As part of our Q&A blog series, Mike Fuller, our Regional Director of Marketing, discusses why data needs to be both timely and within context, and why healthy data is the key to a healthy business.
What’s your job role at InterSystems and what does it involve?
I have worked at InterSystems for over 20 years, but my role currently is Regional Director of Marketing. I support the local InterSystems businesses integration with corporate marketing services to best support our external and internal customers.
Can you give a brief background of your career prior to InterSystems?
I was lucky. My career started in the computing industry in 1980 when there was a chronic shortage of skills. The first company I joined (Hoskyns) had a superb on-boarding and skills development programme that put computing in a business context from day one. Over the years several computing companies gave me opportunities to learn and practice a range of skills and gain experience in engineering, programming, project management, sales and marketing. However, just as educational were the industry sectors that they served. That combined experience is a strong foundation for my work, and marketing is the nexus from where I can contribute most to make the difference to outcomes.
What attracted you to the role/business?
What attracted me to the role was that I love marketing. Marketing is a mindset, and I constantly see the world through that marketing lens. I already knew InterSystems reasonably well as I worked for several years at companies who were Application Partners of theirs. From that vantage point I felt confident InterSystems to be an ethical company with superb technology who were focused on long-term customer success.
What is your main motivation in your work life?
What motivates me in and outside of work is learning, everything. I have a curiosity about the “why” and “how” things work. But mostly, I find the conundrum of how to communicate the proper use of technology to make people’s lives and businesses better the most stimulating of all.
Why does data matter?
You need data as the context for insight and action. What you measure you can manage, to quote Peter Drucker. High-quality, higher volumes of timely data improves situational comprehension, which increases your planning and ability to achieve your goals. I think that without a healthy amount of data you cannot properly manage the health of your business.
What’s your biggest frustration in the world of data?
What frustrates me about the world of data is when data is out of context or late. Worse still, when it’s both of these. However, even if it’s high-quality, timely data with relevant context, you can still be overwhelmed but it.
How do you see data and its uses evolving in the future?
There will be even more data and we’ll use it for almost everything we do. I’m personally excited about how augmented reality will change the way we use computers and perceive data in everyday situations. When I look at what’s around me, I want to know about its extension into the cyber-world. When I interact with the real-world, I want that interaction to happen digitally too.
For these experiences to be practical we need the boring, behind-the-scenes data fabric to evolve. Applications, processes and workflow should become smarter by embedding machine-learning assisted artificial intelligence. Databases must manage more types of data side-by-side, and concurrently provide augmented transactions and augmented insight. In-memory transaction performance should not compromise a solution’s robustness and availability. Inter-Cloud, multi-Cloud and Edge computing should provide the flexibility needed to tune solutions to meet different service levels agreements, while avoiding outage risks and vendor lock-in. And, customers will need to apply more husbandry to optimise Cloud service and costs.
As the source and uses of data increase, so too will the need to package it with appropriate meta-data. The meta-data will enable its wider use and reuse over time by supporting improved provenance and governance. All of these improvements will support more dynamic, hybrid developed, data-driven computing solutions with lower maintenance and modernisation costs.
What are the biggest benefits you’ve seen in the utilisation of AI whilst working at InterSystems?
Business intelligence and data warehousing are important corporate tools, but they mostly remain separate, after-the-fact, follow-on business activities. Today, AI is transforming insight to be integrated, immediate, prescriptive, and predictive. However, a skills shortage and data quality issues are inhibiting AI’s wider adoption.
Therefore, InterSystems is focusing its efforts to help make the AI technology disappear to the user. Users just run their everyday applications with the AI inside. We also enable every transaction to make the AI smarter and data healthier.
We enable this democratisation of ML for AI with InterSystems IntegratedML, which extends SQL to provide CREATE, TRAIN, PREDICT syntax. There’s a lot more to it than that, but what’s important to understand is that we are making it easy for application developers to add AI to solutions. We also use AI to optimise the process, and provide feedback loops to use operational data to refine algorithms and models in real-time. This is supported by explanations and audits trails for comprehensive governance of quality and bias. Domain experts can also use this extended SQL in reiterative steps to explore data, which frees data scientists for more specialised activities.
I believe that AI could play a crucial role in helping customers navigate the uncertainties of today’s markets, and be ready to outpace their competitors as the world reboots after the global pandemic.
And lastly, just for fun – if you could choose any job in the world, what would you choose?
I listen to music, a lot. I don’t have the skills, but I’d love to manage a rock music band, or better still, play in one.