AN EDINBURGH analytics outfit that counts Sony and Royal Bank among its clients is on track to more than double sales this year as more firms seek to boost their bottom line by tapping into “big data”.
Aquila Insight, launched in 2012 by Warwick Beresford-Jones and John Brodie, also expects its 40-strong head count to swell to about 60 over the coming year amid increasing demand for its services.
Beresford-Jones said: “We don’t seem to struggle to find good people, but it’s getting increasingly expensive because data science is a skill-set that’s gaining in recognition.”
A recent study found that data scientists on the US west coast can command basic salaries of more than $250,000 (£159,000) when managing a team of ten or more colleagues, and Beresford-Jones said that rivals on the other side of the Atlantic are beginning to tap the UK market in the search for talent. “There’s a growing recognition at board level that good data analytics can improve business performance,” he said. “I didn’t observe that four or five years ago, but what isn’t being recognised is there’s only a finite number of people that have this skill-set, and salaries are going to go up.”
Beresford-Jones added: “Most businesses have a fairly similar goal, which is a commercial outcome usually around a product or service, and driving value out of your data through analytics can help improve that outcome.”
Aquila is based at the CodeBase technology incubator in Edinburgh, where it employs 25 people. Its remaining 15 staff are in London, and Beresford-Jones said: “We’re very proud to be building a company like this in Edinburgh, but it’s still a reality that at some stage you have to do some business in London.”
He told Scotland on Sunday that the firm is also looking at the possibility of expanding into the US and Asia, where “we have some early lines of conversation going on”.
The company generated sales of about £2 million last year, and Beresford-Jones – who has a background in pharmacology – said that figure was likely to grow to £4.5m in the year to March.
Since launching its analytical platform – dubbed Discovery – ten months ago, Aquila has signed up “three or four” blue-chip clients, he added.
“It’s predominantly cloud-based, but part of it sits in our physical data centre, to give customers options about how it’s stored and used. It’s amazingly scalable, and the infrastructure we’ve built would previously only have been available to the likes of IBM.”