hasani jess 2019 cio summit1

Simply Business CTO Hasani Jess says his major priorities for 2020 are talent acquisition, growth - and making a big technology play in machine learning.

Recognised with his team in the 2019 CIO 100, Jess was speaking to CIO UK Senior Online Editor Thomas Macauley at the 2019 CIO Summit, held at the Langham Hotel in London.

Jess said that the discussions around the cultural side of transformation and CIO-CISO relations at the conference had been particularly relevant to his role as the technology leader at the online broker of business insurance for SMEs, and added that finding the right people to develop the company's machine learning capabilities was his CTO priority for the next year.

"I think the number one challenge is talent acquisition, getting the right people into our business.  And we've been doing a lot of work around that this year. Diversity is a really big topic and issue for us, one we've been making a big push on," he said.

"From a technology point of view - machine learning. Machine learning is a big push for us in 2020, it's our big play.

"We've got our own machine learning team, who are really going to be pioneers for us on a number of topics - around cyber, around resourcing and utilisation of our capacity."

Growth

Ultimately, the goal of investing in machine learning and people was to continue growing the business.

"We've done a really good job over the last 10 years growing the business continually year on year," Jess said.

"In 2020 we want to do even better than before. We've got a lot of people and acquired a lot of amazing talent; we just make need to make sure you utilise them to grow our business."

Security and innovation

Jess added that it was important to "pulse check" his CTO agenda at events like the 2019 CIO Summit with leading technology peers from different sectors.

"The event today has been a really interesting one, as you'd expect listening to technology leaders from different domains. A couple things that I really enjoyed today, the debate around the CIO-CISO role and the impact of cyber security.

"There was a conversation around innovation between from the private and public sector organisations, and how the public sector, doesn't always get a good reputation for the innovation activities they do."

[Register for upcoming CIO UK events]