With more than a decades’ experience selling software solutions, building and scaling high-performing teams, and delivering effective growth strategies, Andrew Jones understands how to help customers in both the public and private sectors maximise their investment in emerging technologies.
As VP of Expert Services at The Software Institute (TSI), Andrew is now one of the driving forces behind our continued growth, leveraging his expertise to help clients build applications and manage infrastructure in the enterprise and public sector arenas.
Here he talks about his role at TSI, the latest trends shaping the technology industry, and the importance of continuing professional development (CPD).
What makes TSI so unique?
“From the outside, some people think we are just a technology company. But at its heart, TSI is a people business. There are three strands to what we do: people, process, and platform. Our Expert Services division is built on highly experienced people who have developed and implemented complex software solutions for some of the biggest organisations in the world. We have Corporate Services which is our enablement engine, where we hire graduates and train them in high demand technologies before either deploying them with our customers or using their abilities to scale our own delivery.
To complement the people and the process, we also built SkillsNow: a bespoke software application that gives us and our customers visibility of the recruitment, onboarding, training, and continuous professional development of these resources. TSI is unique in the sense that it owns and has direct control of the entire end-to-end process.”
As VP of Expert Services at TSI, what does your role entail?
“It may sound like a massive cliché, but no two days are the same. I am responsible for a team of 50 people, including other heads of department. A major part of my role is working closely with senior technical stakeholders that are managing the customer services delivery. That means identifying and addressing any issues or challenges they might have, gathering internal and external status reports for ongoing projects, exploring opportunities for expansion, signing off proposals, and drafting commercial models for bids – you name it, I do it. As the business continues to grow quickly, I will eventually become less involved in directing the day-to-day operations and focus more on strategic activities.”
How important is CPD in the technology industry?
“Extremely important. Technology never stands still so it is critical for us to be on top of new technologies as they emerge. For example, Splunk is only 19 years old and is already considered an established technology by some in the industry. DevOps is now widely regarded as a mega trend, but we have been training cohorts in DevOps since 2013 when it was in its infancy.
The main challenge we face is discovering what the next big trend will be, so we can ensure our teams of consultants have the expertise they need. It is part luck and part understanding the market, which means speaking with customers regularly to understand their pain points and sourcing cutting-edge technologies to solve them. We can then create training programmes to bring our consultants up to speed, so that they are ready to be deployed as and when our customers demand.”
What are the biggest challenges you face when building software applications for customers?
“One of the main problems we encounter is that our customers have invested in software that is hypergrowth. By that I mean that a vendor has created a product which is rapidly adopted by the market, customers have bought into it so the product is everywhere, but the market is quite slow to react in supplying people with the skills needed to implement and manage the product. This is where we shine as a business – remedying the resource bottleneck.
At TSI, we understand that every company is a software company. It is one of the contributing factors as to why the digital skills gap is growing exponentially. The amount of education and practical training available is simply not enough to cover the amount of talent needed to satisfy demand. That is why we are investing so heavily in an expanding pool of experienced consultants who understand both fast-growing and mature technologies.”
Looking ahead, what are the next big trends you are seeing emerge in the industry?
“Cloud and multi-cloud migration is only just getting started, especially as companies look to be more sustainable and IT operations are a significant part of that.
A successful cloud migration reduces cost, improves scalability, and significantly reduces the risk of a cyber incident that could derail operations. But all the major cloud providers have their own native tools to manage processes. For instance, with AWS you will need Cloud Formation but for Azure you will need to use Azure Resource Manager. Organisations need teams who understand the idiosyncrasies of each offering and can align the cloud strategy with their business goals. A major concern is the power demands of large physical data centres, so cloud computing is cleaner as it is less hardware running fewer workloads, meaning less electricity consumed. But cloud data centres still need electricity to power them, so companies are exploring greener alternatives that replace fossil-fuel-powered grids with renewable resources.
Service-based networking is also an emerging area of focus. Asa networking layer that provides a transparent and language-independent way to flexibly automate application network functions, it is ideal for managing the various microservices that make up a cloud-native application. With no clear market leader right now, there is a massive addressable market that will start displacing the major players in the years ahead.”
And lastly, what do you like most about working at TSI?
“The culture is excellent. We have a workforce constantly thriving to be the very best and that wants to keep learning and developing new skills; being around that everyday is a real positive. We are also incredibly inclusive and actively welcome people from diverse backgrounds to join us and kick start their successful careers in the technology industry.
Sometimes the problems we face are very complex but, to thrive in this industry, you must enjoy problem solving. As a passionate technologist, one of the things I love most about TSI is getting to work on a wide range of interesting and challenging projects that push me to hone my problem-solving skills.”