technology chiefs

Interview with Martin Sharp

CTO Kinstellar

What are the top 3 priorities in your role?

  1. Provide additional capabilities to the organisation in the form of revising the IT strategy and 3rd party vendor management.
  2. Increase focus on security by putting in place modern processes and practices to secure data. Security is wider than IT though and includes educating the whole company in best practices and information governance.
  3. Drive up Service Levels of IT systems while maintaining or reducing costs.

Which previous role had the biggest impact on your career?

The divestment of Bupa hospitals is probably the pivotal role where I transitioned from a technology delivery agent to a technology leader. This was a yearlong project with high stakes for everybody involved: from credibility of the new independently formed hotel group, to the potential financial loss for the firm I was working for and the venture capitalists, right to the potential loss of life or other serious medical impact if it hadn’t gone right. Back in 2006 this was pioneering work around early private cloud but we pulled it off providing great services for the patients and consultants alike. I was very proud to come in on time and to budget for such a transformational piece of work

How do you see the role of the Technology Leader changing?

We all know that Keeping the lights on is not enough and that the pace of change is accelerating. If you think back, major transformations used to occur every 5 years, yet now most organisations I’m working with have them coming in yearly or with less time! We need to be aware of this and our role in driving the business forward through the delivery of new capabilities. Se we all must change the story from lights on to transform. When you consider the pace of change the that consumerization of IT is making everyone an armchair IT expert, the role is only ever going to get more difficult if we organisations continue to cling on to what are quickly becoming dated methods of working.

What are the most important issues confronting the technology industry?

  1. The belief that everyone/anyone can do anything. Technology Leaders need an understanding of what is really going on otherwise organisations will get caught out and end up with fragmented solutions that don’t work for them, don’t drive them forward and end up costing them in time, money and opportunity.
  2. Every organisation, whether it recognises it or not, is increasing its exposure or attack vector to the world and thus the security impact, If you read (I have) ISO 27001, you will realise that you are still ultimately contractually liable for any data loss. This is principally through fragmentation of the technology architecture that allows data islands to be created without centralised controls.  Getting this wrong could end up with you losing information and you could be paying a significant penalty, I’d suggest paying careful attention to GDPR EU regulation.

What technology trends are you most excited about and why?

IoT and 3D printing are really catching my imagination in what they can do and despite the rhetoric around the potential loss of jobs and downfall of the human race as we know it, I firmly believe as a technologist that we should be looking and encouraging a utopian view of the future and not a dystopian one. My gut feeling is that these technologies are a stepping stone to the future as a way to encourage others to think big and make a difference.

What product or company is having the biggest impact?

Microsoft Azure and tooling, as a medium sized global business we have not got money to burn, but through our licensing agreement we have some sophisticated tools, integrated at a sensible price point.

What mobile app do you use every day?

Outlook and Skype for business allows me to work from anywhere, which is a necessity. Outside of the role I find Feedly enables me to stay up to date by aggregating lots of information sites and Facebook is coming into its own to communicate with people outside of my organisation in a more open fashion not normally seen on LinkedIn.

What 3 skills should an aspiring Technology Leader look to develop?

  1. Selling and public speaking are a must. You may not believe you are in sales but you need to get your team, industry, suppliers, etc. to listen to what you are saying, have influence on what they will do and get them to believe in why you are doing it.
  2. Develop great leader skills by building up a variety of different approaches, not just traditional management or coaching from the side. The workforce in most organisations is changing where there is not just in-house members of staff but a collection of all sorts of experts including contractors, consultants, 3rd parties. Don’t forget Peter Drucker “Managers do things right, leaders do the right thing”.
  3. Develop your own personal development skills and diversify them. Technology is only part of your skill set and you must be able to understand the world from different perspectives.

Where do you look for trusted technology information & inspiration?

I have a great network of peers who I’m lucky to know, trust and respect, in fact many I consider to be my friends rather than colleagues.

You have to be careful trusting the internet for information as it is a one-dimensional source, you should look to round off your view point and do some fact checking. But when I do use the internet I tend to us my Feedly list; information age, economist, HBR, Business Insider.  I currently have in excess of 2,500 RSS feeds!

What books should someone looking to get on in their technology career read?

In the spirit of reading something a little bit different

The Sparks Blueprint: To Marketing for Local Trades

Outliers: The Story of Success – Malcolm Gladwell

And finally I have to say you should read my own book

The Digital Transformation Book: The Significant 7 Imperatives for Delivering Successful Change in Complex IT Projects

It really does give practical insight into how you can improve your business through Digital Technology.

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