‘AI is no longer an option, it’s mandatory’

2 Nov 2023

Orcawise CEO Kevin J Neary. Image: © Alex/Stock.adobe.com/Orcawise

Kevin J Neary discusses the impact ChatGPT has had, the AI sector shifting from evolution to revolution and the danger of complacency in the competitive tech sector.

Kevin J Neary is the CEO and founder of Orcawise, a Dublin-based advisory and services business focused on artificial intelligence (AI).

Neary launched the company eight years ago, but has been focused on AI for at least a decade. He previously served as a keynote speaker on AI strategy and worked in a CeADAR committee on AI for eight years.

While Neary has been focused on the benefits of AI for some time now, he noted that the sector has undergone “transformative changes” recently.

“Initially, AI was about rule-based systems and simplistic pattern recognitions,” Neary said. “With the advent of deep learning and neural networks, the potential grew and, going forward, I see AI becoming even more integral, not just in tech but in every industry.”

The rise of powerful generative AI systems and the rapid growth of this sector has gathered the attention of world leaders. Yesterday (1 November), the governments of 28 countries and the EU signed a declaration on global cooperation around AI, marking the first major outcome of the AI Safety Summit in the UK.

Earlier this week, US president Joe Biden signed an executive order to create AI safeguards. As the world moves to put further regulation on AI, Neary believes the technology will become more mainstream in the future.

“As it becomes more explainable and transparent, trust in AI will grow and I believe AI will make the world a better place for everyone,” Neary said.

Boosted by ChatGPT

The start of 2023 saw the rapid rise of ChatGPT, the advanced AI chatbot developed by OpenAI. The product was hugely successful – and was arguably the main spark that ignited the heavy focus the tech sector has had on AI this year.

Its success appeared to be a boon for the AI sector, drawing attention to other companies working in the sector. Earlier this year, Neuroflash co-founder Henrik Roth said both his own company and competitors noted an uptick in users as ChatGPT grew in popularity. Neuroflash is a content generation platform that uses OpenAI technology along with its own software.

Neary said the rise of ChatGPT was beneficial for Orcawise too, as it “heightened awareness and interest in AI”, driving more clients over who are “keen on integrating advanced AI”.

“Businesses are under pressure to not only learn about AI but to make informed decisions about which AI model to deploy,” Neary said. “AI is no longer an option, it’s mandatory that every business applies AI to exploit the opportunity for cost savings and efficiencies.

“In addition, there is still plenty of low-hanging fruit with opportunities for new business models and revenue streams for business leaders that can move quickly. The next few years is about levelling up for most businesses.”

A hyper-competitive landscape

Orcawise has grown over the years to more than 50 team members, with large customers including Salesforce, Google, Discord and Bloomber, according to the company’s website.

The company appears to be in a stable position and Neary noted that the future appears to be “bigger and brighter” with the recent growth of AI. But he also said its important to think carefully about where to invest resources as the future is also “more uncertain and difficult to predict”.

“Back then it was an AI evolution and we built Orcawise to service companies incrementally,” Neary said. “But suddenly we operate in what looks like an AI revolution where the opportunity is truly transformational and incremental growth just won’t cut it nowadays.”

Neary has a mindset that complacency can be “your biggest enemy” in the tech sector and was once given the crucial piece of career advice to “stay curious and never stop learning”.

“The tech landscape is hyper-competitive,” Neary said. “Entrepreneurs today must deal with rapid technological shifts, regulatory uncertainties and the challenge of scaling sustainably. Additionally, finding and retaining top talent is a constant challenge for entrepreneurs.”

To maintain top talent in his own business, Neary said Orcawise has adopted an “evolved recruiting strategy”, along with benefits such as flexible working hours and a hybrid environment where “everyone in Orcawise has a voice”.

Looking ahead

With a rapidly evolving tech landscape, Neary said that Orcawise will continue to focus on AI, but also said the intersection with other technologies – such as blockchain and IoT – presents “even more exciting opportunities” down the line.

“The future is about creating synergistic solutions for businesses that leverage the capabilities of multiple tech components,” Neary said.

Neary also hinted at expansion plans for Orcawise. He said the company’s presence is “strongest” in New York and Dublin, but that there are ambitions around “expanding our footprint further in the US and EMEA”.

Regardless of how the tech landscape shifts and the AI sector evolves, it appears Neary’s goal will remain the same: try and “stay ahead of the curve”.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic