Craig Humphrey - How to Leverage Tech to Find Top Talent in the Age of AI
Episode 022: Where we sit down with Craig Humphrey, VP of Finance and Operations at Arctic Shores, to discuss the challenges of transitioning from purely finance-focused roles to broader roles encompassing operations and other back-office functions.
We also examine the advantages of using Slack and other remote collaboration tools to replicate the camaraderie of an in-person team. We discuss how technology tools like Otter AI are impacting remote work culture and the pros and cons of the hybrid model. Plus, we dive into the potential of AI tools to automate tedious tasks, how to approach AI implementation strategically, and how candidates are using AI to cheat the system.
Finally, we touch on the implications of abandoning traditional recruitment methods and the potential of Arctic Shores' approach of hiring for potential. We discuss how employers can leverage technology to find the right talent for their roles and explore the idea of hiring for future roles that have yet to be created. Don't miss this insightful episode with Craig Humphrey, as we explore the intersection of finance, technology, and talent in today's ever-evolving business landscape.
Audio Podcast Links
Where to find Craig
Craig on LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/craig-humphrey/
Arctic Shores - https://www.arcticshores.com/
Slack - https://slack.com/
Microsoft Teams - https://www.microsoft.com/en/microsoft-teams/group-chat-software
Otter AI - https://otter.ai/
Chat GPT - https://chat.openai.com/chat
Snowflake - https://www.snowflake.com/
Hi Bob (HR system) - https://www.hibob.com/
G Suite - https://workspace.google.com/
ChargeBee - https://www.chargebee.com/
Zapier - https://zapier.com/
Genius Sheets - https://www.geniussheets.com/
Chat2Stats - https://2stats.chat/
Pretoria Ventures - https://www.pretoria.vc/
Uber - https://www.uber.com/
(0:00:00) - Finance in Tech Business
(0:09:31) - Remote Collaboration Tools and Productivity
(0:15:36) - AI in Business
(0:23:26) - Data in Business
(0:30:46) - AI and HR Assessment Tools
(0:35:12) - Rethinking Traditional Hiring Methods
(0:46:58) - Adapting to Remote Work and Technology
(0:52:30) - Efficient Tech Solutions for Small Businesses
(1:06:39) - SaaS Businesses and Tools for Productivity
(0:00:00) - Finance in Tech Business (10 Minutes)
I chat with Craig Humphrey, the VP of Finance and Operations at Arctic Shores, about the challenges of transitioning from purely finance focused roles to broader roles that encompass operations and other back office functions. We also touch on the growing tech hub in Manchester and the influx of venture capital into the area. The importance of having a strong number two in the finance team is discussed.
(0:09:31) - Remote Collaboration Tools and Productivity (6 Minutes)
We discuss the advantages of using Slack and other technology tools to create a remote work environment that replicates the camaraderie of an in-person team. We explore how the use of Slack cuddles and channels can help teams quickly ask and answer questions, and how technology tools like Uber, Teams and Otter AI are impacting the remote work culture. We also examine the pros and cons of the hybrid model, and how leaders can maintain efficiency when it comes to tasks that involve collaboration with multiple people.
(0:15:36) - AI in Business (8 Minutes)
We explore the struggles of note-taking in meetings and talk about the potential of alternative solutions like chat and AI. We discuss the importance of focusing on the problem, not the technology, and how to use AI tools effectively. We also consider how to use AI tools to automate tedious tasks and how to make sure the decisions made are based on the end goal, not the technology. Finally, we talk about the value of taking a step back to plan out the use cases for AI tools and how to approach them strategically.
(0:23:26) - Data in Business (7 Minutes)
I chat with Craig Humphrey about the importance of data in business. We talk about the challenges of having too much data and the need to acquire the skills to manipulate and understand it. We also discuss the importance of focusing on the data that you don't have access to, and the need to define the metrics that can help you make the right decisions. We finish by discussing the risks of getting caught up in the trap of AI and the importance of looking beyond the data that you have access to.
(0:30:46) - AI and HR Assessment Tools (4 Minutes)
I chatted with Craig Humphrey about the possibilities of chat GPT and the potential of having a virtual CFO in our pocket. We also explored the quicker wins of data analysis, discussing simpler tools like Genius Sheet and Statschat which are readily available and Arctic Shores' proprietary PeterTech, which goes beyond the traditional CV to assess candidate suitability.
(0:35:12) - Rethinking Traditional Hiring Methods (12 Minutes)
We discuss the implications of abandoning traditional recruitment methods like CVs and the potential of Arctic Shores' approach of hiring for potential. We consider the implications of chat GPT and AI in the recruitment process and how employers can leverage technology to find the right talent for their roles. We also explore the idea of hiring for future roles that have yet to be created.
(0:46:58) - Adapting to Remote Work and Technology (6 Minutes)
We explore the complexities of the adoption of technology and AI and the implications this may have on the future of work-life balance. We consider the various options available and the diversity of choices that weren't available in the past. We also touch on the changes in workplace attire, the psychological effects of the commute, and the importance of boundaries and moderation when working from home with young children. We discuss the potential of satellite offices and the advantages of finding a balance between the two.
(0:52:30) - Efficient Tech Solutions for Small Businesses (14 Minutes)
I chat with Craig Humphrey about the importance of making shrewd tech investments in a small, fast-growing startup. We explore the advantages of using tech to avoid traditional hiring and the benefits of a lean team. We also consider the need to bring in tech to manage data and personnel records, as well as subscription management tools. We discuss the implications of investing in tech over people, and the importance of understanding the value of money and the potential return on investment. Finally, we touch on the need for smart investments and the potential of having a virtual CFO in our pocket.
(1:06:39) - SaaS Businesses and Tools for Productivity (6 Minutes)
We consider the differences between larger companies and startups in terms of their ability to iterate quickly and the fear this can create in the marketplace. We discuss the potential of using transcription APIs to automate processes like note-taking and highlight-pulling, and the value of AI-driven easy wins. Finally, we talk about the tool that Craig couldn't live without: Slack. We explore how it can facilitate communication despite being remote, and how it can make work-life balance more manageable.
Transcript generated by Podium.page
0:00:00 - Craig
I think businesses should think very carefully about using it to actually alter the value that they, as a business, add, because it could end up taking them down a path that they don't necessarily want to go down, particularly with so much unknown about where it's going and what the big AI systems might do. There's a bit of a technological war going on really on either side, in terms of the more tools and technology that employers can adapt to deal with the higher volume of applicants, but at the same time, applicants are also getting their hand on tech that helps them apply for many, many more roles in a more impressive way.
0:00:38 - Adam
Hello and welcome to Tech for Finance, where we help finance professionals leverage technology to level up their lives. I'm your host, Adam Shilton, and in this episode we're going to be chatting with Craig Humphrey. Craig's the VP of Finance and Operations at Arctic Shores, a company specialising in technology-driven behaviour-based assessments to help businesses identify top talent. Craig started his career in audit and, prior to joining Arctic Shores, held senior Greek finance positions amongst a number of leading tech firms. When he's not working, craig enjoys spending time with his three-year-old twins and loves a good barbecue. But before we start, if you like what you hear today, please make sure to subscribe to Tech for Finance on your favourite podcast platform and on YouTube. Thanks for coming along today, craig. Enjoy it, no problems. Thanks for having me. So we had a catch-up. It was probably a few weeks ago in your Snout of the Offices in Manchester over a coffee. That was quite good. I'm a little bit jealous.
0:01:34 - Craig
That's right. yeah, Yeah, we moved to Black Shire's house. It's nice, we're like our new home.
0:01:39 - Adam
Yeah, yeah, very good, but of course you guys I mean I suppose you're still classed as staff, so are you getting a bit?
0:01:46 - Craig
past that. Now I think we stay stay-alive. We like to think we've hit product market fit and it's all about how we can now start to scale everything up. So I think we prefer scale up, but I think your definition of start-up is quite wide-open, isn't it? I think I remember recently, Uber still call themselves a start-up.
0:02:04 - Adam
So Yeah, yeah, We'll go with scale up, shall we? Yeah, that's good, and so for our American listeners. And there was a recent I think it was an article that you shared, craig, wasn't it about Manchester, which is where we're based, being one of the fastest growing tech hubs in the UK, past London.
0:02:24 - Craig
Yeah, i mean, i think it starts with the money. I mean there has been an uptick in the amount of particularly venture capital in the area. I think if you speak to some of the leading VCs, such as the Pretora, for example, who have recently invested in us, there's still a bit of a gap between what's the level of investment per company or per person outside of London versus in it. So I still think there's some catching up to do, but it's just seem to see really exciting businesses just springing up almost on a daily basis, not just in Manchester but in plenty of the other Northwest cities. So, yeah, it's an exciting place to be really feeling the pull into London anytime soon, i see.
0:03:06 - Adam
It's still a bit cheaper than London as well, indeed, yeah, great. So I just wanted to chat a little bit about I won't necessarily say time-out, but I think management. But of course, as you appreciate, the 99% of my audience is finance professionals, right, and so your title is VP of Finance and Operations, which means that you wear quite a lot of hats. Is that easy? And I say that looking at your experience. So your experience is predominantly finance focused, right? So what's it been like widening or broadening your horizons, as you say, and trying to bridge the gap between finance and other areas of business?
0:03:49 - Craig
Yeah, absolutely. So I am previous to my current position. I've really been focused purely in the finance area and finance and accounts departments. So I've held finance manager roles, but again just working mostly with other people in other other positions, whether that's Treasury or reporting. And so I joined Arts and Shores about four and a half years ago and came into my first level one finance position, initially as financial controller, helping build out just the finance function, but through the course of the growth of the company, about a year ago took a leadership role that incorporated more responsibility for some of the other back office functions.
So it's your HR, it, legal bit of data and biz ops. So a bit more of a broad range really. So it does have a big, big impact on the day to day job and those number one question to be answered was well, how is the finance team going to keep running day to day when there's so much else to look after? So actually, one of the critical things for me was to find a really strong number two. So obviously I'm sure we'll touch more on building teams, but that was one that we just couldn't get away from, which is I really would be letting the team down if I tried to spread myself that thin that there just wasn't anybody there. So that was a really critical thing for us And thankfully we have got a really strong financial manager in place to help do a lot of the day to day bits. But we still work incredibly closely as a team because we're just not a big, a big function. There's seven of us in ops generally, of which two of the people in my team of finance, not including myself.
It's a fancy original question. It's not easy, it is very difficult, but it's just so valuable and useful to wear those different hats. You do find yourself naturally over your finance career seeing things through that single lens, particularly around cost control and investment appraisal. Especially, we're working for a small people-based business, such as a SaaS tech company that I work for now is there's just so much nuance around a lot of the business decisions that happen and as much as you'd like everything to be a black and white financial decision, that is one big factor, but there's just so much else at play, and being able to work so closely with other support functions like I said, including HR helps you just see it through so many different colored lenses And it really does make the conversations with leadership and the board much more well-informed and balanced and just shows that you've really looked at it from other aspects.
Obviously every business is different but, as I said, we're a people business. So I think of our HR team I mean traditional thinking 20 years ago might have been finance and HR sort of natural enemies. You know HR just want to constantly invest in the team and finance might be wanting to keep costs down and say no. But actually if you have got a people-based business, they are completely aligned, or should be, in that you've got to keep investing in your team because that's the asset that you've got, so they can be mutual and in agreement And the other functions that I look after. It's great that we've got that single focus of leadership because it does enable us to make sure that everybody's goals and key results are all aligned, which we like to set every quarter to make sure that everybody's priorities are all focused not just on our departmental objectives as a team but also for the wider business. So it's great for alignment as well.
0:07:36 - Adam
And what does that quarterly review look like? Is it a face-to-face meeting when you sit down? Do you have like a templated work that you work?
0:07:46 - Craig
through Bit of both really. So we do make good use of tech. We lean quite heavily on our HR system. So we use Bob, or Hi Bob, as our HRIS. I mean there's no advocating that It's great There's others out there. That's the one we happen to use, but it helps. It helps give a lot of structure to things like our quarterly performance review, our goal setting. It does an awful lot for people management. We could still use a bit more of it, but we've have leveraged it quite a lot. So that will help.
Things like we can all use it to enter our individual goals. We can use our team goals And we can tag them to make sure that they're all aligned to the strategic pillars of the business. And then, in terms of reviewing them, what we actually like to do is get together in person on a function-by-function basis. So I'll get our ops team together, those different departments, and we'll kind of do a bit of a presentation to ourselves as a team to say here's how the course has just gone, here's what our OKRs were And here's how we did, and then here's a summary of how we're going to take those into the next quarter, what else we're going to look at doing So. We do try to sort of get ourselves together in person at least once a quarter, but we are a primarily remote team, so we do have to leverage checkers as we can.
0:09:04 - Adam
Do I remember you saying it's Slack that?
0:09:05 - Craig
you use Primarily day-to-day comes. Yes, the whole business is on Slack. I've been on it for as long as I can remember really One of those sticky SaaS products that once a few people get using it, it grows virally. We took a business license out, even though our day-to-day business enterprise software is really the G Suite. We just find some instant messaging and groups and channels.
Slack is just one of those things that once you get used to it as a team, you just can't live without it. It's just so reliable. We've all got the separate app downloaded as opposed to the browser, so it's just there and it's just always on and always worked. We have other teams outside of our ops function that. We've just got a feature called a HODL where you can basically open up a call and people can just dip in and out of it. Some teams will just leave that open all day So they'll just be happily working in their home office on their own. They can hear their entire team just having a conversation throughout the day whilst they're doing it. So, yeah, we make good use of it. I think finally released to you.
0:10:09 - Adam
That's really interesting And I think. Well, i think in TITS we use teams. I use Slack a bit more for like community and personal stuff outside work. So, unlike you guys, we're Microsoft Suite, not G Suite, but we don't use G Suite. So I'm betting on which is best, because there's obviously pros and cons for each right.
But, apart from the meat now in teams, i don't think there's an official HODL type thing, but it's an interesting concept because, i mean, quite a lot of my background is sales, as you know, and with sales comes sort of an element of camaraderie, especially when it comes to the outbound side of things making calls, getting that. So always one of the biggest struggles is, you know, the part of the job that people don't really enjoy and the way that people get around. That is by feeling, though, there is part of the team. But then of course we end up in this remote-based culture where you've got people like having to psych themselves up from home, and I did often play with encouraging the team with maybe just having an open teams call, but even if it's just one-to-one with somebody else that you nominate as your partner, for example, it never materialized, but it's got the culture where, again, i don't think I'll manage to business to migrate to Slack, but I think it's just one of those strings to the bow that makes that remote work piece a bit easier.
0:11:36 - Craig
I think, in terms of the adoption, there is a phase to get through where people need to experience it and see how great it is.
And then as long as the solution itself is good enough. You kind of have that eureka moment, you know, a bit like the first time you got an Uber. You're just like that's it now, but something like the use of the Slack cuddles and the channel. It's just a really great way of being able to just quickly ask somebody a quick question and not have to think right, let's go and look at their calendar When are they free So I can ask them that thing. It does try to replicate that feeling of I'm at work with my team. It's not the same. Obviously Sometimes you can't just be sticking your head over your monitor and just bugging someone there and then. But you know, technology is progressing in that respect every day.
I think Slack I do a pretty decent job actually of bolting on those extra features. They do seem to be listening to customer feedback quite well and thinking about what are the little bits and pieces around the comms that could really make the difference. But we yeah, it's something we think about all the time, which is when we went to a remote world, basically post COVID, we took the decision as a business that we were going to follow a hybrid model. So we do have office space that staff can make use of. But, again, it's completely flexible and everyone's able to choose whether they how much time they want to spend in the office. We do see the value of meetups, and so we do. You know, we do have some regular ones, as I mentioned the quarterly catch up that we do as a team and we have a business quarterly But it comes with its pros and cons.
I think there's a large consensus with our team that individually, we all feel very, very productive, but when we look at it from a leadership perspective, i'm always sort of asking the question do we feel that as a team, or as teams or even as an organization, are we still maintaining that efficiency? You know how easy is it to just get one small task done that involves collaborating with seven or eight people, and are we being slowed down by the fact that you have to perhaps look at that calendar and think, right, when can I get these four people on a call? Oh, not for another three weeks. What am I going to do?
And so, wherever these tools come in and help break down those barriers is obviously great. So, rules on the lookout for new things and plenty of AI based tools that we're starting to look at. Somebody just the other day was asking me about one, or we think it's sort of note taking and action, actioning out of meetings called Otter AI. So that's where we're having a little toy around with at the moment. We're very open as a business to looking at tech for you in exciting ways of making one easier, yeah, but Otter is great.
0:14:18 - Adam
I'm not heavy user of Otter And then I've been using something called Fireflies recently, which is like the bug, exactly the same spelling firefliesai And it's the same premise. And I think what they all do is they take the, the open AI whisper API I think that's predominantly what people use which is basically voice recognition, and they do clever things with it because, as standard, the whisper API won't give you speaker labels, for example. So when you're producing a transcript, you know you can't get that from it. So that's where we've got this new wave of all of these you know meeting tracks, transcription service coming in, and we're keen to just extend Microsoft Teams, because Teams premium, with their open AI relationship, is going to enable just that.
You know transcripts and then Q&A the transcript. The only thing that I found and I think it's great, you know, even if you can't Q&A the transcript to say you know, pull out the highlights or tell me what the next actions are, there is still value in you being able to focus on not making notes and having more of that human conversation. So even if you just got the transcript in raw text, you know it's better than having to type notes as you're speaking to somebody. So yeah, we've had that mentioned quite a lot on the podcast, so I'd say it's just as good as any.
0:15:36 - Craig
I've always struggled with note taking in meetings, to be honest. I mean not least because I can't really do two things at once on either talking or listening, and that's what I focus on. But if I take sort of traditional handwritten notes, they often go into a notepad and I probably don't see them again. But on the other side, if I try and take my notes on my laptop, it's giving us a great look in the meeting, which is what are you doing? Are you actually listening? And it's like, yeah, i'm taking notes, but it doesn't look like I'm engaged. So anything looked in. you know, providing alternatives is something I'm always interested in.
0:16:09 - Adam
I think it's one of the quickest wins And, of course, you and I have spoken about chat, even tea, and we've got a question topic coming up on that book. A lot of people are still figuring out what the use cases are And it's difficult because with everybody on LinkedIn saying if you're not investing in AI, you're falling behind, it's very difficult not to be psychologically and emotionally drawn into that. But it's not quite out yet. It will be. By the time this covers up.
I had an AI roundtable discussion with three other people that we've had on the podcast before, and one of the subjects conversation is yeah, it's great to have all these clever AI tools, but they are just tools at the end of the day And it shouldn't change your process of looking at what do we want the end goal to be, because I think at the moment a lot of people are trying to re-engineer their process around an AI tool just because it exists, rather than doing what they should be doing, which is looking at the outcomes and working back from there. But that use case that you just mentioned there is such a quick win. You know, if you can have like, using the Fireflies example, you just invite Fred at Fireflies along to your meeting, and that's your AI block. Right, it's so simple to get that real value.
0:17:20 - Craig
Yeah, i mean, it reminds me of the deal Steve Jobs quote, which is, you know, don't focus on the technology, focus on the problem. And I think we're going to go through this initial phase of, oh, what can it do, isn't that clever? And once we've got over that and we've had our thought, and it's then going to be okay, well, what is the actual pain that we're suffering And how do we gear the technology around solving that, as opposed to what's it capable of? But it's, it's just, it's such a disruptive, exciting piece of tech that it's hard not to sort of get curious.
We just had our own company Chat GPT show and tell session last week where everybody was just encouraged to do a bit of a bit of a lightning format five, 10 minutes on what could you get it to do? So that was a really great, great way for us to all start talking about it, but it also helped us help steer our thinking really into the next steps. Okay, we've got to actually be very rigorous about where and how we want to apply this, and I think businesses should think very carefully about using it to actually alter the value that they, as a business, add, because it could end up taking them down a path that they don't necessarily want to go down, particularly with so much unknown about where it's going and what you know the big AI systems might do. And for me at the minute, short term, it's those quick wins of okay, is it just an annoying manual task that the AI could just do in a much better way? at the minute, it seems to be lots of them.
0:18:43 - Adam
I'm certain And you know it's slightly different to finance. I mean, i've got I use Notion for my note taking it everybody knows this because I don't stop banging on about it, right? I've got a Notion database that I just put in whatever tools I see come up in my feed or that I find online, and it's cool because I can tag in my can say all the use case for this is transcription or the use case for this is that. And that's kind of reduced my overwhelm, because instead of me thinking, oh, that looked really cool, i need to investigate it now It's in the database and I just filter when I've got 30 minutes and say, oh, what, what do I want to have a play around with now, right, so that's, that's made it a lot bit more logical for me.
But there are some, there are some companies that are going all in on AI, right, and I'll use it an example. That, as I say, isn't finance books. I won't name the hot notes because I think there's there's a bit of a stir that's been caused by it anyway, but essentially it's a content writing platform Because, of course, one of the primary use cases for chat to see when it came out, you know interact on set anymore. Just give it a brief and it will write it for you.
Now, of course, all of these SaaS companies have latched onto that and says, right, well, you know how do we make money from this? You know, and the big thing at the moment is Google is still playing up with its spam algorithms, still playing catch up. So previously, you know, if you were writing rubbish content and you would duplicate it, you know you'd be shunted down the Google rankings because you know. But because Google haven't quite caught up with what is and isn't bot generated content, there are companies that say, right, well, we can get a platform to generate hundreds of blog articles to your website in minutes and that's going to boost your SEO rankings or whatever. And right now there's no issue with that.
And it comes back to your point about you know, we don't know what's coming up. You know, if I've just invested, however many thousands of pounds in an AI tool that's basically created a website for me with 1000 blog posts, that Google then catches on to say, oh, we know that those 1000 blog posts have been bot generated, we're going to immediately squash your rankings. What happens there? You know. So I think the post thinking is the right approach of what the quick wins, you know what the efficiency improvements that are going to add up to the bigger wins, rather than totally reinventing the world, because I think there's a risk there. It might not have come. They might get away with it, you know. I mean, you got to look at things objectively.
0:21:10 - Craig
Yeah, i think that the content question is going to be a really interesting one. It's not just blog posts and written texts, it's also going to be the image generation and video content And in a world of you know, all unlimited content can just be generated instantly. What is it people are going to want to consume? Do you want to read a blog post that's not written by a person? How are you going to be going to that?
0:21:33 - Adam
So released podcast today would say John Ladaga, who's founder of a solution, sturpey, i think you'll probably get past it. It's kind of financial modeling for startups. You also carry that pretty well in that category, but we were talking about that human element. You know, and I think we use the example of music. You know, people tend to like music where they can spot the odd error and it's kind of the inconsistencies and it's the dirtiness of some tracks that you really like. It's not all polished And I think we might move that with content. It's kind of like you get to the point where you're trying to spot the grammatical errors and the way that people speak, because that's the only way that you know that's not been generated by a bot, unless the bots then start deliberately generated grammatically correct content to try and fool people.
0:22:21 - Craig
And again, you know, we'd have to go down that rabbit hole, you never ending cycle. There we go.
0:22:29 - Adam
So the last question, before we move on to talking more about the talent acquisition and the HR piece that you guys do well, is coming back to your role spanning multiple departments.
right, because I've had more conversations now about data driven decisions and about financing, more ownership over data, and there is some data that's obviously conspicable you know that we have really detailed metrics for and some that we don't. So coming back to your point about right, well, how do we gauge level of productivity working remotely? You know there's only so many stats. you'll get out the back of Slack or teams that will say you know time on calls and number of emails sent or number of messages, so it doesn't really add up to the overall sentiment. It can kind of, i suppose, gauge a base sentiment, but you're not going to hang it out on it really versus the other stats that you're getting from your accounting software, you know, relating to your career, revenue figures and that sort of stuff. So the short question is how important is data for you as somebody who wears multiple hats? And second question to that is what's the level of accuracy that you need to be able to make decent decisions that you can hang it on?
0:23:44 - Craig
Yeah, i mean the answer to the first question is data is incredibly important. We are becoming a much more data driven business world. Any company is not thinking like that. I think it's going to be left behind.
One of the challenges is sometimes having too much data. I mean we try and buy into ventures like measure what matters, and one of the key skills that I'm certainly trying to drive in our finance team is actually helping our colleagues in other teams understand what's data that you've got access to and look great but actually isn't telling us much, versus what's the data that we don't have, which we really should, because that's what's more important And we live in a world where data is just piling up and piling up. We dump it all into our data lake and no-slake And then we try and make sense of it in various different ways, because we've got a small team, got people who are very focused and expert in what's what they do And that might not be pouring through their CRM, if it's that or their other platform, to understand how to export and manipulate data. So I think for a business of a certain size, where you don't have the resource to invest in a data science team who can do this as a shop, we do have to be able to acquire those skills and support the team doing them. I think, in terms of the level of accuracy, absolutely it's got to start with the question, and I always think how many answers are. That's this question. If there's only two answers yes or no then all the data I need is just got to get me to make that decision. If there's 20 different outcomes, then it's going to have to be a bit more accurate, and so I'm always sort of banging that drum, particularly on the finance side, if we think about things like budgeting and forecasting. We're doing an FKNA and we're thinking what level of detail or how much data do we actually need driving this model. I always try and pull it back to say, okay, is it going to change the outcome? Is it going to change the way that the board look at this? Is it going to change the investment decision, or are we just being super, super accurate because we've got access to it and it's working? Sometimes it's a latter, so we do have to pull ourselves back and think it's also tempting to focus on data that you understand the best and also that looks the nicest and gives you a nice fuzzy feeling inside.
I think it's difficult to really focus on the stuff that you don't have access to that you know you really should be digging into, whether that's productivity or any kind of efficiency metric, and from a financial metrics perspective, we're a B2B SaaS business, so there's a library of new metrics that we're all getting our heads around in the last five or 10 years. A lot of them are US centric. Interesting, as a finance professional, to find that balance between business metrics that we really care about versus the traditional IFRS reporting, in that sometimes there isn't a right answer and you end up having to really lead the business through. What are these metrics we're going to track? what do they mean? how are we defining them as a team and go from there?
I think the other thing on data is that what I've really seen in the last four or five years is so many different disciplines and industries and sectors People are coming from and really having to get on board with the data trains, which is you can't keep your head in the sand from this any longer, particularly if you work for a small business. You don't have access to that resource. You're going to have to pick up some key skills here, which is, how do you interrogate that system that you've got and how do you get those dashboards and get those reports running? And there's a bit of a battle there, i think, sometimes between people wanting to outsource it to a department and think should have a person for that versus perhaps this is something that you now need to be able to do going forward.
0:27:45 - Adam
And I just want to come back to that point that you mentioned there, because I think it's so valid and people could potentially get more caught up in this trap, as AI continues to involve books. Thinking about the data that you don't have is just as important at looking at the data that you do have. And I can't remember the story. It's some sort of ancient proverb, it might be to Buddhist teachings or something like that. I can't remember books. The story is there's like a little TP or a hut or something like that, and there's like a little oil lamp or a fire burning or something like that, and somebody dropped something. It goes outside the tent into the darkness And a dude in the tent looks around in the light to try and find where he's dropped something. Everybody knows it's gone outside and they're like why are you looking in the light? And so, because I can see in here, i can't see out there.
And to me, that really hit home when we look at data and those sorts of related concepts, because it's so easy to shine a light on the data that you do actually have, versus getting stuck in the darker side, which is all right.
Well, how do we find the data and the crops, the data that we don't have.
So I think, as you're obviously doing this, an exercise that needs to happen to say that, you know, let's think about this critically. The other point I was making about AI is that endless tools will pull together data that you already have, like tablets, for example, and with some of the new chat interfaces where we're seeing, you know, financial data tied with Google Analytics data and all that sort of stuff, and it's very easy, as I say, to get caught into the trap of Q&A and data and it coming back with a response saying, oh, based on this time, you know, based on what happened here, here and here, i don't think as an AI, this could be the reason behind that. It's only working from data that's actually got access to, and I think that's what we need to latch on to as humans, at least in the short term is to say that we still do have that ability to think critically and think, as cheesy as it sounds, outside of the box, you know, for the data that's behind the data, if I'm saying that right.
0:29:56 - Craig
Yeah, i mean I think this, to put that another way you're going to get a limit of creativity from the AIs. And yeah, like you said, if I just give you one set of data from one source, as an AI, you can only be as creative with that data that you're shown. Whereas you know humans that spend a career in, you know a range of sectors and businesses will be able to bring that unknown into what's currently being done and add it in. But I still think you know something like an AI that can instantly understand what you're asking at and if you give it there, you know, as long as you're comfortable with what it is that you're looking for that's beyond it probably will at least be able to guide you through.
Okay, here's a step of how to go and get that data. So I'm personally a big fan of what's possible at the moment and very excited about what's next. And you know I've been trying to play around with chat GPT and give it as much access to some of our data as we can. It's still in its dark room and won't talk to anything, but you know as soon as it starts to click into the data in a secure way. Obviously, i think we're all excited about having that sort of virtual CFO in our pocket that we can talk to and get everything done instantaneously.
0:31:18 - Adam
Well, that's it, and so I'm not going to plug. I mean, i'm not affiliated to you. Know any of the guys that we've got on the podcast I'm not getting kicked back or anything like that. They've been the guys at Sturpey just on their CFO chat, which ties together multiple data sources, and so that's an example there In terms of the quicker wins.
And I was on the chat the other day. See if I can find it, because there are actually some pretty easy tools whereby you can query your own data. But again, you know I'll have that by saying that you've always got to look at the security policies, i think one that I saw come up with, genius sheet. So I don't know whether you've seen that or not. I think that's potentially one that people can look into. I'm not, as I say, i'm not sure how good it is, but that's one that I keep seeing come up again and again. And then the other one is I'll put it in the show notes, but the URL is essentially two, statschat.
And again, i've not tried this yet, but the tagline is simplify your data analysis experience with AI, upload your data sets and then chat with AI about the data. But again, what is the data? It's just a single data source There's. As we've just been saying, there's nothing to help you, but there's a couple of basic ones that people can at least start. There's a non-data scientist. It's just the dream. Yeah, that's it. I mean, when I first found out that chat DPPT could write code, i was like what? I don't know how to become a developer. I have tried getting into code and failed miserably, so maybe I'm just not asking the right question. Yeah, i'm still sort of hitting a few dead ends.
0:33:00 - Craig
And sometimes I get an incomplete response and then I have to say you only gave me half the code, can I have the rest of it? And then it gives me a different starting point than the first answer, because there's not 100% consistency in what it's spitting out. So then I end up with two separate pieces of code that don't work together. But he's definitely getting those. Yeah, yeah, 100%.
0:33:21 - Adam
And the auto GPT. I mean, we won't even get to asking questions, but we'll just give it a goal and it will do the rest for us. But that's a conversation for another day, when it starts to get really scary. Yeah, yeah, so let's start to go down that shape, that rabbit hole. No, that's good.
So the next piece that I was really keen to talk about is specifically what you guys are doing, because we don't have a huge amount of guests on the show that have a footprint in HR, i guess.
And this all comes I mean, we discussed it when I came to see you last, but there was a post that Arctic Shores did when chat GPT first came out about the whole concept of using AI to write your CV for you.
And again, as we mentioned from the intro, arctic Shores, you've got a proprietary PeterTech that allows people to delve a bit deeper than just the CV, right, it's a behavioral assessment that allows you to gauge suitability of a candidate without solely relying on a CV, and you can speak more about that if you like. But the interesting thing for me was people have been using software to write their CV for ages, right, you know, not just when chat GPT came out. Maybe it's gone to the next level with a more intelligent algorithm, right, but people have been using software to do snazzy layouts and be creative, shall we say, with their CVs for quite a while. But there were some quite interesting stories that you mentioned on our last call about some people from your customer base that have been in completely different industries, have ranked quite highly on the EQ scale But looking at their CV, you probably would have just discounted them straight away. So do you want to talk a little bit more about that? I think people will be entrusted to hit it.
0:35:11 - Craig
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you know, before the arrival of chat, gpt at Arctic Shores, we've been advocates for a long time of lots of traditional hiring methods out there that just aren't working. The burning platform that we talk about is you know, we've got a record number of job vacancies in this country and we've also got a record number of job seekers. So there's clearly a mismatch of skills going on. And why aren't this record number of people ending up in these record number of roles? And it's because the methods that you know employers are traditionally relying on such a CVs aren't helping them distinguish who are actually these roles, because it's focusing purely on experience, learn skills but it also introduces a huge amount of bias, and this is, you know, generally the story that gave birth to Arctic Shores. You look at a CV and what you're really seeing is somebody's ability to write CV, first of all, experience that they had access to, based on their particular place in the world, but you're also picking up on a whole lot of demographic data that's then generating, you know someone, conscious bias in you. So, particularly for entry level roles and sort of, we work quite closely with employers taking on a lot of hires from graduates, skilled but entry level roles And often when you're trying to sift through that many candidates at that kind of level, there isn't a lot to see on the CV anyway. So we've had a bit of a campaign for a while now saying scrap the CV. But what we are working with our customers on is not just a case of drop the CV but actually rethink the way that you're hiring. So what Arctic Shores does is help people hire for potential. The assessment is a part of it, but it's also about thinking okay, are we hiring people for the roles Or actually should we be thinking a little bit more about what roles will suit the talent that we can find, because a lot of the jobs I know 10 years from now haven't been created. So there's a lot of, particularly in the engineering sector. They've got such fast moving technology and so much disruption going on. They actually have to think okay, we have to bring in some talent with some potential and then figure out what roles we can use them in in the next five to 10 years, because we don't know what their roles are going to look like. So how do you do that? Where Arctic Shores comes in is yeah, we have a behavioral-based assessment where candidates will behave naturally and we will be able to observe their behavior, generate thousands of data points and pick out a multitude of traits around their personality. We're also bolting on a more traditional aptitude test in terms of reasoning, and so between that, it really helps employers take forward in their hiring process candidates that perhaps they never would have seen.
We do have a case study that we'll be bringing out shortly, where we had a customer of our trial, a particular role completely without a CV, just on our Hang potential playbook. They had two roles available, two slots. They ended up with, i think, eight candidates at the final interview stage. Their feedback was incredible and that they actually wanted to hire all eight of the candidates They would have done had they had more than two jobs available, but also, of those eight, they probably wouldn't have hired any of them had they used their traditional methods, and so it was just great to see that in action.
Where ChatGPC comes in, though, is I mean you mentioned the CV. Yes, of course, there's been tools and help writing those CVs quite a long time, but it's also quite daunting what an instant AI might be able to help candidates do in terms of perhaps even interviews, if it can listen to the interview questions and generate also responses on your screen again in a virtual, remote world. That's something that we've got to think very carefully of A lot of the time. Before we get to that CV review or the interview stage, there'll be application questions. There's just lots of different component part about a traditional hiring process that a lot of specifically medium and large employers have that is really sort of exposed at the minute to that disruptive technology coming in, and so that's why we feel so passionately about helping people really turn their thinking on its head in terms of how do I find those candidates that have got the potential rather than the skills and experience that I think come after? I'd never thought about that.
0:39:55 - Adam
Yeah, i'm sure somebody's doing this already, but the answer you gave there have been on an interview with having a live transcription of a pen and a bot being able to basically do an auto prompt for you. It's terrifying isn't it?
0:40:07 - Craig
We're not that far away And so, as a business, actually, we are looking to partner up with one or two video interview providers to figure out a solution for how we can address that. But yeah, there's a bit of a technological war going on really on either side, in terms of the more tools and technology that employers can adapt to deal with the higher volume of applicants, but at the same time, applicants are also getting their hand on tech that helps them apply for many, many more roles in a more impressive way.
0:40:42 - Adam
Yeah, i think. So let's say that I'm into third-party sexual laws, right, and we're on a call now and I've got my chat DPD equivalent that's given me answers. With your experience, you would be able to tell whether I was reading from it or not. So I think there's some things. I think there's some things that we don't need to bent on shape. But the CV, ryan Singh, and the interview questions, all that sort of stuff. If it's offline, then I totally get how you know. Basically, they've got access to information worded in a way that whatever they like, right. But I think, you know, we need to be confident in the fact that we can smell a rat sometimes maybe.
0:41:28 - Craig
0:41:28 - Adam
I appreciate things are getting smarter, but I think it is still going to be a while before we get to the point where candidate can convincingly read off an auto prompt based on a live set of questions. Maybe that's me just being too optimistic, though.
0:41:41 - Craig
No, i think I think right now you're probably right. It's going to be pretty rare, and if you did find a candidate I think they could successfully do that. It's probably a sign that you might want to hire them and try them. But I mean, even just I think it's just a couple of months ago, i'd seen some software already that can instantaneously alter your eyes So you can be looking over here, but so the camera, it appears live as though you're staring straight at the camera stream.
Quite useful for podcasters at the moment, but got obvious implications there. So you know, step by step we'll get there fairly, fairly quickly. Try to remember what the name of it is. Sounds creepy. It looks a little bit odd right now, but pretty soon you will be able to tell the difference.
0:42:24 - Adam
Okay it comes into that deep bank territory, doesn't it? Yeah, it is scary And you know, i think I'm hoping we don't get to a point where our default is just hypervigilant. And you know a lot of people and I kind of fall into this, this category from a few years ago. Right, i've always been quite gullible. I want to believe something. You know, that's my default. My default is to believe something rather than reject it, and I don't think I'm alone. So I think for people like me, it's going to be a bit of a learning thing As more and more of this deep fakes you know, artificial stuff comes a lot. I mean, i think I'm going to struggle to spot it, at least initially, before I get into like a rhythm of really analyzing stuff. I don't know about you, but yeah, i think I'm going to struggle a bit.
0:43:16 - Craig
I'm probably the opposite.
I tend to not believe anything And I need to be convinced of anything. Pretty much, i think it sort of serves me well in my role to be able to question everything and need convincing. But yeah, i mean, i like to think that, you know, to some degree it might actually, you know, it might encourage us to perhaps potentially drop a few bits of technology. So, for example, you know, does the interview now need to actually be in person? Okay, well, that might be a cost associated to doing that and getting people together in person, but then suddenly you've found a way around this tech issue. So I feel like we may find that, you know, there might be a balance to be to be found between using tech and actually going to some more traditional, traditional approaches.
0:44:03 - Adam
See well, will you go back to just hiring in Manchester?
0:44:10 - Craig
I think it's a big open topic at the minute, isn't it really? You know a lot of a lot of firms, particularly, you know, tech startups, went, you know, remote first, so a lot of them incorporated in the last few years and just from day one post, covid just said you know, we're fully remote And there's lots, obviously, lots of different use cases. I think a lot of businesses will will be really looking at this at the moment, looking at all that data that's accumulated and said you know what are the pros and cons and and start to balance those out And because you know I'm sure a lot of people speak a lot better than I do that you know we are humans and we do crave physical interaction with each other and we are better in groups. That's how we evolve, and so, yeah, for me, i think maybe the pendulum will swing a little bit towards, you know, getting back together a bit more in person and finding a way to find that happy medium.
0:45:02 - Adam
Really It is difficult though, because, i mean, talent is still an issue. You know you can be the best company in the world with the best benefits in the world, but you are still going to lose some employees. For the next best, you know they'll always be a faster growing company. They'll always be, you know, bigger salary. So you just got to accept that. You know you're not going to always. You know I don't think win win an employee is the right word you're not always going to have a successful. You know you're not always going to have a job offer. That's accepted, i guess, is what I'm getting to there And, like you said, we're quite keen to have people in face to face for at least the later stage of the interview, even though the first, the first bits done remotely right, and.
But it is interesting to see different perthalumniacy types and and with PANADS, one or two recently whereby people have been rejecting higher salaries if they can work completely from home, which I kind of get, you know, and I get your point there about us being social animals as well.
But some people, you know they do, just want to sit up with their dog, you know, and they will make life decisions based on that, and I don't know whether there's a right or wrong behind that, but you know, i suppose, providing they can get that social interaction that they crave via, you know, facebook, tiktok, whatever happens to be, i mean, maybe, maybe that's the future, isn't it? Maybe? well, again, we'll have to see. I mean, coming back to the point that we mentioned there about you know that, that huddle process. Right, you know, are we going to get to the point where, you know, you jack into the matrix almost, and you go into your office and your visa comes down, you've got like a 360 view and you've got huddle on the right, you colleagues over there, you can shout to it, and then you've got your desktops on the I don't know. It's going to be fascinating to see where it goes, isn't it?
0:46:53 - Craig
Yeah, i mean, it's kind of when I think about the AI piece. The technology is moving at sort of lightning pace, but I think you know, as people, we are quite slow often to adopt some of this and we do, you know, take our time getting things that are adopted. I remember putting on a VR headset for the first time ever, i don't know five years ago, and then saying that's it. Now, that's just how everything is going to be. And five years later, you know we're not really anywhere close to mass adoption. And I think it's similar with AI. You know, i think people are going to have that nervousness of oh my god, the robots are coming. What are we going to do 20 years from now? I think, initially, focus is really going to be okay. How can this just be a peer, an assistant to me for now? So I think we as a society have a way of slowing down adoption. Even the tech and other vendors are ready to just disrupt the earth tomorrow.
But in terms of the work-life balance point you made, i think it's been some strange times in the last two or three years And you know we go through economic cycles and I think the juries are probably still out as to whether what can all the numbers add up with? having people have that choice of okay, yeah, take a lower salary at home. It's all got to. You know, the circle's got to be, got to be completed really, and it's got to make sense in the long run. We just not really had enough time, i don't think, to figure that out. But it's just great that we've all got options and that there's various different ways of doing things. And you know, 30 years ago that wasn't the case. It was put your suits on and into the office, you go, and you've got no choice. And I think it probably opens up way more benefits than the issues it calls.
0:48:38 - Adam
Yeah, we would, and it's a side note, but you talk quickly. See on there, like when I first started working remotely, i'd still put on my smart, smart clothes, even to go into my home office, because that's what then drew the distinction between I'm in work mode and I'm in personal load. But now I'm speaking to customers and colleagues and there's been a definite shift in the workplace attire and I just haven't managed that as well, because, you know, is it one set of rules for people working remotely to people coming into the office? Could you have any customers come into the office? The office needs to be smart, people need to be presentable. So we're in the lines and there's no right or wrong answer to this, but it doesn't make things any easier, does it?
0:49:19 - Craig
No, i mean, I think, be sure, sort of COVID, there was a, there was a trend towards a bit more of a, you know, dress for your day sort of style, which is okay if you're going to be meeting a client perhaps, then maybe you go a bit smarter. But generally we were, you know, offices were becoming much more open plan and a bit more informal. But it was interesting, the transition that you mentioned, which is, you know, we have a lot of psychologists and we've, you know, got a lot of science, arts issues and we're always interested in the psychology piece and there's been a lot of, i think, thought pieces on. You know, the commute to work can be a psychological barrier that separates you from your job and helps you manage with that work-life balance, you know, because the danger is that you know some of us are fortunate to have our own home offices.
You're just a few steps away from your home life and so, psychologically, are you actually switching off and making that distinction, And what are the long-term risks and occasions of that? Again, still quite early and time will tell, but I see I'm starting personally to go back and see off a little bit more often and I do sort of get that sense of actually quite like sitting on the train and just something in my brain is probably switching from A to B and vice versa when I go home. So, yeah, I think it's just picking the best bits of each, really, and finding a way to make it work.
0:50:38 - Adam
Yes, it's moderation and, you know, by commute, maybe once or twice a week, you know, depending on traffic, that could be three hours, it could be six hours, you never know right. And it's nice to listen to your podcast and, as you say, get that segmentation of distance to the clear balance. But you know, yeah, it's nice to have a home office. Yeah, it's the boundaries, that's the difficulties, and you've got twins right.
0:51:04 - Craig
Yes, I've got twins, three-year-old boys, so you know, sometimes they'll tell me when it's time to make that transition to doubt.
0:51:12 - Adam
Banging on the door. Come down. Yeah, 10 months and a two and a half year old and I can hear them screaming. Now, the microphone's good, it's good getting rid of the background noise, but yeah, I mean it's nice, but at the same time, sometimes it would be nice if you just had a nice little office that was in. I would walk up the road and then you know, start and you can make the segment of the two. I know a lot of people that built their businesses around finding an office that's closed up so that they get the best of both worlds. Maybe one day.
0:51:39 - Craig
Yeah, yeah, i think maybe that balance might be something around that. You know local satellite offices that have just about got that bit of distance, but aren't you know in the big city, with the commute and the cost, maybe? yeah, it's interesting when you said be sure about the personality types though, because, again, you know it's completely close to what we do, which is perhaps now you start, when you're looking for talent, think, okay, well, this is our way of working. Now, which of these candidates that are coming towards are more suited to that style? Are these the type of people that need that connection and benefit from, or are they going to be able to be completely independent at home? These aren't the sort of questions we used to ask five, 10 years ago, and so you know they're becoming more and more important. So how are you know? how are companies going to be able to find that answer? Well, so we can help.
0:52:25 - Adam
Yeah, it's a shameless plug. Yeah, serious plug. yes, It comes down to that cultural fit, doesn't it? But I suppose that's one of the more difficult aspects to quantify.
0:52:37 - Craig
Yeah, i mean we've done it in the past. you know we have a way of measuring cultural fit with our clients. They have specific criteria and traits that they look for that represent the fit and the values of that business, so it is something that we've definitely done. We also like the idea, though, of not just cultural fit but also cultural add, because it's great hiring people that are just like you, but you're going to sort of lose that diversity of thought, and actually what you might want to look for is people that aren't you know in what you think is your cultural, you know style. you actually need people who can bring that diversity. So I think there's lots of new, new, interesting ways of thinking about that.
0:53:17 - Adam
Yeah. So the takeaway for everybody listening is don't just rely on your CV, if preferable. Obviously, speak to Arctic, sure, but you know, try and try and build more of those, i suppose, behavioral characteristics, especially for the duty guards, right. So that's all good, i appreciate we've got a bit of a gray, but have you got on this Five, five, 10 minutes? Yep, sure, yeah. So Two questions then, and one does relate more specifically to tech, and I know you and I have had some conversations around this books. You've managed to keep your team quite lean whilst being quite shrewd and savvy with the tech that you use, and you've gone more down the sort of best read rather than all encompassing end-to-end, right?
0:54:06 - Craig
Sorry, i've got the invader. That I said.
0:54:09 - Adam
I might get later.
0:54:14 - Craig
That's going to have to be a lock on the door as the next Amazon purchase. Yeah, absolutely So. When I joined Arts It Shows the finance team was two people. We're now four to five times bigger in revenue, same team size in finance. So how do we do that? Well, like any start-up in the early days, so much of the stuff was manual or Excel based. So it was pretty obvious early on, as we grew at the rate we were growing, we used to get things in order.
Option A is hire more people. Option B is find some clever tech that can avoid that. I mean, i've managed bigger teams in the past. Don't see any issue with it at a larger business. But for a small, fast growing start-up I think it just limits your options moving forward, whereas with a bit of clever tech you can always turn it off and switch it out for something else. Because once you've built a team, it's bigger it gets, the harder it can be for it to adapt. But also, depending on the business that you're at, we venture back.
But we've always had to be very savvy with how we invest our money and we're going to grow in those areas that are going to really scale the business, often like a lot of coffee spunctions, your finance and your HR. You've really got to sometimes work within a fixed budget, so it's always about thinking, okay, value for money. And every time you look at the market there's a new solution out there that might potentially improve or assist or even replace a traditional finance role. So, as I mentioned, we're a B2B SaaS business, so we're based on subscription. So we previously might have had five or six of our first customers managing their subscription on Excel. It's just not possible with more than 100 customers at play, so we have to bring in a subscription management tool. The team grows, so then suddenly you can't keep all of your personnel records and HR documents on G Drive anymore. You've got to get it into a system, otherwise how on earth are you going to see all that data?
And so how I started it was when making those first couple of early finance hires, making sure that the people joining the team had that same mindset, which is I don't really want to work hard through this problem, i'd rather work smarter. Maybe you should clever tech to help me rather than have anybody come in as things. I want to build a finance team so that I feel I can important and have people to boss around. We really just want to focus on okay, what are the problems this business is going to face as it scales and how can we help solve them? So I think that that served us well, particularly in finance.
It's also great to be able to set the example to other teams to say the answer isn't always, you know, bonds on seeks and there's other ways to think about it. You know, one thing I always like to bring home to people is, if you make that permanent hire, you've got to think okay, what's the average salary? What's the average, you know, life cycle employee spend at our business? Okay, we'll multiply one by the other. You could potentially be making a quarter of a million pound decision, or more potentially. So, with that in mind, is there another way of doing it? Could it be fixed term hire or could it be some tech? Could it be something that you could get on a multi basis?
I think that's particularly important for, particularly for fast growing and small businesses, where you know they're not sat on a pot of gold to suddenly just make all these, these hires.
So that's always the the view that we've had, particularly in the finance team, and but it's also acknowledging that eventually you are going to get to that point where you're going to need some brains behind all these tools, because they're not all completely flawless and magical.
They do need some interrogation. And what we're also very conscious of is making sure that as we scale as a business and as we start to, you know, automate more and more, we don't go too far with it. So we're in, as I mentioned, in sort of medium to large enterprise space. So our ARR the customers in five figures and plus. So we're not a very, very high volume, low value subscription based business. We're not doing sort of $20, $30 a month credit card sort of thing. So when it comes to some of those really important business processes you know, in order to cash, we've really got to balance out. There's some really important stuff here that's actually just worth the time of a human who knows what they're doing, getting it right, rather than spending their life trying to understand why the software has got all these glitches.
0:58:56 - Adam
So it's finding that balance between making sure that you're ready for scale but you don't take it too far, that you end up over automating and spending your life trying to tinker with the machine, figuring out why it's not working, and it's a question because, you know, I often refer to it as the you know the patchwork quilt approach, because, yes, you've got sort of the, I guess, the best of the best for a specific function, But at some point there's going to be have to be a consideration, if they flow between departments, of how these systems talk to each other.
Not all systems need to integrate, though. You know. If you can dump out data into something like you said, Snowflake or a BI tool like that, then you know the systems don't need to talk to each other if you're just combining data from those systems in a platform. But some do need to talk. So does that come into your consideration when you're going to market for these best of breed tools? Is there like a foundation that says, at the very least they've got to integrate out the box, for example?
0:59:58 - Craig
I think right now, yes, And in the last couple of years, definitely, there's certain tools that you'll already have that teams are embedded with and like and can't move away from, And so that at the moment there might be. There's just some must have integrations. I mean we, as I mentioned, we brought a subscription management tool. Well, it had to talk to our council ledger, it had to talk to our CRM. We didn't have an out the box integration ready to go. It kind of wasn't going to be able to do its job. We would just been constantly having to upload data into it every day. So at the minute, yeah, I think we're still in that space where we do need that easy to use out the box integration. But as we move forward, you know it's going to be much easier with AI tools. Or you know you've got things like you zap here that can start to actually help you do some no code building where you can actually get these things to talk to each other, even if the vendors themselves never really envisioned the integration. And you know the chat based AI is it just made that even easier.
So I'd say, right now, yes, but I think that's not going to be the case for for much longer. But again, the temptation is also potentially going to be to try and integrate everything and just think well, let's just get every single piece of data and all these systems all talking to each other And you're not really thinking about why, what, what value is this to get that system to receive data from there? because you can potentially just be every time you connect to systems and you're doing doing a push, can also potentially just be duplicating your data, because then you've got to store it in another place, So you can end up with just custom fields located in all these different systems And now you've got 18 different places to find the same answer to the question. And so I think that the strategy and the long term thinking around where do we want to go with this data is more important than than what can actually connect today.
1:01:47 - Adam
Yeah, and that's the reason I asked the question is because you know, when I'm, when I'm going through an assessment process or you know, looking for tools, you know, for me or the company or whatever is, the first question is will they natively integrate? you know so. So has that tool already got a proven integration directly with that other application? So that's that's first of me, and that's a big tick if it, if it does it right, you know, because it's nice to know that at least somebody's already gone through the hard work, right. But the second question is then is there a middleware that we can use? you know, and that's when we are into to Zapier territory, which which scares people a lot, and and I agree, because anywhere where there's a middleware, you can't say 100%. That's going to be a really good integration. But I think he is getting better.
Coming back to your point there, they obviously have now started to build chat into their platform. So it's getting to the point where you can say, oh, i've got this application and this application. What's the answer? do I need to connect to each other and then it all, it will start doing the math things for you And immediately we're then moving away from this you know, manual, right. Well, here's the trigger points that you have in this system and here's the acceptable, you know, receipt points in the other system. You're going to have to find a way to match that, but it's all on you if you get it wrong. But there's a Zafir expert that you can pay a ton for if you want to pay us to do it. You know all of that sort of stuff, so I'm hoping a little bit away from, but, as you say, it's all about making sure that there is a reason for that.
And coming back to your point about duplicate data, you know, yes, wholeheartedly agree that there are some data points where you need to have a master record for certain types of data. Yeah, so, for stuff like inventory, customer supplies, there needs to be a single source of the truth. But to get Ben at a shape, to the point where you are over engineering something to supply, i say, well, if we do that, we might end up with a duplicate here, like duplicating a document once in 1000 runs. Isn't, you know, enough to get banner out of shape? Well, you know. So I think there's, there's tolerances that we need to bear in mind when we're certainly saying that. Right. You know, just because something isn't perfect doesn't necessarily mean that it's a no go. Likewise, there's a very big difference between something that isn't perfect and something that isn't perfect and also won't scale, and I think that's the bigger question. You don't want to develop something that's imperfect that you're then going to have to reengineer in six months time.
1:04:08 - Craig
Yeah, i mean what you know, what we've sometimes been guilty of I'm sure a lot of people do is When you live in a world where you're just using so many of these chess tools as a small business you're not going to go and get yourself any bespoke software, so you're doing it all based on a tech stack of cloud based software is to try and put your own stamp on it and try and customize it to reflect you as a business And what you might find two or three years down the line if you need to migrate or if you do need to integrate.
Actually, we've created all of this this custom, these custom fields, this custom data and we thought it was great at the time, but now we've just created a whole load of work for ourselves, and so one of the things we try and encourage And and put in on the finance side is try as much as we can to actually use these tools as they were designed And because the functionality is all based on the data that it's expecting the data that you're just feeding to it And then it's got that.
Point about the integrations is see a huge difference between two systems that are integrated the work flow versus two systems that are just sending data to each other at the sake of it. Sometimes that second one can be, because the user of one platform just wants to be able to see everything. Doesn't really wanna go over here and log into the second system. Probably a bit more of a sophisticated answer to that than just APIing data back and forth just so it lives everywhere. Yeah.
1:05:34 - Adam
And I think it's always worth having a bit of an audit of the tools that you are using before you obviously invest in new ones as well, and I use a simple example, which is previously I'd use Evernote for my notes, or OneNote, or whatever happens to be preferred at the time, and then I'd have Trello to do the Kanban at what stage of progress are my tasks in?
But then I moved over to Notion again mentioning Notion again but that meant that I could have both a task list with Kanban and also a notebook, so basically then squashed two or three apps into one. So I think, instead of this additive mentality that we kind of get into, it's always worth going out and saying right, well, there may be this crossover between these two. Is there a new tool now that's able to facilitate both of those so that we can? it might not be a reducing spend right, that might not be the exercise. It might just be a reduction in complexity that we're looking for. So I think it's well worth going through the exercise every now and then as well.
1:06:39 - Craig
I mean a lot of the good, successful SaaS businesses that you just mentioned. There. They focus very much on a problem that exists at the time that they started and they solved that problem very well. I think it was very difficult for them, a little bit similar to the point you made it earlier on about the data that you can't see, which is there's another problem that's created, that's outside of your tool, that your customers are experiencing And it's not what your tool does. It's the interaction with another one. Now there's a whole secondary layer of problem. So can you solve that together? Well, if it's two separate companies, often that's quite laborious and neither party wants to pay for it and it takes time. If you Google, then you can actually just quickly switch something on and it's all singing and dancing because you'll ever know? now your notions reminds me of suddenly seeing there was something called Google Keep. Oh well, now I can just send notes into it and it can connect into my calendar and write to my emails, and isn't this lovely.
So there's definitely a difference between the big players who can really iterate quickly and versus the scrappy startups that are trying to keep up, because we're now into that phase now where it's all about the connectivity rather than just the individual problems 100%, and I do I mean because there has been some fear in the marketplace.
1:07:50 - Adam
Now Microsoft basically announced their den notion competitor, So they're basically now to look at where They can get rid of a lot of the startups at market because they've got more developers, they've got more budget and so on and so forth. But notion does have a bit of a cold following. So I think it will be okay, and especially some of the stuff that people do with APIs. Now coming back to the point about transcription that you mentioned earlier and I'm still yet to do it, but I'm gonna do it There's a dude there and get his new letter and I'll put it in show notes because I can't remember But essentially he's using the whisper API, which is open to anyone.
It's cheapest chips, it's like not point nor pence for however many minutes of transcription, so it's not gonna break the bank. But he's essentially set up a workflow so that he can drop an audio recording that he gets on his phone. He drops it into Dropbox and then essentially, he uses a platform, ties Dropbox to Notion and, using chat GPT in the middle, it takes the transcript. Chat GPT asked the questions like pull out the highlights, do all of that sort of stuff and then automatically drops it into a new notion database. So he's essentially got a virtual assistant for his voice notes to not just transcribes it, then also pulls out all of the relevant points from it. I'll put that in the show notes as well, because I think, coming back to the easy wins, that's the sort of stuff that I'm seeing the real value in with AI at the moment, as opposed to the whole reinventing the world type stuff. So, but It's amazing how fast it evolves and it keep up.
Yeah, all good. So the last question, craig, and then I'll let you know it's a question that I always ask on these shows and we've talked about a couple already Slack, some of the other tools that you use But I would ask whether there's a gadget or a tool and it could be a phone app, it could be a piece of software that you use that you couldn't live without, and answers we've had could be something as simple, as I couldn't live without audible on my commute to work, and we had one that was like an audio and a video editing tool. We've had GIF creators and found all sorts, so anything that comes to mind.
1:10:09 - Craig
I think I'm just gonna have to be boring and say Slack, because it's just so damn good at what it does. I can be here on my laptop, it can help me just jump on instant video calls of people, but then I can also be sat in front of the TV with a beer and if my CEO decides to send me a quick instant message, it's just there and it's just so easy to get it responded to. And, as I said at the start, it's just one of those things where, now that I'm used to it, i just can't see myself working in a business that doesn't have it or something pretty much identical to it.
So yeah, that's right.
1:10:40 - Adam
And, of course, the most exciting answer. Your default response for any boss message is you, when you're having a beer as a picture, back to the boss, obsessed beer, saying why are you messaging me when I'm drinking?
1:10:51 - Craig
I like to think my gishy game is pretty strong because there's a great little little widget in Slack that you can just talk to each other through GIFs. So you know getting there probably.
1:11:00 - Adam
Sounding older than I am. Send me language, isn't it? GIFs? And then, obviously, there'll be AI generated soon, so you'll be able to send GIFs of your actual self to actual things. I've no doubt about that, if people aren't doing that already, of course.
1:11:14 - Craig
Yeah, i actually think GIFs are undervalued because you know the reason I think they're so popular is they can get across that sentiment or that, that tone that you're trying to get at, when just words is just open to too much misinterpretation. You know the GIF represent what it is you're actually trying to convey in terms of feeling. Yeah, Because one of the challenges with all this remote work is especially with, you know, with email is you don't want people to take it the wrong way. So, I'm actually a big believer in them.
1:11:42 - Adam