Season 4, Post 3: Virtual coffee with the Head of IT
One of the joys of being an investor in future trends is that you get to talk to interesting people. What better way to learn about the future then…
Season 4, Post 3: Virtual coffee with the Head of IT
One of the joys of being an investor in future trends is that you get to talk to interesting people. What better way to learn about the future then, than to have a conversation with Heptagon Capital’s very own Head of IT. We had intended to do this event over a civilised cup of coffee in the Mayfair area, but owing to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, sadly we had to make do with conducting our chat virtually, over Microsoft Teams.
"IT has become a lot cooler" - Marldon Smalling
Teams was an inevitable topic in our conversation given the important role it has played in how we (and many others across the globe) have done their jobs/ lived their lives for much of the last two years. Marldon, our IT Head – who described himself as “obsessed” with computers from the age of nine – highlighted that Teams had been the “glue” that had helped bind the business during the pandemic. It enabled people to “work remotely but be kept together.” Teams, of course, needs to be seen in the context of a broader IT shift underway at Heptagon and many other firms. If more applications can be run remotely (in cloud environments) rather than on-premise, then this can yield huge efficiency benefits. As we have written elsewhere, cloud adoption globally remains in a very early innings.
While remote working has become the new normal almost everywhere, as Marldon notes, it “removes uniformity.” Data breaches and cyber-attacks constitute the main things that metaphorically keep our IT Head up at night. Needless to say, in an increasingly digital world, firms “cannot operate without their data.” The corollary of these observations is that spend on cyber solutions (particularly to mitigate malware and ransomware) remains an upmost priority. Human error, unfortunately, continues to be “a given constant” and so cultural buy-in – ensuring that people are automatically wary of suspicious emails, for example – is also critical. Growth in cyber-spend is a trend that will only grow in importance.
Our final discussion subject, perhaps unsurpsingly, related to the future. When asked what trends excited Marldon most, he called out more artificial intelligence deployment specifically. The logic is compelling, in our view, if tasks can be automated, for example, and/or threat prevention moves from being reactive to pre-emptive. Marldon also made a case for metaverse meetings but seemed somewhat more lukewarm about virtual reality opportunities. As a closing question, we pondered how more young people might follow in Marldon’s footsteps. He was confident they would, particularly given the ubiquity of gaming and social media that has helped drive awareness. As he noted, “IT has become a lot cooler.”
19 January 2022
The above does not constitute investment advice and is the sole opinion of the author at the time of publication. The author of this piece has no personal direct investment in the business. Past performance is no guide to future performance and the value of investments and income from them can fall as well as rise.
Alex Gunz, Fund Manager
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