IT Life: Four Decades Of Computing
We chat to IT veteran Ian Fergus about Bill Gates, Amazon, the Internet of the future, and free burgers
Ian Fergus has a lot of experience in IT – 43 years, to be exact. He started working in the industry when computers were looking like kitchen appliances, Led Zeppelin was recording its first studio album, and Rupert Murdoch had just purchased News of the World.
Ian currently works for NYK Business Systems Europe, a part of NYK Group Europe – one of the world’s leading transportation companies. He specialises in project managing software within distribution, transportation and logistics.
Ian is also the winner of our Google+ competition, and a proud owner of Samsung Galaxy Nexus.
How did you start your career in IT?
I started in 1969 as a programmer, using IBM System 360 Model 20 with Scottish Mutual in Glasgow, before moving to London in 1973 as a programmer analyst to work with IBM System 3 Model 10.
What has been the favourite project in your work so far?
Probably being involved in the early days of the launch of the distribution centre of a major fast-food enterprise. It was fun with the customer and the project personnel, and I learned a lot about business during that project (and also ate a lot of the customer’s produce).
What tech were you involved with ten years ago?
As far as application systems are concerned, relatively similar to now, except that the name (IBM AS/400/IBM iSeries/IBM System i) has gone through a number of iterations.
What tech do you expect to be using in ten years’ time?
I am 63 now, so, unless the company keeps me on in sympathy because of my meagre pension, I anticipate that the technology will be home-based rather than associated with work. I suspect that in 2022, we shall all be wired up to the Internet (or whatever it will be called then) via wristwatch-type devices.
Who’s your tech hero?
My tech hero is Bill Gates. People may consider him a villain because of the dominance of Microsoft but, without him, we would not be as technologically advanced as we are today. A joint-hero (for similar reasons) has to be Tim Berners-Lee for bringing the concept of the World-Wide Web to fruition.
And what about a tech villain?
I don’t really have a tech villain as the market and regulatory bodies usually weed them out.
What’s your favourite piece of technology ever made?
Radio has to be top of my list but the World-Wide Web has to be up there as well. I use both constantly.
What is your company’s budget outlook?
Budget outlooks across all businesses are likely to be flat (at best) during the current economic climate. They will eventually grow (as history teaches us).
Apart from your own, which company do you admire most and why?
The company I most admire at present, apart from NYK, is Amazon which has filled a marketing need in supplying books at a reasonable price, creating the market for ebooks and, generally, not seemingly putting a foot wrong in anything it does.
What is the greatest challenge for an IT company/department today?
Very simply, providing value for money in this age of austerity. In my opinion, every business/department/individual must prove that they provide more revenue than cost. The days of IT being an ivory tower are well and truly over.
To Cloud or not to Cloud?
To Cloud, without a doubt. It will certainly prove a challenge to hackers (who, in my opinion, should be harshly dealt with if/when caught) but basic economics of scale favour the cloud approach. There are issues regarding security and government snooping but I am sure that they will be overcome.
What did you want to be when you were a child?
I think I wanted to be a doctor. It seems such a long time ago…
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