Job title: Managing director.
Place of birth: Helston, Cornwall.
Year of birth: 1959.
Marital status: Married.
Career highlights: University of Life graduate. Slightly above average at school, however, was way above average at IT (O and A level), hence the career in IT. Wanted to be either a journalist (watch out) or join a bank. Ferranti (first proper job) had great fun, learned to be a 'boy in a man's world'. Joined Estee Lauder as shift operator, promoted to shift leader within three months, moved to programming within six months. Analyst within 18 months, special projects for three years, just brilliant experience and positioning for life and an IT career. Was on its 'fast path' management programme from the age of 23. Went to head the IT team at Richardson Vicks, made the team grow to be an integral part of the business, rather than just a service department. When Richardson Vicks got bought by Proctor & Gamble, I managed the 'transition' of mid-range/ mainframe headsets, again brilliant experience of a new, bigger IT world. Again in the fast path but a real degree stopped progress. Went radical and joined a start up of five people - the sublime to the ridiculous -Êan AS/400 business as the 'head of' something, never really understood what. Built its IBM business, went into the top 10 revenue earners by year two. During the above, met Triangle, tried to put the two businesses together (failed), so left to create Triangle's new AS/400 company, took 'top 10' in first year, merged back into the main business in year three and developed the business on from there.
What do you love most about the IT industry? The challenge. It is dynamic, it constantly moves and shifts. If you can survive any period of time in IT you can survive anywhere (especially as a reseller). The market: watching it move from business solution-led (mainframe/mid market server in the 70s and 80s) to technology-led (PC/Unix in the 90s) and back to a mix. My prediction is that business solutions will once gain become the compelling reason to act, not technology for its own sake. Its adult life, going from high value/high margin, to low value/low margin, moving from direct to indirect sales models, working with the vendors to create, destroy and re-create channel strategies, walking the line between retained margin and commodity pricing, trying to make money on the profitability of all the above.
Which company do you most admire or respect in the IT business? Microsoft for its courage, bravery, foresight and downright luck in getting IBM to fund the product that launched it and keeping the IPR. Any business that survives (and does not significantly decline) over 20 years in the industry.
Which individual do you most admire or respect in the IT business? Lou Gerstner did a superb job at IBM and I respect what he achieved. Bill Gates for having the wisdom to surround himself with great people early. Any true pioneer in the industry, not the followers or ones that hang on to others' shirttails.
What is the biggest technology trend you anticipate in the next 12 months? Compelling business solutions, using all the techniques, tools and technologies now available to an open demand world. The industry is ready for the new wave of small, nimble, adaptable, business-changing solutions that live alongside the established players.
What is the one thing working in the technology industry has taught you? Be bold, be brave, deploy common sense and be very, very lucky.
Where do you think the channel will be in five years time? Dead if it does not change and adapt. Channels talk value-add, vendors seem intent on commoditisation. Customers want both, and without this being afford able and funded, neither will get their goal. Vendors will have to accept 'no loyalty' and 'stack em/rack em/pack em'-style organisations that live on two or three per cent margin. Customers will have to re-employ the skills they do not have or expect a new contract market to crop up where services skills will be premium priced. Modern-world computing is the most difficult and complex it has ever been. We have more options, potentially more costs, with less proven skill than ever. We have old solutions - great, wonderful, do what they have done forever solutions - being either re-developed into Mickey Mouse technologies with no real proper project definition or control, offering and delivering less or the same function, just with a web-based interface. Or we have new, adapting, emerging industries and solutions that have emerged within the past 10 years. We have a plethora of operating systems and servers. We are now marketing-led, we buy on the brand, not what it delivers. All of these strands have to be woven into the compelling business solutions that the business community needs. IT has to change to deliver collectively.
Which do you think is the most influential vendor in the UK? From our perspective IBM, however, you can never discount Microsoft. You have to be in awe of SAP, and watch new solutions such as VMware (zero to hero in a very short period of time). I still love the innovators, even if they do not all make money.
Which do you think is the most influential ISV in the UK? Depends on market size. SAP, Oracle at the top, others such as SSA, Intentia in the mid tier, Sage and Microsoft at the lower end. Which vendor's technology do you think has changed the face of IT? IBM, without a doubt. It is still behind or involved with the majority of what we see. It has forever been this way and is unlikely to change.
How do you unwind or spend your spare time? What spare time?
Where is your favourite place to eat? Anywhere with great atmosphere and good company.
What is your favourite drink? Depends on the mood, place and company.
What is your favourite TV programme or film? I love soaps (how sad, must be youth coming through), murder mysteries and thrillers. I don't have a favourite film, but many, based on mood.
Who is your favourite musician, band, artist or genre? Tears for Fears, Oasis, Stereophonics.
What is your favourite book? Anything by James Patterson.
What career would you have pursued if you hadn't worked in the channel? Journalist at the beginning, consultant in the middle, channel development now.
What has been your greatest business achievement? Putting all I have learned into everyday use.
What is your personal ambition? To go into space (some would like to fund this I am sure).
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