What has been your personal highlight of 2020?
Everyone I know being healthy(ish) through the pandemic so far - both family and colleagues. It has also been humbling to talk to my work friends where this has not been a case - a cliché I know, but it really brings home what is important. We're a close-knit company and this is beyond important for us, so I am proud of how we've handled it both healthwise and commercially to date while acknowledging that the world is not out of the woods yet.
Which three celebrities would you invite to a Zoom party?
Assuming we can raise the dead, please invite Jimi Hendrix, Django Reinhardt and Eddie Van Halen. Three generations of masters. I'm not sure they would get on though.
What has been your guiltiest lockdown pleasure?
Not commuting or Netflix - one of those.
Which tech figurehead has inspired you most this year, and why?
I guess my usual answer here would be Werner Vogels, CTO of Amazon. I normally get my fix in Las Vegas every year at AWS Re:invent where he always offers innovation and originality, but sadly it won't be in person this year.
I think the most inspiring person in my everyday environment is probably my colleague Phil Basford - he leads our Solution Engineering practice and is also an AWS Ambassador - the sheer energy and enthusiasm he shows in and outside work for his discipline is inspiring to watch and, as I've found out through team video calls during lockdown, he does it all from his daughter's pink bedroom!
What piece of technology, or app, have you not been able to do without during the pandemic?
My Fitbit - exercise gives you a fighting chance of remaining sane during lockdown, and it gamifies it enough to keep me motivated. In the summer anyway, we will see as winter progresses.
If you could be anyone else for a week, who would you be and what would you do?
I'd be a beach bum and go windsurfing every day; getting up late and then moaning about the wind not being good enough but going out on the water anyway. It's a luxury.
Do you miss face-to-face events?
Absolutely - I've been through the "how did I ever cope with travelling to work/meetings?" phase - the old world can seem so inefficient in the "new normal". As we've gradually returned to the office (between wave one and two) I had a collaborative (socially distanced) workshop with my colleagues where we discussed and co-edited a document - in a room, talking, with no collaboration software involved. It was amazingly productive in a way online collaboration just sometimes isn't and it shocked me - I came out thinking "face-to-face is the future!"
Obviously, remote working is now the norm and has some amazing upsides - so as with most things, it's all about balance.
How will COVID leave its mark on the way the channel operates long term?
By breaking the myth/expectation that a face-to-face meeting is always required as a first step; this has accelerated the early parts of the engagement cycle.
As a Premier Partner of AWS, we get involved in a multitude of opportunities so being reactive and agile was always a necessity, but now it's driven an even more flexible approach to responding to requests and requirements which is efficient and means things happen at an exhilarating pace. Obviously, we also adapted our marketing activities to be entirely digital, whereas previously they were maybe only 70 per cent digital.
With AWS as our primary channel partner, I don't think much else has changed for us - we have always worked collaboratively and across regions and teams but for rather more traditional channel players there is probably more of a challenge ahead.