Community-Led Alliance comes under the umbrella of The Alliance, a community-led media platform that builds niche communities to educate and inform.
So, as you can probably imagine, we’ve got a fair bit of experience when it comes to creating communities that really stick.
Of course, we’re not going to gatekeep that experience – we want you to understand what can make a community so successful, and to hear it directly from the team behind those communities.
This time, we spoke to the team behind our sister community, AI Accelerator Institute (AIAI).
AI seems to be the hot topic on everyone’s lips right now, especially in the business world, but AIAI has been championing machine intelligence for years.
We wanted to dig deep into what makes AIAI unique, how it grew to over 400,000 members, and if the vision has changed over the course of AIAI’s existence.
We heard from Tim Mitchell, Community & Events Manager, responsible for putting together industry-leading events.
Keep reading to learn more about AIAI. 👇
What is your role at AIAI? What does that look like day-to-day?
Tim: I’m Tim and my role at AIAI is Community & Events Manager. So, day-to-day, this means a whole range of things.
Firstly, it means putting together our events. We have two flagship, in-person shows at the moment, and we’re taking these to half a dozen world cities this year. This is what takes up the largest chunk of my time I’d say - building websites, and the research and conversations that go into curating line-ups and agendas that are going to appeal to our audience!
Beyond events, there’s a constant stream of community activities - from podcasts to organize and record, to monthly live panel sessions, to growing the value of offerings behind our paywall.
Marisa: I’m Marisa and I’m the Copywriter here at AIAI, which means that I head up our content on the website. I write up our articles and reports, coordinate with podcast hosts (and I’m now also going to host my own), engage with our Slack and LinkedIn communities, interview experts for case studies, write up social posts, newsletters, and more.
You’ll find me researching all about AI, computer vision, machine learning, and all that good stuff to make sure we deliver content that has a positive impact on our community members.
What are the problems/pain points AIAI sets out to solve?
Tim: Of course one of our main goals is to provide a space for AI professionals to come together and connect over a shared passion for AI - but one that wasn’t necessarily vendor-led like we’d been seeing a lot of.
We bridge the gap between state-of-the-art academic research, and the need for businesses to deploy value-driving AI systems.
There are numerous resources, groups, and conferences that share the scientific developments in AI. We take that and give those businesses the platform - by showcasing and uniting the best in the industry - to turn these into profit-turning business applications.
Marisa: Artificial intelligence is so broad – there’s always something new coming out and new technologies being developed, so having a platform to share this knowledge has always been a priority.
Having a space for like-minded people is also important – if you’re an AI expert, you’ll likely want to network with other AI experts, meaning that having events and job opportunities easily available for these professionals was also on our minds.
AI experts are making valuable connections through both our events and our communities – they mention how having a targeted audience helps to drive their business goals.
It’s not simply new AI professionals learning from more experienced ones; computer vision companies, for example, find the right people to talk to about their technology at our Summits, which is really valuable.
Have these pain points changed since the start of the community?
Tim: In the past couple of years, even the past six to twelve months, practical AI applications have become a much more significant part of the conversation in the industry.
For a lot of orgs, it’s gone from a through-away term to something that can transform business output. So in terms of the pain point changing, I think for a lot of orgs, that pain point of ‘how can we deploy systems that work for us?’ is kind of just beginning.
But for others, I think new pain points are more around how orgs use this most effectively - and how do orgs integrate high-tech solutions effectively, when domain experts are not necessarily AI experts.
And for the technical teams providing these solutions - I think new pain points are fairly never-ending for them.
Marisa: AIAI is “an independent, knowledge-sharing platform with a mission of connecting and inspiring AI experts and machine scientists around the world”, and this mission is still very much a thing, it has simply evolved.
With computer vision, which is a field of AI, it’s become obvious how it’s driving the world’s leading companies into revolutionizing how processes are done. It’s not just the market growing exponentially, you’ll find computer vision everywhere these days – and you might not even be aware of it.
From healthcare applications in which it’s helping to detect tumors, to self-driving cars, this technology is only going to get more exciting. It’s even helping us explore the solar system and beyond.
We’ve seen this more and more at our events - so we’re fine-tuning and adapting our approach to what our audience is saying.
How does it solve those problems? What is the solution AIAI offers?
Tim: We’ve built a community of AI practitioners that allows people to connect, learn from each other, and showcase new tools and solutions to overcome these challenges.
The best example of this is our in-person events - hearing success stories, discovering cost-effective solutions, and picking the brains of people that are making a global impact - us facilitating these conversations is our best solution.
Marisa: We offer expert insights from the AI community to the AI community - we help to facilitate community members' ability to learn from each other. With our reports, for example, we survey professionals to really get a look into their pain points. What’s driving them? What are they finding is excellent and could help their peers?
Similarly, we also encourage experts to contribute their articles to our website, as they offer their insights to a captive audience who may be looking to solve similar problems.
We focus on doing this through more than reports and articles; our events are connecting so many experts in different countries, bringing new tech to their attention while also underlining how they’re not alone in their own struggles.
We also find that our Slack community is very much the same, virtually. You can reach out to your peers from anywhere and ask them questions – and even find job opportunities.
How does the community affect the work you do?
Tim: As our audience, the community dictates completely where our events, our articles, our industry reports - everything - all go.
It’s our job to be there to host the right content and conversations that people need to have, so we have to listen!
Marisa: Community is very important for our content. Making sure we’re delivering the content our community wants to see helps to drive what we do. Our industry reports, for example, are both research and community-led, and even created with their direct collaboration.
As I’ve mentioned above, we always want to make sure that what we offer is valuable, so community feedback is at the core. We encourage our members to reach out and let us know if they’d like to see something different and even if they’d like to drive some of the conversation themselves.
Whether it’s our Slack or our LinkedIn community, it’s always at the center. We’ve had members contribute articles and even record podcast episodes with us. We want them to help lead what we do when we’re creating content plans so we can offer the value they’re looking for.
How does your content affect the rest of the community activity - such as events?
Tim: The content we do at AIAI is closely related to everything else we do – we all work seamlessly together to bring value to the community.
Events are also a really big collaboration; attendees’ stories and experiences feature in our content, and we also highlight speakers in articles.
What have been some highlights of your work, are there times you’ve seen a real, tangible effect it’s had on members?
Tim: The first in-person event after COVID is a definite highlight - returning to San Jose, and seeing with our own eyes the effect that the community members have on each other. It’s obviously the most visual representation of our community, so it’s always great to be able to enjoy those days.
Marisa: I’d say my content highlight would be our latest report, Computer Vision Landscape 2022.
It’s a new report that’s quickly become apparent was needed for our community and we got a lot of good feedback on it. It offers a view of the current computer vision market and it covers the challenges and drivers behind it and even predictions for this year.
It was great to see our community sharing with us what the main pain points were, which can prove to help a discussion about how to address these common issues.
And we’re not stopping this year! Not only will the report be back, but we’ll also focus on other key areas in computer vision that our community highlighted they’d like to see. We’ve got more in the works and we’re very excited about it.
How do you benefit from the community space, personally?
Tim: I’m able to work with incredibly innovative people, doing amazing things. I think I benefit too from getting to speak with such a range of people - backgrounds, job roles, goals, projects - and that makes being in the community really exciting.
Marisa: Expert insights really can’t be overstated. AI professionals know what the latest developments are (so many write research papers!), and they love sharing their knowledge with the community.
It’s always great to have thousands of professionals (and around half a million members on our LinkedIn group) to draw from when you’re a content creator. They know what issues are at the forefront of the community and they happily share their experience when asked.
Personally, it’s great to see beyond just creating content – it’s about how so many AI professionals are working on important technology that will make the world a better place, which is exciting to see.
I’m also a tech fan and it’s so interesting to see what we can do right now with the right hardware, software, and skills. I’ve had the pleasure of talking to a lot of these professionals who are leading their industry right now in terms of AI.
Anything else to add?
Marisa: If you’re an AI expert and you’d love to contribute, do reach out! We do this for you, and we love seeing our community grow and expand.
We’re always happy to hear from you and would love to see you in our free AIAI Slack community or over in our LinkedIn group.
Over 400,000 community members is a pretty impressive sign of success in our books!
As Marisa said, if you’re an AI expert, enthusiast, or machine scientist and want to get involved, make sure you head over to their rapidly growing (and free-to-join) communities on LinkedIn or Slack.
Want to learn more about what makes a successful community? Check out our previous success stories here!