Jamie Hutton is the CTO at Quantexa, the data analytics startup.
Since launching in 2016, Quantexa has established itself as a trusted developer of an analytics framework and dynamic scoring engine for analytics and risk assessment applications.
The London-headquartered company’s technology is, among other things, providing analytics to fight financial crime, something that was the topic of our recent interview with Quantexa’s CPO Alexon Bell.
It also provides surveillance applications as well as for fraud, anti-bribery, and corruption applications. The company serves financial services, corporate and public sector clients worldwide.
In March 2019, Quantexa was one of the 50 companies named to take part in Tech Nation’s Future Fifty scheme, which helps promising tech businesses scale and create jobs.
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Quantexa most recently raised a $62.77m Series funding round in July 2020, according to GlobalData’s thematic research.
Over the past five years, Hutton has served as Quantexa’s CTO.
In this Q&A, the 48th in our series of CTO Talks, Hutton reveals how his early experiments with tech saw him ruin his family’s movie nights, his DJ aspirations and why he thinks artificial intelligence is an over-used buzzword.
Eric Johansson: Where did your interest in tech come from?
James Hutton: I have always been interested in tech from an early age. As a child I was continuously taking stuff apart and putting it back together. Although I have to admit I wasn’t always brilliant at it – as a 10-year-old I took apart my parents VCR and then being unable to put it back together. It never worked again!
In another life you’d be?
A world-famous DJ. I have DJed since the age of 12 (in 1996 well before DJing was mainstream) and still get to play out a few times a year (not least on the Quantexa Ski Trip). It’s something I have always enjoyed and always wonder if I could have made a career out of it!
Which emerging technology do you think holds the most promise once it matures?
The easy answer to this question would be to say AI. The problem is the term is often misused in the market and its meaning therefore gets watered down. However, there is no doubt in my mind that “true AI” and the automation that comes from it, will really change the face of the world.
How do you separate hype from genuine innovation?
It’s very difficult. You often get companies adding “hype buzzwords” into their marketing – a few years back it was blockchain, then IoT, now AI. For consumer products, it’s relatively easy to see how innovative something is – e.g. self-driving cars – there are thousands of videos online showing what they can/can’t do. For B2B software this is much harder – I think the best way to measure the success of a company is to look at its customers, their use cases of the technology and what they are saying about it. This is the best view you can get into how genuinely innovative a technology is.
What one piece of advice would you offer to other CTOs?
Have a clear vision of your product, and never lose sight of your differentiators. Don’t build new capabilities just because you have a warm sales lead – every development must fit into the strategic goals you have set as a management team.
What’s the most surprising thing about your job?
How much “outward-facing” work I do, such as client pitches, technology deep dives, investor briefings etc. I am not sure I expected this when I started as CTO, but it seems very common amongst the peer CTOs I speak to, and thankfully I have always been very outward-facing in my career, so it has actually been a pleasant surprise
What’s the biggest technological challenge facing humanity?
Climate change is the persistent challenge and I believe this will mostly be solved by technological advances rather than changing the collective behaviour of 7.5 billion people (although of course, every little helps so we can’t be complacent).