You are well aware of how fast technology can have an impact on you as a consumer, but do you also understand how new tech stacks can create disruption and ripples in corporations? Some see it coming, adapt, strive, and leverage new ways – others might have a different strategy, and in a worst-case scenario, they disappear.
Many of these changes have started with the use of desktop PCs that were first connected to company networks, and later, with the Internet. Laptops, tablets, and smartphones are the devices that wouldn’t work without that technology being established in the first place. Apps (short for applications) are also part of “the technology” that makes our life easier and quicker. In this case, however, you are looking at software changes as opposed to hardware evolution.
Out with the old, in with the new
Every business owner needs to set up their marketing department, or at least make sure that someone from the staff is working on marketing activities in order to generate leads that would ideally turn to business and help the organization to achieve the sales targets. If you want to have a competitive edge, you cannot use old fashioned ways of gathering data.
Lead generation or web scraping, and other menial yet vital tasks can be an arduous routine in the workplace. This was what inspired the founder and CEO of UK-based Nightingale HQ, Stephanie Locke, who first got a job assisting a product owner in marketing and the daily operations before she was building her company up. How did she end up where she is now, and what are their challenges? Here’s our interview with her.
Cathleen Soco (CS): You started out, as you said, with a business focus and in tendency leaning towards marketing activities when you got your first job. Did you have no touching points with IT at all at that time? What were your experiences like?
Steph Locke (SL): Yes, very business-focused. An idea that I’ve tried to retain is that IT is fundamentally the heart of a business. It enables the business nowadays at its core. IT people are just a specialized role inside the organization to help the business achieve the goal.
CS: Prior to founding Nightingale HQ, you worked at Locke Data. How would you describe the difference between the two organizations?
SL: Locke Data is a consulting agency to help businesses to build out their business and grow. Nightingale HQ, on the other hand, is a more specialized consultation agency for helping businesses adopt data science and AI to augment their data strategy.
CS: How did you come up with the name Nightingale for your business? What was that story all about?
SL: I first encountered some of Florence Nightingale’s work about 15 years ago through the data visualization community. When we were founding the company, the idea for the business was to provide something like data-science-readiness-as-a-service. We were discussing what we wanted to do, but we weren’t calculating how we wanted to do these things.
We were looking at people who changed the world as inspiration, and Florence Nightingale was a candidate. She translated data into easily digestible charts and studies. Instead of staying in her own field, she went out there. She went out to the government and military leadership. She successfully showed the way forward to all those people.
Because of her ability to transform complicated sets of data into actionable information, she has been responsible for saving millions and millions of lives over the past few hundred years. We might not save lives, but hopefully, we can have an equally big impact on businesses.
CS: How do you envision businesses to utilize Nightingale HQ on a large scale?
SL: The first thing that we’ve built is the expert marketplace. There’s plenty of freelancer platforms out there right now, where a business owner can go and get a data scientist to code up a machine learning model for him. But the challenge for most organizations, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, is knowing where AI and data science fits into their strategy.
What are the projects that their data will support, and how can they manage those projects successfully? So, we’re looking at building up an advisor community that translates lots of jargon, lots of hype and buzzwords into practical advice. Then we’re going to have an in-depth assessment of those businesses and help them build a roadmap towards achieving data science and AI readiness. Naturally we also help them navigate and manage that project to completion.
CS: Is there a “time of change” for every business?
SL: I think PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) said that $15 trillion of business value can be unlocked through AI. But for that $15 trillion, we have to manage how we innovate, and how businesses can innovate in the space so that they can build new products. We need to plan how they incorporate AI effectively into their culture and how they deal with the societal changes that are bound to happen at some point. AI gives us a huge ability to avoid boring work and, hopefully, get rid of a lot of dangerous work.
CS: Thanks so much for your time, Steph!
Does this sound like something your organization could also benefit from? The data science and AI startup Nightingale HQ is spearheaded by Steph Locke and Sarah Williams, who projected that once a business owner signed up or registered on their system, they’ll match him up with the right consultant within the next four to six weeks and hopefully start delivering successful projects quite quickly.
At the end of the interview, I heard Steph say something interesting, “I think we can really help businesses cut down on the cash that they are wasting. We can help them get there sooner and with better implementations, adopting data science and AI.” In the future, businesses could save money by identifying wasteful spendings and investing smartly in innovation. Sounds like a plan, doesn’t it?
YouTube: Steph Locke and Sarah Williams – The inside of Nightingale: Building a startup
Photo credit: All images used were provided by Nightingale HQ for press usage.
Editorial notice: The interview was condensed for clarity and readability.