What was your first job, and how did you get into IT?
I started out in the States as a post-room assistant for a home-improvement conference organiser. It is amazing how long you can keep yourself entertained with a roll of bubble wrap.
I found IT at university, but my first pure IT role was while working as an architect building parts of Canary Wharf in the early 90s. The design team was in London, the interiors team was in NY, structural and mechanical teams based in Chicago, signage in LA and quality assurance in Hong Kong. We ran the project with a 24-hour global shift pattern from a single CAD database in the UK over a 64k frame relay network. It all worked but was more of an art than a science back then...
What sport should be in the Olympics but isn’t?
Apologising, queuing or voting with your feet – Brits would win Gold every time. Maybe even coming second, but having a good go.
Which fictional TV character is borrowing ideas from your life?
Hank Moody (David Duchovny) from Californication. He takes my worst ideas and actually acts on them! A hero among fictional men.
What could prompt you to give it all up and join the revolution?
The government taxing or taking away my British Airways American Express card. Business trips and holidays would never be the same.
What is your favourite joke or the one you heard most recently?
Most recent: This reporter was interviewing a 104 year-old woman, and asked her: ‘What is the best thing about being 104?’ She simply replied: ‘No peer pressure.’ My favourite joke, on the other hand, is not for publication.
“In my dreams ...”
... a client or supplier will invite me to the Hong Kong IRB Rugby sevens.
What was your best business trip ever?
I flew to Chicago for a four-hour business meeting and my boss ordered me to stay another two days to get the cheap flight rate. Best bars and restaurants ever...and even I look small in Chicago by comparison…
Will we see businesses take green ICT more seriously this year?
I doubt it as most businesses have more pressing and urgent concerns to tackle – such as profitability. Going green is not cheap. Also, most green ICT cloud-based initiatives merely shift the carbon footprint from the customer to the supplier.
Will virtualisation become as profitable for the channel as pundits predict?
I doubt it unless you become a cloud services supplier. Most on-premises virtualisation will start to reduce over the next five years, as it will be more cost-effective to use cloud services especially as 21CN communications circuits fall in price.
What does the channel most need to learn to succeed and grow this year?
Clients want business solutions and high-level SLAs. Product is dead; cloud is just starting to come of age on the back of 21CN networks. Understand the cloud and its effect on your business as well as that of your clients. Identify the gaps and fill them, before someone else does.
Do vendors do enough to help their channel?
Most channels act like the social services of IT; they take anyone on board without having a clear mutual understanding of what each party wants. I am a great believer in value rather than volume. Then again, most vendors do not understand value as they are solely product focused. Solutions sell products. Products do not sell solutions. Focus on the correct solution and the products will naturally follow.
Charles Davis is group chief executive officer of the SAS Group
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