Smart thinking

Cambridge MBAs gain a unique insight into the inner workings of AI from PROWLER.io

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Smart thinking

Cambridge MBAs gain a unique insight into the inner workings of AI from PROWLER.io

PROWLER.io is at the very forefront of AI In Cambridge, and thus, as I’m keen to point out, the world. The city is pretty much the world’s gateway to AI. Our strong links with the university have enabled the company to participate in the highly-regarded Executive MBA which is a key part of the curriculum at Judge Business School. The School, considered one of the best business schools in the world, has a highly competitive and highly regarded Executive MBA programme and we are hosting some of the students over the next few months. We’re delighted to have them – but to call them students is perhaps a bit of a misnomer. They are all senior executives.

Already well-established in a range of careers widely differing enterprises, the students are coming to PROWLER.io HQ in order to glean a first-hand understanding of AI and its potential applications in their fields. Our student programme started in September, and the idea is that we will give a hand-picked group of students a thorough insight into the scope and application of our work.

Very few of the students come from a straightforwardly “tech” background but they are all at the top of their game – and very keen to find what AI can achieve in their own particular industries. They, like so many people working in business, have absorbed the basics of AI but are keen to see how it can be used in a business environment – and the obvious inherent commercial advantages.

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Executive MBAs from the Judge Business School in Cambridge at PROWLER.io HQ. Clockwise from left: Jeong Suk Song, Ariel Scroggins, Derek Douglas, Faraz Haider and Jithindas Ramadas

The Executive MBA programme at Judge is an exhausting, exceptionally demanding study programme. Candidates have to squeeze learning time into their normal working weeks and there is very little scope for anything else. Weekends are spent hunched over screens and study modules. “Yes, it’s a long time since I’ve had a pint of Guinness,” said Executive MBA candidate Derek Douglas, who is a programme delivery manager for an investment bank in London.

Originally from Ireland, he now works in Canary Wharf. “The programme is a bit of sweat, inevitably, but it will be worth it in the end. The idea is to take academic theory and find the businesses, the commercial environment, where it might be applied. It’s very much a two-way street and we hope the companies we visit get something out of our individual expertise.

Derek has a key role in logistics at the bank: although he is not personally responsible for making day-to-day crucial investment decisions, it is down to him to ensure that the back of the business goes according to plan. He is conscious that accurate decision-making generated by AI may be a key element of the future of financial services, a field in which so much is at stake. He and the rest of his group were shown the potential of PROWLER.io’s platform by Dongho Kim, our co-founder and CTO.

“The AI application we’ve talked about at the bank is aimed at addressing machine failure. It is a very specific solution to a very specific problem. But having spoken to Dongho I can see the potential of PROWLER.io’s decision-making platform, how far it can go and the breadth of the opportunity it offers. I am very impressed by the application and the sheer flexibility of probabilistic modelling. I’ve certainly picked up some useful background and information. The key thing, however, is what AI can do for my company. And that’s what I am here to find out. There is certainly a lot of opportunity for AI to deal with the tougher decisions that businesses might face, without having the blockage or bottle neck of people making separate decisions. I can see that AI has the potential to change that, and unlocking some of that value.

The potential value of AI is a key consideration for Jeong Suk Song, who works in Cambridge in business development for Greenbee Bio, a bio-tech company. Also on the Executive MBA programme, she is involved in developing cancer treatment products. She has experience of AI from working at ABCAM, a biotech spin-off from Cambridge University, where it was used to improve marketing and sales with the help of an Amazon-style system of algorithms.

“AI could play a key role in our research area at Greenbee. I have listened to what Dongho has said and I can imagine that drugs – especially cancer drugs, which are incredibly expensive – can be developed much more cheaply and quickly with the help of AI. We would need to look at the data but it’s really a question of developing different priorities and making AI work for us.”

Another Executive MBA student from the Judge, Faraz Haider, is based at BP in central London He comes from a more obvious “tech” discipline. Growing up in Dubai, he trained as an engineer and now works at the oil company specialises in business transformation. “We all know that AI is already here, it’s already in Google and a whole range of other platforms. In gas and energy companies we are already using AI. We can see efficiencies in the kind of product that PROWLER.io is offering. I already know where all the pain points are. We have the computational power and I am sure that we will be able to make the best of their data offering.”

Ariel Scroggins, from Atlanta, Georgia, is also on the Executive MBA programme at the Business School. She has worked in forecasting at NCR, on financial planning and analysis and mergers and acquisition. “I suppose it’s fair to say that many of us in the US are worried that AI will put us out of a job. But I don’t think that’s necessarily true. Seeing the work here has addressed a lot of those perceptions and it’s great to get a chance to meet the CTO here and work out what we might be able to achieve – ahead of our competitors. I am really hoping that AI can revolutionise our industry. After all these years the banking system – and financial management – is still an incredibly slow process and I am hoping that AI is going to speed it up. I think AI will help us to a fully digital banking system.

Also from the financial sector is Jithindas Ramadas, who works as an engineer for Deutsche Bank. He too is optimistic about the future application of AI and has already seen it in action in at his company’s offices in London. He is aware that AI can take some time to implement, but thinks that many enterprises are over-cautious. “Things are changing rapidly, and increasingly we do have the skill-sets that are required. Already AI is in place in the banking, in anti-money laundering programmes, fraud and security packages Clearly they are the first areas in banking to embrace AI but soon there are going to many more. The anti-fraud programmes are important – and at the forefront of the introduction of AI – but it is only a matter of time before AI is in place across the industry.

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