To say the IT industry has moved rapidly over the years is an understatement. TechPath’s Troy Adams has made it through the ups and downs of the Australian tech industry, giving him an experienced viewpoint shared by few others. We caught up with Troy to ask a few questions about the past, present and future of technology.
How long have you been involved in IT, and how did you get started?
My fascination with IT began in late primary school. By early high school, in the pre-internet days, I was running my own Bulletin Board from a self-built 386 computer. As soon as I was old enough to get a job, I worked in IT on the weekends and throughout the school holidays.
I was impatient to get started on my own business, and launched TechPath (formerly named Betta Computer Services) in 1996, when I was half way through year 12. After completing school, I moved into business full time. I still love to get directly involved in customer challenges and solutions.
Which technologies do you see as being the most disruptive now and going forwards?
Everything. There is hardly an industry or technology that is not being disrupted right now. It starts with the hardware fundamentals – battery storage will change the way we acquire and store power, which enables a whole host of changes. Within 5 years, electric cars will be the normal option.
Data is providing us with so much information, and the tools to analyse and report on data are now affordable and easy to use. Drones only a few years back were expensive and hard to fly, but now they start from under $100. The stability and ease of use is amazing and they are easily within the budget and capability of school aged children.
From the IT front, there are so many more options available to businesses right now. It is great, but it can also make the process and decision of change harder. Companies that are still operating on paper, not using cloud, and have not embraced high speed internet and communications will be struggling to keep up. They are in danger of leaving it too late.
What impact do you see this having on mid-sized businesses?
Cloud technologies and online information has made it easier than ever to start a business with less than a few thousand dollars. Medium-sized businesses need to innovate their products and services, to have the right message and branding in the market, and offer outstanding customer service.
Many medium-to-large businesses have survived because they had a big brand, but it is no longer enough, and some are beginning to disappear. Larger businesses can struggle to innovate and adopt new technologies fast enough, which can be a problem for them.
How can businesses face the challenge of rapid technology changes, and where do the opportunities for competitive advantage lie?
One part of being a TechPath client is gaining insights from our team who work with the latest technology across a vast range of industries. Everyone should be looking around the world for products and ideas. Some industries are more advanced overseas than in Australia, so why not reach out and share ideas.
Peer groups like TEC are great ways to learn and share. Customer journey mapping is a great way to look at your business and its processes from the customers’ eyes – the information gathered is amazing (and sometimes scary). It helps you decide if you have a people issue (training, procedure, process) or if it’s a technology issue that can be solved with a change or new solution.
For those working in IT, has creative thinking become as important as technical knowledge? And what abilities should IT professionals build to capitalise on this time of flux?
Once, being the smart guy that didn’t communicate well, “the propeller head”, was acceptable. Today the IT guy is expected to work closer with the business, be innovative, and offer a return on investment. It is impossible to be the expert across all areas, so it is key that IT people have a good network of contacts they can call in for expert knowledge and assistance. As an IT guy, if you are great with technology and people, you will do very well.
IT security has been hitting the headlines, with a recent incident bringing essential health services in the UK to a standstill. Are all businesses now at risk, and how can they prepare for the worst?
Businesses have been the target for criminals forever, but today it is much easier for a criminal to gain access to information to build a hack, or even purchase hacked computers and servers ready to go. We have seen an alarming rise in cybercrime, mostly around CryptoLocker. Another common scam is impersonation via social media, emails, text messages and phone calls, resulting in companies becoming victims of theft. TechPath has invested in security skills so we can offer comprehensive security audits and advice. The security audit provides a detailed report, including suggestions on how to improve any short comings. When you look at the cost of security breaches to businesses, getting a thorough check is always wise.
Want to chat about what technology changes mean for your business, or how to stay secure in the current cyber-crime climate? Contact the TechPath team.