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Spark! CEO Joins the Transparency Task Force

Spark! Welcomes a New Partnership

London, 5 July 2019

Spark! are pleased to announce that CEO Julie Barber has been invited to participate in the FinTech Special Interest Group within the Transparency Task Force. The Transparency Task Force is the collaborative, campaigning community, dedicated to driving up the levels of transparency in financial services, right around the world. The Task Force is unique in being made up of a truly pan-industry cross-section of individuals, trade bodies, thought leaders, academics and professional associations, united by the desire to improve the way the Financial Services industry behaves through the transformational power of transparency.

“I am thrilled to have been invited to participate, and particularly in the FinTech SIG, given my involvement with tech startups through our ‘Are You Investor Ready?’ programme for and the Founder Support Service we offer. The work of the Task Force aligns directly with our commitment as a company to the UN Global Goals, specifically around making financial services accessible to all. Trust and transparency are key to driving up adoption and increasing accessibility.” Julie Barber, CEO.

Julie brings an interesting perspective to the FinTech SIG, having worked in financial services for over 20 years across consultancy, banking and regulatory sectors and now working with startups as well as large corporates.

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Spark! Welcomes A New Partnership

Spark! Welcomes a New Partnership

London, 12 July 2019

Spark! are pleased to announce a new partnership with David B Horne which allows us to provide SEIS/EIS application preparation and submission services to our clients. David has a fantastic track record of generating successful applications and will be able to handle both Advance Assurance and full application activities. As well as being a highly experienced CFO with a number of portfolio roles, David is also a serial investor, entrepreneur and now a #1 bestselling author on Amazon, thanks to his new book, Add Then Multiply.

Commenting on this, David said: “I’m delighted to be partnering with Julie and the team at Spark! to support their community of start-up entrepreneurs.”

“We’re thrilled to welcome David on board, and to be able to offer this additional service to members of our ‘Are You Investor Ready?’ programme, which will help them take the next step on their investment journey.” Julie Barber, CEO.

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Do you really need AI?

Do you really need AI?

AI, or Artificial Intelligence, is the latest buzz-word. Everyone wants it… but the real question is, do you need it?

To be able to answer that question, you need to know two things: what AI is capable of – the ‘art of the possible’ – and how your business works:

What is AI capable of?

Artificial Intelligence is a form of computing that allows previously human tasks to be carried out by a machine. AI can theoretically do anything a human can do, from decision making, to translating, to checking if IT servers are still running and taking the correct action if they aren’t. It can be an incredibly powerful tool, as long as it is trained and applied in a way which means you can trust the outcome.

AI can remove boring tasks from humans, so they concentrate on higher value work, reduce errors (as long as you train it properly in the first place!) and increase the amount of work that can be achieved. It can mine huge amounts of data, to reveal insights about your business and/or your customers, and even predict future behaviour. It can also improve customer experience – a chatbot that can answer basic customer queries while you’re asleep can mean you keep sales leads alive that might otherwise drop.

Things to watch out for

Training AI is somewhere between a science and an art form. You need exceptionally good tech resource to build your AI in a way that means it has good controls and is easy to edit and manage. Likewise, your AI trainer needs to have an in-depth understanding of the process or customer interaction you are trying to replicate, to ensure the end result is the same or better than when a human handles the process. This relies on you, or your staff, being able to really understand what good looks like and articulate that in a way that can be translated into AI.

You need to accept that AI works really well when the conditions are always the same – it isn’t great at making unique judgement calls in exceptional circumstances.

Also, while AI can help you reduce your operating costs, AI itself doesn’t run for free – it needs constant training, checking and updating, so you need to be clear about how much money you would actually save, and whether that makes it commercially viable for you.

Does your business need AI?

First you really need to understand what happens in your business:

- What processes are carried out? How often, and with what kind of volume?

- How do you interact with your customers? Do you have lots of repeat interactions on the same topics?

- How much data does your business need to handle on a daily, or even hourly, basis? What do you need to do with the data?

If the answers to these questions reveal you carry out basic processes with very high volumes, you get asked the same basic questions by lots of customers, or you need to mine huge amounts of data to get vital business information, then an AI solution could be a good answer for you.

If your answer is no, but you still feel you could improve how your business is running, then you may be better carrying out a review of your processes, how you interact with customers, and how you manage data, to see where there are opportunities for improvement. You could achieve those improvements by simply changing the process, or by using other tools and technologies, such as a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool, to help you.

Overall, it’s really important that you make a choice that will help your company achieve its goals – no-one actually cares whether you have AI or not – they care about whether their salaries get paid or whether their customer experience is a good one, so it’s vital your decision is based on those key criteria, and isn’t focused on having the latest cool tech!

If you would like to discuss opportunities for improving process in your business, whether with AI or not, please contact us on or 07973 801682.

#AI #knowyourbusiness #businessprocess

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