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Paul Burns

Paul Burns, Chief Technology Officer 

I have been in the IT Industry for over 25 years and I am passionate about technology!  I have worked across development, applications and Infrastructure delivery and have managed technical support and delivery teams.

Over the last 15 years I have worked in senior positions and help to align technology strategy for our clients. More recently working as CTO I manage the best team of over 20 solution experts in presales across all fields from BI, ERP, CRM, Productivity right through to Cloud Infrastructure and Telecoms.

I enjoy time spent working with our customers on their roadmaps and strategy, whilst managing our technical sales competency development, product solutions and supplier relationships. I currently sit on a number of Partner Advisory Councils, having also held a seat for 3 years on Microsoft’s Global Advisory Council.  This gives great insight into supplier product roadmaps and also gives us the ability to influence decisions that ultimately bring benefit to our clients.

Career so far... 

It all started back in the early 80s 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 and 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 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 with the sales and service teams at TSG, our key suppliers and of course most importantly our customers.

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?

I think it would be fascinating to be any of the Astronauts on the space station, the chance to be able to see Earth from space would be amazing and put some perspective on our place in the Universe (ok so I want to be a space man!)

What will next year’s most overhyped industry buzzword be?

There is a lot of choice on this one from VR to AI and every acronym you can think of in-between, but Blockchain continues to see frequent press coverage as people try to get to grips with it, but we see little practical application of this entering the real world and adding value yet.

Possibly a very slow burner!

Has 2017 been a good, bad or ugly year? (slightly more than one-word answer please!)

Well clearly, we live in interesting times so one of each from me; Good – incredible technology with leaps in home automation, autonomous vehicles and SaaS services, Bad – Donald Trump’s approach to politics and world stability seems simply incredible.  Ugly – the continued greed of large corporations resulting in their failure.    

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 favourite 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?

Absorbing the continued rapidly changing technology world, particularly the pace of change we see now. 

That and my wife snoring!

What piece of technology could you not be without?

As CTO I can’t just go for one surely….  So I will just keep the key ones; My Surface Pro, My Samsung S8, In Car SatNAV, PS4 with VR, Apple TV, SkyTV, NEST my IPAD and of course more recently Alexa!  I can live without the rest.

Have any of your predictions come true this year?

GDPR has certainty been generating the levels of interest I predicted last year, although we have seen in the industry very slow uptake on investment to address some of the technology challenges presented by the GDPR. 

This is often due to a lack of understanding around the investment levels required and no allocation of additional budgets.  I expect to see more uptake this year as budgets are allocated.

What is the best partner/customer trip you have ever been on?

As CTO I need to attend a lot of events and foreign travel is often on the cards.  I think two partner events stand out and ones I try not to miss; Microsoft’s Inspire – this is a key one for TSG and we usually send multiple staff.  The second is the Sophos partner event with past locations including; Athens, Toronto, Florida, Rome, Lisbon & Cannes (well someone has to do it!)

What do you see as the channel’s biggest challenge in 2018?

I expected the pickup on GDPR to be a lot sooner and as such resource will be an issue in the wider IT industry as customers get to grips with their obligations and allocate budgets.  The other major issue is businesses keeping up with the newer technologies as they’re launched (at an ever-increasing pace).  We are passionate about showcasing the real value these can bring and will continue to make these visible through every channel we can think of!

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