Intelligent use of AI can shape the future of Ireland

As artificial intelligence (AI) transforms business models and industries, a report by PwC has predicted that AI could contribute $15.7tn to the global economy by 2030.

Last year, Google opened a support hub for AI startups in its studio in San Francisco, while the University of Limerick has introduced a master’s level course in artificial intelligence.

However, despite AI’s expansion into the mainstream, scepticism remains in many industries.

Alex Kelly, co-founder of Brightflag, a software platform that helps large corporations to manage their legal costs, said there’s a lot of “hype” in the industry around AI and “how it’s going to do away with the need for lawyers and result in robot lawyers.”

He said that AI and machine learning can provide practical solutions to businesses.

Mr Kelly describes Brightflag as “a next-generation system, which is powered by AI.”

“What we’re doing is solving a very specific problem, bringing real business value to deliver incremental improvements on a very labour-intensive process for legal departments to manage their budgets,” he said.

Legal services providers typically charge an hourly rate, giving narrative-time entry descriptions of the work they do, Mr Kelly said.

Brightflag uses machine learning to read and understand that narrative detail and to categorise the time spent on each activity, and that data is used to find increased visibility in costs.

Set up in Dublin in 2014, Brightflag has tripled in size each year and currently has a core team of over 50 in Dublin, with offices in New York and Sydney, and clients including Uber and Australian telecoms provider, Telstra.

Mr Kelly, a corporate lawyer, who previously worked with Matheson, in Dublin, and co-founder, Ian Nolan, who comes from a legal technology background, recognised a lack of transparency between large corporations and law firms and they realised the problem could be solved using AI.

Brightflag had support early on from Enterprise Ireland, and has since received venture capital investments from US and Irish venture funds.

“We’re living in very exciting times. AI really captures the imagination, but, sometimes, people can overstate the implications and that can lead to polarised attitudes. However, there is real business impact, and that has driven the growth of Brightflag and got us to where we are,” said Mr Kelly.

Meanwhile, Andreea Wade, co-founder of Opening.io, which is using AI to disrupt the recruitment industry, says agencies and job platforms are recognising the potential of machine learning.

“Matching is seen within the recruitment space as the ‘holy grail’,” Ms Wade said.

This is such a document- and data-heavy industry, with recruiters spending three months out of 12 just looking at CVs.

Ms Wade describes Opening.io as a “cognitive engine” that uses AI and machine-learning to match candidates to roles.

Using linguistic algorithms, the technology converts words and phrases in job posts and CVs into data, which acts like a filter to shortlist jobseekers for HR departments, recruitment agencies, and job platforms.

The company’s products include features which use five ways of matching people to positions; a function that can forecast a candidate’s salary by comparing their CV against the average salary in a particular country and market; and a skills-suggestion feature.

Opening.io came from the experiences of Ms Wade and her co-founder, Adrian Mihai, while job hunting.

“We were going through the very painful process: sending your CV to all these places and you never hear back.

“We had this strong tech and product background, and we said we could solve this,” Ms Wade said.

Early in 2018, the company was chosen by Enterprise Ireland as a high potential start-up, and it is currently closing a significant funding round.

According to Ms Wade, the recruitment industry is ripe for disruption, with traditional agencies and job platforms losing market shares to the likes of Google for Jobs, along with a new trend of larger companies opening internal recruitment agencies and poaching their top recruiters.


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