Comment: Heavyweight seminar to discuss burgeoning AI

Many commentators agree that AI is a double-edged sword. Picture: Contributed.
Many commentators agree that AI is a double-edged sword. Picture: Contributed.
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Later this week, we’re bringing a number of Scotland’s leaders in all things digital together to discuss recent developments in artificial intelligence and the associated opportunities and applications – including areas like deep learning, speech processing and image recognition.

It’s fitting that the seminar takes place at the University of Edinburgh’s Informatics Forum, home to the university’s School of Informatics and immediately adjacent to the soon to be opened data innovation hub, the Bayes Centre.

Many commentators agree that AI is something of a double-edged sword - while it will undoubtedly lead to job losses across multiple sectors of industry, it also has the potential to create new jobs and elevate the performance of workforces across the globe. Increasingly, we’re discussing AI-related activities with our own client base.

Our panel on Thursday features CodeClan CEO Melinda Matthews Clarkson, incoming FinTech Scotland chief executive Stephen Ingledew, and CEO and co-founder of cash management and forecasting tool Float, Colin Hewitt.

Fast-growth companies like Float are one of our main business streams at iMultiply, where our client base includes other Scottish digital groups like deltaDNA and Blackcircles.com. Along these lines, we consider it a coup to have secured technology industry stalwart George Elliott to our advisory board.

Likewise, we have a formidable chair in the form of John Anderson, former chief executive of the Entrepreneurial Exchange. John and George not only bring extensive industry know-how but incredible networks which are so important to businesses like iMultiply.

As we look to grow by acquisition as well as organically, their sage advice has allowed us to plot and execute our recent strategic plans. Last year, we acquired our first business, Allen Accountancy Recruitment in Glasgow, and opened an office in Belfast to target the local market there and to give us a bridgehead into Dublin. While we have recorded strong organic growth to date, we’re open to further acquisitions and office openings.

One key plank of our offering is around a system we have built into our proposition from the very beginning, in fact it informs and guides everything we do and is, we think, a differentiator in the recruitment industry.

Our Customer Satisfaction Survey collates feedback on standards of service from employers and candidates, then translates the findings to rank the performance and determine bonus levels for our consultants. Ensuring anonymity, we feel this kind of transparency offers employers and HR teams insights into how they can improve their hiring processes and identify strengths and weaknesses as prospective employers.

In addition to working alongside fast-growth companies, we are doing more in the social enterprise sector, which is really taking off in Scotland in 2018, interim appointments are also on the up and we have launched an “Agile FD” service to reflect demand from our clients.

As a founder, I’m continually energised to be part of the business eco-system that is growing here. The early stage tech talent on show at EIE18 ten days ago, the gathering of industry leaders at Entrepreneurial Scotland’s annual meeting at Gleneagles last week and the regular meet ups we attend with early stage investor Par Equity, are just a few fixtures that reaffirm to me what an amazing scene is building in this country. We’re excited to be a small but growing part of this.

As we look ahead to the rest of the year, we are set to make hires of our own to match the next phase of growth. Like every business, it’s of the upmost importance to go through best practice processes and find people that are a good fit with the culture and the team. We’ll work to get this right!

Kirsty Mackenzie is the CEO and founder of iMultiply