In this instalment of our Q&A blog series, we get to know Redmond O’Leary, our Sales Manager for Ireland, as he discusses why data is the lifeblood of businesses, the democratisation of AI, and his love of Springwatch.
What’s your job role at InterSystems and what does it involve?
My role is primarily to bring InterSystems to Ireland and to really engage with the broader Irish financial services and fintech sector. InterSystems technology has been leveraged to great effect across the globe already, particularly by the US financial services sector. I see my role as now bringing that to Ireland.
Can you give a brief background of your career prior to InterSystems?
I originally started out as a computer programmer and then quickly fell into sales in Dublin city centre where I sold computer solutions to individuals and SMEs. Since that time, I’ve worked for multinational firms such as Gartner, IBM, Memorex Telex, and Oracle, as well as indigenous Irish firms, such as BPSL and Version1.
Overall, I’ve worked in sales within the technology sector for about 30 or so years now, and of that, the last 20 have been very focused within the financial services sector, with one of my most recent roles being in research and advisory services for the financial services sector.
What attracted you to the role/business?
In previous roles, I had a lot of conversations with businesses that had invested in various technologies, like large Data Warehouses, cloud enablement, and analytical tools and they hadn’t really seen a return on those investments. What I’d heard and seen of InterSystems prior to joining made me think that they could be part of the solution to these challenges and could help businesses reach their goals. Something that I call Data Nirvana.
What do you like most about your job?
I wanted a fresh challenge, and this role has really provided that. It’s an opportunity for me to help open people’s eyes across Ireland and show them what we’ve done so well for other businesses. I’m also personally very impressed by InterSystems technology.
Another thing that has really stood out to me is the sincere and unparalleled level of customer service on offer. I’d heard about it prior to joining, but now I’ve seen it first-hand, I can see how unique InterSystems’ approach to customer support is.
Why is data important?
As cliché as it may sound, I truly believe data to be the lifeblood of a business. For me, Nicholas Negroponte’s 1995 novel ‘Being Digital’, which speaks about the move from atom to bits, and the flow of electronic data, really resonated. Much of what Negroponte predicted in the book has since come true and, for me, it really cemented the idea of data being the lifeblood. Case in point is that without access to data, healthcare institutions can’t properly treat their patients as they rely on technology like InterSystems provides to give them access to the records they need.
What’s your biggest frustration in the world of data?
My biggest frustration is the lack of true real-time insight businesses are able to gain from their data. This really impedes their ability to make informed and accurate decisions to drive their business forward. For financial institutions especially, it makes it very difficult to identify why some of the offerings may be less popular than others to better compete. This is where I see data fabrics being really invaluable.
How can data help organisations to find the ‘new normal’?
Rather than a ‘new normal’ I see it a continuous evolution. Over the last year, I think some businesses have been very surprised with how well they’ve been able to adapt and quickly roll out technology to enable remote working, for example. Now, I think attention will turn more to the security side of things to ensure that any technology firms have rushed to implement is as secure as possible and isn’t exposing them to any risk around their data.
When it comes specifically to data, I think it will really help businesses to grow and scale – particularly in terms of using AI. Whether we realise it or not, most of us use AI on a daily basis through apps on our phones and I think its use in the fintech and business world will now start to grow as the foundations start be laid in terms of regulation.
What are the biggest benefits you foresee in the utilisation of AI?
At the moment, AI still isn’t being utilised enough in the financial services sector and there are still a lot of unknowns which requires a democratisation of AI and experimentation to understand where the real-life applications of this technology are.
Once we’ve got to a point, I’d like to see financial services firms using AI to bring benefits to us as individuals. I think the trick for businesses will be to find the balance where we as individuals get that value of AI, and in turn they get the benefits of customer loyalty and new business opportunities. I think once adoption becomes more widespread, AI will make dramatic changes, but the most important thing is for it to address a business need.
If you could choose any job in the world, what would you choose?
I’m a big wildlife and nature fan and would love a role where I’d be responsible for a wildlife ecosystem. I love watching work by Éamon de Buitléar Johnny Kingdom (RIP) and the Springwatch team. You mightn’t think it but there’s a technical element to those kinds of roles which I read about in Peter Wohlleben “The Hidden Life of Trees”. It’s a fascinating read about how trees communicate with each other and shows there’s so much about nature we don’t fully appreciate. For me, learning more about nature helps to keep me grounded and reminds me of the interconnected aspect of everything.
A more realistic option perhaps would be a job where I can make a real difference to businesses and the community by genuinely helping people to understand and see the business benefits of technology. Although I’m hoping that’s what I will achieve in my role here at InterSystems!