I joined Infoshare as employee number five to help set up its sales and marketing processes. I spent the first ten years on the road, meeting local authorities, regional government offices and police forces across the UK and growing the revenue and profitability of the business.
In 2010, Infoshare was at a junction, where it needed investment and leadership to take it forward. So, I remortgaged my home, stepped in as leader, brought some wonderful people on board and led a significant development project. Since then, we have grown every year; delivering profits, beating our biggest competitors in technical head-to-heads and have won some high profile clients.
Since 2010, I have also been a member of the Cabinet Office’s Small Business Panel, advising and supporting the Government on achieving its target of 33% spend with SMEs. During the past five years I have also been mentoring some Cabinet Office civil servants.
I have two highlights. The first was co-chairing a meeting at Number 10, focused on supporting SME businesses to win government contracts. The second was winning the Female Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2019. Both events gave me the opportunity to represent diverse, female-led small businesses in such a positive way.
This has got to be my current director of commercial and operations, Shabnam Malhoutra. She gave me the strength to believe I could run Infoshare, and she has guided me through my (many) wobbles and has worked alongside me through the night, when we have needed to meet tight deadlines.
2019 turned out much better than I had hoped. I expanded the team to bring on two first class colleagues – my non-exec Tim Gregory and my director of partnerships Audrie Lunny. Furthermore, we learned at the close of 2019 that we are the preferred supplier for a contract that will be a game changer for us and one which we have worked very hard to win.
There’s a definite shift towards an increased use of AI and machine learning, however, there needs to be a better understanding of the relationship between good data and effective analytics and the importance of accurate data to underpin AI.
Data and analytics companies will be much stronger through collaboration and a better appreciation that a data standard does not necessarily mean accurate data. Furthermore, this year the industry will be hitting two years since the introduction of GDPR and I believe that the need for better management of customers’ consents will become integral to every organisation’s approach to data privacy and compliance.
The biggest opportunities lie in the “data for good” sphere, I think specifically in the identification of our vulnerable members of society. With data and technology enabling effective and reliable information sharing; vulnerable children and citizens will be more readily identified and early interventions implemented.
Also, the resulting data will provide the intelligence needed to underpin key decisions on the spend of public funds, and any AI used will be more powerful because of better data plugged into it. This should also lead to a reduction in fraud and error across many sectors, such as government bodies, financial institutions and utilities.