AI Con 2020 Interview with Dr. Fiona Browne and Matt Flenley

Dr. Fiona Browne, Head of AI, and Matt Flenley, Marketing and Partnerships Manager at Datactics are contributing to AI Con 2020 this year.   


After a successful first year, AI Con is back!

This year it’s said to be bigger and better than ever with a range of talks across AI, including AI/ML in Fintech; AI in the public sector; the impact of arts; the impact of AI on research and innovation; and how AI has caused a change in the screening industry. All these topics will be tackled by world-leading technology professionals and business leaders to unpack how AI is changing our world.  

Ahead of AI Con 2020 taking place virtually on the 3rd and 4th December, we thought it would be a good idea to sit down with two of those industry experts, Fiona and Matt, and ask them a few things. I wanted  to understand  what their involvement with AI is this year, any previous involvements they’ve had with AI Con, what they envisage to be the key takeaways, and of course, what talks they are most looking forward to engaging with themselves.    

Hi, Fiona and Matt. Perhaps to kick-off, you could tell talk a bit about why you both wanted to be involved with AI Con?  

Fiona: Hello! Well, we were involved with it last year and it was a great experience. We were involved in the session that focused on business and the applications of AI. We were asked then to pull a session together for this year, and we’ve been able to focus on the area that Datactics specialises in, which is Financial Services. 

This has given us the chance to unpack how machine learning can be used in Financial Services; we’ve tried to cover three broad areas within this session:  firstly, understanding those people who work in the financial institutions. Secondly, we will then delve into our bread-and-butter data quality & matching, and lastly the importance of data governance.  

Matt: Hi! Last year I worked with Fiona to arrange our involvement. This year, we had the chance to have more time to prepare. This meant that Fiona and I could collaborate even more so.

I particularly enjoyed approaching speakers such as Peggy and Sarah (to name but a few!). What interests me most is the application of AI and we are delighted to have contributed towards pulling together such a strong line-up.

The variety of talks too will bring a wide range of attendees!  

This is the second year. Perhaps you both could talk to me about your previous involvement with AI Con, if any, and how it has evolved?  

Fiona: Last year we discovered there was a significant appetite for this content. We have been able to expand this year’s conference over more streams by being more strategic with the messaging. We have also been able to create a session for ourselves (one that we know about and are vastly passionate and experienced in). This year, the conference is not local, it’s much more international. Even if you look at the line-up of our speakers for our session, they come from New York and Switzerland.

The International flavour offers a greater perspective, knowledge, and insight.   

Matt: I agree. I’ve been blown away by how engaged people have been. We have Andrew Jenkins, the Fintech Envoy for Northern Ireland and Gary Davidson of Tech Nation, who are keen to contribute to where they think the market is going.

The panel I am chairing is focusing on FinTechs that are scaling and exporting with a focus on why people should invest in NI technology. The event is well-prepared and timely, and I am looking forward to chairing on Thursday.  

So, Matt what will the panel you are chairing be discussing, who is on the panel?  

Matt: We are joined by Pauline Timoney, COO of Automated Intelligence; Chris Gregg, CEO and Founder of Light Year; and as I mentioned before, Andrew Jenkins, and Gary Davidson. We are going to look at the opportunities to collaborate with incubators like TechNation, the impact of COVID-19, Brexit, and FinTech investments for last year.

FinTech is a hugely growing sector, and we are excited to delve into why and explore where the sector is going next!  

Fiona, you have been one of the curators of AI Con, how has that process been?  

Fiona: It has been great! We were given the remit of FinTech and we could pick and choose what topics and who we wanted to add to the line-up. We have a very clear message. The talks are practical application-centred with a focus on trends and experience.

One of the largest Wealth Management Companies in the world is coming to speak to discuss their usage of technology, future projections, and more!  

What do you both envisage the biggest takeaways of AI Con being?  

Matt: One of the biggest takeaways is going to be the incredible, thriving NI FinTech sector.

When you look around the ecosystem, for example of the FinTech ecosystem report you can see the sheer explosion of firms and the problems being solved.    

Fiona: There will be maturity across the board, with more companies implementing these technologies.

People are increasingly thinking about Machine Learning and AI… how can we use it?

I believe there will be a skillset gap which will be a challenge; it will be a challenge for many firms to attract the talent that can implement these processes and technologies.  

To wrap up! On a personal, note, what talk(s) are you both most looking forward to?  

Matt: I am excited to hear from Sarah Gadd, Credit Suisse. Her wealth of experience will offer great insight into how they apply AI into reality. Not only are they on the cutting edge of technology but they have taken it off the ground. I am also looking forward to Peggy Tsai’s contribution.  

Fiona: From our side, Sarah and Peggy will be interesting. It’s an honour to have a speaker like Sarah Gadd. It’s brilliant to hear how they are applying this technology now in a regulated area. What are their challenges, solutions? Also, Peggy is giving time to the complexity of data, which is more important than ever before. Austin too will be unpacking AI in the arts and music sector. I am looking forward to the overall variety, calibre, and diversity of point of view that will be offered.  

Thank you both, for taking the time out of our schedules! If you haven’t got your place for AI Con 2020 reserved, there is no time like the present! You can secure your place for free here. It will be a brilliant conference. Who’s ready to learn more about AI? 

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