Meeting 2 - South Hants IT group

14 September 2018

A big thank you to all of those who attended the 2nd meeting of the South Hants IT Professional Outreach Organisation. Its good to see the acronym doesn’t get boring, and that people universally think it’s a nice idea albeit difficult to comprehend something that has no particular commercial agenda. Anyway, once again, I am judging last night’s event as a success.

The nice progression of the experiment is we had a true representation of the whole IT Supply Chain, from Clients, Channel Partners and Vendors, all of whom were sparking off each other when discussing the chosen topic of Artificial Intelligence and its impact on everything.

The objective of the group is to gather like-minded technology people in an informal setting to build relationships. And although in places it felt a bit like an AA meeting for technologists (“my name is Phil, and I work in technology”, “Hi, Phil”), the “like-minded” aspect of the objective is showing through. Once initial introductions were done, it was clear that everyone’s interest in technology, its impact on society and each of our careers, is paramount in the attendees thoughts.

The conclusions around Artificial Intelligence were very interesting:

It’s real and its coming. But it’s not here now and Gartner’s position of it on the Hype Cycle in the “Peak of Inflated Expectations” is spot on. And we are all predicting the “Trough of Disillusionment”
The technologists are pushing it harder than the business guys. Everyone is so buoyed up by the “AI” hype that they are finding projects that don’t really need true AI to get involved in, with no real focus on the business objectives. And failing.
The biggest issue that people were finding was skills. Deep techie skills to harness/configure the technology, and suitably broad minded skills to engage from the business end. Domain experts who want to train a robot to do their job, using a UI which is nigh-on impossible to engage with, are difficult to find.
All that said, there are some very interesting use cases that everyone has either seen at Vendor trade shows OR are considering in their own businesses, and genuine value is something that can be had. Providing all of the above points are considered.
I think its fair to say that everyone left a little wiser about the realities of AI, not necessarily experts, but probably level set on the industries view of AI and its currency today, as well as its potential for about 5 years’ time. And anecdotally there is plenty of material that everyone can take back to their workplaces, shared within the group, that could help structure an AI project over time.

A big thank you to Corporate Software Services for their contributions to the content, and Oracle for buying a round of drinks and crisps too. Although their contribution did not influence the independent proceedings, it was very gratefully received.

We are scheduling the next session in early January to avoid the Christmas party carnage, with a topic of Blockchain. The more the merrier, we had new people last night who were invited from the original team, so expansion is coming but I’m not setting any upper limit. If we get to a group of 100, and 30-40 attendees, I’ll be quietly pleased with myself.

In the pub, one of the members suggested a “group chant”, along the lines of “We’re SH IT, and we know we are”, which although highly undemocratic I am vetoing. Sad muppet.

The social experiment continues, please reach out if you are interested in participating:

Thursday 17th January, 5:30pm for a 6pm-7pm meeting
The Solent Hotel, Whiteley (J9 of M27) for the meeting
Parsons Collar from 7pm for a few beers
Contact me with any questions : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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