What was your first job, and how did you get into IT?
My first job was with a small continuous stationery printing firm called Phoenix Business Forms in Birmingham. I was the ‘jack of all trades' developing the IT systems to do quotations, order entry, and management information, so I was a developer writing code. Without divulging my age, this was in the days of a multi-user operating system called TurboDOS that ran on a groundbreaking multi-processor Z80 system - oh, how things have changed!
My first job working for an IT vendor was with a company called Borland, where I was responsible for developing its tools product line sales - anyone remember Turbo Pascal and Delphi?
What will be the most important trend to follow in 2015?
APIs will be one of the most important trends to follow in 2015. While we're certainly seeing the Internet of Things (IoT) increasingly being talked about, APIs will play a key role for companies needing to unlock the IoT and create new digital channels. Customers will drive demand for simple, scalable means of exposing data and services to third-party partners, suppliers and customers, facilitating the new revenue streams and opening up new markets.
This year is going to be massive for businesses to expose data to third parties by using APIs to monetise new business streams and gain competitive advantage. APIs are increasingly revolutionising the delivery of products and services. They allow an organisation to expose its core competency to the outside world for consumption (eg PayPal exposing its payment system) and APIs allow organisations to outsource and acquire functions that are not their core competency.
Will there always be value in printed books and magazines?
I believe there will always be value in printed books - I find the experience of reading a book and turning the pages much more satisfying than swiping the pages of an electronic book. You get a sense of progress from it that you don't get from an electronic book, as well as an enjoyable tactile experience - but maybe I am too old school.
Would you rather draw up the plans, or carry them out?
I'd rather draw up the plans and have the satisfaction of seeing a thriving partner community carry them out.
What is the best way to get UK plc growing again?
There is a real opportunity for growing the technology sector for the UK. In order to foster our own communities for tech start-ups, the UK needs to champion those that are thinking bigger and taking on more meaningful problems. More emphasis should be put on company focus rather than those simply trying to create quick solutions or the next viral consumer app.
Britain has a large pool of tech talent, and the focus should be on channeling it in the right direction and on building structures and companies that are built to last and grow, versus those that are simply hoping to exit and make money fast. We also need to do a better job in keeping the talent in the UK by improving how we fund them so they don't look abroad for better opportunities.
Creating and growing seed-funding programmes could be a start, along with increased support from the government and mentoring from existing entrepreneurs and business philanthropists.
What are you reading?
A white paper called Secrets of a Great API. APIs are at the core of enabling application transformation for digital business, giving access to functionality and data in your current applications to the new digital business applications. By combining APIs and integration, companies are able to open up new revenue channels and new routes to market.
If you had your time again, what would be your next choice of career? Why?
Musician. I play the piano and the violin and get enormous enjoyment out of playing both of them, as well as listening to music of all genres. As to why, I would sum it up as ‘music moves me' - to me it is one of the delights of life.
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