want to connect young people with the opportunities that technology can offer.”

Is the role of CTO broken?

Are the financial benefits of becoming a tech contractor upsetting the traditional career progression and creating a shortage at the top?
This challenging question has prompted numerous conversations within our Leaders in Tech communities.
When we ask this question of engineers  –  particularly those with more experience in smaller companies  – they imagine a sort of ‘super Tech Lead’: a very senior engineer who is going to lead the technical direction of an organisation.
So what exactly does a CTO do all day?
Answers to that question from current CTOs have included:

Working with commercial stakeholders (CEO, board, investors), to identify the commercial roadmap over ‘x’ months.
Working with product owners and business analysts to develop a realistic product roadmap that supports the commercial roadmap.
Identifying a tech roadmap aligned with product and commercial roadmaps.
Negotiating when you realise the commercial or product roadmaps are unrealistic because of technical constraints. Note: negotiate, not “tell others it can’t be done”. Negotiation skills are critical.
Figuring out how to structure teams, line reporting, process and cadence within the technical team.
Getting the balance between feature development, BAU and technical debt/bug quashing right for the commercial and product culture within the business.
Keeping up to date with changes in law that have impact on technical roadmaps.
Preparation and negotiation of budgets to be spent on tech staff – salary budgets often have to be treated differently to others.
Preparation and negotiation of budgets around technical operations such as hardware, service fees (data centre, cloud, etc.), software licensing, patent licensing where appropriate, etc.
Validating all of the above with senior management and board members, mostly using the language they are most fluent in: finance. You will spend a lot of time building spreadsheets and slide decks, and you’ll ideally need to do basic interpretation of a balance sheet to keep up.
Communicating the above with shareholders and future investors whilst giving yourself enough margin to not get fired if it doesn’t pan out.
Setting cultural tone for the technical team. All of the below contribute to that, but ultimately you are going to set the example. The kind of behaviour you choose to reward is what the team will eventually value.

Notice, there isn’t much engineering going on here. Depending on what’s going on within your company, it’s unlikely you’re going to be spending too much time working on product, and it’s worth expanding on that:
In very small companies, you are going to have to work on the product directly. In larger companies you won’t have time to work on the product directly.
Leaders in Tech | Berlin
Join us on Thursday 18th October for the next instalment of Leaders in Tech | Berlin, a community for CTOs, CIOs, VPs, Heads of IT and other senior technology leaders to get together and discuss current tech trends.

Jason Franklin-Stokes – interim CTO with 30 years of successfully creating, building and growing technology start-ups in Germany, France, UK and US – will be discussing why the CTO role is dead! (or at least dying out). Are businesses demanding faster time to markets and user centricity? Is this shifting a focus from Tech to Product. Why do companies need a CTO? Or even a head of IT? If the CPO is the role that everything rotates around then surely the CTO is dead?
If you are a senior level technology leader, this is an opportunity for you to meet with fellow technology leaders from established and/or innovative businesses. To share in best practises, discuss up and coming advances in technology/methodologies & generally connect with like minded individuals with similar interests/challenges.

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

 
We’re very excited to bring you the third instalment of Leaders in Tech | Reading.
Why is Big Data a game changer?
It allows companies to draw much deeper insights, understand what motivates customers and highlights what slows down production lines. It allows businesses simultaneously to deliver highly personalised experiences to millions of customers.
Businesses leveraging big data and machine learning often 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 enables greatly improved user experience and productivity.
As you evaluate your strategy, gather and use as much data as possible to build a deep understanding in four areas:

Your customers
Your competitors
The external factors that impact you
Your own product(s)


Meet your speakers
Jon Stanesby | Director, Product Strategy, AI Apps, Oracle
Jon has 18 years’ experience working in Customer Experience, Marketing & CRM and now leads Product Management and Strategy for the Oracle Adaptive Intelligent Applications team, focusing on AI capabilities for Customer Experience. Jon has worked with some of the largest brands in Europe including John Lewis, B&Q, Lufthansa and Philips to drive value from their data to transform and personalise the customer experience. Jon has worked in Science and Technology his whole career and endeavours to honour the scientific method in his work – often referencing these in his written and presented material.
Presentation | What AI has taught me about data, and what data has taught me about AI
Big data is dead, long live big data! AI is the latest tool in the mix to aid almost all parts of a business. From supply chain to consumer personalisation – AI is being proposed as the must have technology to adopt in the next two years. But, what does it really take to develop AI for business problems? And what data needs to be connected to make AI work? Should you be wrangling data and employing an army of data scientists now in order to get ahead? Jon will discuss these, and other common challenges in this dawn of AI maturity, and help you prepare for moving forward into this new era.
Ross Verrall | EMEAI Services Lead for Artificial Intelligence and Enterprise Solutions, NVIDIA
Ross Verrall heads up NVIDIA’s Artificial Intelligence platforms which provide a complete ecosystem for tackling the world’s biggest challenges. He is a problem solver with a strong passion for understanding leading edge technologies and ensuring it can be successfully leverage to achieve both business and societal gains. Ross feels incredibly lucky to be a part of NVIDIA at this exciting time to help usher in the benefits of the emerging Artificial Intelligence solutions.
Presentation | How? What? How‽
AI sounds great, but put simply how does it work? Ok, got the how, but what can it do today, not in 10 years? Wow, didn’t know that! How do I get started?
Riki Dolby | Engineering Director | InfoSum
Riki is an experienced senior executive, with a proven track record of growing and maturing organisations at the same time as successfully delivering highly innovative products and solutions.
Presentation | Connecting the customer data dots in a dangerous world
Data-driven business intelligence delivers tangible business value and competitive advantage. Second-party data partnerships can significantly enhance the opportunities to build this intelligence. Riki will explore how to maximise the commercial value of data while dealing with the challenges of business trust, control over data and end-customer privacy. In particular how, for the first time, decentralised customer data platforms are enabling businesses to collaborate over big data using business models that were not previously possible.
 

 
… and exclusive wine tasting
To make the evening that extra bit special we’re partnering with Reading’s Tasting House who will be showcasing some interesting and unusual wines throughout the evening. Catering for all tastes the varieties available to try will range from indulgent bubbles, crisp whites, velvety reds and some unexpected dessert wines. From beginners to aspiring sommeliers, you’ll leave inspired and informed as the Tasting House’s Manager, Jack Overbury, will introduce each selection. The wine will also be thoughtfully paired with a selection of snacks and nibbles.
A little bit more about us…
Leaders in Tech is a global community that started in Munich. It has now spread to Berlin and Reading and we will soon be launching it in the US.
This is a community for CTOs, CIOs, VPs, Heads of IT and other senior technology leaders to get together and discuss current tech trends.
If you are a senior technology leader, this is an opportunity for you to meet with fellow technology leaders from established and/or innovative businesses. To share best practices, discuss up and coming advances in technology/methodologies & generally connect with like-minded individuals with similar interests and challenges.
How to find us…
We are located in Thames Tower, directly opposite Reading train station. If you are arriving by car, you’ll be best off parking in the adjacent NCP car park (https://www.ncp.co.uk/find-a-car-park/car-parks/reading-garrard-street/), or The Oracle. (https://www.theoracle.com/visitor-info/parking)

DJUGL is back

DJUGL is back!
Our London based Python/Django community is busy preparing for the 3rd instalment of the year, being held on 17th July 2018. For full details about the event and to book your free place click here.
 
For those new to DJGUL, we’re linking up great companies and developers of all levels within the Python/Django space. We meet quarterly for engaging tech talks and conversation. It’s a fun social event for developers who are keen to expand their knowledge, share news, niggles and of course meet new people. Jamie Janner, Python Consultant for London, explains how being a part of this community can have a positive impact on your career: “It enables developers to experience a more 360 view of the community and understand new technologies, best practices & other roles & avenues available to them in their careers.”
 
So whether you’re looking to upskill, speak in front of your peers or learn something new – join our community and become a Djugler.
 
Our London team of specialist tech Consultants have immersed themselves in this community. With their unrivaled technical knowledge they’ve been helping to run Djugl and support developers and companies who use Python and Django, since 2008. Austin Fraser’s own Python Consultant, Ross Lewis explains: “It allows us to be a face and have a presence within the communities we engage with day in day out. We are able to experience the industry through their eyes and hopefully learn more about the work they do. In doing this, we are able to connect on a deeper level”.

Jamie Janner – [email protected], Ross Lewis – [email protected] and team will be on hand during the event, so book your free place, grab a beer and slice of pizza and let’s talk.

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.

Understanding Developer Typology

Understanding Developer Typology
Ahead of our June 2018 Leaders in Tech: Baden-Württemberg we speak with 1&1’s Matthias Wittum, Head of the Source Center and Christian Rehn, Software Developer in 1&1’s Customer Selfcare Solutions about their highly developed frameworks and models which are specially designed to examine developer typology. Their frameworks and models are proven to support developer teams, strengthen communication and optimise design decisions.
 
Matthias Wittum explains that whilst working with Christian Rehn, they identified how different developers can be when it comes to reaching a design decision and how this has an impact on development teams. We know that developers are unique problem solvers who draw on different approaches, knowledge, cultures, experience and principles to produce software solutions. Developers naturally approach projects uniquely, and the outcome can play to a particular focus or strength. Of course within a development team this can lead to several solutions being found and so the challenge is often finding one team solution or design route.
 
There are enough personality tests out there, but no tests or frameworks based specifically on developers. We felt that some instruments were needed to enable better production efficiency and to help develop teams according to their orientation and typology, so we started filling the gap. That’s how the Design Types Model for instance, came to fruition. It sets out to define developers’ typology via a relatively straightforward base of questions for each developer to answer. The answers provided help classify their typology and then you can group them accordingly. Using this model makes it easier to gain an impression of whether the tasks, the way of working and the environment are a good fit.
 
Here are three Models which we have formulated to identify developer typology, aid better case arguments to reach design decisions more quickly and to help optimise development teams:

Design Types Model – sets out to identify why software design is individual and often leads to discussions with colleagues.
Design Cards – great interactive tool using a set of predefined cards used to aid technical discussions by using proven arguments.
Design Matrix – helps you to examine technical problems from all perspectives.

Read more about these interactive Models here.
 
Ever since the agile movement, technical decisions are increasingly discussed or reviewed within the team. Collective Code Ownership means that everyone is now jointly responsible for the software and as a result, it is important for developers to be able to argue precisely and comprehensively, to be able to put oneself into the motives of your colleagues. With our models, we want to support exactly this and strengthen communication in development teams.
 
Leaders in Tech
Thanks to those who joined us at our Leaders in Tech: Baden-Württemberg meetup held on 21st June 2018 when Matthias and Christian give a complete overview of the developer typology, as well as the Design Cards and the Design Matrix. As a start, to understand the concepts and the overall context.
 

3 Top Tips to Building a Successful Engineering Team

3 Top Tips to Building a Successful Engineering Team
 
We spoke with Florian Gamper, freelance CTO/CIO whose background is in Software Engineering from Enterprise Backend to Web and Mobile. Florian is a speaker at our Leaders in Tech: Berlin event and over the years he has built numerous startups, Engineering Teams and Ventures for Companies like Dr. Oetker, BCG Digital Ventures and Columba. Resulting in projects like Coup (Electric Scooter Sharing for Bosch), Mein-Dach (Community Platform for Brass Monier) or backen.de (Oetker Digital).
 
As a Leader in Tech, we asked Florian what his 3 Top Tips are for Building a Successful Engineering Team
 
TIP 1 – Recruiting and interviewing your dream team
It starts with finding the talent. No longer do you have to wait for them to find you, now there’s a much more bi-directional process where you apply to them directly. This helps both sides engage in a deeper partnership. Be prepared to give your ideal candidate(s) an interesting story behind your company and an explanation as to how together, the projects can help take them to the next level.
Don’t ruin their first impression of your company! Before any interview takes place make sure the right people are in the room, and that you’re set up with a proper internet connection and good video chat system for remote interviews (not kidding … falling out of interviews all the time ruins your first expression … so ditch skype).
Finding and recruiting the right people to build a successful Engineering Team takes a lot of time. Don’t rush the process and if you have the funds to use freelancers for the intermediate, do it, it helps a lot. Never hire in doubt or rush.
 
Now it’s time to build your team.
 
TIP 2 – Cultivating the perfect environment
To create the perfect environment for an engineering team to thrive, the culture, supported from the top down, has to be right. To excel, you need to create a supporting culture with a welcoming and open mindset, which each member of the team needs to be a part of. To achieve this there are three simple rules: you have to build a culture that doesn‘t blame, gives fame, has no shame (it’s ok to admit a mistake) for the team to thrive. Set guidelines within which they have the freedom to experiment and thrive.
Glitches can appear if you don’t have the right processes in place to support your successful engineering team. To help track and record workflow you need to have stable processes in place such as CI/CD, Wiki, Tasks.
Listening, can help you spot the early signs that you’ve got the culture right. People will not only talk to each other about work, but also about their lives and hobbies. Bonds form and they’ll do some stuff together after work, ensure these are never siloed in the engineering team.
 
Never fear to lose the wrong people.

 
TIP 3 – The Future for Engineering Teams
Engineering Teams have to prepare to be more and more involved in production processes. Continuous deployment is a key to fast and steady delivery. In the near future teams will get more diverse in skills and topics as ML and other Cloud Technologies are going to be part of wider projects.
 
 

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.