Interview: ExploreAI, UK IT Industry Awards finalist

The ExploreAI Academy is doing its bit to solve the talent pipeline problem

clock • 4 min read
Byron Roelofsz, Account Principal & Technical Programme Lead, ExploreAI
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Byron Roelofsz, Account Principal & Technical Programme Lead, ExploreAI

"ExploreAI's business model has proven particularly successful, with the company experiencing 100% growth year on year."

As society emerges from the pandemic years, IT finds itself ever more central to our personal and working lives, and IT professionals have never been more crucial to the functioning of businesses and society.

The UK IT Industry Awards are the largest and most well-known event in the technology industry calendar. Owned and operated by Computing and BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, the awards enjoy a level of professionalism and industry knowledge not seen at other shows.

This year's winners will be announced at a live awards ceremony on Wednesday 9th November in London.

One of those finalists is ExploreAI, which has reached the shortlist for three categories: Data Science Project of the Year (SLAM in partnership with Thames Water); IT Team of the Year (Smart Energy with Thames Water); and Rising Star of the Year (Alec Stansell with Thames Water).

We talked to Byron Roelofsz, Account Principal & Technical Programme Lead at ExploreAI to find out how their organisation has used IT for success.

Roelofsz has over eight years' technical experience in water utilities, telecommunication and insurance, working closely with executives, senior stakeholders and development teams to realise customer outcomes through the use of AI applications. He joined ExploreAI in 2017 as a senior data scientist, and is currently the Account Lead for the company's partnership with Thames Water. This four-year association has resulted in numerous industry awards, including two previous UK IT Award wins: Data Science Project of the Year in 2021 and IoT App of the Year in 2020.

Computing: Please provide some background on your company for our readers.

Byron Roelofsz: ExploreAI is a six-year-old consulting and training business currently solving complex business problems in a number of AI and data science projects with leading UK and European businesses, such as Thames Water, Nordic Guarantee, and CRP. The business is led by top global academics and practitioners with decades of experience in teaching and real-world problem-solving. The business was started out of Cape Town, South Africa and now has its headquarters in London under CEO Has Dosanjh.

The ExploreAI Academy is the largest data science academy in Africa having trained over 3,000 students in data science and related courses. The Academy is supported by a number of large corporate companies as well as Amazon Web Services.

What makes you different from other technology companies?

ExploreAI's business model has proven particularly successful with the company experiencing 100% growth year on year. Data science and data engineering skills are in short supply across the globe. By starting with the ExploreAI Academy, the business was able to create a pipeline of talent, which it has applied to support its global consulting and projects business. Because much of its project work is outsourced to its South African operation, it can be executed at globally competitive rates.

Our founder, Shaun Dippnall, says, "ExploreAI has proved that South Africans have the technical skills, entrepreneurial spirit and work ethic to succeed in a highly technical, rapidly changing and competitive marketplace, locally and across the world"

What one company achievement in the last 12 months are you most proud of?

Over the last 12 months, ExploreAI has seen significant international growth, impacting customer outcomes through the embedding of AI Applications with our global utility partners and by influencing the personal and professional lives of many through our ExploreAI Academy training courses.

One particular example is the way we have used our AI applications to enable water companies to pro-actively clear blockages in their sewers before they result in a pollution event. This has saved our clients millions of pounds in regulatory fines and environmental damage.

What are you working on this year?

Some of ExploreAI's recent international projects include:

  • Telecommunications - using data science and AI to optimise the rollout of a US-based fibre optic network infrastructure to minimise distance travelled while maximising revenue earned.
  • Insurance - pricing, credit underwriting, optimising collection, and recommending retirement investments in Europe.
  • Water - building a network-wide data model for a UK water utility with features including leak detection, predicting supply interruptions, near real-time supply-demand modelling, asset health and predictive alarm notifications, among others.
  • Waste - development of digital twins for wastewater treatment plants: software-based replicas of physical systems that enable operators to run forecasts and simulations of their system digitally and operate their businesses with greater efficiencies.

Why are events like the UK IT Industry Awards important to the IT industry?

The opportunity to showcase the depth of talent and skills within the UK's IT industry is vitally important both to encourage investment in the sector and to spur the industry to achieve greater levels of excellence. The Awards also highlight what efficiencies and innovations can be achieved by IT within a broad spectrum of industries and applications.

The UK IT Industry Awards will take place on 9th November in London. Click here to view the shortlist and here to book your table.

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