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Following the recent CogX festival, which celebrated all things AI, we caught up with Edward Oliver, Vice President, Finance Sales at Dataminr. Edward tells us all about Dataminr and what it means to be awarded the CogX innovation award for Best AI Product in Financial Services.

Tell us about Dataminr

Dataminr is the leading real-time information discovery company. Using powerful, proprietary algorithms, Dataminr instantly analyses publicly available data to provide its clients with the earliest indication of breaking news, real-world events, off the radar content, and emerging trends. It has pioneered a groundbreaking technology that identifies, classifies, and determines the significance of real-time information, and delivers relevant alerts to its clients. Dataminr currently serves customers in finance, the public sector, news, PR/communications, security and crisis management.

How did the idea come about?

In essence, it was about adding structure to the unstructured. Our founder and CEO Ted Bailey recognised early on that social media was a go-to resource for breaking news and information in real-time. He built a team to begin to understand how events occur, to recognise patterns in complex data, and to discover and then deliver signals relating to events of significance. Dataminr applied that capability to the finance industry initially, giving hedge funds and other financial professionals the opportunity to know first and capitalise on real-time information and events that impact the market. We now serve professionals across the enterprise.

Congratulations on being named a CogX Awards winner! What sets Dataminr apart from other companies in the field?

Thank you very much! We were very honored to be a winner. What stood out about CogX is that it showed how different companies use AI to provide a valuable service to a wide set of industries, from entertainment to energy.

What sets us apart is that we are focused on identifying breaking events as they occur. We discover events as they happen, often before they’re widely reported in traditional sources, and deliver this critical information as real-time alerts to our clients. We have become an alternative data source that our clients cannot live without, providing the earliest information, often directly from witnesses of events

Which industries do you think would benefit most from AI technology?

I believe that all industries can hugely benefit from AI, but specifically, in finance there are already real world and tangible examples of AI’s positive impact. Large international banks are using it to better manage their businesses, helping them take all the data across their global footprint, streamline it and make smart decisions faster. Beyond this there’s also a real value to the individual investor, be it for retail trading or for advisory purposes. AI is opening up access to the wider market, and giving data-driven insight to more people at different levels than ever before.

Are there any companies or products in the field of AI you think are really exciting?

Beyond AI being applied by software acting on behalf of people, I love seeing the growth of solutions that help real people make real-time decisions. People can fundamentally change how productive they are by taking insight or actions through AI-driven software. Companies are finding examples across the industry: spotting trends, reacting to real-time opportunities, or just being smarter about how to spend their time.

What do you think about the current state of financial education in the UK (and around the world)? Do you think people need to be more aware of their money and how best to use and protect it?

People need to become more aware of how to use and protect their money. Due to increasing cybersecurity issues and hacking, there is an increased need for people to understand how everything links digitally. Technology has always been a great enabler, and understanding how to effectively utilise these new tech tools can help to educate more people on how digital literacy and financial literacy are interconnected.

Do you think AI will help more people to become better financially educated and more included in the industry?

The short answer is yes.

AI is helping more people to better understand complex data and provides another way of bringing the conversation to a level that a broader audience can understand. When it comes to the finance industry specifically, AI has become a great leveller, helping to make finance easier to understand for the general public, thus opening it up to ‘non-financial’ people, so they too can participate in the process.

What do you think of the whole ‘Sci-Fi scary movie’ image that AI has? Does it affect your work at all?

AI only affects my work positively in that we’re able to show the value of what we do and help our clients make better decisions in real-time.

I see AI and machine learning as tools that make humans smarter. It’s not a case of man versus machine, it’s man and machine working together. For example, it would be very difficult for humans to make sense of all the millions of daily tweets without a tool to enable this. AI is hugely valuable, but it’s a tool that requires human interaction to be effective.

How has GDPR affected your work?

It has not created any issues for us. We are fully compliant, and regularly monitor to ensure continued compliance.

What’s next for Dataminr?

We’ll continue to look at how we leverage real-time public data to discover breaking events across the world, ensuring our clients are the first to know about critical information, wherever and whenever it breaks.

What do you think the field of AI will look like in 10 years’ time? How will it change the way we all live?

AI will clearly be more advanced, but in ten years it will be far more woven into our daily lives. It will be more apparent, and as a result, more people will understand how it benefits our day to day. As awareness increases, people will see how it’s a tool for good, making us more effective and efficient not only in our professional lives, but in our personal too.


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