Fintech sitcom explores AI challenges and the war on talent
Daniel Tremayne-Pitter is the writer and creator of a new 'The Office' style sitcom all about fintech. So far, the four-part pilot series created by Dark Matter Media, has been well received - and more episodes are in the pipeline. The series concentrates on the highs, lows, and some of the challenges of working in the tech-based environment of financial services - where communication, the use of data and AI, and the war on talent all have the potential to cause mayhem.
Head of Marketing Science and Technology Filmmaker Tremayne-Pitter specialises in fusing social science with creativity and has extensive experience working with tech brands. We caught up with him to find out more.
Tell us about what inspired the fintech sitcom
The challenges people face while creating digital change or disrupting the market are often overlooked. People can sometimes assume that digital products just ‘arrive’, but in reality there are complex relationships and challenges happening behind the scenes.
It doesn’t take much digging to see that most technology vendors prefer to depict futuristic abstractions of AI in their marketing. Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and NVIDIA wanted to take a different approach. This was a rare opportunity to develop a creative platform that highlights the challenges people face, doing real jobs, and delivering real AI projects, all whilst sharing HPE and NVIDIA’s powerful joint proposition.
We committed to a research project, speaking to people that were involved in or adjacent to AI/ML projects across the financial services industry. Our research focussed on underlying emotions, behaviours, and culture.
This provided us with first-hand insight into an AI project team dynamic – the role-specific challenges, the friction this causes, and the everyday struggles of getting the job done.
A sitcom format provided us with the perfect blend of familiar style and comedic tone to deliver an appropriate narrative.
Why have you focused on the four, key characters?
It became apparent throughout numerous interviews that differing priorities, goals, and professional worldviews created friction in the successful implementation of AI projects. Namely Data Scientists, IT, and line of business roles. Despite friction, interviewees shared that AI is a team sport and it is vital the dynamic between these roles is fostered and developed to achieve AI success. We hoped to develop characters that resonated with the industry.
Whilst the characters' attributes are clearly exaggerated, their role-based challenges reflect common problems described to us in our research.
The sitcom has a slightly ’The Office’ vibe. Is this the style you were aiming for?
The style of the production was certainly inspired by sitcoms like ‘The Office’, as a memetic vehicle. It’s embedded in popular culture, providing a sense of familiarity to our audience.
The voyeuristic style captured the professional behaviours and challenges we sought to depict. Conversely, the interview breakouts allow the characters to reveal ‘personal' concerns or frustrations which are often masked by professional conduct.
What message are you imparting with this project?
That HPE and NVIDIA understand the sometimes-fractious, relationships between roles and priorities. The series highlights the need for greater collaboration and professional empathy when choosing an appropriate technology platform or solution.
Our ambition has always been to stimulate conversation between HPE and industry professionals. We firmly believe that if we can entertain, we can earn, rather than assume, the opportunity to discuss solutions with the industry. Ultimately people are all trying to ‘Get Ahead’ of their challenges – and the best way of doing that might be a little self-reflection between AI project teams and suppliers.
What’s the reception been like?
We’re delighted that the series has been widely referred to as innovative in its approach and it has resonated with individuals delivering AI in financial services. Is it marketing? Yes. Is it entertaining? It appears so. Thus far it has been acknowledged as a relatable world that frames well-known challenges.
In fact, the demand for a ‘Talking Stick,’ featured in the season finale, is already growing! It would seem the idea of sharing your ‘AI Talking Stick Truth’ is appealing!
The war on talent and IT/AI challenges are a recurring theme - what’s the story behind that?
Our research acknowledged the challenge of finding relevant AI/ML skills. We heard how the ‘tech giants’ can often appear as a more innovative space for young professionals - and their CVs. Encouraging new talent to consider a career in financial services, with access to next-generation AI tools and cohesive data and AI strategies, came through as a consistent priority.
Of course, the developer market is a challenge across many industries that we research.
How many episodes are planned at this stage - and will we be seeing more?
The pilot season is just four episodes, but we hope to be in production for another season soon. As part of our production process, we are always on the lookout for new stories and observations. We welcome conversations with anyone who has an experience they wish to share!
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