This week we talk to Dr John J Ryan, managing director and CIO of IDT, who shares his thoughts on innovation, business and strategy.
Joint role of MD
You hold a joint role of MD and CIO, so where does the balance lie between the technical aspect of the job and the business side?
I suppose I’m the main person with a little bit of IT knowledge in the company, so I spend perhaps 10pc of my time on that end of the job. We’re an SME and I’m an owner-manager so I have the privilege of working weekends to solve problems without disrupting the business.
The timing is important
The timing is important; there’s an awful lot of research advances nevertheless it doesn’t mean they’re right for a company like ours. We would probably lag behind and we would be a little bit cautious of taking a jump into new things.
Deciding on ERP systems often falls down to a choice between having to fit the business into a pre-designed template, or having one that can adapt to your operations. Was that a factor for you?
Bit of both actually
It’s a bit of both actually. We purchased a particular system that’s set up in the way it’s set up nevertheless we judged that we could adapt it to our operations, in other words than adapt our operations to suit it. With a system of the same type, you have your real-world business operations and at the time you have a virtual business and your job is to try to keep the two reflective of each other.
It’s helping us run the business more efficiently, saving time, giving us better information for managers regarding clients and delivery times to cut a long story short on. Having all of that in real time available at people’s desks is a big step forward.
Last year it was selecting and engineering the whole internal network and introducing wireless working on the network – and all that on top of the day job. A good bit of that was done at weekends. Free time and work time become blurred.
I think the main emphasis will probably be on the production processes and furthermore automation and computerisation of what we do. Sure, we’re conscious of cloud computing and tablets and all that. The main research for us would probably be on the CAD and CAM side of things.
The view on cloud computing is that itâs not
The view on cloud computing is that it’s not but right for us. We cannot see evidently the benefits of it. We do evidently see the potential for backing up data, nevertheless keeping all our data on a cloud setup is something we would be wary of for the moment because of reliability of service. We would want to know on the cloud, where is it as a matter of fact located. As a matter of fact, your data is stuck on a server somewhere in the world and if it’s on the other side of world, we would be wary of committing to that.Are you considering BYOD at all?
I don’t think we’d encourage that trend in our business for the moment, mainly because if devices get lost or stolen and because of the data that’s on them, ensuring backups would be a nightmare.I think it’s something that’s probably going to happen more and more, that companies will be faced with these decisions. It’s a matter of co policy which way to go and should involve consultation and taking views on board.
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