FileMakers Features

There’s technology on the pitch, so why isn’t it in the manager’s office?

This post comes courtesy of Jordan Watson, FileMaker Developer at We Know Data.

Technology is firmly embedded in every industry, and the world of sport is no different – at least, it appears to be…

 goal line tech

Professional sportsmen and women face increasing competition in their domain. World champions can be made or broken thanks to a single point, run, goal or split-second’s lead.  Competitiveness is also becoming more ferocious, emotions run high and a ‘bad call’ by a referee or umpire can cause uproar.

 

To help keep a level playing field, many sports are adopting the latest technology in two areas:

 

  • In the development and training of athletes –  ‘Sports science’ has become a buzz-phrase, strength and conditioning equipment is state-of-the-art and training facilities look like something out of Back to the Future. One example is GPS being used to track players during football training sessions; heart rate, skin temperature and g-force readings are recorded from ‘smart shirts’ and beamed in real-time back to a coach holding an iPad.

 

  • In the monitoring and analysis of games / matches – Then there are the more instrumental technologies that affect the way sport is now played: goal line technology, video referrals, Hawkeye camera tech in cricket and tennis, the list goes on. As mentioned previously, officials need the capability to make the right decisions, humans are not perfect and mistakes are simply part of our biology. Don’t get me wrong, the spontaneity of sport is fantastic, but when reputations, big money and people’s livelihoods are on the line you need to be able to analyse the game accurately.

 

There’s a lot of paper back here

Conversely to all the technology that’s being used in the public eye and in training sessions – the manager’s office and indeed, most back offices of large football / rugby / cricket / tennis clubs seem to be stuck in the 20th century.

 

Paper processes are rife; you only need to look at the football transfer window with paper flying back and forth through fax machines to see it’s still relied on heavily. When you do move into 0’s and 1’s; admin, finance, planning, lineups, kit lists, etc. seem to take the form of an Excel spreadsheet and then back to paper via a huge printer in the corner of a room. It seems bizarre that the technology contrast is so stark on the pitch and off it.

 

But I guess in that respect, it’s not too different from any other organisation that has been traditionally quite resistant to change. Let’s not forget how it’s taken to get some of these revolutionary technologies pitch-side.

 

The FileMaker developer’s debut

Cue the FileMaker developer… our industry has a real opportunity to make a huge change to many different vertical markets, and the sporting domain is no different (as evidenced by  a recent FileMaker application for US baseball team, the Oakland A’s who featured in the recent Hollywood blockbuster, Moneyball). Imagine how much time and effort a club secretary, manager or coach could save by combining all the administrative work and planning they do day-in-day-out into one unified FileMaker solution.

 

Player health status, financial specifics and contractual information, kit ordering, overheads tracking, logistical information… just a few examples of what could be automated and streamlined via a comprehensive FileMaker solution.

 

What’s more, people would no longer be confined to the office either. FileMaker’s mobility options via WebDirect or FileMaker Go mean that data, updates and information can flow freely between the training facility and five miles down the road at the club, or even the other side of the world at an away game.

 

Pundits, players and fans alike have praised technological innovation on the pitch, so imagine how much time could be saved, and more to the point how much more could be accomplished when it’s off the pitch too…

 

Paper is definitely one player that shouldn’t be getting it’s contract renewed this year!

 

Devices, clouds and wearable business outcomes

This post comes courtesy of Dr. Ben Fletcher, Director at DataTherapy

ben fletcher

Today, we have got used to the idea that work should be able to happen anywhere – whether it’s accessing a CRM database, or simply completing a timesheet or application form.  Developers need to be responsive to the fact that the work that they do needs to be instantaneously global and increasingly mobile.

Five years ago things were different. Security and performance were major sticking points for those considering putting their data into the cloud. Nowadays, as adoption rates have increased and software improvements have rolled out, customers are far keener to work in the cloud from day one. At a minimum, this completely removes the inconvenience of a purely on-premise data solution.

It’s a paradigm shift that has significantly changed the way that we as developers work. Where once our work would be localised to single geography, device and operating system; today we’re creating solutions that can be accessed from anywhere in the world and from many different devices. For the team here at DataTherapy, FileMaker WebDirect and FileMaker Go have opened this door..

Every device under the sun

As people become more device agnostic, it’s becoming increasingly important to offer solutions that seamlessly transition between desktop and mobile. Consumer software services such as Spotify and Netflix (SaaS in business speak) have led people to expect this. To enable this in a business context, thought must be given to how the solution is going to be used. Will ‘one user interface fits all’ be enough, or will you need to create custom interfaces optimised for each type of device, by leveraging device specific feature such as those available with FileMaker Go for iOS?

Asking yourself questions like these is a key challenge, and part of the balancing act of being both a developer and a business consultant. Technology is changing at such a pace; with new operating systems and new core technologies at every corner, it’s great fun and a fast evolving sector to work in. But as exciting as this is, keeping sight of the bigger picture is essential – you have to help clients understand the value and benefits that a bespoke solution can bring to their business.

Does your client need to upgrade *insert hardware / OS / software model here* version X to run their new FileMaker system, or can that run on their existing IT infrastructure? The most successful developers understand that there is always a balance to be struck between time, cost and features to deliver a new business system and make it a success. When you act as a consultant you need to leverage your development experience, and combine it with the client’s expert knowledge of their business to build the perfect solution.

Having this kind of wide-angle perspective means keeping your finger on the pulse of the latest and greatest technology trends. At DataTherapy, we’re certainly keeping our eyes on the rise of ‘wearables’. It hasn’t all gone swimmingly so far, as seen by the recent market exit of Google’s Glass, but an awful lot of momentum has been built up around the technology. It will be interesting to see how the software market evolves to cater for the multitude of wearable devices, and breeds new solutions in a business context.

2015 is shaping up to be a good one…

About Ben

Ben is a FileMaker 13 Certified Developer and has a BSc and PhD in Human Genetics from University College London.  He has over 10 years industry experience in developing bespoke database solutions using FileMaker.

 

2015 and the FileMaker developer

This post comes courtesy of James Neeter, Operations Director at iSOS.com

James Neeter

In 2015 we’ll see yet more clients ask for enhanced mobility and cross-platform functionality from their FileMaker solutions. “I want to access my data anywhere, on any device” was something we only used to hear from a handful of customers a couple of years ago. Now, nearly every project we implement has some sort of mobility aspect to it. With analyst’s CCS Insight predicting that 283 million tablets will be sold this year alone (and 540 million by 2018), the market is showing little sign of slowing down.

The business customer is now far more experienced about what can be achieved with mobile technology, due to the huge popularity of smartphones and tablets in consumer markets.

We’re also keeping our eye on SaaS technologies such as Xero, now widely adopted, clients ask for its integration into their FileMaker solutions regularly.

As the hardware pool continues to grow, and sees increasing improvement in terms of performance, stability and availability then it creates a marked opportunity for developers to take advantage of appropriate new services and products ahead of time. It’s important to separate the wheat from the chaff though, and only work with the very best in your solutions.

Due to these disruptive new technologies, and the increased emphasis on mobility in general – we’ve noticed our customer landscape change. In the last three years, our average client project has grown significantly bigger in terms of specification and technical complexity; this has been really exciting for iSOS.com and has often meant increased, focused client-facing interaction. We’re increasingly acting more like business consultants, something which seems to be reflected in the wider FileMaker community. We’ve been not only advising customers on how FileMaker can solve many day-to-day issues such as saving paper and speeding up processes, but also bigger strategic challenges such as overhauling CRM, integrating with eCommerce platforms and increasing real world profitability. This is certainly a trend we expect to continue and become a greater part of our work in the future.  .

The SME market (companies with up to 250 employees) is incredibly important to us, the brilliance of FileMaker and its rapid implementation to mobile via FileMaker Go is that it can cater to all different sizes of organisation, and indeed, most budgets.

As the FileMaker developer community continues to grow and adjust to outside needs, we feel it is important to focus on the core mantras of stability, integration, security and user interface / experience. These factors demonstrate to the customer’s the return on their investment, and as such should never be compromised.

Finally, in regards to integrating these new technologies into the FileMaker ecosystem, it’s important to thoroughly test what you’re selling. If a tech trend has emerged which doesn’t have an adequate support network around it yet, then shelve it, and come back to it when it does. That’s another great advantage of FileMaker, it can be so easily expanded and integrated with other technologies, as and when is right for the organisation.

.

About James

James joined iSOS.com in 2010, after an extensive career in telecommunications consultancy. His responsibilities at iSOS.com include, controlled growth of the company, human resources, marketing, new customer engagement, long term partner relationships and all major commercial/contractual aspects of the business. He’s heavily involved in all FileMaker Projects from specification to delivery. James manages a team of five full time, in-house FileMaker Developers who regularly work with iSOS.com Server and Web teams. He can be contacted at jamesn@isos.com.

 

 

Davos – The opportunity (or challenge) of doing good business

davos switzerland

‘Davos season’ has just come to a close – a time when the world’s premiers, business leaders and celebrities make some of the most pertinent statements of intent to an expectant world. Whether it’s macroeconomic predictions or socio-political statements, it’s a time when important people do important things.

Of course, this is all far removed from us humble folks on the coalface. Isn’t it? The issues in discussion at the plush Swiss ski resort were beyond our control or influence. ‘No’ is the answer.

.

Become a daily decision maker

One of the interesting facts about Davos is that as well as being a stage for grand announcements, it’s also a time where we question and critique the way business is done. Which of course is a good thing as it challenges us to think what we could do better.

But it isn’t just global leaders who should be thinking closely about how their impact in the world. As individuals we also have a responsibility to do business we’re proud of. So here are a few calls to action for the developer community which reflect the bigger conversations that happened at Davos:

 

  1. Entrepreneurial thinking: for the last couple of years, Davos has celebrated young entrepreneurs and the next wave of visionaries. It’s great to see creative problem solvers being recognised on a bigger stage. Here at FileMaker we’re constantly looking to work with talented young people who love a challenge and want to find their own innovative solutions. And let’s also remember that entrepreneurialism isn’t limited to those with youth on their side! Those of us with a few years in the industry can also use our skills to solve other problems; that’s one of the great benefits of being a developer!

 

  1. Women in business: the stereotype of the ‘geeky male developer’ isn’t the reality in the FileMaker community. We’re seeing ever-more commercially-minded people using our platform, and as part of this the ‘gender divide’ is absolutely falling away. Elsewhere on the blog, we’ve recently profiled Sarah Sigfrinius, who works at our partner Linear Blue, and Vicky Nesbitt, whose developer skills have helped RecruitmentForce enhance its services. Becoming a developer and using FileMaker to address a challenge is a great opportunity to showcase your talent and differentiate your skillset.

 

  1. Add some value to the world: Davos has a strong agenda for social and economic change. For all the positivity however, these are often very big wheels to set in motion. One of the things we love about looking at the work being done in the developer community is the chance to see positive change in action – immediately. Take the team who responded to the Somerset Levels flooding. The development of a bespoke database was at the core of their efforts. We also recently celebrated the work done by Hughes Associates, an engineering and consulting firm who have helped accelerate fire and safety reporting in Bangladesh using FileMaker. A smart solution to a serious problem is helping improve working conditions and even save lives.

 

So as you see the news round-ups rolling out of Davos, don’t forget that for every speech made on the bigger platform, as a developer you can make a real difference here on the ground.

 

 

New Year’s resolutions are made by your developers…

This post comes courtesy of Platinum FileMaker developer, Decent Group.

New Years Resolution

With the Christmas festivities now complete, and people coming back to work refreshed and bright eyed (despite the wintery sting in the air), we’re feeling excited to see businesses across the country establishing their New Year’s resolutions. What changes are they going to implement in the next financial year, and critically, what projects need closing out in these next three months?

It’s a hectic time. But it’s great for developers.

 

Real change starts here

It’s exciting for a developer to be part of this process of change. For one thing, at no time is it more obvious that today’s developers are business consultants as much as technologists. Think about it – many of the changes your firm kicks off at this stage in the year will be fully up and running by March the 31st, and therefore they can make an impact for the whole 2015/2016 financial year (and beyond). If you want to be accountable for making a real difference to the business in regards to profit, time or overheads saved, there’s no better time than now.

For example, the email management solution we created on FileMaker for DKA Architects saved them over £50,000 for the fiscal year after implementation, through saving employees extensive time when searching for emails relating to certain projects. The term “time is money” couldn’t be more apt in this project and it actually meant the FileMaker solution was paid off entirely after just two months in operation.

 

The right skills for the challenge

From a ‘people perspective’, employees are now refreshed from the Christmas break. There’s often a lot more energy to embrace new working practices and systems. So if your company or a client is wondering how they change this year, jumping on the back of that motivation can be a smart move.

We’re increasingly finding that ‘business change’ equates to a change in technology, processes or systems, such as converting forms to electronic equivalents, often with an app or a database at the core. During 2015, we expect to see a huge number of firms hiring or contracting developers to help drive change and improve profitability. The developer has almost become like a business consultant – an elite resource who can creatively provide solutions to your most pressing problems.

So why not start 2015 as you mean to go on… with some big ideas that make a real difference to your business.

 

 

Technology + creativity = the future of business

FileMaker Q&A with Sarah Sigfrinius at Linear Blue

Sarah Sigfrinius

 

How would you describe your job?

My role as a Junior FileMaker Developer is a mixture between problem solving and connecting clients’ information. I spend a lot of time planning and processing information from our clients to solve their real world business issues. It’s just like completing a puzzle and it’s my job to match every piece to its specifically designed place.

 

Coming from an educational background more focused around English, philosophy and history, how did you end up in what would traditionally be seen as a technology-heavy career?

Like most people my education started down one avenue and my career changed over the years. When faced with problems at work I became increasingly interested in programming solutions to solve them.  I decided to take things to the next level, and began to self-study FileMaker.

What I enjoyed straight away was how FileMaker allowed me to combine and stretch my creative and problem solving skills, and just how easy it is to learn. The more you learn, the more you can do!  You’re very much in control of how much you can grow and build your skill levels, and it’s that sort of flexibility that inspired me into developing full-time.

 

Which of your skills made a career developing with FileMaker possible?

My communication and networking skills certainly helped a great deal. And just the ability to listen to my peers and clients has allowed me to learn a huge amount in just three months of working at Linear Blue. Creativity and problem solving are really important traits to have when developing with FileMaker too. It’s all well and good if you’re proficient with computers – but you need to understand the business reasons behind why you’re building the solution to keep the bigger picture clear at all times.

g

You use technology to solve problems in your role. Is this something you saw your peers at school / uni / first jobs doing too?

I grew up around technology, however it didn’t play a leading role throughout my university life. If anything, my peers at school, and early colleagues, actually seemed fairly nervous about using technology for more challenging issues! I believe this was down to how fast technology changes; a lot of times people simply had a hard time remaining current. In complete contrast, I think this instilled a curiosity in me that eventually resulted in me being where I am today.

 

What is it that you most enjoy about consulting to businesses and using tech to solve their problems?

The part of my job I enjoy the most is the ability to make a difference in helping a client to solve a specific problem and to work more efficiently. The speed of development in relation to the scale of the client’s problem, and how easy it is for me to resolve those issues is great feeling.

g

Which technologies that you were exposed to growing up were important, and do any still resonate with you today?

I was quite lucky in that I always had the latest technology around during my upbringing. My mother worked with computers, so she always had the latest and greatest machines at the house.  My first exposure to real technology was when I got my first PalmPilot; my digital life in my pocket!

Having always been a fan of Apple and its products, I have always been a part of the Apple revolution in breaking down perceived norms. It resonated with me the idea of the fight against the big guys and as a female programmer has pushed me even more to break down those barriers.

 

What type of business challenge would you most like to take on with your FileMaker skills?

Data is moving from the desktop. Everyone used to be office based, now it’s all about being mobile and this has created a whole new set of business challenges within developing. Whether you’re on the road, working from home, or doing business from a coffee shop – your location is now your office; your office is no longer your location.  Understanding mobile data consumption is not the same as working from a desktop as it requires a complete redesign and rethink in regards to usability, design and functionality – it’s an exciting time to be a developer!

 

Finally, do you have any advice for young people wanting to get into the world of business and tech?

My advice would be that technology and business are now one, so try not to think of them as different things. Never be scared of using technology to solve your problems – but instead embrace it and then you’ll start to realise the potential it can bring. Also, because many young people have grown up in the midst of the booming ‘technology age’, companies of all shapes and sizes are now appreciating the insight that the next generation can bring to the world of work. Don’t be daunted as you raise questions that people have yet to, you are unknowingly challenging the status quo and reshaping the norm. Just throw yourself in head first, after all, with the rate that technology is continuing to evolve it’s a future-proof career!

 

South Korea bans ‘selfie stick’ sales; A lesson for developers

In a remarkably humorous piece of tech news, it recently emerged that South Korea has banned the sale of unregistered ‘selfie sticks’ – the poles used to take ‘selfie’ photos of oneself which are seemingly prolific in the country.

Aside from a little mirth at this apparently ridiculous story, we’ve actually taken an important lesson from this. As the BBC identifies: “The law applies to sticks using Bluetooth to remotely trigger a phone to take a picture…unregistered sticks might interfere with other devices using the same radio frequencies.” What’s particularly interesting here is that two entirely unconnected pieces of technology could potentially have a dramatic impact on one another, completely unbeknown to their owners. As a principle, it encourages a wider sense of reflection: if I dive headlong into one activity, what effect could it have elsewhere?

Integration into the business

Regular readers of The FileMakers will have noticed that we’re exploring the theme of ‘basement to boardroom’ – the story of how developers could (and should) be positioning themselves as key drivers within the business. Our hope is that developers could achieve the sort of elevation that accountants, marketers, and even some technologists, have enjoyed in business.

So why the selfie sticks?

What struck us about this story was a simple reflection of life in business. People so often pursue a vision with commitment and energy, without entirely understanding how it can impact someone or something elsewhere in that ‘ecosystem.’ As business solution developers, we could easily become guilty of the same focus. Many developers spend their careers constantly introducing new applications into their working environment, usually at the instruction of someone in their change of command. Perhaps we need to take greater ownership of our tech creativity, and think more deeply about our relationships in these spaces.

Developers as networkers

One thing developed are not always considered to be is great networkers. At events like our FileMaker community sessions we see brilliant interactions between people from all different contexts. But what we’re trying to encourage here is a new level of contribution within a business environment.

Read what Oli has achieved at the Academy of Contemporary Music, and you come to realise that really understanding all facets of a business allows you to develop truly transformational solutions. You just can’t achieve this without speaking to different stakeholders, walking the floors into different departments and really visualising how a solution will play out within an organisation. These aren’t behaviours for which developers are known, but there’s no reason we can’t make a change. Apps run so much of what is done in business today, so why wouldn’t we become more commercially minded?

So, as we make the call to arms for developers to aim for the top of the business world, we’re going to plead that you learn from the selfie stick. Look carefully into the environment around you. Consider carefully how you might have a knock-on impact elsewhere and work closely with all your key stakeholders. You may find that your app, database or even a humble form can have a positive effect far wider than you initially thought.

 

How to be a Technology ‘Sorcerer’s Apprentice’

FileMaker Q&A with Lewis Stairs at MaJic Solutions

Lewis Stairs

How would you describe your job role at MaJic?

My job role involves a huge variety of things; software development, business analytics and solutions development. Fundamentally, my role is to help my clients by building the business fixes they need with FileMaker. I also spend a lot of time looking at my clients’ existing systems and processes, and coming up with ways we can make them better. I’m lucky, as I get a lot of hands-on time with lots of different projects, so no two days are the same.

 

What sort of skills do you think you’ve gained in your apprenticeship (and now employment) with MaJic?

Well I have always been quite computer-literate, and because of this I studied IT at A-level. My apprenticeship took this further and was initially loosely based around Java, HTML and SQL programming. It certainly helped to have some understanding of databases when I started at MaJic full-time, and took full advantage of the FileMaker Platform. MaJic has been great throughout, teaching me a lot about the fundamentals of business – which in turn has encouraged me to think ‘outside the box’ when I’m developing. I’ve certainly embraced the importance of creative thinking in my time here.

 

As a relative newcomer to FileMaker, what’s been your high point in using the platform so far?

It’s been great to see how quickly the solutions I’ve been building on FileMaker go straight into use. I have a real sense of achievement when something I’ve created really helps people. I recently created a FileMaker solution for a property development company, and almost overnight it had been implemented on the company’s Rightmove page, with end-users taking full advantage of it. That’s the thing about FileMaker, it’s incredibly quick to learn, and to develop with.

 

What type of business challenge would you most like to take on with your FileMaker skills?

As I mentioned before, I get to work on lots of different projects day-in-day-out, so I’m quite lucky to have worked with a diverse range of different businesses. That in itself is a challenge each time! Ultimately, I’d like to go into working with multi-national, multi-channel businesses which would allow me to really stretch my developing skills.

 

What’s exciting you in the tech world at the moment, and does it cross into your day job?

I’m a bit gadget obsessed, especially in regards to tablets and phones. This absolutely translates into my work life, as at MaJic I get to develop applications for iPad and iPhone with FileMaker Go. It’s really exciting just how fast mobile devices are evolving from both a hardware and software perspective. If you think about the fact an ‘app’ as we know it today didn’t really exist less than ten years ago, imagine what the next ten years of mobile will bring!

 

What sort of skills do you think it’s important to have when embarking on a career in development?

Asides from needing to be very computer literate, communication skills are definitely key. I have to talk to my clients on a daily basis about how we’re progressing with projects, not to mention getting insight from them on what’s working and what isn’t. There’s a lot of two-way dialogue in my job, so it’s important to be comfortable with people. As I mentioned before, creativity and lateral thinking is also really important, and being able to keep the overall business goal in the front of your mind.

 

Finally, do you have any advice for other young people wanting to get involved in the business / tech world?

Definitely seek out an apprenticeship if it’s of interest to you. There are loads of apprentice events going on all the time so get yourself along to one. Work placements can be useful too and can usually be organised easily through a college or university. Even sending out speculative emails to companies you’d like to work for can sometimes yield results (and is how I managed to get MaJic as my apprenticeship host). Enthusiasm and proactivity are key when doing things like this, you never know who you might end up impressing!

 

 

Give me Simple Solutions to Big Problems

People sometimes allow things to become more complex than they ought to be. It can happen by design, or through a lack of attention to the mess we’re creating. It’s all too like a Rube Goldberg machine (pictured); wildly over complicated and over-the-top just to complete the simplest of tasks.

This certainly applies in the world of work, where over-complicating business processes or relying on legacy systems can not only cost you time, but more importantly, cost you money. However, history has shown that sometimes simple solutions can have a fundamental impact on the way we do things…

Mirror, mirror

Let’s take some inspiration from everyday life. The Italian mountain settlement of Viganella, with barely 130 people living there, used to suffer 84 consecutive days every winter during which absolutely no sunlight would each the village. Clearly this made the winter a pretty miserable time for residents.

What could be done to solve this? Moving an entire village up a mountain side is hardly a simple approach. Instead, they looked at how to get the thing they wanted to the place they wanted. The answer was simple really – you can reflect the sun with a mirror.

And so they did. They constructed a large mirror on the hillside to reflect sunlight into the valley. Controlled by a system that shifts the mirror’s position, it’s a remarkably straightforward solution to what could have seemed an unsolvable problem.

Keeping business simple

The business world has become really quite complex. From virtualised infrastructures in the IT domain to extensive legislative environments that surround, well, pretty much everyone, business has many pitfalls. Which is why the simplest solutions really stand out.

Many of the best approaches in business today are built around simplicity, whether it’s operating systems that allow users to touch and interact with their applications or allowing people to work from home to streamline their lives (and keep down office costs). Look at all the applications designed for the workplace that are making note taking, data management and productivity easier than ever.

These are converging tasks that would otherwise be complex and unwieldy when reliant on reams of papers. Instead they can all be managed through a device such as an iPad. Simplification, without a compromise in performance, is starting to permeate the corporate culture.

Big Business Problem + Technology + Simple Idea = Simple Solution

Equations such as this are becoming more and more common in the 21st century world of work. Indeed, here at FileMaker we pretty much live by this approach, and we’re always looking to work with people who can identify simple solutions to big problems. FileMaker tools have been designed to allow exactly this sort of highly accessible innovation and customisation.

For the next generation of up-and-coming business leaders, not using technology to solve a problem would seem like an alien concept. The trend towards very direct connections between the end user and the technology will only continue, and we expect to see more and more people designing and building their own business solutions.

Whether it’s a new database, or a corporate policy to move entirely from paper to iPad, change is in the air. So if you’re looking at your business and thinking “I’m sure there must be a simple solution to this problem” – there probably is! You never know, maybe FileMaker can help you create it…

 

 

Are you a ‘techie’ or a ‘businessperson?’ (Answer: You need to be a Citizen Developer)

People might consider my job to be about technology because we develop ‘technical solutions’ – from databases to apps that allow a business to function on the go. And of course it’s true that technology is at the core of what we do. Our specialist skills, on paper at least, lie in the technology domain.

But the reality today is that technology defines business and how it’s done. It’s true for the majority of information workers, relying not only on a PC but also a host productivity applications, through to those on the manufacturing production line whose every action is influenced by the technology around them.

Business is technology

What this means is that unless you’ve developed a very niche specialism, as a technology specialist you’re also a business specialist. When we develop solutions, we’re developing solutions to business challenges. These allow an entire workforce to concentrate on being productive and profitable, not on worrying about the systems they’re using. Tech for tech’s sake will never deliver the ROI that a smart business solution can.

Personally I don’t see tech know-how and business acumen as mutually exclusive. If you’re not thinking about how the end user can benefit and what change it can facilitate, the technology you’re developing will probably not add the value it could. In my world this commerciality is absolutely key to the people I hire. If someone can thrive in complex coding projects they’re hugely useful in a project. If they can create a simple and effective solution to a real problem that’s facing a customer, they’re invaluable.

Hands-on with tech

Because of this ethos, FileMaker developers have become a key part of the work we do. FileMaker creates huge opportunities for business-minded people to forge a successful and impactful career as a solution finder. They become that person who can solve a frustrating problem…or perhaps even double profitability. As a result the lines between ‘techies’ and ‘business people’ are really going to start to blur.

If you want to run an innovative company today, it’s not about focussing on building a hierarchy below you. It’s about finding ways to do things better or to create things that really capture people’s imaginations. And 99% of the time that’s built on technology. I believe we’re increasingly going to see a real competitive advantage for those ‘business people’ who are also hands-on technology people. So for those of us in technology, if we’re going to keep pace as expert problem solvers, we need to make sure that we’re always keeping commerciality front of mind.

 

by Paul de Hallé, CEO of Linear Blue