I chatted to Ben Maris about his career as a Developer in our Aiimi Labs team. Ben shares his aspirations, challenges, and achievements – and where he thinks data and AI are heading next.


Hi Ben. What motivated you to join Aiimi?

Very much the people. I highly value the human aspect of my working environment. During my university placement, a friend of mine working at Anglian Water – a client of Aiimi’s – introduced me to the Aiimi team. I thought they were great fun and really cool.

Aiimi Labs was recruiting Developers at the time, so I was absolutely on board and applied. The people I met during my interview were fantastic and, more than two years on, I’m loving it. There are loads of opportunities for further training and personal development too, so I’m always learning something new.

What’s it like being part of Aiimi Labs?

It’s fast-paced. But we’re all more than happy to jump in and help each other out if anyone gets stuck or could use some advice, so it’s an incredibly supportive environment. By pulling together, we get Aiimi Labs to where we all want it to be. A sociable and friendly bunch, we also enjoy spending time out together after work.

Developer Ben Maris and two colleagues chat in the Aiimi office

Can you paint a picture of your typical day as a Developer in Aiimi Labs?

In Aiimi Labs, we prioritise projects into two-weekly Sprints and Retros, with each morning kick-starting with a short Daily Scrum. These regular updates offer terrific opportunities to catch up with the rest of the team, so we all have a clear insight into what everyone is working on – and how we can reach out to support each other. This way, we swiftly refine any backlogs and explore future upgrades and releases. It’s a collaborative effort. After the catch up, I dive straight into coding for the rest of the day.

What exciting new projects are you working on right now? And what’s next in line?

There’s a lot happening in Aiimi Labs right now. We’ve just gone live with our latest Aiimi Insight Engine upgrade – Vienna. I worked with other members of the team to develop its new Disclosure Portal. This feature enables data gathered during DSAR and FOI processes to be delivered securely and conveniently to an audited external web app. It comes alongside other exciting features, like Folder Browsing and Mark as Useful.

Before that I developed new features for our Aiimi Insight Engine upgrade – Utrecht, including its Timeline Visualisation, Histogram Visualisation, and Map View tools, so our users can visualise their data in different ways in different contexts.

Next in line is Warsaw!

Aiimi's neon blue sign capturing one of our core values: 'Be Brave. Feel the fear and do it anyway.'

Tell me about your biggest challenges and successes since joining Aiimi.

At one point, the dynamic within our team temporarily changed and I had a foot in each camp: front-end and back-end. I was busy writing a lot of code – around 50,000 lines – and getting our regular upgrades into place. This was a steep and condensed learning curve, but Aiimi Labs really pulled together! So I guess my biggest challenge became my biggest achievement.

I learned an insane amount and gained confidence in how to succeed under pressure. And Aiimi Labs is stronger and all the more united for it. I’m proud of what we achieve together.

How do you find working remotely compared with being in the office?

Being in the office does make working together a bit easier, because you spend more time collaborating ad hoc on projects rather than on scheduled Zooms. Plus, it’s more social. Our new HQ in Milton Keynes is really slick, with group workspaces and a huge hack zone, but also hideaways where you can get your head down.

Aiimi keeps growing, so we’re always recruiting for new roles. It’s great to see new faces in the office too.

But there’s benefits to working from home that I’m quite enjoying. As a tech company, we’re well equipped to doing almost everything remotely. I’d say a balance between the two is ideal.

Why did you decide to pursue a career as a Developer?

I really enjoyed coding during my ICT A-level. It was by far my best subject, so I took the default route for Developers and studied BSc Computer Science. I found image processing awesome and even wrote a software application that tracks heart beats, generating visualisations and metrics for medical professionals.

What advice would you give to somebody considering this role as a career?

These days, there’s many more options to train on campus and online. Nothing stands still in this sector – there’s always something new to learn and there are always better ways to do things. It’s more about your genuine interest and high motivation than your background.

Head of Data and Analytics, Ryan Moore, sits in an Aiimi office booth working at a laptop and chatting to two colleagues.

What are the best and worst aspects of being a Developer?

I like to get my head down to code. For me, it’s the most challenging and rewarding aspect of being a Developer at Aiimi. I enjoy working out puzzles, problem-solving, improving, and developing. Reflecting on the Developer journey from ideation through to delivering a finished project is hugely satisfying.

It can be tricky when meetings ‘interrupt’ my line of thought or divert my attention, especially when I’m in the middle of coding, but that’s part and parcel of being a Developer and working within a team.

Reflecting on the Developer journey from ideation through to delivering a finished project is hugely satisfying.

What are the most significant challenges affecting compliance and cybersecurity teams right now?

I’d say the human element. That’s where things can slip. We speak about this a lot in Aiimi Labs. People can be susceptible to security vulnerabilities, like phishing, and accidentally leaking data by leaving documents lying around on their desk or desktop.

Organisations have got so much data that there’s the danger of obscurity by abundance, and sensitive data often lies buried deep in a drive and gets forgotten about.

An Aiimi team member in the audience asks a question for the presenter during a team meeting.

How can insight engines help compliance and cybersecurity teams overcome these challenges?

From a compliance perspective, one of Aiimi Insight Engine’s key features is its ability to crawl vast and diverse repositories, pulling together all data and making it searchable.

For example, personally identifiable information and payment card information can be located and secured using our Data Privacy & Compliance solution.

Insight engines speed up the entire workflow using automation, and they leave less potential for non-compliant information to be hidden away and later surfaced by the wrong person.

Is high-quality data paramount for artificial intelligence and machine learning?

Imperative.

Good data is completely essential because bad data tends to skew results, and you have to be so careful about unconscious or conscious developer bias.

As insight engines index all data, they also need to be optimised. That’s why place markers on data and files are so important. Users can see when they change or when they receive new related data.

Insight engines also enrich data so users can make sense of it, and this alerts people to bad data. Our notification system automates these alerts within the app, so we’re now extending that capability to create email and Slack alerts.

Find out more about life at Aiimi and join our growing team. We’re proud to hire diversely and inclusively, whatever your background, gender, sexuality, or disability – check out our open roles now.