Interview with Philip Radley-Smith, CEO, i2i Media
Philip Radley-Smith has successfully created a number of international companies including those in payments, software development and streaming media. With offices in the UK, the United States and Azerbaijan, Philip’s companies service international clients in sectors such as Film and TV, Petrochemicals and Healthcare. Philip has an extensive worldwide patent portfolio that pertains to wearable computer, mobile phones, watches and bracelets. Philip is keen to put his, and his companies’ services and skills at the disposal of others within the community. This includes pro bono work with organisations such as charities, housing associations and other social enterprise bodies.
What motivates you and gets you up in the morning?
Crazy deadlines. Customers always want solutions within super challenging timelines, or all at the same time. Our year is effectively synced to lots of markets and events for our clients and hence this creates a rhythm to our work schedules – the moment you think that things have quietened down is the moment clients think you are free to start on something new.
What motivates the team?
Anything new and challenging. The server team are focused on new compression and latency functionality together with more efficient codecs. However, to my mind, the coders get the more exciting end of the spectrum working on commercial deep fake technology and integrated AI with live streams. My feeling is that we have entered a new ‘grown up’ technical phase with streaming where it is no longer just about the delivery of content. The delivery and monetising phase has been done – to my eye it is now about making it intelligent and hence adding real value. As examples, if you are using webcams, you need to know how engaged the other party is, especially in a sales scenario or a due diligence ‘employment’ scenario. There is massive potential for using AI both in a commercial environment and a health care environment. We are doing masses of work on this to incorporate it into our solution, to create what would effectively be streaming 3.0. Another big development feature is commercial ‘deep fake’. Like many elements of new technology this got off to salacious start but the true commercial applications are amazing.
Does COVID-19 still have an effect on your work?
In many ways yes. There was a massive up ramp in business when COVID-19 stuck (with client wanting remote solutions)and this has not gone away. If anything it is the new working dynamic. We are now seeing a demand for blended solutions with instant switching between offline and online. Like many companies, the big COVID-19 effect has been the lack of office working. We have maintained our worldwide offices to give continuity and a physical focus, but the teams are now used to working remotely even though there are twice daily team check-in sessions and a high emphasis on collaborative working. This works very well for established, highly skilled, members of the team. However, it has not worked so well for new team members that we took on during COVID-19. My feeling is that these people have missed out on ‘osmosis’ learning and a deeper understanding of the company culture.
Do you have lots of women in the team?
Not enough. It would be great to have a better balance and to have different working perspectives and insights. I notice that whenever I visit a client with female i2i technicians it creates a completely different dynamic.
What is recruitment like?
Thankfully we have lots of great people who come to us for jobs – long may this continue. However, my concern is that the educational system is teaching people to use code such as Python etc. which unfortunately is no use to us. What we are always looking for is the person who is experimenting out of hours, someone who has an inquisitive mind and a thirst to learn and hence someone who is starting ‘with the motor already running'.
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