The Andy Show episode 45
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:00:35] Good afternoon, good afternoon, good afternoon and welcome to The Andy Show. It is the 22nd of June. We are officially in summer and still in lockdown. But never mind. Never mind. At least we can see the sun outside the windows. I have not one. I have not two. I have three fantastic guests for you today here on Disruptive LIVE. We have, we’re going to have in a second. My one of my favourite guests, “I wasn’t mine” because I don’t want to do favouritism. Mr. Craig Aston, the CEO of Celerity. I have Philip Dutton, the Co-Founder, Director of Solidatus. I have Dr. Mauro Arruda, the CEO of Smartia. But let’s start with the beginning. I introduce you to a Mr. Craig Aston. Welcome.
CRAIG ASTON [00:01:30] How are you Andy?
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:01:32] I’m not too bad. Craig, how are you?
CRAIG ASTON [00:01:34] I’m all right. I’m not too bad. Thank you, it feels like a while since we’ve done this now.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:01:39] It does feel like a while but I’ve been seeing videos of you online. Talking about an event, a very special event that you’re doing. So, first of all, everybody knows who Craig Aston from Celerity is. But let’s just say there is someone that doesn’t, just want to introduce yourself.
CRAIG ASTON [00:01:56] Yes, I’m the CEO of Celebrity. Celebrity are a mid-sized MSP and reseller based in the North of England. We’re running enterprise space, looking at various different technologies at our partners, working with IBM and Microsoft and Cisco and Lenovo and various other organisations as well. We are on our way through lockdown. Still very busy, which is good and yeah, we’re doing an event tomorrow alongside with you guys. That’s a really exciting.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:02:32] Yeah. You’re also doing an event on Wednesday.
CRAIG ASTON [00:02:35] That’s it, it’s Wednesday. They’ve got the wrong day. You’re absolutely right, Andy. Everyday just melds into one problem.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:02:43] Yes. Lockdown, fever, lockdown, fever. So I’ve seen some promo vids of you online talking about this event. But do you just want to very briefly talk about what the event is?
CRAIG ASTON [00:02:54] Yes, sure. The event is aimed primarily at the local government sector. And the event is completely focussed around returning to the workplace. We work with a number of local government customers ourselves. We’re also partnering with IBM in this event. And what we’re doing is looking at a number of different issues that local government organisations are facing in the return to the workplace. And it’s really to try and have short, snappy 50 minute sessions on these issues around data protection, around actually understanding where your workforce are, what they’re actually doing and how they’re actually working in this new normal. We’ve got some cybersecurity input in there as well. So looking at what’s happening with cyber and in the final session will be interesting as well in that we’ve got one of our customers is coming on for a Q&A. So our Business Development Director will actually be talking to about how his found the lockdown and what it’s been like to be in local government during that period. And also then asking questions about how they’re going to get their people back into the workplace and what the next few months looks like. So I think we’re all having to learn to adjust to this new normal. And it’s where does that going? And how do we keep pushing an agenda, pushing digital transformation and transforming all of the way we work. Whilst trying to live in these new times? It should be a great event. It’s 10:00 on Wednesday, the 24th of June. There’ll be links going around to register, we hope. And we say it’s for local government. But actually, I think it’s relevant to many more sectors than that. So, yeah, we have given it a bit of a local government labour.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:04:39] And I’m really keen. I don’t I don’t wanna spoil it too much for what’s coming, but I’m really keen to understand the kind of relationships that companies would have, especially in the technology and you mentioned cybersecurity with the local governments themselves. I mean, how does that actually work? How do people… Local governments are very big. There’s a lot of departments and things like.
CRAIG ASTON [00:05:00] There are indeed. Local governments are, they are an interesting customer set that they in some ways, they’re quite traditional customer set, they do tend to have their own data centres. They’ll have their own technology. And actually they’re still working in a world of capital budgets and all the good public sector things that we’re aware of. However, from a transformational point of view, they are looking at digital transformation in the same way that all the rest of the business world is. They’re having to look at how they deliver their services online. And from a you, if think of it from a lockdown point of view, they’ve had to move even more quickly to get in getting things online to support their civilians. And it’s been massively tough for them. What do we do with them from a partnering point of view? It’s around trying to provide services and provide advice and actually also gives them access to the real tier one tools. So give them access to the best technology that they can then try and use to provide those services into their civilians. It’s a quite a vibrant space at the moment because of the sort of self-serving nature of a number of the local government services they’re trying to do. So if you look and compare, I suppose banking was similar at one point where everything was turning into self serve and turning online. Local government is having to now do the same thing. And it’s an area where I wouldn’t say that catching up a having to do it in a very controlled fashion. It’s a fascinating area.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:06:36] It’s amazing. I mean, I’ve spoken to people before that are involved with local government. And you mentioned cyber security. We’re picking up on cyber security because I’m really interested. I’ve always, I mean, when I was in that kind of world, many many decades ago, decades ago, when I was just a sprightly young thing, there were I would say that departments had a bit of a mix match of systems? I would see that there may not have been quite as much cohesion as possible. Has that been a challenge in terms of things like cyber security, keeping things safe, or is it more education and less tech?
CRAIG ASTON [00:07:18] It’s a massive challenge. It’s both. Education is absolutely one of the most important things. One of the services that we offer is a manage fishing service. Where, for example, we can set up fishing simulations whereby fishing emails are sent to an organisation staff and that then teach them how to deal with phishing emails, which happens a lot in local government. If you look at what’s going on in cyber, particularly though, you’re right. There are some more systems in there. There are systems that have been around for a long time, still need to do what they’re doing. So some of this is all about working out how to continue to try and give that security whilst also allowing them to continue to use things and not telling these organisations that they have to change everything. So a lot of it is about agility in our solutions as well. And coming up with solutions that they can actually do and are deployable both on their premise, but also as they are moving to Cloud. It’s an area where digital transformation has got to move. But the session on Wednesday is around the sort of link between digital transformation and cyber security, and can you digitally transform and maintain your cyber security posture at the same time? And it’s a really difficult balance, which I know the public sector are going through because of somewhat they’re aged equipment. But I think a lot of other sectors are there as well. And we’ve got experts coming on to talk about that. And also just making sure the thinking is correct. A lot of this is about planning as well.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:09:05] Digital transformation within local government. How much of it is a push by local government? How much is the push by demand of things like residents and people that work for councils and things that that?
CRAIG ASTON [00:09:20] I think it’s a push and pull. I think there is definitely a push. I think CIOs in local government have now got with the digital transformation message, and they understand that, that they’re having to become more relevant in that space. I think if you can compare it to few years ago, most of the the I.T. needs of a local authority were for their stuff. And really, it was their staff providing services. That’s now changing incredibly quickly where residents or civilians are self-serving and wanting to be able to do things online themselves. So I think there certainly is a pull. If you look at the… in the same way as all markets, their user experience becomes really, really important. And you talk to top CIOs in the local government and they start to talk about their users as being customers and actually rather than them being sort of civilians or actually whoever they are, they start to see them as customers. And that customer experience is really important.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:10:28] So one of the things you mentioned during this conversation, you’re gonna talk about how you’ve got a case study of how people have adapted during lockdown. So I’m going ask the unfair question, I ask absolutely everyone. Celerity is a business. You seem to have just kept going. How have you been during this period and what changes have you had to make or have to refine?
CRAIG ASTON [00:10:55] We’ve obviously got everybody working at home. About a week before the lockdown, we actually tested and we made sure that everybody could work at home. We deal the things we’ve had to do. We’ve been trying to work out how to enable some of our customers with on premise data centres to allow us to go and do work in their data centres. So there’s been a lot of thought around our employees well-being and making sure that we can do things in a safe way. I think the third thing, we’ve done a lot of work on this is thinking about our employees and how our employees are coping during this period. And I think we talked about it before and it’s ups and downs. It’s the biggest roller coaster. And making sure that we’re still getting the teams together, online and just something as simple as on a Friday afternoon. We have a quiz, where we put a quiz on for the teams just for an hour at the end of a Friday. And it just means that social contact is continuing and that’s really important.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:12:02] And do you keep away from Google while you’re doing that? Your quiz? No cheating.
CRAIG ASTON [00:12:11] I absolutely do keep away from Google…
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:12:18] Fantastic, fantastic. Well, Mr. Craig Aston, I look forward to your event. Again, it’s on Wednesday at 10 o’clock. You mentioned, just one last question, Craig. You mentioned the… I don’t know if you gonna tell us, but you mentioned that you’ve got a case study on the show. Can you give us a sneak peek? On what’s gonna be?
CRAIG ASTON [00:12:36] Yeah, it’s gonna be a great event. It will be… We’ve got a number of people from our selves, a number of people from IBM, people from other partners who we deal with as well, a company called Kurantis is coming on to talk about a workplace solutions they have. We got IBM coming on to talk about their workplace solutions. And it’s really is, it’s anything from how do you actually interact with your employees through to. How do you become more agile and work within your data centres? So it’s a huge, it should be fast paced. It’s a couple of hours on Wednesday morning and yeah, I hope many people join as possible.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:13:12] Yep. We’re absolutely looking forward to it. Craig Aston, thank you so much for your time. We’re looking forward to the event on Wednesday. Don’t forget to check out on this Celerity’s page. They will be putting invites out and there will be invites around social media and if not, then follow any links or get in touch with Celerity. But yes, local governments, it’s gonna be a fascinating event. Stay tuned for that one. Okay. Our next guest. So we have, we have a Co-Founder. We like Co-Founders on this show. So we have a special guest now. We have Philip Dutton, the Co-Founder and Director at Solidatus.
PHILIP DUTTON [00:13:54] Hi, Andy. How you’re doing?
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:13:54] Welcome. I’m not too bad, how are you?
PHILIP DUTTON [00:13:58] Very well, thank you. Very well.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:14:01] Okay. So let’s start at beginning. Philip, why do you tell us about yourself and your company?
PHILIP DUTTON [00:14:07] Yeah, certainly. Thanks for asking Andy. So Solidatus has really sort come about because the last 20 years of both myself, my business partner, I think a lot of colleagues are having the same challenges at the frontline of digital transformation of regulation within the financial services industry. And really, the main problem that we faced was that there wasn’t sufficient tooling to really enable us to transform quickly, to understand, you know, to have the transparency that’s, you know, something like Google Maps gives you for an organisation. Now, we had this Excel, we had Visio, we had PowerPoint. But really nothing really specifically designed to enable people to understand the complexity of really, really very complex organisations and so Solidatus was our attempt to try and fix. I think, something that was a little bit broken. I think when you look at most engineering disciplines, they’ve got a pretty good sort of planning and mapping process for how we’re going to do things if you build a building. You know, you have a structural plan, you have an electrical planning, a plumbing plant. Those will all come together and then you build the building. Now, in software engineering, I think because of the sort of the infancy of our discipline, we build very much in isolation. We focus on the thing that we’re building and we don’t bring in the other artefacts. And very quickly, you have, you know, legacy systems which are which, you know, are created. And you don’t have that holistic view of, if I change this system, what will that impact be? You know, if I knock through this wall, is there a structural wall that contain, you know, “that I shouldn’t accept or so”.. In the physical world, it’s really, really simple thing to focus on and go, well, obviously, I would check the plan before I do that. But in the software space and especially with you know, very, very complex sets of organisational systems and different processes, it’s really difficult to understand what you’re about to change and the impact. And it’s really, it was down to us to try and create something that enabled the people who were on the front line to understand, you know, the impact of what they were about to do. And really not create that, you know, that TSB events where, you know, you do a large systems migration and, you know, all of your customers are suddenly offline for weeks or for months. And that’s really sort of the background of Solidatus and where it came from
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:16:27] It’s really interesting, because you point out, that you, like all good start ups back in the day when you started up, you identified the problem and do find a solution. But with that solution in mind. What, if I were in business? First of all, what kind of companies are primarily using this and what benefits have they actually seen from it?
PHILIP DUTTON [00:16:53] A really, really good question. I think for me there’s a couple of organisations with which very, very quickly full interview. So, as part of the, you know, the global crash in 2008. 2007, 2008, you know, financial services organisations were added with a burden of regulation that said, we need to know that you understand what you’re doing. That the impact of, you know, exposure to a particular client. So something like a Lehman Brothers event. You know, we need that kind of clarity. And so, therefore, financial services is one of the key areas where we’re focussed. But it’s not just sort of financial services. It’s really anyone who is is data rich and regulated. I think it’s a sweet spot for Solidarity. Actually, we’ve found clients from all industry sectors who are really wanting to understand that a digital map of their organisation so they can plan change effectively. You know, even if you’re a start-up, if you plan well, from the start, you know, you achieve it. If you don’t have a plan, then you’re effectively you’re planning to fail. I think this is where we see a really a broad cross-section of businesses that we work with, you know, from some of the largest retailers in the world, testing someone’s largest investment banks in the world. But equally, down to your smaller local governments or utility companies that might be providing, you know, a water or gas service or something like that. So really, it is a very much a big cross-section. The benefit, I think, is the same as any organisation. Transparency and understanding is create, is key to decision making it. It’s critical. If you understand all of the different parameters, you’re able to see which ones can flex to reduce risk, to reduce costs, to increase productivity. But if you don’t understand that full set, then it makes it very difficult for you to sort of make accurate and clear judgements.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:18:53] It sounds as if something the businesses would have benefited from of continue to benefit from doing the lockdown particularly certain industries. But I’m gonna ask about how things have changed for both Solidatus during the lockdown and how it’s worked in the new industries that you work with?
PHILIP DUTTON [00:19:17] Yeah. Really, really, really, really. Kind of interesting question. I think for us, we were, well, our organisation, we were still a fairly small start-up. I think, we took the decision very early on, a couple of weeks before lockdown actually decide, you know what, everyone, you know, we’re a digital and we’re a Cloud native, Cloud first organisation, worked from home. We don’t want to be putting you at any more risk than you know, than there is need for. So we sent everyone home a few weeks early. We then, implemented kind of, I guess, a social policy of we would have a meeting every morning, every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, every day, 9:30, we have a meeting. The entire organisation gets together on a video conference and we chat about, you know, what we did yesterday and what we’re gonna do today. And then at least 3 times a week, we’re having a social get together drink in the evenings to sort of to decompress, to share that information that you can’t share because of COVID. You know, normally these conversations would happen in the office. You would be able to, you know, while you’re making a coffee, be able to share an experience or to talk to someone about, you know, a possible interesting lead, etc.. And when we don’t have those opportunities, when everyone is working at home and your your calendar now, then it fills up with half an hour meetings to discuss something that might take 5 minutes in an office. So we’ve really tried to keep everyone kind of socially engaged, you know care packages going out for people to, you know, have laptops or iPads to help them work. You know, new equipment for them to be able to work comfortably at home. I think that’s been a real kind of something that we’re very much focussed on from a company perspective. In terms of our clients, I think we’ve seen a few things. We’ve seen some which have actually sort of put the brakes on a little bit and said, you know, we need to just take stock because we don’t know what the future looks like. Others have taken the completely opposite approach and really realised that, you know, information and their ability to understand that information across their businesses is really paramount because you don’t have those social interaction points where you can ask the person who sits next to you a question. You need somewhere that is a digital repository, you know, this intellectual property store that we’ll allow you to build. So that you can quickly get that information because you can’t just ask the person who is sitting next to you. So we’ve seen both the flowing and actually the accelerating. Actually, we recently been invited by the Cabinet Office to participate in a hackathon. To look at, you know, the government and how they’ve been allocating out the funding. So to create some transparency around here, has there been any fraud that’s taken place there? Is there, you know, how many of these loans are going to the right places, etc so they can manage that portfolio going forward? And so I think it it’s presented us with quite a few new opportunities, which potentially we may have not come across if we had been in the normal world. So for us, it’s actually been a really, really exciting time where we’re busier than ever. I mean, most of us you know, the workday has blended into the home day, you know, finishing at seven or eight is kind of fairly normal. But I think we provide that flexibility where people need to take some time during the day, you know, they can. And so I think, you know, we’re very much trying to focus to deliver for the clients because, you know, that everyone is going through the same challenge. And so you really need to be aware that they need to be addressed as we go throug together.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:22:51] Well, there are a few positives with the lockdown, but one of them, especially for start-ups and small businesses growing up, is that they’ve managed to have a little bit more development time that they possibly didn’t have. And with that in mind, I’ve, my producers have told me that you actually have some new announcements round about V4 and V8 catalogues. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
PHILIP DUTTON [00:23:18] Yes, certainly. So yes, for Solidatus, I think we’ve taken a very different approach to sort of traditional metadata management, which is one of the sort of the fields that we would fall into. Now, it doesn’t encompass all we do, but it is certainly a large section. And we’ve taken this kind of more lineage first approach. And what I mean by that is, you know, we wanted to build the map of the things which were changing most often as opposed to creating the catalogues of the things which changed least often. So it was an order of a thing, rather than kind of one was more important, it was just, we wanted to create and capture a sort of entropy before we captured the things which are a bit more static. So as part of version 4, this is now linking in that inability to catalogue all of your systems, all of the different business terms so that everyone speaks the same language. Now, the two really has evolved very, very rapidly over the last couple of years. When we first launch, I mean, one of our first clients was one of the quite large investment banks, German investment banks. And from there, you know, we’ve very much had to iterate quite quickly with new developments for them and for other clients because of the sort of the multi-sector focus of our software. Our version 4 is for us a big leap forward, it puts us, unfortunately, in the firm spotlight of a lot of our very, very large competitors, the likes of you know, IBM, Informatic. These are all of the organisation which are multi-billion dollar organisations and have been doing this for a while. Our version 4 is great for us because we’re taking a different spin in providing, you know, I guess a refresh and evolution on the things that we’ve learnt from each of those systems as we’ve worked with them in the past. And so I think that’s Solidatus, the new version really gives our clients an opportunity to bring two different sets of functional requirements together into one place to have it much more efficient than it previously was doing. We’re also as a company, we’ve recently gained some significant new clients. Those clients are actually also quite interested in investing assets as a strategic investment. So Solidatus is currently in the process of putting together, you knowm a series A.I. round, which we’ve actually had a considerable amount of interest for already. So that’s very exciting as well.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:25:51] So when you’re a.. I can hear the passion in your voice. The Founder of passion or Co-Founder passion, which I love. So I’m gonna ask the next question. Other than things that funding. What is next for you guys?
What do you see in the future?
CRAIG ASTON [00:26:10] Yeah, I think, you know, as a former, as someone who’s been in software engineering at that “coalface” for the last 20 years. I think our main passion is to change the way that’s across, you know, the entire world, the way that we engineer software. I think the way that we’ve been doing it is, is that sort of that first iteration, that second iteration. Software development itself is advanced massively in the last 10, 15 years. The tools like JIRA really have given developers the ability to federate out across the world to collaboratively work seamlessly and really accelerate the process of being able to deliver technology. Now in the space that sits above the software development or the structural piece. Where we haven’t iterated so fast, we’ve kind of always had this centralised execution and centralised control methodology. In Solidatus, centralised execution just doesn’t work anymore, you know, with agile and devops, everyone wants to reach right far of change to increase significantly. So you need to have this federated distributed execution. Still centralised control, because that’s really important to keep that, you know, that common language across all of the organisation. And so for us, you know, our lofty goal is to really change the way that all developers, all analysts, architects view their space. You know, much the same way I was talking about, you know, the building of a building. When we first started building buildings. They were, you know, miga mud shacks because we didn’t understand our components. Right. We knew we had mud and we had some sticks. But as we were driving forward, now we understand and now we can start to make steel and we can start to actually engineer this process in a better fashion. And I think that’s really where we see things going is that the next iteration of tools like
Solidatus will give you the ability to understand that complexity of an organisation. Not to have to go and ask someone the question of, you know, if I change this piece of my code, is it gonna affect just me or is it gonna affect the other organisation? So really putting that focus on less on kind of the person and more on the technology helping people to become stateless. So any developer can pick up any task and really be able to develop because they have that context of understanding, that I know just by clicking on something that it tells me. Right. This is the connectivity of everything. You don’t need to worry about the change you make because it’s not going to impact negatively. Creating those seamless, you know, visualisations that make things clear and transparent, I think it’s clear for us to know that visual is really, really important. Previously, you look at something like Google Maps and it’s gonna, you know, it’s all there and it’s everything you can compare, say, Google Maps to the old A to Z. Functionally, it’s basically the same. Right. How do I get from point A to point B? But now that overlay these different business lenses, I want to get here in, you know, by walking or I want to get here in my car or I want to go via somewhere to get a Starbucks or something like that. And actually, the methodology that they’ve use, that we use is really very, very simple, you know, we’re using this crowdsourcing, this using the SMEs to really populate this intellectual property, still keeping it real time, keeping it up to date off. And I think that’s one of the biggest challenge that most of our clients are faced in the past is, you know, I’ve documented a map of my organisation, but as soon as I’ve finished, it’s out of date. And so what we want to do is automate that process with, you know, pulling in data from systems, but also allowing the SMEs to mobilise their input because when a new Starbucks opens, Google doesn’t send out a Google employee to go and document that. They use up the SME part. The guy sitting in traffic with his phone is one that is telling Google that there is a traffic jam, not a Google employee. And so this federation is really important to capture that and keep that information in real time. So I think for us, the journey continues through kind of enabling organisations which write faster. To be able to become certainly compliant to regulations. But what really to more focus on the principle, why is the regulation in place? You know, GDPR privacy by design and by default, not a tick box exercise. Have you thought about this from your customers perspective? And that’s really kind of where we see things kind of needing to go. We’re now thinking about things much more holistically about as a single piece in isolation. I think that’s the future for Solidatus.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:30:57] That’s was… it’s quite a journey. Quite a journey. Well, we look forward to hearing more about that journey in the in the coming months. It’s interesting to catch up with you again about that but Philip, I can, as I say, I can hear the passion in your voice. Thank you for joining us today. You’ve been a fantastic guest and I’m sure we’ll speak again soon.
PHILIP DUTTON [00:31:19] Thanks for your time Andy. See you around.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:31:21] And that was Philip Dutton, the Co-Founder and Director of Solidatus. So much going on that company. So, so, so much on the horizon as well. We’re very interesting to see what happens to them in the coming months. So I am now joined by my final, my final fantastic guest, Dr. Mauro Arruda, the CEO of Smartia. Dr. Mauro Arruda, welcome.
MAURO ARRUDA [00:31:56] Thank you, Andrew. Thanks for inviting me to the show. Such a pleasure.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:32:00] It’s no problem at all. I’m looking forward to this, so do you want to tell me about Smartia and tell us about you as well.
MAURO ARRUDA [00:32:09] Yeah. Cool. Yeah. So I’m the CEO and one of the Founders of a Smartia. We’ve been going for 2 years, so pretty fresh off the blocks, a really exciting 2 years. I’ve been in industrial sectors for for quite a while. So I did. I’m an aeronautical engineer by training. I did Phd in propulsion, really focus in aerodynamics. My thesis for my Masters was in Artificial Intelligence but really, since a young age, I’ve been really very geeky, really. In between football and ping pong, which is my sport. Yeah, but programming was the thing that I really enjoyed doing. So this thing about Artificial Intelligence Engineering Machines is always been in my blood really. So in Smartia, it’s all about that. So it is a fusion really between machines, industrial sectors and software and Artificial Intelligence. So Smartia, we really call ourselves an industrial A.I. technology company. Yeah. So pretty exciting stuff.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:33:24] I love things that are in the industrial space and I love things that are in A.I. space. I want to know what industrial A.I. how would you define industrial A.I.?
MAURO ARRUDA [00:33:34] Yeah. So that’s this. Many people talk about Artificial Intelligence and all this intelligence through software and through data that allows you to do really clever stuff and get kind of cognitive abilities that humans have? But in a software world, industrial A.I. is really applying these technology for industrial applications. And really, more specifically, I would say, it’s really a fusion between automating our processes and robotics with Artificial Intelligence. Well, we love one of the bottom line things that we in really our vision thinks that we’re trying to do is make machines more intelligent, really within the industrial sector. Why are we bothering about it? It’s all about reducing waste. It’s all about reducing machine downtime. Make industrial companies more productive. Starts there’s been a really good study by the government in the past few years, mid, smart and review. U.K. companies have been wasting 650 billion pounds a year. So collectively, just because they’re not using information that they have efficiently and in the best way. So we’ve really tried to make a push for intelligence in this industrial sectors. But yeah, it’s interesting. So when the A.I. industrial sectors are just to clarify, I mean, anything from aerospace to automotive industries to manufacture traditional steel manufacturing industries, utility companies, water, electricity, energy, every company that is actually using a large industrial systems to operate and develop and offer a service.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:35:24] So, I mean, the problem with A.I. has always been that it’s such a marketing word. It can be applied to anything you know, you can plug ins on WordPress. Everything’s suddenly and I plug it in. Yeah. Not really. But this is really interesting stuff. So this is actually delivering an outcome. But could you give us an example of some of the areas that maybe this is used from?
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:35:48] Yeah I know. So imagine A.I. gives you this cognitive abilities and we’re giving these abilities to industrial processes into machines. So, for example, the ability to see in identify objects. So we’ve got a really cool use case that we worked with the water utility company. Where well, actually, it’s not very sexy use cases on sewage tunnels. Well, they do, they’ve got this robotic crawlers that they send in the tunnels. Some video capturing systems and all they look, and they this systems down to look for cracks, defects, contamination like blockages and stuff. And typically, that’s an operator at the other end looking at these videos and tried to make decisions. So one of these cases using computer vision that can and actually be talking to this crawler and is looking at the images, identifying cracks in the tunnels, contamination, sending information back to the operators. But more importantly, if something is interestingly spotted the machine intelligence can tell the crawler, look, slow down now let’s have a look at these. And so providing that kind of intelligence to these machines that we in that particular project, you can cover 3x the amount of search tunnels than it would if by just having a human eye, looking at the images and potentially not very pleasant images. As well, so we’ve got other use case, so we go from sewage to very kind of highly advanced manufacturing and technologies. For example, and renewable energy. So we can detect failures in systems before they happen. So in wind turbines, gearboxes is one of the main concerns they go just because of the turbulence, the winds and they just go very frequently and they cost a lot of money to repair and a lot of downtime. So if you can’t predict failures that these machines or the gearbox in this particular case are gonna to fail, in advance. You can actually plan all that work. You can send a team of engineers to replace it or just reduce slightly the metaphor of operational mode of that machine so that it lasts a bit longer. So we’ve developed up intelligence that we can deploy these wind turbines, that when the thing is sending all the right or the wrong signals, we can tell an operator, look, something is not going right and we might even be able to stop the machine before it breaks. So all these this kind of use cases really, it’s really bringing kind of intelligence to these, to machines really.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:38:36] It’s truly fascinating. I mean it’s trully fascination, I could talk to you about some of the case studies all day, but I’m not gonna. So let’s stick to the topic. Let’s say, industrial A.I. projects, you mentioned wind turbines, very big things. Hardware, actually, the I.T. around it. What are the challenges? Do you face challenges when it comes to actually…?
MAURO ARRUDA [00:39:00] It’s a massive problem. So don’t forget A.I. so basically, it’s all about the data festival. It’s the first, the thing that feeds these our group. A.I. is no more than algorithms. So software, software that’s really driven by the data that’s been fed. So as you can imagine there’s this ton of data and more and more data has been generated by the wind turbines and robotics systems, automation, all sorts of systems. And so the challenge is really for A.I to 3 fold as 3 main areas. First, you have to catch all these data. We’re talking about terabytes, petabytes a day sometimes depending on the system. Then you have to move this data somewhere where you can actually process it. So, and then you might be quite locally, quite close to the machine, quite close to the asset. And you can process them with what we call edge processing. So you’re going to need hardware to do that. You might want to send that to the Cloud where practically, you might have infinite amount of computational power and storage. But how do you get the data there? So there’s massive challenges about how do you collect data? How do you process data locally? And how do you push that data to the Cloud and then how do you make that happen? So that data is processed. So the other thing about Artificial Intelligence, the algorithms are slightly different and they’re all slightly different. Some are really kind of hungry for GPU resource, gaphical pressing units. Some are just more standard, it can be on CPUs. But the fact that the hardware stuff and the architectures of the hardware are different. Well, that “makes sense”. But how do you standardise the hardware they’re using for Artificial Intelligence? So a lot of cool technology is coming out in terms of hardware. But really, I think we’re seeing a massive change, especially for industrial applications is the hardware that has been put in to the Cloud and service in the Cloud is not moving quite close to the edge, to the machines just because of the amount of data that needs to be moved across. And also the time of the decision, some decisions that these algorithms have to make is it could make or break a machine. If the solution or the response from the algorithm is doesn’t get to the machine quick enough in the things that might have gone so. So we see a massive shift from processing moving from the Cloud close to the machines and edge processing been really key and interesting that AWS just last week just launched their new kind of edge processing unit. And even the big Cloud provider is now thinking. Hold on a second. Data is moving closer to the machine so we need to provide hardware. So it’s a very complex system and evolving is massively evolving hardware ecosystem at the moment.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:42:26] Well, I mean, as you mentioned, ASW there, but as Smartia you’re doing incredibly complicated things. I imagine that you need to work with a range of technology partners in order to pull this off and focus on the things you’re really good at, is that the case?
MAURO ARRUDA [00:42:43] Totally, totally, I can imagine. So there’s a huge range of technologies. So we will get from automation connected to this things at edge’ss processing, computing at close to these data transfer, massive data centres and then all that data science down to Artificial Intelligence actually producing and creating these algorithms that process the data. So I don’t think there’s nobody that can really claim that they can cover all this. It’s such a wide spectrum of technology. Totally. So we partnering with a lot of technology providers so Lenovo is one of our main providers and partners in the hardware world. Start up programme where we using the power of GPUs to process information at the edge. For example, we’ve got partners, software partners like KeyX who are the makers of the fastest database in the world, pretty much that. So we use that because we need that power to use information that we do. But yeah, the other thing is there’s an infinite amount of applications for data. And how can you use Artificial Intelligence? As you mentioned, we could be talking about use cases for days to come. But because of that, we also partner with specific experts in specific sectors. We’re partnering with Recarta IT, they are an I.T. provider. But they did work really across from different industrial sectors and retail as well. And we partnered with them because they understand those markets. We understand the technology and the intelligence and we happy to ship it with them.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:44:31] Good. I love it. I love the collaboration and I love the technology. Okay. So I want to get it. Let’s say I’ve got an organisation that I want to get in A.I. I would ask the doctor, doctor, how do I actually start if I wanted to get into A.I.?
MAURO ARRUDA [00:44:46] Yeah. Trust me, I’m a doctor. So the thing is, they are professionals are coming from a wide range of backgrounds because don’t forget, you don’t you don’t go to Udemy and do. I’m going to do an A.I. course or data science. Data science application, is really you had mathematicians and other clever guys really do. So we see a lot of A.I. professionals coming from engineering, coming from finance, coming from medical sciences because they needed to use it. So the 3 steps you want to go the A.I. 3 first steps. Get to understand the basics. So there’s loads of material, a lot of the best data scientists at the moment in the world that were self-taught. Big people who pick up, go online, there’s a lot of good materials. I did loads of them. Coursera, don’t know if know
Coursera. I’ve got loads of interesting courses. There’s a really starter one called A.I. for Everyone. And I’m a big fan of this guys who started Coursera is called Andrew Ing. He work at Google by doing and stuff. So go and check out Coursera, A.I for Everyone is a really good starter kit going to introduction to A.I. and a few. So understand the basics. Understand that this is not, we’re not talking about. I don’t know Robocop or the Terminator. We’re talking about real scientific stuff that is really… Well understand the basic. Second, get involved in your local A.I. network, say like meetup clubs. So we, for example, in Bristol, we just partnered with Deep Learning to A.I., which was founded by Andrew Ing. So we are going to be running meetup meetings. It’s called Online Pioneer A.I. in Bristol, and we talk, just get involved in those communities. There’s loads of very active communities and Artificial Intelligence, whether extended experiences. And third, get your hands dirty, really. So there’s loads of stuff online now that you can actually go and go into competition and partner with world class experts in A.I. so thing like Kaggle. Google runs this competition called Kaggle. You go online and you could just be part of this massive community. And putting it, yeah, actually using A.I. for real case, they provide all the data and stuff. So it really these 3 steps understand it. Get involved. Get your hands dirty. There’s no other way. Trust me, I’m a doctor.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:47:23] I absolutely love your enthusiasm and your passion for this. It’s amazing. I absolutely love it. I’ve got to ask you one last question before I let you go. What’s the picture behind you?
MAURO ARRUDA [00:47:35] Oh, that’s a classic car. You know, anything machine. So I love it. What I’m really looking at that is not the car. I’m a geek. What I’ve been like is all the little notes and all the things, all the things that you can fit. So it’s a car. Yes, it’s a car.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:47:59] Well, thank you for not only passion, but also an entertaining interview. That was absolutely fantastic. And I look forward to speaking to you again. I think industrial A.I. it sounds so fascinating. I’d love to cover this again sometime, but thank you so much for your time. You’ve been a fantastic guest. Thank you.
MAURO ARRUDA [00:48:19] Thanks Andrew.
ANDREW MCLEAN [00:48:22] Thank you. Well, that was industrial A.I. with Dr. Mauro Arruda, the CEO of Smartia. What a great way to end the show. Well, you have been watching The Andy Show, on the 22nd of June 2020. The time is now coming up to 19 minutes past 1:00. Don’t forget, you can join us on Disruptive Live, on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, and our website every single weekday until tomorrow. I’ll see you soon.