Paul Burns, Chief Technology Officer
Career so far
It all started back in the early 80’s with my Dad bringing home an RM 380Z computer which was apparently portable and me sitting in front of a 10” green screen for hours learning programming (as it was known back then). I followed on from this programming with my first home computer, the famous ZX81.
From this point a career in technology, which was now a major emerging sector, seemed obvious and having studied in the North East graduating in 1993, I started my first job with an accountancy software provider. In the early days I worked as a COBOL developer, but loved nothing more than tinkering with the hardware and OS technology in the days of Unix and Multiplexors, but most importantly I loved being out of the office working with customers in the wide ranging industries we supported. I continued programming and added Foxpro skills but also started deploying the software on Novel Netware 3 platforms.
I moved organisations in 1998 to take up a more focused role looking after a newly formed Network Installation team working in the SMB sector and helping to drive a very successful IT company. I was made Technical Director and held this post when we were acquired by TSG in 2003.
Having been with TSG since the start, I have held a variety of management roles, from running the support and service delivery, leading technical sales and now holding the post of CTO. I work mainly with the sales and service teams at TSG, our key suppliers and of course most importantly our customers. I hold a post on the Sophos Security Council and the Microsoft Global Partner Advisory Council. This gives great insight into supplier product roadmaps and also gives us the ability to influence decisions that ultimately bring benefit our clients.
What would you recommend as the most fundamental part of technology in a business?
For me the answer is simple, whilst the architecture is important the key has always been applications. Without business enabling, highly efficient, integrated applications businesses will never gain the competitive advantage that today’s technology can offer.
If you could be anyone else for a week, who would you be and why?
A tricky one to answer, but I would have to say that my second passion of cars would lead me to steer towards a formulae one driver like Lewis Hamilton. Getting into the driving seat of some of the most powerful cars would be great and the after parties would be an added bonus!
What will next year’s most overhyped industry buzzword be?
A great question but as we in the IT industry like to constantly create new ones every five minutes there will be a lot of choice. I am going to go with one I heard this week which I really liked “Ghostware”. This describes malware like keyloggers that hide themselves & collect data. The difference is once they have captured the data they remove themselves leaving no trace and you with no idea your data has been compromised. A Ghost in the machine!
Has 2015 been a good, bad or ugly year? (slightly more than one-word answer pls!)
In many areas 2015 has been a good year with the IT industry really starting to get to grips with how to create the best from Hybrid solutions for customers and the big vendors now accepting that Hybrid is here to stay for the at least the mid-term.
What would you have as your last meal?
This is an easy one I will start with fresh barbequed king prawns, for main course it has to be my favorite curry dish the very hot south Indian dish - Jaahl Jul Murgh from our local Indian and finally sticky toffee pudding for dessert. May need a long lie down afterwards!
What keeps you awake at night?
The injustice, lack of tolerance and prejudice that we see in the world today. That and my 3-year-old daughter!
What piece of technology could you not be without?
Lots of choice here and as a techie I think I own most of them, but it will have to be my Surface Pro 4, which I am using currently to write this whilst on a flight to a partner conference. It’s one of the most flexible personal and business devices I have ever owned.
Have any of your predictions come true this year?
Newcastle United heading for relegation, but I think everyone could have spotted that one. As for the technology sector I saw a slowdown in Apple sales as highly likely due to recent lack of innovation, and although their profits are up, sales have slowed. I think Apple have got to get themselves back into innovation mode, with a lot of recent innovation coming from elsewhere in the industry now.
What do you see as the channel’s biggest challenge in 2016?
To create working Cloud/hybrid aggregation models to allow customers to create custom solutions from various application choices that are integrated. At the moment the industry has the foundations of this, but there is a massively long way to go before this delivers on the potential.