Can you give me a brief history of yourself?
I started working in IT more than 25 years ago now, and I’ve changed my role several times. I started with Assembly Language as a developer, and then I went through all the possible roles in IT, not just developing but also areas like support and marketing too. I also worked for a startup as a product strategist for quite some time, and then in the end I joined GigaOm, which is a US analyst firm, and now I’m acting as an analyst.
What is your area of expertise, and what’s hot or innovative in that area at the moment?
I primarily cover data storage, all the interaction between data storage and cloud storage, and cloud in general. In terms of what’s really innovative currently, on the one side there are some really cool technologies like NVMe and very high-speed networking, so we can do things that in the past were not possible and storage is no longer a bottleneck from this point of view. This is opening a lot of opportunities for new startups to build on top of it with software innovation.
On the other side I think there is a little bit of stagnation, because there are some issues that are very hard to solve with the current technology, mostly about data management. The traditional techniques don’t work any more. So, at the moment we’re not ready for AI or machine learning to take on these kinds of issues. Most organisations aren’t ready yet either, but I think we will see more and more of it to manage these huge amounts of data that we are creating now.
Entering the Tech Trailblazers Awards is great because you can create some awareness around your brand and what you do, and this is always a good thing.
Your speciality is data storage, so what do you look for in an entry?
It’s complicated because when you talk about data storage, there are so many different segments you can look at, some of them overlap, others are totally different. So, the characteristic of a startup working in data storage can be different. I don’t like copycats. Sometimes you see wealth fund startups that are making a copy of an existing product and that’s horrible. Even if you have the money, the marketing, the sales, good execution, then maybe you will be successful up to a certain point, but that’s not innovation, you are copying something that somebody else started.
So, I always look at how the product has been engineered, the idea behind it, and the issues you are solving. Is it just something that will become a feature in time or is it something that can really become a product? Or perhaps even sometimes a product category by itself.
Has there been a previous entry which stands-out and, if so, why did they stand out?
There have been plenty. Some examples would be Rubrik or Cohesity, who have both done some really cool stuff in the data protection industry. These companies are changing the way people do backups and are now working on data management features that can really help organisations think about how they organise their data protection, as well as data management. So, this is really good.
my mentors taught me that common sense always wins, in the medium to long-term
Do you have any advice in general for startup companies, trying to survive in the current economic climate?
For a couple of years I got to try the startup life myself. I was full of advice for this company before doing that, but actually living it from the inside it changed my perspective, because most of the time we don’t know all the struggles that these companies have. They come up with great ideas sometimes but without a market.
Every successful company has three key pillars: technology, finance, and sales/marketing. I have always found that if you don’t have the three of them, all of them, then it’s like a stool with three legs and when you lose one of the legs, you fall down pretty quickly.
What advice would you give if any, for a company that is entering awards this year?
Entering the Tech Trailblazers Awards is great because you can create some awareness around your brand and what you do, and this is always a good thing. Letting people know what you do and having this kind of opportunity is really, really important. It’s especially important these days because now it’s much easier than in the past to get the company going, but actually letting people know what you are doing is becoming very hard because everybody has access to these incredible social media tools. You will be just one of the many, so using Tech Trailblazers to help get the word out is very, very useful.
Is there one piece of advice that you share which you got from any mentors you’ve had in the past?
Well, my mentors taught me that common sense always wins, in the medium to long-term. So, for example, if you don’t find something that is beneficial for all the parties on a table when you are trying to strike a deal, then there is something wrong and the deal won’t close very well for some. So my advice would be that everybody has to get a benefit from what you do.
With diversity in the world of IT, could you think of one thing that the world could change to make a difference and improve matters?
Personally, I think beyond diversity and about ethics in general. I usually look very, very closely at how companies think about all the issues that this planet has, not just diversity. Diversity in IT is just one of the main issues, but, if you think about how they produce their staff, how they think about ecology, everything. It’s now more and more important for large organisations to understand about this, because they want to buy from people who are aligned with their ideas. So I think about ethics in general, not just diversity.
I think most innovation is coming from new materials, for example graphene.
Which superhero would you be, and why?
Well from the technology point of view, I’m sure that being Tony Stark and Iron Man, that would be something. I’ve always like Captain America, not even for the will, or the very high sense of patriotism or whatever, but more for the very basic start. He’s strong, he has a very self-healing kind of nature and so on. But I think Iron Man is my favourite, just for the technology, and if we look at the DC Universe probably Batman, but again, not just the dark part of Batman, for Batman it’s more the gadgets.
What’s your favourite sport, either to watch or play?
I’m totally into kite surfing now, sailing, everything that is sea-related or at least water-related is something that I enjoy.
What fantastic invention will the future bring?
There are a couple of things that I’m trying to stay informed about, one is new materials. I think most innovation is coming from new materials, for example graphene. Carbon changed the way we design our planes, cars and so on. There are a lot of other things that these new materials are bringing to our day-to-day life.
The other thing is robotics and healthcare in general. I’m not just talking about large-scale robotics, but also nanobots that can help make microsurgeries and these kinds of things. Also working on the level of DNA, genomic medicine, and curing people just by understanding how they are built. Customised/specialised kinds of treatments will really change our quality of life.