Opening Schedule

Friday 8th September 2017, University of Exeter Business School - Building One


Registration Opens


Coffee, Breakfast Pastries + Networking

The following items take place in Track 1's lecture theatre.




Cognitive and AI - Where's the money?

Jamie Cole, Executive Partner, IBM

Cognitive Applications at IBM have come a long way from Watson's debut on the game show Jeopardy in 2011. As well as introducing the Cognitive topic, this session will look at examples (in particular manufacturing but also healthcare, buildings and retail) to discuss where Cognitive and AI is being used and how organisations are driving value from the technology.

Track 1

Tech Business

This track is has a wide variety of topics and assumes no technical knowledge - ideal for all audiences.

Track Hosts

Adam Lusby:
Exeter MBA lecturer and circular economy specialist. Enthusiastic about the possibilities technology has to create a positive impact.
Jess Ilyas: 
Exeter MBA Candidate 2016-17. Jess has a keen interest in technology and AI with 12 years of experience in communications, marketing, and media. She owns a media production company and is a former radio/TV presenter.


The Little Things of Horror

Alasdair Allan, Babilim Light Industries

The current age where privacy is no longer regarded as "a social norm" may not long survive the coming of the Internet of Things. To a lot of people the digital Internet still isn't as real as the outside world. But it's going to be a different matter altogether when your things tattle on you behind your back.

If everything is smart, everything will soon be measuring, calculating, and weighing your life. Suddenly its not just your email, or the photographs of your cat, but your heart rate, your respiration rate, how, and who, you slept with the night before.

But the rush to connect devices to the Internet has led to sloppy privacy, and sloppy security. That can't continue. We therefore will pick over the Internet of Things battlefield of the last couple of years and point out poor architectural choices, poor decisions, and poorly secured things. The hope is that these battle stories can inform future architectures, and make hindsight the best foresight.


Coffee Break


Building & Leading A Hybrid Robot-Human Workforce

Cerys Hearsey, Post*Shift

New examples of the hybrid workforce are appearing all the time. Amazon’s warehouse with robotic shelves, the exoskeleton trialled at Daewoo and the financial services startups using algorithms to deliver advice show us what is already possible.

We can see that the reality of a hybrid workforce is no longer confined to science fiction. What role will humans play in the future of a 21st Century organisation?

I'll address some key challenges that I believe we will encounter on that journey & discuss potential solutions.


A Useful Real-World Application of Virtual Reality

Tom Powell, Met Office Informatics Lab

The Informatics Lab has been working alongside the Met Office College to deliver a virtual-reality prototype application to enrich the college’s courses.

The Met Office College delivers bespoke training courses and programmes to people from around the world for anything weather and climate related, including the Aeronautical Meteorological Observing Course. This course is delivered numerous times a year, predominantly to customers from UK civil and military airports and airfields, but also to the Met Office’s own trainee meteorologists.
There is a large practical element to the course. Trainees must be able to recognise different cloud types, amounts of sky coverage, cloud base height, weather types, intensities and associated visibilities.

When delivering this type of recognition training the College is at the mercy of the weather. Often during a course there is little variation in the sky which limits the learners exposure to different conditions.

We are seeking to solve this challenge in the Lab using low-cost virtual-reality headsets (e.g. Google Cardboard.)

We are able to immerse students in various weather scenarios chosen at will from an online catalogue, all delivered on-site in the classroom. The project is still very much in its infancy but we are already convinced that by using VR we can give the learner a more complete and immersive experience.




AI in Energy

David Ferguson, EDF Energy

The potential for Artificial Intelligence in the energy industry, EDF Energy's early experiments and our vision of the future.


Machine Learning, AI and the Brain

Samantha Adams, Met Office

Originally purely academic research fields, Machine Learning and AI are now definitely mainstream and frequently mentioned in the Tech media (and regular media too).

We’ve also got the explosion of Data Science which encompasses these fields and more. There’s a lot of interesting things going on and a lot of positive as well as negative hype. The terms ML and AI are often used interchangeably and techniques are also often described as being inspired by the brain.

In this talk I will explore the history and evolution of these fields, current progress and the challenges in making artificial brains.


Coffee Break


Owning your product

Adrian Strahan

My presentation will be about the challenges that a Product Owner regularly encounters and how they manage and influence an application's development, whilst often working with many conflicting requirements.

It will highlight how the role is key to ensure the application’s success.

The success of any Agile team's application is dependent on many individuals, all working as part of a tight-knit scrum team, but one of the most important roles is that of the Product Owner. Product Owners need to have many different skills, including customer liaison, diplomat, planner, storyteller, knowledge broker, developer, and tester, to name but a few!

In this presentation, I will describe the day-to-day challenges a Product Owner has to deal with, along with some insightful anecdotes of experiences and lessons learned along the way.

Track 2

Developer Track

This track is aimed towards software developers, and will assume some technical know-how.

Track Host

Helen Connole:
Web Developer with 10+ years experience of programming, database administration, front-end and design. Currently working at The University of Exeter. Phonic FM DJ and host of Tech Monthly.


Overview of SharePoint Framework (SPX)

Gosia Borzecka, Boots UK

About a year ago Microsoft announced a SharePoint Framework (SPFx) - a new way of development for SharePoint Online.
Now you can use your own machine with your favourite OS and just write the client-side web part.  You don't even need to have an O365 subscription because you can test your code on localhost.  

Want to know more? Just come to this session for Overview of SPFx.


Coffee Break


Raise Your VR A-Game with A-Frame

Craig Buckler, Freelance

An introduction to A-Frame - a Mozilla-led open-source framework for building virtual and augmented reality experiences. It abstracts the complexities of the VR hardware and software stack to provide a simple web-like API for three-dimensional 360 degree environments.


Getting Reactive with CycleJS and XStream

Steve Lee, OpenDirective

Reactive Programming (RP) with streams has gained much interest over last year or so, especially now Angular 2 has adopted the original RxJS JavaScript library. RP embraces the many complex async event streams found in modern rich client's including SPAs and also works well in backends. However it often requires a little light brain rewiring to get to grips with the declarative and functional style. Though once learnt, you might not want to return to imperative coding styles again.

We'll take a gentle first look at RP through the lens of André Staltz's excellent CycleJS with Xstream libraries along with the snabdom virtual DOM.




Graph QL

Kev Baldwyn, Funeral Zone



Scaling clusters to thousands of servers in the cloud

Jacob Tomlinson, Met Office Informatics Lab

In order to analyse the petabytes of data we have at the Met Office we need very large clusters of servers. However procuring these pieces of infrastructure takes months or even years of planning and large up-front capital expense.

In the Informatics Lab we have been exploring using scalable cloud infrastructure to create next generation data analysis clusters. In our latest prototype we used scalable resources from AWS along with a Python computation scheduler called Dask to create clusters with thousands of CPU cores on-demand. The cluster only exists for the time that we need it and then we can shut it down again, so we only pay for what we use.

Scaling to these levels takes a lot of thinking about. In order for everything to scale linearly you need to also scale your data access, monitoring, system configuration and everything else to avoid bottlenecks.

This talk will cover the practicalities of building these things, the pitfalls we found when crossing certain thresholds and the new challenges we face when working in this new paradigm.


Coffee Break


Going serverless with AWS Lambda

Joseph Woodward, Just Eat

Serverless technology has shaken the development world with a low-cost pay-per-execution pricing model enabling companies to reduce operational cost and get to market sooner at a fraction of the cost.

In this talk we'll take a look at how we can build and deploy an ASP.NET Core (though any language will do!) application to production using AWS Lambdas. Along the way we'll also look at how we can implement the usual logging and metric gathering requirements you'd expect from any distributed application in the new serverless world.

Track 3

Infrastructure & DevOps

This track is geared towards those working in infrastructure, software architecture and management roles.

Track Host

Dr Shirley Atkinson:
Lecturer in Information Systems, School of Computing and Mathematics, University of Plymouth.


The trials and tribulations of providing engineering infrastructure

Olly Stephens, ARM

This talk is a reflection on the things I’ve learnt having spent the last 17 years (and counting) providing infrastructure to the engineering communities at ARM Ltd.

ARM engineering engages in a wide variety of engineering disciplines to produce, enable and support it’s products. This, in turn, creates varied demand on the internal infrastructure required to enable it. From large HPC clusters that have been used in pretty much the same way for 20+ years, through weird and wacky custom pieces of hardware, to the modern infrastructure required for efficient software development.

The talk will discuss some of the challenges of providing and evolving the internal infrastructure needed for ARM to function, and reflect on changes resulting from more recent enablers such as cloud computing and home working.


Coffee Break


Think like a Gardener

Andy Wood, Ideaflip

Writing software has been compared to many other professions such as science, engineering, architecture, craft and art. However, while these analogies can be useful, nearly all of them assume that the goal is a finished product. One that might require the odd bit of maintenance and occasional bit of redecoration perhaps, but fundamentally, a more or less static, completed artefact.

Today's networked software ecosystems are complex, dynamic environments. Security updates, changing cloud APIs, new web technologies and mobile operating systems, all contribute to a ever-evolving context that developers have to contend with while creating apps and services. We need a fresh analogy to draw inspiration from.

In this session I propose that writing software should be treated more like gardening and look at the ways this analogy can help when thinking—and perhaps more importantly, talking—about the design, development and maintenance of today's systems.


Developing an Agile Mindset

Dermot Kilroy, GoCompare

The Agile Manifesto captured the mindset of 17 software delivery thought leaders in how they wanted to deliver software. Since then the agile landscape has exploded with all sorts of different tools, techniques and practices.

In my experience the adoption of agile focuses heavily on implementing the processes, tools and techniques. But, true agility is achieved by the people within the organisation adopting the agile mindset.

This talk is all about the agile journey GoCompare has taken and, more importantly, contains an experience report of developing an agile mindset at all levels of the organisation.




Remote Working

John Blackmore, Upad

Remote working roles are on the rise, offering flexibility to employers and employees, opening up roles to workers that would normally not be available due to location or other factors. Based on real world experience over the last 18 months, I would like to share my tips and trips on working within and managing a remote team.

I show the pros and cons of remote working, great ways to set up your space for productive working, and how to avoid common procrastination pitfalls.

I have been working as a team lead for a fully remote team of developers and would like to share our story of how we organise work, communicate, and collaborate in ways that focussed and productive without the distractions of the modern open plan office.


Replacing Testers with Developers

Dave Longman, Headforwards

Modern software release cycles are getting shorter and shorter. Modern development languages and frameworks enable developers to produce new features faster than ever. With the trend of shorter sprints and a general move towards continuous delivery it is becoming more and more difficult to get everything ready to release without testing becoming a bottleneck.

Existing testing processes cannot keep up with the rapid release pace demanded by more and more companies. So what can we do about this? One approach is to turn your development team into testers, get them to think more like a tester thereby reducing the number of issues that get past the developers IDE. But does this work and how do you go about doing it?

In this session I will explain what we have done to help our developers become testers. I'll talk about the challenges we faced as well as the benefits that it brought for our projects. We'll also look at what impact this had on the developers and more crucially on the testers.


Coffee Break


Why Isn't My Query Using an Index?: An Introduction to SQL Performance

Chris Saxon, Oracle

“Why isn’t my query using an index?” is a common question people have when tuning SQL.

This talk explores the factors that influence the optimizer’s decision behind this question. It introduces the concepts of blocks and the clustering factor. It discusses how these affect the optimizer's calculations. It goes on to show how these concepts work in practice using real SQL queries.

This session is intended for developers who want to learn how the optimizer works and how to make their SQL run quickly!

Closing Schedule

These items take place in Track 1's lecture theatre.


Closing keynote

Michael Jordan, SAP

Product Knowledge Owner @ SAP (Data Science, Analytics / Associate Lecturer at University of Exeter Business School


Closing messages

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