With IT having become such an enormously important subject thanks to covid, Scott will sort the wheat from the chaff to assist you in getting ahead of the curve and staying safe. We sat down with Scott to fully understand his company, ITHQ.
When ITHQ launched in January of this year, a global pandemic was not part of the plan. While challenges have been plenty, cyber, cloud, digital working and data solutions are now in greater demand than ever before. A new normal requires a new way of looking
at IT. Enter ITHQ.
Tell us about your tech background and how you started in business
As soon as I got my hands on a computer, I was hooked. I left high school at 15 and became a systems admin for Data Control & Systems, the first Internet Service Provider in Zimbabwe. It was my uncle’s business. When he sold it in 2000, I used my earnings to come to the UK and launch S2S. My brother and I grew this business –
a Cisco Gold Partner, also in Crawley – until 2007, when we sold it to NG Bailey.
You have particular skills in cyber security. How did that interest first get sparked?
I learned how to code when I was 13 and then, as greenhorn techies do, I dabbled in hacking. Nothing serious; I did wangle some free phone calls courtesy of a well-known insurance company before I was caught.
Thankfully, I found the business of keeping hackers out far more interesting and if you want to keep your network secure from hackers, employ a reformed hacker. Over the years I’ve accumulated some of the most senior certifications in security including my CISSP, which is equivalent to a master’s degree.
Working with cutting edge partners means we learn continually about the latest cyber threats. This intelligence helps us to better educate our clients and sharpens our solutions. With an estimated 350,000 pieces of new malware released every day, we need to stay on our toes.
You say 2020 has changed business for the better. This is surprising. Care to elaborate?
It’s been tough, there’s no doubt. Never has ‘sink or swim’ felt more relevant.
As a technologist, however, seeing businesses embrace digital transformation faster, more effectively and creatively, has been exciting.
McKinsey published a survey in October that shows years of tech change has happened in just a few months, which ties in with what we’ve seen. Staying competitive in this new world requires new strategies and practices and staying open to change as we go.
Simple example: video meetings. RingCentral, Zoom or Teams meetings have become completely normal for everyone. Whereas this time last year, physical meetings were preferred.
We’ve all benefitted from saved travel time and cost, cleaner air and emptier roads. Even online meeting fatigue has its positives, because it makes us think twice about whether a meeting is necessary in the first place.
The business continuity benefits of cloud infrastructure and SaaS are now obvious. But again, it’s the pain points that have thrown more interesting issues into the spotlight. Firewalls for example – we all work outside them now so security must be viewed differently. With critical data all stored in the cloud and on endpoints, it’s clear we need layers of defence.
The most positive change for me is seeing mindsets shift. Businesses are breaking free of the old technology paradigms and starting to understand that there are new ways available to solve problems such as password management, user access to applications and endpoint protection.
COVID-19 has forced businesses to see the massive potential in tech and given us the perfect remote working testing ground.
What’s allowed the ‘swimmers’ to swim, rather than sink, in your view?
For me, the difference is very clear. Businesses that solve problems using technology effectively and efficiently are the winners. Identifying a clear need and asking the right questions of your IT team; this is the way to direct your research and reach the best solution fast.
Too often I see tech used because it’s what a business has always used, or it’s a name known to the decision-maker, despite it perhaps no longer being the best choice. It’s important to choose tech to solve problems as they arise and not get blinded by the instantly recognisable.
Most of our partners are Gartner or Forrester Wave Leaders, for example, some are record breakers in terms of performance: all of them are innovators. They outperform legacy vendors but if leaders are closed to the new, it is their businesses that suffer. In a world where things have moved years ahead in months, this can be dangerous.
Let’s come back to cyber security. What should be top of the list to protect businesses from the 350,000 pieces of new malware you mentioned?
Top of the list is that security should be a board-level discussion point rather than an afterthought. Cybercriminals have moved much faster than businesses have during the pandemic. Travelex was effectively put out of business by a single attack and this was a billion dollar business.
I said earlier that knowing the right questions to ask is a big part of getting tech right. To businesses that have invested in remote solutions with no security budget, I ask this: ‘Do you have a ransomware budget, then?’ Because you’re going to need one.